While the 2020 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 five NFL Draft prospects to watch in college football week 3.
1. A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa
A.J. Epenesa is one of the top edge rushers in the 2020 NFL Draft class and this week will be his first big game of the 2019 college football season. He proved last year to be a formidable prospect after totaling 10.5 sacks, even though Iowa rotated their defensive line a lot. This year he has one sack in two games.
A key to winning the game for the Hawkeyes will be getting pressure on Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy. He was sacked twice in their opener against FCS-level Northern Iowa, so there should be a huge opportunity for Epenesa to get after Purdy in this game. As the best player on the field, he has a chance to turn the tide and secure a Hawkeye victory.
2. Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Even though he is just a redshirt sophomore, Adebo is already widely considered one of the best cornerbacks in the country. Stanford already lost one of their two games, so the Cardinal may not get too many more games in the spotlight. It is best to check out Adebo now, when they are featured in one of the games of the weekend.
Adebo will have a chance to have a big game as UCF will likely start a freshman quarterback in Dillon Gabriel. He will have his hands full though with the Knights’ speed. Any time he and Gabriel Davis are matched up against each other in this game, it is a battle worth watching.
3. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
Eason took the college football world by storm as a freshman at Georgia, but he got hurt as a sophomore and Jake Fromm led the Bulldogs to the College Football Playoff. He was still highly regarded when he transferred to Washington, but things haven’t exactly gone as planned, as the Huskies were upset in week 2 by Cal.
The Huskies are playing a Hawaii team this week that is already 2-0 against the Pac-12. This won’t feature a really tough matchup for Eason, as the Warriors don’t have a great defense, but it will give him a chance to air it out. Hawaii will air the ball out a lot, which could force Washington to do the same. In doing so, it might get Eason back on track.
4. Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Benjamin burst onto the scene last season for the Sun Devils with over 1,600 rushing yards and over 250 receiving yards. This season has not started off on the same pace for him though, as he has just 147 rushing yards in two games. He’ll need to get it back on track to help his draft stock.
This week he will be going up against a good run defense in Michigan State. The Spartans rank first in the country in opponent rushing yards at negative six. That’s through two games. Benjamin will have to rush for a lot of yards to give Arizona State a chance on the road.
5. Kenny Willekes, Edge, Michigan State
Willekes could have left for the NFL Draft last season, but elected to return to school. He has already made a big impact for the Spartan defense with three sacks and four tackles for loss. His draft stock is rising for his play, but now he’ll have to play against tougher competition.
He’ll have to help stop Benjamin in the running game, but Willekes could have an even bigger impact getting after the quarterback. Arizona State is starting a freshman quarterback in Jayden Daniels, so if Willekes can rattle him, it could be a long game for the Sun Devils.