It’s never too early to look to the future. With that in mind, we at Sports Illustrated have our eyes on who’s up next and who you should keep in mind for the 2023 NFL draft with five players each week who stood out in college football.
Dante Cephas, WR, Kent State
His 246 yards broke a school record that had been held since 1997, with 230 of those yards coming in the second half. Both the yardage and 13 catches are single-game highs in FBS this season. But it’s not just against MAC teams that Cephas has stood out this season. His six receptions for 106 yards against Washington on Sept. 3 show he’s got what it takes against high-level secondaries as well.
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Eagles have struggled to find offense this season, but as Flowers goes, so goes this BC unit. He dominates the team’s target share. No Eagles pass catcher has more than 24 targets this season besides Flowers’s 47. He finished the Louisville win with five catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Former NFL quarterback Mike Glennon compared Flowers to Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Clark Phillips III, DB, Utah
He was so good on Saturday that you would be forgiven if you thought he was a wide receiver while he’s high pointing balls like this:
Phillips had three interceptions, including a pick-six. In a stingy Utah defense, you can bet Phillips possesses plenty of physicality and man-coverage prowess.
A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest
If your team needs a long-armed receiver, perhaps it shouldn’t look much further than Perry, whose 6'5" frame and massive catch radius often give him an advantage. He has plenty on the highlight reel showcasing him catching deep balls from QB Sam Hartman over his career, and a big day against FSU last Saturday showed he can break off yards after catch in smaller chunks as well. He’ll need to add some weight (he weighs 205 pounds), and there will be questions about his age (he’ll turn 24 as a rookie if he enters the 2023 NFL draft), but his Instagram handle doesn’t lie: “alwaysopen.9.”
Isaiah McGuire and Trajan Jeffcoat, Missouri
Missouri’s defense has been much maligned the past couple of seasons, but Jeffcoat and McGuire showed up in a big way in the Tigers’ near upset over Georgia. They took it to the Dawgs’ underrated offensive line, hassling QB Stetson Bennett. Jeffcoat finished the game with one sack, one hurry and 1.5 tackles for loss while McGuire had one hurry and .5 TFLs.
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