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.
#6 Oklahoma at Nebraska | Noon ET on FOX
Oklahoma Spotlight: Anton Harrison — OT; Andrew Raym — C
Nebraska Spotlight: Ochaun Mathis — EDGE; Turner Corcoran — OT
A rivalry renewed. Amongst the many storylines hovering around this game are the draft prospects playing in it, but very few are talking about the implications this game could have on the outlook of Nebraska and Oklahoma draft prospects. For Oklahoma, I have my eye on Anton Harrison. Harrison has active hands and displays an ability to get to the second level of the defense as a run blocker.
For Nebraska, look no further than Ochaun Mathis. While EDGE rusher may not be a priority for the Steelers, one cannot ignore the great opportunity Mathis has to boost his draft stock with a strong performance against the Sooners. Mathis has both the length and the bulk necessary to play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 system, and his quickness of the line of scrimmage is better than many pass rushers who are a good 20 pounds lighter than him.
#7 Michigan State vs. Washington | 7:30 ET on ABC
Michigan State Spotlight: Jacoby Windmon — LB/EDGE; Ameer Speed — CB
Washington Spotlight: Jordan Perryman — CB; Jaxson Kirkland — OT
No player has had a hotter start than Michigan State’s Jacoby Windmon. Holding the title of Big Ten Player of the Week for two weeks straight, the Spartan standout has already recorded 5.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles this season, albeit against poor competition. This week will be different, as he is about to face a school that is known for developing NFL offensive linemen. Windmon displays good power and athleticism, but what separates him from most other pass rushers is his ability to disengage from blockers as a run defender.
For the Huskies, the obvious answer is offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland, but while I will most definitely keep an eye on him, his underwhelming play in 2021 still makes me hesitant when evaluating his status ahead of the 2023 draft cycle. I do not currently see him as a first-round prospect. On the flip side, I am quite intrigued by Jordan Perryman, a transfer from UC Davis who displays tremendous functional strength and solid athleticism. Washington has a knack for developing early-round talents at corner, and Perryman could very well be the next example.
North Dakota State vs. Arizona — 11:00 ET on FS1
North Dakota State Spotlight: Cody Mauch — OT, Michael Tutsie — S
Arizona Spotlight: Christian Roland-Wallace — CB, Christian Young — S
Every year, it seems as if there are one or two small-school offensive linemen who make a name for themselves and get taken in the early rounds of the draft. This year, Cody Mauch could be one of them. Mauch is a long, physical tackle with an aggressive play style. There are no blatant red flags with his game, but we also have not seen him play against much Power Five competition. Mauch is the true reason Steelers fans need to highlight this game in Week 3.
For Arizona, it is hard to ignore their secondary. Roland-Wallace is a versatile corner who does the little things well. He may not make a ton of splash plays, but he is consistent in coverage and strong in run defense. Another prospect to watch is Christian Young, a physical specimen who fits the modern NFL to a tee. At 6’3”, 220 pounds, Young has the range, versatility, and experience needed to make a leap up draft boards.
Other Games and Prospects to Watch
#1 Georgia vs. South Carolina — Noon ET on ESPN
Prospects to Watch: Cam Smith (CB — SC); Warren Ericson (G — UGA)
#12 BYU vs. #25 Oregon — 3:30 ET on FOX
Prospects to Watch: Jaren Hall (QB — BYU); Mase Funa (EDGE — OREG)
#22 Penn State vs. Auburn — 3:30 ET on CBS
Prospects to Watch: Joey Porter, Jr. (CB — PSU); Owen Pappoe (ILB — AUB)
#13 Miami vs. #24 Texas A&M — 9:00 ET on ESPN
Prospects to Watch: Tommy Van Dyke (QB — MIA); Ainias Smith (WR — TEX A&M)
Which games and prospects do you have your eye on this weekend? Which players in action today make the most sense for the Steelers? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!