While the 2021 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 1.
1. Damonte Coxie, WR, Memphis Tigers
Coxie is one of the most productive receivers over the last two seasons. In his three-year career, he has 169 receptions for 2,773 yards and 19 touchdown catches. He is a part of a high-scoring offense and will be the main option this season after running back Kenny Gainwell opted out of the season.
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 197 pounds, Coxie has the stature of an NFL receiver to go with his production. He will be a matchup problem most weeks this season. This week, the Tigers will be playing Arkansas State, who are a solid team. While this won’t be their toughest game of the season, all eyes will be on the game, as there aren’t many this weekend. Currently, Coxier is projected to be a mid-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
2. Terrell Carter, CB, Memphis Tigers
Memphis often has good offensive prospects, but rarely has good defensive ones. Carter is one of the few. He has 176 total tackles, six interceptions and 30 passes defended in his career. Last season, he had seven passes defended, but no interceptions.
At 5-foot-11 and 189 pounds, Carter has decent size for a corner. Going up against the Red Wolves will not only give him a chance to be seen by the masses, but he will also have the chance to go up against an offense that ranked 10th in passing last season. If Carter is at his best, he can help Memphis avoid the upset and help his draft stock, which currently has him as a mid-round picks.
*Also known as T.J.
3. Reed Blankenship, S, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Blankenship has had a great career for Middle Tennessee. In his three seasons as a defensive back, he has recorded 233 total tackles, eight interceptions and 10 passes defended in his career. In 2019, Blankenship had 58 total tackles, two interceptions and three passes defended in seven games played. He had an ankle injury that limited him to those seven games and he required offseason surgery.
Now that he is healthy and ready to go for 2020, Blankenship is worth taking a look at in week 1. The safety has solid size at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds. He will specifically be asked to stop the run a lot this week, as the Blue Raiders play Army, who runs the triple option. As with the other prospects on this list, week 1 features one of the only chances for Blankenship to have center stage. If his health checks out, it is likely Blankenship will be a mid-round pick.
4. Reggie Roberson, WR, SMU Mustangs
Roberson started his career off at West Virginia before transferring to SMU and becoming productive. He has 101 receptions for 1,635 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career. For the 2019 season, Roberson put up 43 receptions, 803 receiving yards and six touchdown catches. He missed time with a foot injury in 2019.
The 6-foot, 200-pound receiver has been productive as a receiver and return man for the Mustangs. He will have a chance, along with quarterback Shane Buechele, to run up the score on Texas State with the spotlight on them. Roberson will be looking to pass the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career this season. If he produces this season, Roberson can be expected to be drafted on third day of the NFL Draft.
5. Matt Bushman, TE, BYU Cougars
Ever since he stepped foot on campus at BYU, Bushman started producing. He has 125 receptions for 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns in his career. In 2019, Bushman had a few different quarterbacks due to injuries, but he still played well. He had 47 receptions for 688 yards and four touchdowns.
At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Bushman will have to add some weight to his frame, but he should be able to fit right in once he gets on an NFL team. The Cougars will be going up Navy on Labor Day in the biggest game of the weekend. Bushman is already a top 10 tight end in the class, but he can jockey for better position with a good performance. He is projected to be a mid to late round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
*Bushman has sustained a season-ending injury on practice Monday. An additional NFL Draft prospect to watch is Spencer Brown, the running back out of UAB. The Blazers play Central Arkansas and Brown will lead the rushing attack.
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