The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at potential Steelers draft targets to pay attention to during their respective games.
Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.
Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.
As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the top prospects and games to keep an eye on this Saturday.
#7 Kentucky vs. #14 Ole Miss — Noon ET on ESPN
Kentucky Spotlight: Chris Rodriguez, Jr. — RB (5’11”, 225 lbs); Tashaun Manning — G (6’4”, 344 lbs)
Ole Miss Spotlight: Isheem Young — S (5’11”, 210 lbs); Caleb Warren — OL (6’5”, 310 lbs)
For Kentucky, keep your eye on the troublesome, yet immensely talented, Chris Rodriguez. Rodriguez is returning from a suspension given to him for DUI and careless driving back in May, but if he has turned over a new leaf since then, he could be a draft-day steal. He has the burst, vision, and power to dominate the best of competition.
The Steelers are set at safety for the short-term, but if Terrell Edmunds is not retained, there could be some maneuvering in the secondary. Isheem Young is an intriguing young safety who may move around the field more often in the NFL than in college. He is strong against both the run and the pass. If you want a name to follow on offense for Ole Miss, watch Caleb Warren. He is a tremendously versatile lineman who has proven to be a capable run blocker.
#9 Oklahoma State vs. #16 Baylor — 3:30 ET on FOX
Oklahoma State Spotlight: Thomas Harper — CB (5’11”, 175 lbs); Caleb Etienne — OT (6’7”, 325 lbs)
Baylor Spotlight: Siaki Ika — DT (6’4”, 350 lbs); Mark Milton — CB (6’1”, 191 lbs)
The brother of Cowboys linebacker Devin Harper, Thomas Harper is a small, but athletic corner who displays fantastic short-area quickness, foot speed, and body control. His size will limit him to the slot at the next level, but with the Steelers in need of help at that position, he is a prospect worth watching Saturday afternoon.
For Baylor, I have mentioned Ika on multiple occasions. If you find me a guy over 330 pounds who can also rush the passer on occasion, I can almost guarantee I will have interest. Just watch and enjoy him. Milton is one of Baylor’s many speedsters in the secondary, but he is more than just a speed guy. He is still a little raw in coverage, but he has room to grow. Let’s see how he holds up against stellar competition this weekend.
#10 North Carolina State vs. #5 Clemson — 7:30 ET on ABC
North Carolina State Spotlight: Cory Durden — DT (6’4”, 305 lbs); Payton Wilson — LB (6’3”, 240 lbs)
Clemson Spotlight: Trenton Simpson — LB (6’3”, 240 lbs); Joseph Ngata — WR (6’3”, 220 lbs)
Durden is a fifth-year senior who transferred to NC State in 2021 after three successful seasons with Florida State. He picked up right where he left off in 2021, and while the numbers are not there yet this season, his presence has still been felt. He is an excellent penetrator who uses his hands and shreds blocks incredibly well.
For Clemson, I have my eyes on one of the most athletic linebackers in the country. The Steelers have athleticism at linebacker, but they lack length at that spot. Trenton Simpson could give the Steelers both. It would not be unreasonable to believe he runs a sub 4.4 in the 40 at the combine, as his speed is evident when you put on the tape. He closes on ball carriers in a hurry, and he can keep up with just about any skill player in coverage.
Other Games of Note
#2 Alabama vs. #20 Arkansas — 3:30 on CBS
Prospects to watch: Henry To’oTo’o (LB — ALA); Ricky Stromberg (C — ARK)
#22 Wake Forest vs. #23 Florida State — 3:30 on ABC
Prospects to watch: DeVonte Gordon (OT — WAKE); Robert Scott, Jr. (OT — FSU)
Which NFL Draft prospects do you have your eye on this weekend? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stick around throughout the day in the comment section, discussing college football action as it occurs before our eyes all afternoon and evening!