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9 NFL Draft prospects to watch in college football Week 3

Andrew Buller-Russ

The NCAA football season continues with a Friday night kickoff. College football serves as the first chance to witness future NFL talent before they make it to the pros.

While no one could tell you exactly who may be a future first-round pick right now, we do have some idea on which prospects are ahead of others. Here we highlight nine NFL Draft prospects who are likely to make it to the next level in the next year or two. If you’re interested in getting a sneak peek at which top college football prospects are headed to the NFL, find out which games you should be tuning into this CFB weekend.

Related: College football games today

Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami – vs Texas A&M – Saturday, 9 PM on ESPN

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Miami
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

All eyes are always on the quarterbacks. This weekend when Miami takes on Texas A&M, the attention will be on Hurricanes QB Tyler Van Dyke. Both teams are ranked, though the Aggies are here because of their defense that’s allowed just 8.5 points per game thus far. Furthermore, the Texas A&M defense ranks sixth in the nation, allowing a minuscule 112.5 passing yards per game.

Needless to say, the NFL scouts will be watching Van Dyke closely to see how he performs against one of college football’s top defenses. But Van Dyke likely isn’t worried, he’s taken down several ranked opponents who came into the matchup with a lockdown defense before, but never in front of 100,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs at Kyle Field.

In his brief college career thus far, Van Dyke has shown guts and grit. The 6-foot-4, 224-pound signal-caller isn’t one to make off-schedule throws, but he can maneuver in and out of the pocket fairly well. What’s most impressive about Van Dyke is his strong arm, which has no issue reaching the deeper levels of the field.

Despite Van Dyke not being the most mobile, he still uncorks passes at several different angles. Whatever it takes to make the play, that’s what we routinely see from Van Dyke. He has just one year of starting experience, but with another strong season Van Dyke could opt for the NFL after his junior year this season. How he does against stout defenses like the Aggies could go a long way toward determining his draft position.

Jaren Hall, QB, BYU – vs Oregon – Saturday, 3:30 PM on FOX

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at South Florida
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t that long ago when we were witnessing Zach Wilson tear it up at BYU. Now, it’s Jaren Hall’s turn. Like some other top quarterback prospects who have reached the NFL in recent years, Hall is a bit older, he’ll be 25 as an NFL rookie, but that hasn’t prevented scouts from analyzing his football future.

Like Wilson, Hall doesn’t have ideal size for an NFL QB, he’s just 6-foot-1, but you’d never know it from how the ball leaps out of his hand. He also is adept at making throws on the run, releasing the ball from various arm angles, which we see all the time at the NFL level these days.

Hall has displayed good anticipating and timing in short, intermediate, and deep areas downfield. In Saturday’s matchup, Hall will be taking on Oregon, a defense that’s struggled so far in 2022. Hall should be able to light it up, but the Ducks have several defensive playmakers that could make his job difficult. That’s why thousands will be tuning in to see how the potential future NFL quarterback handles himself.

Related: Top 10 college football quarterbacks: Drake Maye shows up to the party

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama – vs UL-Monroe – Saturday, 4 PM on SECN

NCAA Football: Utah State at Alabama
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has a long line of running backs who have recently graduated to the NFL. From Derrick Henry to Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris, the Crimson Tide continue to crank out top talent. Junior transfer Jahmyr Gibbs is simply the latest.

Gibbs (5-foot-11, 200 pounds), is built more like Jacobs than Henry or Harris, but unlike the trio, he’s pretty good at catching passes out of the backfield. In fact, just last season alone, when Gibbs was with Tennessee, he caught 35 passes, which topped the other ‘Bama backs we mentioned. With Bryce Young, look for Gibbs to continue to show off his rushing and receiving skillset.

While Gibbs is an adept pass-catcher, he does play running back, and that’s why we highlighted this week’s matchup against UL-Monroe. While the team itself isn’t star-studded, they are currently ranked 43rd in the nation, allowing just 104.5 rushing yards per game. Bijan Robinson still managed to average 7.1 yards per carry in a Week 1 blowout.

Gibbs has great acceleration and is a shifty runner who knows how to make defenders miss. Even then, his vision helps open up running lanes leading to big plays when he bursts upfield. Expect a big day from Gibbs, both on the ground and through the air this Saturday, and remember his name for next April when he’s likely to be selected by an NFL franchise.

Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma – vs Nebraska – Saturday, 12 PM on FOX

Syndication: The Oklahoman
SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

The biggest college football fans are already quite familiar with Marvin Mims. He’s led the Oklahoma Sooners in receiving yards two years in a row, despite facing plenty of turnover at QB. Still, it hasn’t impacted Mims. Now Mims is in his junior season, and he’s already off to a hot start, tallying 244 yards and two touchdowns through two games.

He’s not your massive target who is hard to miss, instead the 5-foot-11 receiver manages to play big, still winning 50-50 balls using his pure ‘want-to’ instead of athletic ability. Think of him like a Stefon Diggs. He has short-area quickness, great hands, and adjusts very well once the ball is in the air.

Despite his diminutive stature, Mims isn’t a burner, but he can make defenders whiff with ease. Nebraska will be playing their first contest since firing head coach Scott Frost, so they’ll be eager to make a strong first impression, but Mims will still be his same, dominant self on Saturday.

