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 8.
1. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan Wolverines
Donovan Peoples-Jones was a highly recruited player out of high school. He has never quite lived up to the hype at Michigan as other wide receivers have passed him by. So far this season, he has just 12 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns in four games. To elevate his draft stock, he’ll need to start picking it up.
Michigan will have their hands full with a tough Penn State defense this week, which allows fewer than nine points a game. Peoples-Jones shouldn’t be the focal point of the defense for Penn State so he could have a big game. The Wolverine offense needs a kickstart in this game for them to be able to win. Peoples-Jones can really salvage some of the draft stock he has lost with a big game in this one.
2. Calvin Throckmorton, OT, Oregon Ducks
The Ducks don’t just have a quarterback that is an NFL Draft prospect, they also have a solid offensive line that will send several players to the pros. Throckmorton is one of those players and has been great at tackle for Oregon. He has good experience and has a lot of solid tape to show the NFL.
Oregon plays Washington this week in a rivalry game. The Ducks have played well since losing their opener to Auburn and a lot of that is a credit to the offensive line. Throckmorton will have to play at his best to stop Washington’s pass rush. Helping Oregon win the game will help Throckmorton’s draft stock.
3. Joe Gaziano, DE, Northwestern Wildcats
Gaziano could’ve gone pro after last season, but decided to return to school for one more season. In five games this season, Gaziano has tallied 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Northwestern’s season hasn’t gone as well as last season, but Gaziano has played well.
Northwestern will have the tough task of going up against Ohio State this week on Friday night. Gaziano will have to get pressure on Justin Fields to give Northwestern any chance in this game. Ohio State will likely win, but if Gaziano plays well, he will get some recognition as he is playing on Friday night.
4. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina got a big upset win over Georgia in week 7 and a lot of that was thanks to Javon Kinlaw. He played every snap and as he put it, left it all on the field. He has five tackles for loss and five sacks on the season. He had one tackle for loss and one sack to help the cause against the Bulldogs and if he can play that well again South Carolina can win another big game.
This week, the Gamecocks play Florida. They are outmatched in talent, but if players like Kinlaw step up and have big games, they could win again. Kinlaw will help stop the run and if he can pressure Kyle Trask into bad decisions, the game will be easier for the Gamecocks.
5. Julian Blackmon, S, Utah Utes
Jaylon Johnson is one player who has been featured from the Utah secondary, but Julian Blackmon is another solid draft prospect from the same position group. He has 22 tackles and two interceptions so far this season.
The Utes will play Arizona State this week with a chance to take a lead in the Pac-12 South. They will need Blackmon to play well to slow down freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels who has had some success both throwing and running the ball. If Blackmon can help stop Daniels in both regards, the Utes can win.