College football is back!
As the 2023 season rolls along, so will our weekly previews of games and NFL prospects to watch. This will come in addition to our 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 10 of this year’s college football campaign.
Game of the Week
No. 8 Alabama vs. No. 14 LSU, Saturday Nov. 4, 6:45 p.m. CST
Whenever these two SEC blue-bloods face off, you know you’re in for a great game.
A win over LSU could help propel Alabama’s playoff hopes, especially with big-time Pac-12 and Big Ten matchups still looming. The Crimson Tide are headlined by their defensive prospects, particularly edge rusher Dallas Turner and cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, both of whom projecting as likely Day 1 selections. The secondary also features speedy cornerback Terrion Arnold and versatile nickel-safety Malachi Moore, both of whom having potential to go Day 2. Chris Braswell is an explosive edge rusher opposite Turner who’s come into his own this year, while the defensive line features future NFLers like Justin Eboigbe, Damon Payne Jr. and Tim Smith. Alabama has struggled a bit offensively due to quarterback play, but there are still talented options on that side of the ball. Right tackle J.C. Latham is a likely first-round pick with a nasty edge and a high football IQ. The passing attack has some solid weapons like receivers Jermaine Burton, Ja’Corey Brooks and Tyler Harrell, tight end C.J. Dippre and running back Jase McClellan. Latham figures to be the only player from the offense to go Round 1, but Burton could end up sneaking into Day 2.
I covered LSU a bit in my Week 6 preview before they faced Missouri. Since this matchup, my grade on wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. has skyrocketed. He’s a speedy deep threat with tremendous length and ball skills, and though he isn’t the most agile or crisp lateral mover out there, he has a good route-running IQ that allows him to take advantage of soft spots in zone coverage. He’s a legit second-round prospect for me right now.
LSU might have the worse record than Mizzou, but the former has faced a much tougher schedule and shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. On defense, tackle Maason Smith has all the tools to develop into a star 3-technique. Mekhi Wingo is another fun defensive tackle who’s undersized but offers elite athleticism and a high motor. Linebacker Omar Speights cleans up well at the second level, while the secondary features future NFLers like Zy Alexander and Duce Chestnut at corner. The offense is led by Jayden Daniels, their quarterback who has played a big role in their efficiency over the last two years. He has star receiver and potential first-rounder Malik Nabers at his disposal, as well as some sleeper weapons like Brian Thomas Jr. and Kyren Lacy.
Big Matchup to Watch
Rutgers CB Max Melton vs. No. 1 Ohio State WRs Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, Saturday Nov. 4, 11:00 a.m. CST
Rutgers already has 6 wins for the first time since 2014, and they’re currently flirting with the Top 25 in one of their best seasons since joining the Big Ten. If they can pull off the upset against top-ranked Ohio State, a big part would likely be the play of cornerback Max Melton.
A starter since he joined the Scarlet Knights in 2020, Melton has been a reliable cornerback at the collegiate level. He’s a fluid athlete with quick feet and loose hips coming out of his breaks. He displays a competitive edge close to the line of scrimmage, as well as good ball-tracking skills when he goes up to make a play. As of this writing, he has 6 interceptions and 21 pass deflections in college, showcasing that he has the production to get on NFL radars. Though not a great tackler and lacking in terms of an elite trait in his game, he’s a well-rounded field-side cornerback with starting upside.
Melton’s competition is well-documented: Harrison is the consensus top wide receiver in the class, while Egbuka projects as a first-round talent of his own. The Rutgers defender has his work cut out for him, but it could be a great chance to solidify himself in the eyes of scouts.
UConn RG Christian Haynes @ No. 19 Tennessee, Saturday Nov. 4, 11:00 a.m. CST
UConn hasn’t seen much success this year — they sit at 1-7 — but they do have a potential future NFL starter on their offensive line in Christian Haynes. Last year, he was the first Huskie to earn All-American recognition since 2010. He’s an athletic blocker with good mobility blocking on the move, and he also brings a nasty edge with good anchor strength and accurate strikes. His pad level and weight distribution can be issues for him, but the speed and nastiness combination should entice teams.
Haynes is firmly on NFL radars, so you can imagine the chance for him to go up against an SEC defensive line is one teams will watch repeatedly when they break his tape down. UConn linebacker Jackson Mitchell is another future draft pick to keep an eye on against an uptick in competition.
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