Clay’s NFL Draft Cheat Sheet – Week 8

Clayton Smarslok with his weekly college football cheat sheet…

What a week in college football! There’s the saying, “Everyone loves an underdog,” and if that is the case, everyone had a great Saturday during week seven. There were seven ranked teams, (four in the top-10) that lost to a team either ranked lower than them or weren’t even ranked. That doesn’t include the other five ranked opponents that let the game go down to the wire. That was an exciting week that’ll be hard to top but let’s see week eight bares in comparison.

Week 7 Top Performers

Offense: TE Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M

The junior tight end was left off my top-five tight ends a couple weeks ago but could be moving on up. The first time watching Sternberger was against Alabama and he impressed against that defense, reeling in a touchdown in the game. Last week though was his most productive performance to date. On the road against South Carolina, Sternberger was able to catch seven balls for 145 yards and his sixth touchdown of the season. He does a tremendous job getting open in the middle of the field, using his big body to create some extra throwing space for his quarterback. In his first season as an Aggie after transferring from Kansas, he’s looked the part of an NFL tight end.

Defense: IDL Ed Oliver, Houston

Oliver is expected to be selected with one of the first few of picks in April and it was this type of performance that should remind everyone of that. For the stat scouts out there, Oliver recorded his first two sacks of the season as well as five tackles that went for a loss, yes five. Against East Carolina, he was a disruptive force up the middle on what felt like every single play. People will try to nitpick parts of his game or his size but just like Saquon Barkley last year, sometimes great prospects are just great prospects, no need to overthink Oliver’s obvious talent.

Week 8 Players to Watch

IOL Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State (vs LSU,7:00pm on ESPN)

There isn’t a top interior lineman like there was last year in Quenton Nelson but Jenkins could be the best one of the bunch in this particular class. He has already held his own against some strong SEC defenses but this could be his toughest matchup yet. Possibly going against Rashard Lawrence for most of the game but what should be interesting to look out for is if he can get to the second level quick enough to get to linebacker Devin White.

IDL Quinnen Williams, Alabama (vs Tennessee, 3:30pm on ABC)

Because Williams is a redshirt sophomore and getting his first serious playing time, there was no rush to watch him during the summer. With his name popping up more it was time and he did not disappoint. On a loaded defensive front he stands out above the rest, even Raekwon Davis. Through seven games it seems like there has yet to be a blocker to give him trouble and while his stats aren’t particularly gaudy, his play is phenomenal. Williams has an explosive first step where sometimes he hits the blocker before they’re even out of their stance. His quickness to go along with his strength is a devastating combination for opposing linemen. If you haven’t watched him, it’s best to start as soon as possible.

Week 8 Games to Watch

#24 Michigan State vs #6 Michigan (12:00pm on FOX)

The battle of Michigan teams might be the most anticipated one in Harbaugh’s tenure. Both are coming off big wins against Penn State and Wisconsin, respectively. Michigan is on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs, but stepping in front of a Michigan State crowd will be a great resume builder for the Wolverines. Quarterbacks Shea Patterson and Brian Lewerke were hoping to do enough this season to generate some noise for the draft but they look like day three picks at the best. Meanwhile, there is still Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Devin Bush and Lavert Hill all getting love on Michigan’s defense. That side of the ball will be the must watch in this game as they could all realistically be taken within the first two rounds in the next draft.

#3 Clemson vs #16 NC State (3:30pm on ESPN)

The matchup of the week is in this game right here. My top receiver is NC State’s Kelvin Harmon and the hope is that Clemson has cornerback Trayvon Mullen following him all game long. Harmon is a big bodied receiver who does a tremendous job using his size to bring in contested catches. Mullen is a long corner who likes to get physical off the snap. Those two battling it out all game long will be very enticing. But do not forget to look at the Clemson defensive line every now and again getting after NC State’s quarterback Ryan Finley. Finley performed admirably against this team last year, fighting until the end.

Weekly Rankings

Top 5 IOL

  1. Tyler Biadacz, Wisconsin
  2. Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
  3. Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State
  4. Garrett Brumfield, LSU
  5. Michael Dieter, Wisconsin