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 past week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at draft prospects who improved their stock based on their performance.
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 highest of highs from Week 12 of college football!
John Marshall | LB | Navy | 6’1”, 209 lbs
John Marshall is an interesting draft prospect. Not often do we take the time to dive into prospects from the military academies, but Marshall’s play certainly deserves some attention. This past Saturday in an upset win against UCF, Marshall accounted for 10 tackles, 7 of which were solo tackles, and 4 sacks.
Marshall has now had at least one sack in each of the last four games, and two of those games have been against top-25 opponents. The big concern is his lack of size, and if he can’t add weight quickly, I could see a team attempting to move him to strong safety. We’ll see how good of an athlete he is come combine time, but Marshall is certainly a player to watch as we near draft season. His blitzing ability (10.5 sacks this season) and versatility will come in handy for an NFL team that can use him correctly.
Yasir Abdullah | LB | Louisville | 6’1” 242 lbs
Abdullah is another name you are probably unfamiliar with, but he is quietly putting together an impressive season for the Cardinals. The senior from Miramar, Florida, was at it again Saturday, amassing 7 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks in Louisville’s upset win against NC State. He has now accounted for 53 tackles, 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions.
What I like about Abdullah is his ability to play both on the inside as well as the outside. In the NFL, I see him best suited for a 4-3 scheme, as a good defensive coordinator could move him from SAM, to WILL, to MIKE at ease. He is capable of filling any of those roles, as his compact build and surprising speed give him the ability to defend the run at a high level while also being able to drop into coverage when asked. He reminds me a little of Jarrad Davis coming out of Florida in 2017. We will see if Abdullah can boost his draft stock the same way Davis did.
Noah Sewell | LB | Oregon | 6’2”, 253 lbs
This season has been slightly underwhelming for Sewell, who was once amid the first-round discussion. After posting pedestrian numbers for the majority of the season, Sewell is finally starting to heat up as we near season’s end. This past week against Utah, Sewell displayed great instincts and awareness in every facet of the game, recording 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 interception.
NFL teams will love the size Sewell brings to the table. His short-area burst is solid for 250-pound linebacker, but his overall speed is still a concern. He is not the most aggressive of linebackers coming downhill, and he occasionally overthinks things and misses an opportunity to shoot a gap and make a big-time tackle in the backfield. Nonetheless, his Week 12 performance will get the attention back on him as Oregon gets ready to face in-state rival Oregon State.
Others Who Improved Their Stock
Antwane Wells, Jr. | WR | South Carolina (11 REC, 177 YDS)
Devon Witherspoon | CB | Illinois (5 TCKL, 1.5 TFL, 2 PD)
Zach Harrison | DE | Ohio State (2.5 TFL, 2 SCK)
Kelee Ringo | CB | Georgia (2 TCKL, 1 INT)
Brendan Mott | EDGE | Kansas State (6’5”, 240 lbs) 8 TCKL, 3 SCK
Xazavian Valladay | RB | Arizona State (13 CAR, 109 YDS, 1 TD)
SirVocea Dennis | ILB | Pittsburgh (14 TCKL, 1 TFL, 1 QB HUR)
Datrone Young | CB | Duke (5 TCKL, 1 PD, 1 INT)
Andrew Vorhees | G | USC
Which prospects caught your eye this past weekend? Who do you think made the biggest leap, or drop, in the draft rankings in Week 12? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!