With Week 1 of the college football season in the books and summer scouting behind us, our scouts are 'Scouting The Nation' for the best NFL Draft prospects in the country. Every week, several scouts will give you their thoughts on players that have stood out to them. These are the guys you need to keep your eye on as we prepare for the NFL Draft in April.
NFL Draft Quarterbacks
The hot topic of discussion for week one of college football is undoubtedly the quarterback position, and one name flying slightly under the radar is Boston College's Phil Jurkovec. He had an eye-popping day, going 16/24 for 303 yards and adding three touchdowns to zero interceptions. There were multiple standout traits on display, from his booming arm talent to his pocket composure and willingness to deliver a strike while getting hit, and finally, his sneaky athleticism to extend plays with his legs. Replicating that performance versus better competition will surely aid Jurkovec in flying up draft boards.
Two Players On The Rise
6'1" 200 lbs.
The veteran safety made a huge impact on the defensive battle against the Badgers. He was flying downhill on multiple occasions, making plays against the run. He had the game-clinching interception in the red zone. Brisker read Mertz and broke on the route to make the play. Watch out for Brisker's draft stock, as he'll be a senior bowl guy in February.
5'11" 206 lbs.
The NC State running back dominated against South Florida this past weekend. Knight had 163 yards with a touchdown and showed off explosive runs all day long. He forced seven missed tackles and had five 10+ yard runs. Knight is a swift runner and cuts with ease. He should be a star in this NC State offense, even with the two-back system.
Two MASSIVE Prospects
To stand out on defense alongside Micah Parsons, Shaka Toney, and Odafe Oweh is no easy feat. Brandon Smith, though, is one of Penn State’s top defenders entering the 2021 season. An excellent athlete in a large frame, the Virginia native offers positional and scheme versatility. He flashes against the run, in coverage and as a pass rusher. Smith boasts solid play recognition and above-average traits. That said, he is severely limited by his tackling and lack of experience. If he can refine his game during the 2021 season, Brandon Smith can be a first-round pick.
The University of Virginia’s offensive line features a massive prospect with an outstanding story. Ryan Swoboda is listed at 6100 and 325 pounds. The talented tackle’s football career and life were put in jeopardy when he suffered heatstroke during his first summer camp with the Cavaliers. After a long and arduous recovery, Swoboda found his way back to the gridiron. Since returning, he has been a standout for Virginia. His above-average movement skills complement his imposing power and length well. He has incredibly heavy hands that stop defenders in their tracks on first contact. That said, Swoboda’s current level of technique will enable NFL-caliber pass rushers to work through him at the next level. If he can improve his footwork and learn to drop his hand placement, Swoboda can be a high-level starter in the NFL.
Fordham Linebacker Dubbed ‘A Monster’ After Record Performance
Fordham football has had just two players drafted since 1955 (John Skelton in 2010 and Chase Edmonds in 2018) but there could be a third on the horizon. Make sure you store the name Ryan Greenhagen in the memory bank. A silver lining during the Rams 52-7 defeat by Nebraska, Greenhagen played as if he were shot out of a cannon in week one, registering a modern day D1 record 30 tackles. It was the most tackles by any player against an FBS opponent since the NCAA began keeping records. “47, he made every tackle. He’s nice for real,” Nebraska running back Markese Stepp was quoted after the game. “30!? Wow. 30 tackles…that’s a lot, he’s a monster, not gonna lie.” A certified film junkie known for his great work ethic, Greenhagen prepares like a pro, according to the coaching staff. His relentless tenacity, diagnostic ability to read-and-react, in addition to his toughness will offer mass appeal to pro scouts. “Even I noticed from the sideline he was all over the place,” Fordham head coach Joe Conlin said. “I would be more surprised if it was someone other than Ryan. That’s the kind of player he is. He’s the leader of our defense, a great kid. That’s how he prepares, that’s the way he plays every game.” While there may be some athletic limitations for the New Jersey native, he clearly possesses the intangibles and size needed to stick at the next level.
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