College football is back!
As the 2022 season rolls along, so will our weekly previews of games and NFL prospects to watch. This will come in addition to our sporadic NFL Draft coverage over the course of the fall and winter. Whether you’re a fan of the draft or just a college football fan, this series looks to give you an idea of what to watch each week.
Windy City Gridiron’s Lead Draft Analyst Jacob Infante will be taking a look at what to expect in Week 13 of this year’s college football campaign.
Game of the Week
Jacob: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan, Saturday Nov. 26, 11:00 a.m. CST
Ohio State and Michigan is arguably the biggest rivalry in college football, and this year’s game has massive playoff stakes on the line this year.
The Buckeyes have been the epitome of reliable all year. Here’s what I had to say about their group back in Week 9. Since publishing this a few weeks ago, I would add center Luke Wypler, safety Josh Proctor and linebacker Tommy Eichenberg as draft-eligible targets, though it’s no guarantee any of them declare.
The Buckeyes’ early-round talent is well documented. Quarterback C.J. Stroud is a contender to be the No. 1 overall pick, while wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. project as first-round locks. They also have a bevy of draftable talent in 2024 and beyond. However, there’s also plenty to like a little bit further down on Ohio State’s roster. Offensive tackle Dawand Jones is a monster among men with a mean streak and Day 2 value. Edge rusher Zach Harrison is a physical specimen with absurd athleticism for a bigger defender. Guard Matthew Jones is another draftable talent up front, while running back Miyan Williams helps form a two-headed monster in their backfield. Other notable draft prospects include safety Lathan Ransom, tight end Cade Stover, cornerback Cameron Brown and defensive lineman Taron Vincent.
Michigan doesn’t have much in the way of early-round prospects this year, and losing tight end Erick All and defensive lineman Mike Morris to injury hurts the quality of 2023 draft prospects in this matchup. That said, the Wolverines still have plenty of talented players on both sides of the ball. Running back Blake Corum has been one of the best backs in the nation this season, and he runs behind a loaded Michigan offensive line that features the likes of left tackle Ryan Hayes, center Olusegun Oluwatimi and right guard Zak Zinter. Wide receivers Cornelius Johnson and Ronnie Bell should be Day 3 targets in this year’s class, too. The defense features physical specimen Mazi Smith at nose tackle, high-upside athlete Eyabi Okie off the edge, and talented defensive backs like cornerback D.J. Turner and safety R.J. Moten.
Big Matchup to Watch
Jacob: South Carolina RB/TE Jaheim Bell @ Clemson, Saturday Nov. 26, 11:00 a.m. CT
South Carolina is coming off of a major 63-38 upset against Tennessee last week, and an interesting takeaway from the Gamecocks’ dominant display was their usage of versatile weapon Jaheim Bell.
Bell is, by trade, an H-back tight end whom many deemed as severely underused in South Carolina’s offense this season. Over the last three weeks, however, he has taken on a big role in his team’s backfield running the ball. He has 35 carries for 168 yards in that timeframe, and he caught two passes for touchdowns last week. The 6-foot-3, 232-pounder is an explosive athlete with a condensed, powerful frame and very good acceleration after the catch. He might just be the best YAC tight end in the 2023 draft, and what he lacks in terms of value as a traditional in-line blocker, he makes up for in playmaking ability.
Clemson has one of the most talented defenses in all of college football. Their front-seven features likely 2023 first-round picks in Myles Murphy, Bryan Bresee and Trenton Simpson, as well as three defensive linemen and a cornerback in Sheridan Jones who could also generate draft looks. South Carolina is just on the outside looking in on the top 25, and tallying another upset win would certainly get them there. Utilizing Bell appropriately could be key for the Gamecocks to get the win on the road.
Jacob: Western Kentucky DL Brodric Martin @ Florida Atlantic, Saturday Nov. 26, 11:00 a.m. CST
Coming off of an invitation to the Shrine Bowl, Brodric Martin hopes to continue to build some momentum near the end of the 2022 season.
Martin already has pro-ready size at 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds. He has great length for a nose tackle, and the raw bulk in his frame makes him tough to block in one-on-one situations. His long arms allow him to lock blockers out from his chest and make it easier for him to obtain leverage with his hands against the run. Equipped with a strong anchor and above-average grip strength at the point of contact, Martin is difficult to move around at the line of scrimmage, and he has shown flashes of being able to stack and shed. He doesn’t possess great flexibility or acceleration, but for a run-stuffing defender, he does his job.
Florida Atlantic plays with a run-heavy approach, which benefits Martin as a nose tackle who’s limited rushing the passer. If he gets a few quality stuffs up the middle, it could help him close out the year on a highlight and build his case as a Day 3 target for teams looking for beef along the interior defensive line.