The college football season is in full swing and this Saturday (September 11) provides several terrific matchups. In order to maximize your viewing pleasure, we’ve identified one game in each TV time slot, and multiple prospects in each game that we believe the Detroit Lions should be keeping their eyes on.
Before we jump into the games though, let’s revisit our quarterback watch to see which signal-callers have matchups worth paying attention to.
If you missed our previous article highlighting which quarterbacks to watch each week this season, be sure to give it a bookmark. Here’s a quick reminder of the top prospects to watch this weekend:
- Brock Purdy (Iowa State) vs. Iowa, 4:30 p.m. ET, on ABC
- Kedon Slovis (USC) vs Stanford, 10:30 p.m. ET, on FOX
In addition to the quarterbacks in these two games, there are other prospects to keep tabs on—as well as two other games that have our attention. I also added a new wrinkle into this week’s piece based on a Tweet from a random draft junkie:
As someone who hasn’t spent much time in the past watching college football through the lens of the NFL Draft, I am currently finding it frustrating that the guy I want to watch only plays on one side of the ball.
What am I supposed to do when he’s not on the field?
— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) September 4, 2021
vs Oregon, 12:00 p.m. ET, on FOX
Olave probably would’ve been selected high in the second round if he jumped for the NFL last year, but he elected to return to Columbus and is one of, if not the top receiver in the country. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, he’s a bit undersized for a traditional No. 1 option in the NFL, but his ability to separate, keen route-running skills, and ability to make plays at all three levels, make him a player who is usually open.
Olave lines up opposite Garrett Wilson (another potential top-5 receiver in this class) which will hurt his stats, but those who watch his tape will see a player who has a WR1 ceiling.
When Olave isn’t on the field, keep an eye on Zach Harrison, EDGE, a Junior at Ohio State
Harrison’s combination of size (6-foot-6, 265 pounds), speed, and length make him very appealing for modern defenses, but his positional versatility and pass rush toolbox should put him in the first round conversation. His ability to push inside to the 3-technique gives off some Trey Flowers vibes.
Potential bonus watch: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon (Jr)—if he plays—vs Nicholas Petit-Frere, LT, Ohio State (redshirt Jr)
Thibodeaux, in contention for the No. 1 pick overall in this class, injured his ankle last week and his status is up in the air for this contest. If he plays, he will square off against potential first-round pick Petit-Frere, who is making the switch from right to left tackle this season.
Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State (Jr.)
vs Iowa, 4:30 p.m. ET, on ABC
While not the most elite athlete for the position, Hall’s instincts, vision, patience, and balance make him one of the top backs in this cycle. His running style would fit schematically with the Lions and he is a different type of runner than they have in their current arsenal of players.
Obviously, he’ll be on the same field as Brock Purdy (QB) but hey, one of them is likely going to get the ball on every play, making Iowa State offense an easily absorbable scouting project.
When Hall/Purdy aren’t on the field, keep an eye on Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (redshirt Jr)
Linderbaum is arguably the top center prospect in the country and his movement skills/athleticism are rare. Coming from the Iowa program gives him immediate credibility, but his consistency is what has earned him post-season honors over the last three seasons.
Daxton Hill, S, Michigan (Jr)
vs Washington, 8:00 p.m. ET, on ABC
Hill (6-foot-0, 195 pounds) is a pure free safety with the coverage skills to play in the slot and potentially at outside corner. Not only does Hill possess 4.3-second speed, but he is a sure tackler who is comfortable operating in space. His ability to be a hybrid player would be awfully appealing for Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who has a history of developing position versatile defensive backs.
Keep an eye on Hill potentially matching up against Washington’s TE Cade Otten, a potentially top-5 tight end in this class.
When Hill isn’t on the field, keep an eye on Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (Jr)
Heading into his third year as a starter, McDuffie (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) is a sticky corner who is comfortable in man and zone coverages, and also contributes to stopping the run. Another potential first-round option who could slide a bit because he doesn’t fit the prototype in measurables.
Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC (Jr.)
vs Stanford, 10:30 p.m. ET, on FOX
A speed-to-power pass rusher, Jackson (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) is a hybrid EDGE rusher who can rush from the dirt or a standing position. His quickness and instincts have put him on NFL radars since he was a freshman. Because he wins with his athleticism, he still needs some minor fine-tuning to his toolbox, but he’s not far away from being a complete player.
When Jackson isn’t on the field, keep an eye on Kedon Slovis, QB, USC (Jr)
Slovis is coming off a mediocre season, but he flashed real talent in 2019. He doesn’t key in on one target and is comfortable running through his progressions, but he needs to operate with a bit more urgency. Not among my top-5 options in this draft cycle, Slovis will have to dial up the energy and efficiency if he wants to climb the rankings.