In 2023 NFL draft It’s still months away, but with college football upon us, the early stages of the 2023 draft process have begun. With that in mind, it’s time to dive into this week’s biggest games in the world of college football, taking a look at the potential Steelers clear targets to pay attention to during their respective games.
The offensive line is certainly an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for a solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and receiver also loom large over Pittsburgh’s head. While we’ll also break down prospects at other positions this season, these will be the main positions of emphasis.
Almost every week during the season, there are several standout games that steal the headlines, but even when those games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we won’t be remiss of the other games and prospects in action. Each week during the season, we’ll recap the previous week’s action and determine which stocks rose the most heading into the NFL Draft.
As always, be sure to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below, but without further ado, here are the top prospects and games to keep an eye on this Saturday.
Ohio State Highlight: CJ Stroud – QB (6’3″, 215 lbs); Dawand Jones – OT (6’8″, 359 lbs)
Penn State Benchmark: Parker Washington – WR (5’10”, 212 lbs); Joey Porter, Jr. – CB (6’2″, 195 lbs)
By far the best game of the day on paper, this matchup will be the first real challenge for CJ Stroud this season. No one expects the Steelers to take a quarterback early, nor should they. However, the draft stock of the top quarterbacks could greatly affect who could be available to the Steelers in Round 1. It may even determine whether or not the Steelers can get a running back offer.
For the Nittany Lions, Parker Washington is a guy who needs to be given a bigger role in this offense. He has a stocky build and a strong base, and thinner cornerbacks often struggle to bring him down in the open field. And yes, I would be remiss not to at least mention Joey Porter, Jr. It seems like everyone has finally gotten on board with me as his draft status is safe in the first round as of today.
Cincinnati Spotlight: Ja’von Hicks – S (6’2″, 210 lbs); Josh Whyle (6’5″, 245 lbs)
UCF benchmark: Ryan Swoboda – OT (6’9″, 325 lbs); Davonte Brown – CB (6’1″, 185 lbs)
The Bearcats lost most of their secondary in the 2022 draft class, but fifth-year senior Ja’von Hicks has taken the lead of that unit this season. Hicks isn’t the best athlete in the world, but he understands the basics of the position well. Most comfortable at free safety, Hicks has solid instincts and impressive quickness, and he doesn’t shy away from contact.
For UCF, I’m intrigued by Ryan Swoboda, a transfer from Virginia who is just a great guy. He uses his length well, but there are still some technical issues in his game that he is working on. Davonte Brown is a talented corner with upside in almost any scheme, but consistency must become a hallmark of his game if he wants to increase his draft.
Michigan State vs. #4 Michigan – 7:30 ET on ABC
Michigan State Landmark: Jayden Reed – WR (5’11”, 190 lbs); Spencer Brown (6’6″, 320 lbs)
Featured Michigan: Ryan Hayes – OT (6’6″, 305 lbs); Mazi Smith – NT (6’3″, 337 lbs)
Reed had the opportunity to declare for the 2022 draft, but chose to return to Michigan State for one more season in hopes of improving his draft status. He gave Michigan chips last season, and I expect Michigan State to line him up at various spots throughout the game, hoping to put him against a corner not named DJ Turner. Also keep an eye on Spencer Brown as he will have his hands full with a strong Michigan pass run by Mike Morris.
For my beloved Maize and Blue, one player who doesn’t get talked about enough is Ryan Hayes. Hayes is a versatile lineman who can play on both sides of the line at both guard and plate. He may not have the thickest frame, but he understands leverage and is a fluid mover in space. Also, let’s not forget about the weirdo Mazi Smith. The Steelers need a true nose tackle, and Smith has all the potential in the world.
#19 Kentucky vs. #3 Tennessee – 7:00 ET on ESPN
#9 Oklahoma State vs. #22 Kansas State — 2:30 on FOX
What games and prospects they are you watching week 9? Which prospects mentioned above intrigue you the most as a Steelers fan? Be sure to light up the comments section below throughout the day as you sit back and enjoy a phenomenal game list!
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