Related: 4 potential Nebraska coaching candidates to replace Scott Frost

T.J. Bass, OG, Oregon – vs BYU – Saturday 3:30 PM on FOX

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Oregon vs Iowa State
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Senior Oregon offensive lineman T.J. Bass is exactly what pro scouts are looking for in the trenches. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound player has started games at both tackle and guard for the Ducks and is one of the top prospects at his position ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.

The fun part about Bass is just how much he’s developed in a short amount of time. He actually started out his career at Butte Community College before the Ducks noticed him as the top-ranked JUCO guard by 247sports.

He’s since become a first-team all-Pac-12 selection, displaying nimble feet for a man of his size and stature, which gives scouts reason to believe Bass can stick at either tackle or guard at the next level. Yet, most project him to stay at guard.

He’ll likely get to match up with Tyler Batty, who’s amassed 10.5 TFL and 7.5 sacks in two years at BYU. In other words, watch for when No. 92 is rushing against No. 56 and see how they both do. After all, you never know which team they could be playing for in the NFL next season.

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Zacch Pickens, DT, South Carolina – vs Georgia – Saturday, 12 PM on ESPN

NCAA Football: Tennessee at South Carolina
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Measuring in at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, South Carolina defensive tackle Zacch Pickens is a big dude. Someone with that size, you wouldn’t expect them to move the way Pickens does. Expect him to blow up the NFL Scouting Combine with fantastic pre-draft measurables.

But for now, we get to watch him wreak havoc in the trenches. Pickens is a powerful, athletic lineman who gets off the line quickly. He also has a nose for the football and racked up five tackles for loss plus four sacks in his junior year. We could see even more production now that he’s a senior.

Scouts will be watching on Saturday as he takes on a star-filled Georgia cast that’s currently ranked among the best teams in the nation. The Bulldogs have two top-ranked offensive linemen who are sure to be playing on Sundays in the near future, with tackle Broderick Jones and center Sedrick Van Pran. How Pickens holds his own against these two will be noteworthy as scouts evaluate his NFL future.

Related: 5 college football teams poised to disappoint this season

Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia – vs South Carolina – Saturday, 12 PM on ESPN

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Georgia at Michigan
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, when tuning into any Georgia game this year, spectators will see tons of NFL talent in action. You could pick several players to watch. But on Saturday, one player to watch closely is edge rusher Nolan Smith. With the potential to be a first-round selection, Smith has tallied 14 TFL, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and even an interception in his college career to date.

Fans may remember him most from when he beat first-round pick Evan Neal to cause Bryce Young to fumble in the National Championship Game against Alabama. Smith might have been able to parlay that momentum into becoming a top pick in last year’s draft, but alas, he decided to return for another year.

Smith has all the tools NFL scouts drool over. Length, athleticism, and know-how. While he’s best when rushing the passer, Smith can also drop back in coverage, and his instincts help him effectively stop the run. He’s a big part of Georgia’s success. Don’t be surprised when you see No. 4 flying to the football this Saturday, and soon enough, on Sunday’s too.

Related: College Football Playoff 2022-’23: CFP championship odds, CFP Semifinal predictions

DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas – vs UTSA – Saturday, 8 PM on LHN

NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas
Austin American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK

Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown is one of those prospects with freakish size who definitely has an NFL body. At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, Overshown is an intimidating presence in the Longhorns’ defense, but adding some strength to his frame wouldn’t be a bad idea. Overshown is actually listed as a defensive back/linebacker, which shows just how versatile he is, but also that his exact position is unknown.

Considered a bit of a tweener, Overshown’s speed has never been an issue. While many observers would like to see more production out of the senior linebacker, he has the skill set to do a bit of everything, having tallied multiple sacks and interceptions in his career, all while racking up tackles (134 in his past two seasons). Overshown won’t face NFL talent on Saturday, and his team will be without it’s starting QB, so we’ll be curious to see just how motivated he is to make a name for himself.

Related: NFL mock draft 2023: Four QBs in Round 1, Chicago Bears hold No. 1 pick

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State – vs Auburn – Saturday, 3:30 PM on CBS

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

For NFL fans, seeing the name Joey Porter Jr. serves as a fair reminder of just how old you are. Many still remember his dad, who enjoyed four Pro Bowl seasons, playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, and Arizona Cardinals as a pass-rushing linebacker. But that’s not what his son does.

Instead, Jr. is a cornerback for Penn State, staying close to his dad’s football roots. Porter, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 195 pounds, has not only the pedigree but also the size to make an instant impact in the NFL. Crazily enough, despite being the son of a former NFL great, Porter wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school, but he was still able to join the Nittany Lions. What a great decision that was for everyone involved.

Now Porter’s developed into one of the top cornerback prospects in college football. He has great ball skills and is effective in press coverage, where he can use his size and strength to his advantage. Just like his father, Porter isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the pile and doesn’t shy away from contact. In what may be a better-than-expected matchup, seeing a one-on-one battle with Porter trying to tackle Auburn running back Tank Bigsby could be as good as it gets this weekend.

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