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 9.
1. Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia has started off the season hot, winning their first seven games. Their defense has been great, much like they were last season. Carter is a big reason why, as he was good last season and now a leader on this Bulldogs’ defense. He has five total tackles and one pass defended on the season.
In week 9, the Bulldogs play the Florida Gators. Part of the gameplan will be containing Anthony Richardson, both as a thrower and runner. Carter can help create pressure and stop the run, which makes him one of the best in the game. He has been battling an injury, but could be back for this game. When he returns, he needs to show more production, even if the stats don’t show how impactful of a player he is to Georgia. Carter is currently projected to be a top 15 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
2. Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse Orange
Syracuse has been good to start the season, but fell to Clemson last week. They still have a lot to play for this season. One of the reasons they have been successful is that they have a talented secondary. Garrett Williams is one of the better players for Syracuse and has 32 total tackles, two interceptions and three passes defended on the season.
Syracuse plays Notre Dame in week 9. The Fighting Irish have been up and down this season. If the Orange secondary can shut down the pass, it will make Notre Dame one-dimensional and could lead to a win. Williams missed the game against Clemson with a thigh bruise, but should be able to return for this game. He is currently projected to be a mid-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
3. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State is undefeated and looks like they can compete with anyone this season. Their offense is humming and when Jaxon Smith-Njigba is able to play, they are even more lethal. He has five receptions for 43 yards this season, but has missed time with a hamstring injury.
The Buckeyes take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in week 9. They have a great corner in Joey Porter Jr., so having all their weapons available will be important, even if Smith-Njigba dodges Porter by playing in the slot. Smith-Njigba returned against Iowa, but left the game early with what appeared to be the same hamstring issue. He is currently projected to be a first-round pick, but the injury has limited how much he can be evaluated so far on the season.
4. Parker Washington, WR, Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State has just one loss on the season, which came to Michigan. They still have hopes of making a Big Ten Championship Game and will need their offense to play more consistently against top-tier competition. Parker Washington has been a big factor on the offense with 30 catches for 388 yards and one touchdown.
To beat Ohio State, Penn State is going to need to put points on the board. Washington can help move the chains as a good possession receiver, but also can make some highlight-reel catches. He is currently projected to be a day two pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
5. Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati Bearcats
After losing to Arkansas in their season-opener, Cincinnati hasn’t lost. Their defense is tough and has a player that is sticking out. Ivan Pace Jr. has been all over the field for the Bearcats. He has 71 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
The Bearcats will have one of their toughest games for the rest of the season against UCF. They have an offense that has been successful on the ground and at times through the air. Pace can be a factor in this game with his ability to find the football early and to make plays. He is currently projected to be a mid-round pick.
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