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 3.
1. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida Gators
Florida is 2-0 heading into week 3 of the college football season. They have been bolstered by good play from their secondary, which is led by Kaiir Elam. So far Elam has played well this season with six total tackles and one interception on the season. Over the last three seasons, Elam has five interceptions and 15 passes defended.
This week, Elam has a big matchup against Alabama. They have plenty of talent at wide receiver and Bryce Young has played well in his first few starts at quarterback for the Crimson Tide. Elam will have to use his length and athleticism to be disruptive. If he can help force some turnovers, it gives Florida their best chance to win. He is currently projected to be a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
2. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide
One of the receivers that Elam will be going up against is John Metchie. Metchie stepped up big time in 2020 when Jaylen Waddle went down with an injury. He had 55 catches for 916 yards and six touchdowns last season. In two games this season, Metchie has 11 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown, as he has helped Alabama to two wins.
Metchie has proven to be a solid route-runner who can create separation. If he can show that against Elam, who has good man coverage, it will help his stock. One area of improvement Metchie needs to show this season is his ability to make contested catches and to haul in passes outside of his frame. With a big matchup coming against Florida, Metchie can improve his draft position in a deep position group.
3. George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue Boilermakers
Karlaftis made a huge impact for the Boilermakers as a freshman with 7.5 sacks. He had two sacks in a condensed 2020 season, but has been unable to get to the quarterback through two games in the 2021 season. He will have a big matchup against Notre Dame this week. Their offensive line hasn’t played great yet, which gives Karlaftis a chance to rack up stats.
At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, Karlaftis is a bigger edge rusher. He may actually have more success moving to the interior for the next level. He uses his strength to shed blocks well, but he isn’t the most flexible to dip around the edge. If he is able to play well against Notre Dame and get to the quarterback, he could help his case to be a first-round pick.
4. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati has big expectations this season, as they look forward to possibly crashing the College Football Playoff. A lot of that is thanks to quarterback Desmond Ridder, who is in his fourth season as a starting quarterback. He has passed for 7,443 yards, 63 touchdowns and 21 interceptions on 61.5 percent completion. His play will need to be on point this weekend for the Bearcats to stay undefeated.
Cincinnati has a tough test on the road at Indiana. Their defense was one of the best in the country last season and returned a lot of talent. They haven’t been able to show that too much this season, as the offense turned the ball over against Iowa and inflated the score. Ridder will have a tough test and will need to show that he has continued to improve his accuracy to help move him up draft boards. Right now, Ridder is a projected mid-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
5. Carson Strong, QB, Nevada Wolf Pack
The Wolf Pack have a star in quarterback Carson Strong. He has led them to a 2-0 record, which includes a win over a Pac-12 team in Cal. He hasn’t been at his best this season, with a completion percentage of 56.4, but he has made some really nice deep throws. Strong typically completes over 66 percent of his passes and has passed for 5,505 yards in his career.
This week, Strong will play his last Power 5 opponent of the season in Kansas State. He’ll have some big games left, including a bowl game if things keep pace, but it’s always best to play well against the bigger schools. Strong is great at pre-snap reads, but needs to scan the whole field for open receivers instead of locking into one. He can do that in this game and the Wolf Pack have a chance to win this game, especially because Skylar Thompson, Kansas State’s quarterback may be out with an injury. A good game will help Strong possibly be the top quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft class.
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