Top NCAA Football Prospects To Watch on Saturday


Thanksgiving weekend is one of the best weekends for football action. It is when the NFL heads into the downhill stretch and also when the best matchups occur in college football. This week is filled with intriguing matchups that will not only have a huge barring on which teams get bowl bids and which teams get into the college football playoff but also for the individual players who hope to make their way to the NFL.

Rivalry games between two highly ranked teams are always weighted with the most importance when evaluating players because it is the games the most closely resemble the type of atmosphere and talent they will play in the NFL.

Mackensie Alexander vs. Pharoah Cooper

Before the season began, Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander wasn’t on many NFL radars, 13 weeks into the season and he is vying with Vernon Hargreaves III as the top draft-eligible cornerback in college football. Alexander is an aggressive cornerback who uses his intellect and athleticism to bait quarterbacks into throwing his way. He has fluid feet and hips, which allow him to blanket receivers on crossing and out patterns. Alexander isn’t the biggest cornerback, but he makes up for it with his physical nature and leaping ability.

South Carolina wide receiver Pharoah Cooper is a dynamic receiver who many have compared to Randall Cobb. Cooper isn’t the most refined route runner, but he uses his athletic ability to win deep and on crossing routes. Cooper has a lot of trouble getting off press coverage, which is why the Gamecocks try to scheme ways to get him a free release as much as possible.

Alexander has the advantage in this matchup if he can get up and press Cooper off the line of scrimmage. However, if Alexander gives Cooper a free release, he is going to be in for a long day as Cooper will eat him up in the open field.

Shon Coleman vs. Jonathan Allen

The Auburn and Alabama game pits two of the most underrated prospects in all of football. Auburn’s Shon Coleman has the potential to be a great left tackle in the NFL and Alabama’s Jonathan Allen may be the most productive and versatile defensive lineman in college football.

Coleman has prototypical size for the position as he uses his long arms to prevent rushers from getting to his body or getting around the edge. Furthermore, Coleman is extremely athletic, which allows him to pull and work to the second level extremely well. he has a little bit of trouble with his aiming points against moving defenders, but he should be able to clean that up more as time goes by.

Allen has been the most productive player on the best defensive line that college football has seen in many years. Allen lines up everywhere across the Alabama defensive line and he has been able to be productive from each spot. When he is lined up in the interior, Allen uses his quickness to penetrate upfield and disrupt plays in the backfield. When he is out on the edge, Allen uses his great hand usage and leverage to get past tackles.

If Allen is going to get the better of Coleman, he is going to have to utilize great rush angles and get into the body of Coleman on a regular basis. If Allen can do that he will have a ton of success against the mammoth tackle.

Jaylon Smith vs. Christian McCaffrey

The most intriguing matchup this weekend pits the best draft eligible linebacker, Jaylon Smith, against the one of the best running backs in college football, Christian McCaffrey.

Jaylon Smith is an athletic freak with the ability to make plays from sideline to sideline. He flows to the ball extremely well and he closes on the ball fast than anyone else in college football. He is a great blitzer who times his blitzes well, which allows him to make a ton of plays in the backfield. Furthermore, Smith is fundamentally sound when he takes on blocks and he understands how to stack and shed against blockers much bigger than him.

McCaffrey burst onto the scene for Stanford as a dynamic return man and running back. McCaffery is a quick and shifty running back with fantastic vision to hit the holes when they are open. McCaffery doesn’t have a lot of power, but he has incredible balance. McCaffery is extremely productive behind Stanford’s offensive line and it will be interesting to see where his stock rises next year when he eligible.

Overall, this matchup is one that pits two of the best players in college football and it should be extremely fun to watch.

About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and