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NFL Draft Prospects To Watch: Week 3

Another week of college football in the record books, and as always there were blowouts, upsets, and several players with standout performances.

As we do every week, let’s take a look at some of the top players and matchups for week 3 of the college football regular season, with an eye towards the NFL Draft.

Alabama vs Arkansas

Alabama CB DeMarcus Milner vs Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson

This is the first big game in the SEC this season. Wilson (6’3, 225lbs.) had to leave last week’s upset loss against Louisiana-Monroe and missed the entire second half after suffering a concussion. He has the talents to be a top 10 pick, and this game will be a huge test for the senior quarterback. Will he be healthy enough to play and play well? Wilson is 30-of-47 for 563 yards, five touchdowns and one pick so far this season.

Milner (6’1, 200lbs.) had last week off against Western Kentucky, but had a fantastic game versus Michigan, where he had five tackles, one interception, and four pass break-ups. He should have a good matchup against Arkansas’ tall receiving corp and the talented passing game.

Florida vs Tennessee

Florida S Matt Elam vs Tennessee QB Tyler Bray

Rivals go toe to toe in this important SEC early season matchup. In last weeks three point win against Texas A&M, Elam (5’11, 205lbs.) contributed four tackles and a pass break-up. His speed, play recognition, and sure tackling will be needed in the Gators’ secondary this week as the Vols come into town.

Bray (6’6, 215lbs.) is coming off a stellar performance against Georgia State with 310 yards and four touchdowns, while going 18 of 20. He is 45 of 61 for 643 yards and six touchdowns, while throwing no picks and being sacked only once so far this season.

Cal vs Ohio State

Cal WR Keenan Allen vs OSU CB Travis Howard

Coming into the season, Howard (6’0, 195lbs.) wasn’t well known by many, but after compiling three interceptions in the first two games, people are starting to take notice. Going up against one of the top best wide receiver prospects in the country this week will be a great test for him early in the season.

Allen (6’3, 205lbs.) has the speed to blow the top off of a defense and in last weeks win over Southern Utah, he showed how dangerous he is with the ball in his hands. In the win, he had five receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown, while adding 94 yards on three punt returns, which included a 69 yard touchdown return. For the season, Allen has 11 receptions for 136 yards and one touchdown, while averaging 22 yards per return.

USC vs Stanford

QB Matt Barkley vs Stanford 

This is a key game in Barkley’s career at USC. Not only because it’s a rival or because it’s a conference game, but because Stanford is the only team in the PAC-12 he has yet to beat in his career. Barkley (6’2, 220lbs.) is not only the top quarterback in the nation, and the early favorite to go #1 overall in next years NFL draft. After shredding Syracuse’s defense last week to the tune of six touchdown passes, Barkley has 559 yards, ten touchdowns with one interception, and is completing 68% of his passes this season.

Notre Dame vs Michigan State

Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o vs Michigan St. RB Le’Veon Bell

We’ve seen Te’o in this section already this season and for good reason. Not only is he the top linebacker prospect in next years NFL draft, but so far on the young season, Te’o (6’2, 255lbs.) has 18 tackles, one pick, and one fumble recovery through two games.

This week he will have a tough and physical contest trying to stop bruising running back Le’Veon Bell (6’2, 245lbs.). He’s rushed for 280 yards and four touchdowns, while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He also has chipped in seven receptions for 55 yards.

Texas vs Ole Miss

Texas LB Jordan Hicks vs Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace

This is the only Big 12/SEC matchup we will see this year, and it should be an interesting one. Wallace (6’5, 215lbs.) is proving to be one of the better option quarterbacks in the nation and has had a great start to the season, completing 76% of his passes for 438 yards, five touchdowns, and one pick. He also has 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Hicks (6’2, 235lbs.) will be spending a large portion of his day spying Ole Miss’ duel threat quarterback and trying to stop the Ole Miss ground game, and he certainly has the sideline to sideline speed to help contain Wallace. For the season, Hicks has 20 tackles and 3 tackles for loss.

Virginia Tech vs Pitt

Pitt DL Aaron Donald

It has been a very disappointing season so far for Pitt, which includes a season-opening loss to Youngstown St. at home. Donald (6’1, 275lbs.)  has not made many impact plays so far, notching seven tackles and one tackle for loss with no sacks, through two games. He has been disruptive while playing mostly defensive tackle. Last season he had 47 tackles and 11 sacks at defensive tackle, and hopes to apply pressure on Hokies QB Logan Thomas and help his team get their first win of the season.

Arizona State vs Missouri

Arizona St. RB Cameron Marshall vs Missouri LB Andrew Wilson

Last season, Marshall (5’11, 223lbs.) had a breakout year, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also having 24 receptions. Arizona State is 2-0 having just beat Illinois last week, but with 66 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns in two games, he has had a disappointing start to the season to say the least. After a 21 point loss to Georgia last week, Missouri needs to bounce back.

Wilson (6’3, 235lbs.) had a solid year last year, leading the Tigers with 98 tackles and nine tackles for loss.

UNC vs Louisville

UNC LB Kevin Reddick

It seems as though every couple of years, UNC has some real NFL talent and this year is no different. With solid players on both sides of the ball, especially in the trenches, the key player in this game for UNC will be Kevin Reddick. Reddick (6’3, 240lbs.) has 14 tackles through two games so far this season and he will be one of the keys on defense to stopping  the young, yet talented Cardinals offense led by QB Terry Bridgewater.

Utah vs BYU

Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Utah got knocked out of the top 25 after losing in overtime last week to rival Utah State. The Utes also lost starting QB Jordan Wynn.

Lotulelei (6’4, 320lbs.) could be the first defensive tackle off the board come draft time and could be a top 10 pick overall. He had a very solid game in the loss, recording 4 tackles and a sack, while being disruptive all game. He will need to leave his mark this game as the Utes defense will have to stop the 21st ranked passing offense in the nation.