While the 2022 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 12.
1. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati has had a dream of a season and the Bearcats are undefeated. They still have a legitimate shot at the CFP if they win out and get some help. One of the reasons they have been so successful is because of their secondary. Their best player in the secondary is corner Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, who has three interceptions and two passes defended on the year.
Gardner has great length and has not given up a touchdown catch in his career. He has the potential to be a shutdown corner at the next level, as well. He will be tested this week by a good SMU passing attack, but Gardner should be able to hold up. Gardner is currently projected to be a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
2. Travis Dye, RB, Oregon Ducks
Oregon has just one loss on the season and could also make the CFP. They have run the ball well this season, even after starting running back C.J. Verdell went down with an injury. Travis Dye has filled in very well for the Ducks and has helped them keep their rushing attack dangerous. Dye has 908 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the season.
In Oregon’s game against Utah, both teams will try to establish the run. Dye should help the Ducks control the clock and win the game with his quickness and agility. Those are the traits that have seen him get more attention since stepping into the starting role. He is currently projected to be a mid to late-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
3. Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC Trojans
USC has had a rough season and will be getting a new coach next year. They still have some very talented players on the roster, including Jackson, who has had a great career. In 2021, Jackson has totaled seven tackles for loss and five sacks.
In week 12, USC plays their rivals in UCLA. Jackson will be tasked with creating pressure on the quarterback, but also containing him, as Dorian Thompson-Robinson is one of the best runners at the position in college football. He doesn’t have the same sack production as other players this season, so he’s going to want to end the season strong. Jackson is currently projected to be a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
4. Thayer Munford, OG/C, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State has a big game this weekend and will be looking to keep winning to make the CFP. They will have a physical game on their hands and will need their star-studded offensive line to produce. Thayer Munford has played well at guard for the team, after transitioning to the position from tackle.
The Buckeyes will likely try to take advantage of Michigan State’s bad pass defense this week in order to get the win. That means Munford should get a lot of pass blocking reps to show his talent off. Munford’s versatility makes him a more valuable interior lineman. He is currently projected to be a late day two or early day three pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
5. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama is another team with one loss who is still looking to make the CFP. They haven’t been as dominant as in past years, but their defense is still solid, allowing just 18.2 points per game. Christian Harris has played well this season for the Crimson Tide at linebacker. He has 49 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks on the season.
This week, Alabama plays Arkansas. They started off the season hot, but have slowed down. Their offensive line has played solidly and Harris will have to show he can shed blocks and make plays on the ball carrier frequently. Currently, Harris is a second or third-round prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft.
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