Friday Night Lights: 6 2022 NFL Draft prospects to watch in Week 1

09/03/2021
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Week 1 of the 2021 college football season is littered with great matchups.

For the majority of the 2022 NFL draft prospects, this is the opportunity to make a great first impression this season. Hence, the importance of starting fast. The hefty and exciting slate of games begins this week. Therefore, Friday night will be the appetizer before our main course on Saturday.

I reviewed Friday night’s schedule and made a prospect watch list. These are draft prospects that I will be keyed on during their matchups.

Offense:

Ty Chandler, UNC, RB

UNC running back Ty Chandler is one of the better pass-catching backs in the nation. He transferred to Chapel Hill after four seasons at Tennessee. There was a void left in the UNC backfield by the departures of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, resulting in Chandler being listed as the starter for the Tarheels. His first test as the new lead back comes against a Virginia Tech defense. Considering the potential of this 2022 running back class, a breakout season could force him up draft boards in April.

Raheem Blackshear, V-Tech, RB

Khalil Herbert is a rookie for the Chicago Bears. The Hokies can use a new leader in the backfield. One-cut, explosive, and elusive, describe Raheem Blackshear. Virginia Tech views their backfield as a “Big Three”, instead of a traditional bell cow. Nonetheless, Blackshear is their best all-around back. In 27 games at Rutgers, he rushed 211 times for 912 yards with six touchdowns. In addition, he caught 80 passes for 810 yards with six touchdowns. He will offer this offense big-play potential and a mismatch for North Carolina linebackers.

Mateo Durant, Duke, RB

Mateo Durant enters his senior season as the top back for the Blue Devils. Their zone-blocking scheme makes it difficult to contain Durant. He pairs together patience, vision, and home-run speed. Durant runs well behind his pad and will lower the boom if necessary. He has a great opportunity to start his final season with a bang against Charlotte. If the starters are not pulled too early in the contest of course.

Jaquarii Roberson, Wake Forest, WR

The wide receiver position is more undefined than in previous years.  As a result, this works in Jaquarii Roberson’s favor heading into this season. There are ample opportunities for improved wide receiver prospects to leap up draft boards. Coming off his season to date, he caught over 60 passes for over 900 yards receiving. Roberson will match up with the defensive backs from Old Dominion. An opportunity to stuff the stat sheet and strengthen his rapport with quarterback Sam Hartman.

Defense:

Brandon Joseph, Northwestern, Safety.

Northwestern can have two stud defenders drafted in the first round. Ball hawking safety Brandon Joseph could follow former teammate Greg Newsome’s footsteps. Joseph is a versatile safety that does not mind sticking his face in the fire against the run, resulting in him becoming a confident alley defender. His ball production gives insight into his ability to take the ball from opposing offenses. Michigan State comes to town. Joseph can start fast and attempt to earn the second-best safety label. Arguably, one of the best draft prospects in the country.

Jaquan Brisker, Penn State, Safety

Jaquan Brisker is the 76th athlete on Bruce Feldman’s Freak List. Therefore, making him one of the better athletes and draft prospects in college football.

Brisker is a converted corner to safety. As a result, he offers big nickel potential in man coverage. He is a force player in the run game. Brisker plays like his hair’s on fire. A motor that never stops running, he can impact the game on all three levels. Therefore, his versatility will grab the scout’s eyes. Whether in coverage, as a run defender, or blitzing the quarterback, Brisker will make his presence known.

Which prospect had the best performance of week zero? Read why I chose Zach Charbonnet.

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