Gabriel: WVU’s Grier, Oregon’s Herbert among top draft prospects to watch in Week 5

September 30, 2018

Now that we are closing out September and in the fifth week of the 2018 college football season, games become increasingly important as more and more conference battles ensue. The games between top-25 teams on Saturday include No. 12 West Virginia at No. 25 Texas Tech, No. 4 Ohio State at No. 9 Penn State, No.19 Oregon at No. 24 Cal, No.7 Stanford at No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 20 BYU at No. 11 Washington. All should be interesting games that directly affect many of the conference races and, as we get into October, the biggest ones will have a huge effect on which teams end up in the College Football Playoff.

If you’re looking for some top NFL Draft prospects to watch, these games will be full of them. The West Virginia-Texas Tech game has one of the better quarterbacks in the country in West Virginia’s Will Grier, as well as wide receivers Gary Jennings and David Sills. Texas Tech’s best prospect at this time is linebacker Dakota Allen, who leads the team with 25 total tackles. Grier is having an outstanding season, and though he plays in a high percentage spread offense, his 75 percent completion rate is notable.

Ohio State at Penn State is loaded with prospects — although one of the leading prospects in the country won’t play. Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa had abdominal surgery recently. Other Ohio State prospects include tackle Isaiah Prince, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and linebacker Tuf Borland. Penn State, of course, is led by quarterback Trace McSorley, as well as wide receiver Juwan Johnson, running back Miles Sanders and guard Connor McGovern. Sanders played only spot duty the past few years because of Saquon Barkley but has really jumped out now that he is the lead back.

The Oregon-Cal game features a top quarterback in the Ducks’ Justin Herbert. There are sone analysts who feel he is one of the two or three best quarterbacks in this upcoming draft (assuming he declares early). Herbert has completed 72-of-114 passes for 1,186 yards and 13 TDs so far this season.

Much like Ohio State-Penn State, the Notre Dame-Stanford meeting is loaded with draft prospects. Stanford has wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, running back Bryce Love, center Jesse Burkett, tackle Nate Herbig and tight end Kaden Smith on offense. Their defense is led by corner Alijah Holder.

Notre Dame has a similar number of prospects, led by defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. Tillery is as talented as any defensive lineman in college football but has to prove to scouts that he is truly committed to being a great player. Linebacker Te’Von Coney may be the best ‘Will’ linebacker in college football this year. The offensive line doesn’t have prospects like Mike McGlinchey or Quenton Nelson, but Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars will both get drafted. Bars may have another year of eligibility, if he so desires. Linebacker Drue Tranquill is an interesting guy in that he came to Notre Dame as a safety and had two ACL injuries earlier in his career. He is totally healthy now, and scouts like him as a hybrid linebacker-type. He has recorded 33 tackles in four games for the Irish.

Washington’s best prospect is out for the season. Huskies OT Trey Adams injured his back during presason practices and had surgery earlier this month. It remains to be seen if he returns for another year. Quarterback Jake Browning is a four-year starter, but he has never made the jump scouts hoped he would make after an outstanding sophomore year in 2016. Running back Myles Gaskin doesn’t have great size but ran for over 1,300 yards in each of his first three seasons at Washington. He has 357 rushing yards so far this season.

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