College football Week 1 NFL Draft prospects

week 1 nfl draft prospects

Yes, this is real, college football is back! Let us not waste words and just get to the preview of games to watch and prospects to keep an eye on in the week one slate. Queue Big & Rich!

Games to Watch

Arkansas State vs. Memphis

Game Preview: While not a true rivalry, Arkansas State and Memphis have a rich history of matchups dating back to 1914. Now in 2020 they meet again, and their circumstances could not be further apart. Arkansas State has been a consistent winner under head coach Blake Anderson and will be looking for a program building win over the Tigers. Meanwhile, Memphis’s Ryan Silverfield will look to keep his program rolling as he breaks in his new title of head coach. The Tigers offense has been explosive in recent seasons and should be again with quarterback Brady White back as the signal caller. Both teams have explosive offenses and leaky defenses which should mean a significant amount of points being scored. Memphis has the superior talent overall and with a few stops on defense should be able to pull away from the Red Wolves.

Prospects To Watch: Damonte Coxie, Forrest Merrill

Damonte Coxie is one of the best senior receivers in all of college football and enters the season on the Biletnikoff watch list. Coxie will have the eyes of scouts after posting back to back seasons with 70 plus catches and over 1,000 yards receiving. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Coxie wins with physicality and aggressiveness at the catch-point. With a veteran QB like Brady White slinging him the rock, Coxie could be well on his way to a third straight 1,000-yard season.

Forrest Merrill returns for his senior year at Arkansas State as a good player on one of the country’s worst defenses. He has strong pop and heavy hands to shock linemen off the snap but will need to be more consistent playing with leverage and a lower pad level. Merrill is a solid space eater and commands double teams when on his game. If he can show a bit more consistency, Merrill could carve a path for himself to the next level.

BYU vs. Navy

Game Preview: Both BYU and Navy are used to facing adversity and should enter Saturday’s match up with more polish than typical first week teams. BYU is led by head coach Kalani Sitake who should have the defense tuned up. While on the offense Quarterback Zach Wilson has demonstrated a knack for play-making behind a veteran offensive line. Speaking of quarterbacks, Navy is looking to replace the talented Malcom Perry which could lead to a slow start. The defense should be strong again and benefit once more from the ball controlling offense. Preparing for the option is always a challenge, but BYU is a disciplined team with strong linebackers who should be up for the task. The game will be tight but look for the Cougars to edge out the Midshipmen with Zach Wilson’s play-making being the difference.

Prospects To Watch: Brady Christensen, Khyiris Tonga

Brady Christensen would be a starting left tackle for most teams in the NCAA. He has the NFL size and movement skills needed to hang outside at the next level. A strong season and increased play strength from the junior could put him on NFL scouts’ radars as a dominate underclassmen.

Khyiris Tonga is not a well-known player but he sure is hard to miss when he is on the field. At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds Tonga does a great job at eating space and keeping linebackers clean to make plays. Adding a pass rush move to his game would defiantly help his standing with scouts and put him on track for an NFL future.

Middle Tennessee vs. Army

Game Preview: Middle Tennessee’s head coach Rick Stockstill enters his 15th season with the Blue Raiders. Stockstill’s squad will look to improve on its 4-8 record from last year and likely will given the talent back on offense. Quarterback Asher O’Hara combines with transfers Amir Rasul and Martell Pettaway to form a legit rushing attack. Army has a vaunted rushing attack of their own lead by senior fullback Sandon McCoy. The defense has been stingy in recent years especially on third downs and will hopefully continue to be so in 2020. With all the rushing likely to take place expect a low scoring rock fight between these two with Army’s grind it out style prevailing in the end.

Prospects To Watch: Reed Blankenship, Arik Smith

Reed Blankenship is player to watch in the secondary for MTSU and recorded 107 tackles with four picks as a sophomore before injuries set him back last year. Blankenship returns as a do-it-all safety with range in the pass game and enough size and wight to make him an effective player supporting the run. He flashes on tape and will likely be the MVP of the Blue Raiders defense if he can remain healthy.

Arik Smith is only a junior for the Black Knights, but the 6-foot, 240-pound linebacker is thumper in the run game and can get downhill in a hurry. Smith will be looked to for playmaking but also emotional leadership while playing in the heart of the defense. Smith may not leave for the league this year, but guys with his size will always catch the eyes of pro scouts.

SMU vs. Texas State

Game Preview: SMU has floated in and out the top 25 for the past few seasons and with a veteran offense could find themselves back in it once more this year. The Mustangs return most of their passing attack and four linemen up front for head coach Sonny Dykes. He should have the offense rolling once more. However, SMU is not the only team lead by an offensive minded head coach. Texas State head coach Jake Spavital is always looking to push the tempo and put up points which he will have to given how poor the play of his defense is. Look for a shootout here with SMU being able to get several stops and win with a nice points cushion.

Prospects To Watch: Reggie Roberson, Shane Buechele

Reggie Roberson has been over shadowed in recent seasons by the likes of James Proche and Cortland Sutton, but don’t get fooled Roberson is one of the countries most explosive receivers. He has solid speed and carries it well out in and out of his breaks. Roberson’s best trait might be his ability to track the ball in the air and with a strong showing could work himself into day 2 consideration when the draft rolls around.

After transferring from Texas, Shane Buechele found a nice landing spot the past couple seasons in SMU’s quarterback friendly passing scheme. Buechele throws a nice ball with excellent accuracy and anticipation. Improving his arm strength will be huge for his draft stock and for SMU to generate big plays down the field.

Photo courtesy of SMU Athletics