While the 2023 NFL Draft is still far off in the distance, players that will be drafted early are on the field now. Each week presents unique matchups for draft prospects and this week is no different. Here are NFL Draft prospects to watch in college football week 0.
1. Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina Tar Heels
After losing most of their playmakers for the 2020 season, Downs was Sam Howell’s favorite target last season. He caught 101 passes for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns for the Tar Heels in 2021. His play helped North Carolina reach a bowl game.
Week 0 doesn’t have too many games, so top prospects who are playing will have the spotlight. Downs likely won’t be tested by Duquesne, but he will be breaking in a new quarterback. He will want to get the season off to a good start. In this game, Downs can show off his good route-running skills and ability to run after the catch.
2. Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern Wildcats
Although he was recruited as an interior lineman, Skoronski was quickly moved to left tackle. He made the All-Big Ten Second Team as a true freshman in 2020 after Rashawn Slater decided to sit out and prepare for the draft. His presence helped the Wildcats go 7-2. He made the coach’s All-Big Ten First Team in 2021, but Northwestern struggled and registered only three wins.
Heading into this season, Skoronski is the most technically sound left tackle in the draft class. He moves decently well, but needs to add more strength. In week 0, he will be going up against Nebraska. Their defense features a few good pass rushers, including Ochaun Mathis who transferred in from TCU. A good start to the season could help Skoronski retain his status as a first-round pick.
3. Ochaun Mathis, Edge Rusher, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Mathis started his career off at TCU, but will be suiting up for Nebraska this season. He has 26 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in his career. The 2020 season was specifically impressive, as he registered 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks, but 2021 was a down year for him, so he’ll try to improve in 2022.
The first matchup of the season will be one to watch for Mathis. It is the premier game on the first weekend of college football. He will also have some reps against Skoronski, who is one of the best tackles in college football. Mathis is a solid athlete who needs to play stronger. A good game will recoup some of the value he had just two seasons ago.
4. Robert Scott, OT, Florida State Seminoles
Scott entered college as a three-star recruit, but quickly earned playing time. In 2020, he started seven games at right tackle. He moved to left tackle for the 2021 season and did solidly. A big 2022 season could help him shoot up draft boards.
While playing Duquesne won’t cause too many problems, getting a game on a light weekend could help draw attention. He moves decently well and has solid size for a future NFL tackle. Flexibility and technique can be improved this season for Scott. The week 0 game gives him a chance to show he has improved in these areas.
5. Aaron Frost, OT, Nevada Wolf Pack
Frost is a very experienced offensive lineman for Nevada who is entering his fifth year of eligibility. He started in two games as a freshman, then increased that to seven games as a sophomore. In 2020, Frost made the All-Mountain West Second Team for the first of two straight seasons at left tackle.
The Wolf Pack open up the game against New Mexico State. While they are expected to win, this game may be one of the more watched Nevada matchups of the year with not many game available to watch. While he plays right tackle for Nevada, he has experience at guard and may move there for his NFL future. He isn’t the most athletic, but has solid strength and plays through the whistle.
Make sure to check out our college football page for more content like NFL Draft prospects to watch in college football week 0!