What a great weekend it was. College football is officially back, and we were treated to a bunch of great games all weekend long with the holiday weekend.
This weekend was a good start for the college football season. A majority of the players at the top of my rankings had great first games, as well as some guys who aren’t in my top 100 at this point.
I’ve found myself very intrigued with this year’s quarterback class. I currently view just three quarterbacks in my top 25, but there are an additional three quarterbacks within my next 15 prospects. There was some impressive play this weekend that is getting me very excited about this class.
It’s starting to remind me of the 2018 draft with Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson. It might not seem that great at the time of the draft, but we could look back on this class in a few years and realize it was actually great.
Without further ado, let’s head into the top performances from this weekend.
Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
Strong landed just outside my preseason top 25 rankings. He quickly made his case for a higher ranking with an excellent first showing in 2021.
He finished the game with 312 yards and two touchdowns on 56% of his passes. His arm strength and deep ball accuracy are the first two things that jump off the screen when watching Strong. The timing with his receivers was on display with multiple perfectly thrown comeback routes. Strong has high-level accuracy and touch on his throws.
One thing that is particularly unique with Strong’s evaluation is how Nevada runs its offense with Strong. He’s been given a long leash to fully control the offense on the field in pre-snap. Strong is constantly making adjustments before the ball is snapped, such as changing blocking protections and giving route adjustments to his receivers.
If Strong can build off of this performance, his name is one we could hear called very early in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
Charbonnet started his college career at Michigan in 2019 before transferring to UCLA this last offseason. With UCLA playing in Week 0 this year, Charbonnet already has two games under his belt this season.
In his first game against Hawaii, Charbonnet racked up 106 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries. He broke 5 tackles on one play alone, a 47-yard touchdown run.
He went on to follow up that performance with 117 yards on just 11 carries against LSU. Charbonnet is currently splitting carries with another transfer running back, Brittain Brown. With these two impressive showings to start the season, it seems likely Charbonnet will start receiving the bulk of the touches.
He runs with great balance, power, and breakaway speed making him nearly impossible to contain. Charbonnet also has very reliable hands, a trait every NFL team not only values, but expects in today’s pass-heavy game.
While I remain hesitant to draft a running back in the first round, Charbonnet has flashed the potential to be a top 30 prospect in this draft class.
Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Booth Jr. is currently my second-ranked cornerback, but I can’t guarantee he won’t take the top spot come April.
Despite Clemson’s loss, Booth Jr. had a near-perfect game. He gave up just one yard the whole game and added in a pass breakup and a tackle for loss. I don’t believe in “shut down corners”, but Booth Jr. can lock up the best receiver on almost any team.
Despite his great coverage skills, the best part of his game may be his tackling. Whether it’s coming downhill in run support, or making a tackle in space, Booth Jr. is as reliable as they get. Furthermore, he’s one of the best block-shedding corners in college football.
The top cornerback in this class, Derek Stingley Jr., LSU, is a currently a consensus top 5 prospect on draft boards. However, after a shaky 2020 season and a rough start to the 2021 season, Booth Jr. may be able to grab the top spot come April.
Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
Davis may be the MVP of all of college football in week one. He pushed around Clemson’s offensive line and was the key to Georgia’s victory.
He finished the game with three tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. His contributions went beyond the box score as he controlled the line of scrimmage all game.
Davis is a massive man at 6’6” and 340 pounds who uses his size to plug up the middle of the defensive line. He’s an excellent run defender who rarely gets moved off the line of scrimmage.
He entered this season as my 32nd ranked prospect, and he’ll need to develop more of a pass rush if he can truly be considered a first round lock, but Davis’ upside as a run stuffer is incredibly enticing.
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Hamilton entered the season as my fifth ranked prospect overall, but he still improved his draft stock after week one.
His fingerprints were all over the win against Florida State, has he brought in two interceptions, along with racking up six tackles. Hamilton displayed the range and athleticism that has the scouting world buzzing.
It seems the only thing holding Hamilton back in his draft evaluation, is simply the lower value his position holds compared to other positions such as quarterback or edge rusher. In semi-recent history, just two safeties have been drafted in the top 5 since 1991 (Eric Turner, second overall, 1991, Cleveland and Sean Taylor, fifth overall, 2004, Washington).
Wins don’t typically follow highly drafted safeties, simply because using so much draft capital on a safety leaves a lot of other holes on the roster at more impactful positions. However, Hamilton seems like he may be the one to break that trend.
Standing at 6’4” and 220 pounds, Hamilton has the size to fill in the box in run support, the arm length in pass coverage, and the frame to cover tight ends. Beyond his physical appearance, Hamilton brings insane speed, athleticism, and instincts, all of which was on display when reeling in two interceptions on Sunday. He can line up at linebacker in subpackages with his size, or put him in the slot with his speed, or send Hamilton to high safety with his range and instincts.
NFL teams can put Hamilton on the field and never have to worry about taking him out in any situation. He is a true three-down player and a defensive weapon. I’ll say it right now, Hamilton will be a top-three pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.