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 9.
1. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State has had a decent season, even if they lost a very disappointing game to Illinois in week 8. There is still a lot to play for and they are going to need their offense to step up. Jahan Dotson has played well this season so far and a lot will be expected of him moving forward. So far on the season, Dotson has 49 receptions for 563 yards and six touchdowns.
He will be put to the test against Ohio State. Their defense has improved after a rough start to the season. Dotson will have to help create big plays, as Penn State really lacked the ability to move the ball consistently against Illinois. A good showing against the Buckeyes would help his stock. He is currently projected to be a day two pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
2. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State Buckeyes
After losing to Oregon, the Buckeyes have rebounded well and now have a shot to run the table and make the College Football Playoff. Their offense has been very efficient and that includes wide receiver Garrett Wilson. He has 36 receptions for 605 yards and six touchdowns on the season. His play has helped starting quarterback C.J. Stroud emerge as a Heisman candidate.
Penn State has a great defense, and with that, good corners. Wilson will have his work cut out for him, but he is the best eligible draft prospect on the field. His releases are advanced for a college athlete and he should be able to create separation. With more good play the rest of the season, Wilson could lock in his status as the top wide receiver in the class.
3. Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan Wolverines
Michigan has had an undefeated so far and will have a rivalry game this week to help prove they are legit. Their defense has stepped up big time and a lot of that is thanks to edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who is having a great season. Hutchison has 27 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in seven games played.
Hutchinson will have to be solid against the run and the pass against Michigan State. The Spartans feature a good running game, but quarterback Payton Thorne has outplayed expectations this season. Hutchinson should be a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he has a lot to play for at Michigan this season still.
4. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State Spartans
Michigan isn’t the only undefeated team in the state, as the Spartans have had a good bounce-back season under Mel Tucker. They have been able to run the ball well with running back Kenneth Walker, who has inserted his name into the Heisman conversation. Through seven games, he has rushed for 997 yards and nine touchdowns.
Michigan sports a very good defense that will make it tough for Walker to produce. The Wake Forest transfer has already improved his stock this season, but his stock could continue to improve, as there are no running backs in the class that are really separating themselves from the pack. He is currently projected to be a second through a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
5. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina is not having the season they expected, as they sit at 4-3. There are plenty of areas to place blame, but they really need quarterback Sam Howell to be at his best to help the team overcome their weaknesses. In 2021, Howell has passed for 1,851 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions on 61.1 percent completion.
Howell has both struggled against ranked teams and on the road this season, which makes the Tar Heels’ game at Notre Dame tough. One thing that might help Howell is that All-American safety Kyle Hamilton may not play in this game after exiting the game against USC with a knee injury. No quarterbacks are boldly staking claim at the top of the draft, so Howell could help his stock by playing well for the rest of the season.
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