What an awesome opening night of college football! Hopefully you had a chance to enjoy some of the outstanding performances from top developmental prospects in the Thursday night and Friday night games.
We already took a look back at the developmental drafts of the past off-season in the first edition of Developing Assets, so we’ll jump right into some of the games and players you should be closely observing on this football Saturday.
A Look Ahead
Wake Up and Watch: Florida International vs. Maryland (ESPN3, 12:30 pm)
While this is far from a marquee game, this is our first chance this season to watch one of the most electric playmakers around, Terrapins wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs, only a sophomore, was a popular choice in developmental drafts this off-season, even though owners will have to wait at least two more seasons for him to hit the league. As a freshman, despite Maryland’s revolving door at quarterback, Diggs led the team in receptions (54), receiving yards (848) and touchdowns (six). He was even active in the running game, adding just over a hundred rushing yards on the season. You can expect Diggs to be an even larger part of the Terps’ offense in 2013.
If You Can Only Watch One: Georgia vs. Clemson (ABC, 8:00 pm)
This is an easy call – the first primetime major network game of the season pits two top ten teams and many of the most popular names among devy owners. Each team sports three offensive skill position players to hone in on.
First, Clemson has the two names everyone knows, quarterback Tahj Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Both are potential first round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft. In fact, there was some second-guessing that Boyd may have been the top player drafted in the 2013 draft, had he elected to declare a year early. Instead, he returned to campus to continue his role in the dynamic duo with the junior wideout Watkins. Watkins, along with USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, form a duo of wide receivers being compared to another great one-two punch that were both drafted early, AJ Green and Julio Jones. Like those two, you can’t go wrong with Watkins or Lee. Both will be top NFL draft picks and should be the top two players chosen in most 2014 rookie drafts, unless of course you already own them.
One final player to watch for the Tigers is freshman wide receiver Mike Williams. Left with a lack of depth at the wide receiver position, Williams has shown he deserves a shot at that playing time, even as a true freshman. Williams is a big target for Boyd and although he is not starting for the Tigers, should see plenty of action. Reports from pre-season practices have been very positive regarding Williams. I’m excited to see how he actually performs on the big stage.
Of course, the Georgia Bulldogs have their own trio of playmakers, but they are more of a tease to dynasty owners since only wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell will be draft eligible in 2014. Mitchell is exactly what NFL coaches and general managers love when it comes to wide receivers, he’s both big and fast. At 6’1”, his reported forty meter dash time is in the mid 4.4s. Mitchell has also displayed his versatility during his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, lining up as a defensive back as well as an extensive role on special teams. Mitchell is still raw as a wide receiver and was actually recruited to play defense in Athens. Expect improvement and more consistency from Mitchell as quarterback Aaron Murray throws the ball all over the field this season.
The tease I mentioned comes in the form of a pair of true sophomore running backs, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Gurley is the team’s starter and the more highly rated of the two backs, but most teams would love to have Marshall as their starter. The duo shies away from attention though, despite comparisons to former Auburn running back pair, Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. As a true freshman last season, Gurley led the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards and touchdowns. Even as Gurley’s backup, Marshall totaled over 700 rushing yards himself. We all have two more long seasons to see these future NFL backs play between the hedges. Try not to drool too much.
Stay Up Late For: UCLA vs. Nevada (PAC 12 Network, 10:00 pm)
The good news is you don’t have to stay up too late to catch one of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football, UCLA’s Brett Hundley. As a redshirt freshman last season, Hundley claimed the starting job and never looked back. His ability to run the ball added a new wrinkle to the Bruin offense. With the recent success of Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and other rushing quarterbacks, dynasty owners and NFL general managers alike and looking for the next quarterback in that mold. Since he did redshirt his first year on campus, Hundley will have the option to forego his final two collegiate seasons. If that happens, he will join a solid quarterback class expected to feature Tahj Boyd and Teddy Bridgewater, among others.
Devy Stock Watch
In this section, I’ll share my weekly view of all college players based on their current devy/dynasty value. This is not necessarily how I would rank these players, but more a view of their dynasty stock.
- Marqise Lee, WR USC
- Sammy Watkins, WR CLEM
- Todd Gurley, RB UGA
- TJ Yeldon, RB ALA
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB UL
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE UW
- Amari Cooper, WR ALA
- Lache Seastrunk, RB BAY
- Ka’Deem Carey, RB ARZ
- Devante Adams, FRES
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