We are two weeks away from college football officially kicking off for the 2022 season, and every team is readying themselves for the long road to what they hope will be a College Football Playoffs appearance. This is also every team's favorite time to blast you with who their all-stars are and who will make waves on a national scale. We all know there is a lot of favoritism in this part of the season, and most of what you hear probably won't come to fruition, but you need to be confident to start a season any year.
This could also be a very important season for college football as a whole because all the reshuffling could completely change the landscape of the game, and it could be vital for smaller schools to show out this year. That is a whole different topic, so we will stick to the player side of things for now. That said, let's put on our Gordon Gekko masks and see whose stock we should buy and those we should sell.
Time To Buy
RB Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State
If you are looking for the best bang for your buck player to buy, look no further than Vaughn. He is as close to a carbon copy that you can get to long-time NFL and fellow Kansas State running back Darren Sproles as he isn’t a big player, but he has an immense amount of talent. Vaughn is an incredible athlete with an elite burst of speed, yet he is still very powerful and can easily run through his opponents. Not only did he find instant success at Kansas State, but he also doubled his production from his freshman to sophomore season and is looking to do the same thing this upcoming year. This is no one-trick pony either; Vaughn is a real threat as a runner and pass-catcher. The fact that he is still under the radar as a prospect is truly shocking because there is a high probability that he will finish this season as a top-tier running back in the nation. This is a buy low and reap the rewards type of player, so everyone should jump aboard the Deuce Train and let him carry you to the good life.
OL Zion Nelson, Miami
When building your stock portfolio, it’s always a good idea to have a secure and dependable one that you know will pay off. That is exactly what Nelson is. In a season low on high-end linemen, Nelson is the most likely to hit. He is easily the best pass-blocking tackle in the entire draft class and is still very undervalued. Sure, he isn’t the greatest run blocker. However, turn on the tape, and you will see that we aren’t being told the whole story. It seems like Nelson hasn’t been properly coached to be a good run blocker. He is a big and very physical player who is also extremely smart and always knows what he is doing. Not to mention; he is a freak athlete. The issue starts with not getting any push in the run game. He is always in the right spot and has the fundamentals down. He doesn’t use size and power to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage. If he can improve this area of his game, look for him to skyrocket up everyone’s draft boards and become the clear No. 1 tackle prospect.
LB Deshawn Pace, Cincinnati
Pace is one of the few holdovers from last year’s historic Cincinnati playoff team and was somewhat overlooked compared to the stars of that team, but don’t let that fool you because he has a ton of talent. He is a long, lean linebacker who plays with outstanding fundamentals yet is still very physical and a great tackler. He attacks the line of scrimmage and regularly beats blockers to their assignment. He is not the best in coverage, but wasn’t always asked to do it since the team had arguably (not arguably) one of the best secondaries in the country the last two years. He will gain some mass and show that he can sustain his success now that he is the top dog on the defense. The good thing for Pace is that the Cincinnati coaching staff stayed together, and they should have the players to reload the roster, so he will have a great opportunity to become the leader of their defense as well as advance his game and raise his draft stock. That said, there is some risk here, but Pace is a player to buy stock and believe in.
Sell, Sell, Sell
QB Ben Bryant, Cincinnati
So we have already talked about the good things that could help lead the Cincinnati football team to another great year, and now we’re going to explore what could hold them back. Bryant is returning to Cincinnati after a stint at Eastern Michigan, and the hope is that he can step in to continue the success of the Bearcats' program. This might be a very big hope, however, as Bryant has only one season as a starter, and he is still wildly inconsistent. This isn’t to say he can’t be a good quarterback because he has displayed all the tools you want to see from your starter. He still has a lot of growing to do. He gets much too anxious when standing in the pocket, and it causes many other issues to arise. He has a bad case of happy feet that is rarely settled when throwing. This brings on major accuracy issues. On top of the accuracy problem, he also tends to completely overthrow receivers and has been known to spike passes in the dirt. With so much turnover on the Cincinnati roster, it will be imperative that Bryant can fix the mental aspect of his game because it is the real catalyst for most of his problems. If the coaching staff can get Bryant to calm down and focus, he has everything needed to keep Cincinnati in a playoff position. If they can’t, however, it could be a very difficult season for the Bearcats.
WR Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
Though we know Mims struggled last season, he does possess a lot of talent and the skills looked for in a pro receiver. He just took too big of a step backward from his first to second season, and now his entire team is going through major changes, so finding success is going to be difficult for everyone in the program. With all that 's happening in the program, there is just too much he needs to improve to be a real factor throughout the season. If Mims wants to make a real path to being an NFL wide receiver, he will undoubtedly need to generate some physical presence on the field. He is easily knocked off his routes and gets shut down against a physical cornerback. That's something that will eliminate someone at the next level if it’s a problem in college. If he can become more physical, he does have the athleticism and speed to make it in the league. He needs to prove that he can consistently produce for the Sooners’ offense and that he has the will to do it.
LB Noah Sewell, Oregon
This player is like investing your money in cryptocurrency; it sounds like a great idea, and all your friends will think you’re so cool. Still, realistically you have an extremely low probability of ever getting your money back. Sewell was one of Oregon’s top defensive players last season and has many good traits for being a productive linebacker, so it’s understandable why he is so attractive to many scouts. The issues begin with his consistency and ability to sustain the technical parts of playing his position. Sewell is a big thumping linebacker and very good against the run, but he has far too many missed tackles. He is also a liability in coverage and will no doubt be keyed on at the next level. This isn’t saying he is a bad player; he is just too unrefined to be sustainable. Having over 100 tackles and leading his team in that category will have people drooling over him, but don’t be deceived because statistics don’t tell the whole story. You need to watch to see him on every play, and you will see the negatively graded plays heavily outweigh the positive.
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