We’re into October college football. Conference play is upon us. We’re beyond initial draft board development and into the first validation phase.
Here are five major matchups for LA Rams fans to check out this weekend.
Oklahoma LT Orlando Brown v. Texas edge rushers
12:00pm ET, FS1
Rams LT Greg Robinson is forcing an uncomfortable conversation right now. If that conversation continues, the Rams will have to start looking to the draft for a potential franchise left tackle. Brown, a redshirt sophomore, certainly has the makeup. At 6’8”, 340 lbs., he has the frame. And as the son of the late Orlando Brown of NFL fame, he’s got pedigree to boot.
Texas doesn’t have the best edge rushers, but keep an eye on sophomore Breckyn Hager and freshman Malcolm Roach. There’s plenty of development ahead for both, but this rivalry turns this into a de facto bowl game. A big performance from either will accelerate their learning curve.
Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford v. UNC CBs Des Lawrence & M.J. Stewart
3:30pm ET, ABC
This is a legit draft matchup. Prospect on prospect/s.
Ford isn’t near a Day 1 selection but could be in the mix on Day 2. His only game in which he didn’t score a touchdown was the Battle at Bristol where he put up five catches for 51 yards against Tennessee.
Meanwhile, UNC’s cornerback combo did a fine job last week against Florida State. The Tar Heels gave up just 129 receiving yards to wide receivers, nearly all of which went to WR Jesus Wilson who was working toward the inside of the field.
Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett v. Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
3:30pm ET, CBS
Ok, so these two aren’t facing up against each other, but only one of them can rule the draft stage. Garrett is being primed as a potential #1 overall pick. Barnett’s a fine end prospect on his own and could be looking at round 1 consideration.
Really, this is about expectations. Garrett’s the kind of player that can and does and should take over football games. There is an injury issue though that kept him out of last week’s clash with South Carolina. With a back-to-back for A&M of #9 Tennessee followed by #1 Alabama, they need Garrett back ASAP.
Barnett on the other hand is very reminiscent of Robert Quinn. He put up a pair of sacks in each of their last two come-from-behind wins over Florida and Georgia. The Vols would prefer not to be in the same position this week needing a hail mary. Barnett’s leadership up front might be what prevents it from happening again.
Alabama’s entire damn defense v. anybody who do they have this week Arkansas ok great good for them
7:00pm ET, ESPN
Here’s the thing. You can hate Alabama for a lot of reasons. Good reasons in fact. But if you’re trying to pay attention to how the 2017 NFL Draft, and really, every damn draft as far as we can see, will shake out, there’s no avoiding Alabama.
They’ve got 10 guys who could all be gone by the end of Round 3 in this year’s draft alone.
This next four-game stretch is tape we’ll be turning to in March. At Arkansas, at Tennessee, home for A&M and then at LSU.
So yeah, just soak it in.
Florida State’s defense v. Miami QB Brad Kaaya
8pm ET, ABC
Kaaya’s going to be a polarizing prospect. He has a tendency to try to bite off more than he can chew against defenses who play a similar style to the Rams’ defense. Becuase Kaaya is so physically talented, perhaps the smartest play against him is to take away the deep ball and the sidelines. If you do that, he can get frustrated with checkdowns and make mistakes.
One of the other things working against him? He’s taking on a talented but flawed Florida State defense that has already faced Louisville QB Lamar Jackson and UNC QB Mitch Trubisky. Both had great games against the Noles’ D. If Clemson QB DeShaun Watson does as well when they face off later this month, it’s going to set the bar high for QBs playing FSU. Kaaya’s performance tomorrow then could be viewed strongly if he fares poorly.
If he and his team get the job done? The U is back in a major way heading into the meat of their ACC schedule.