The College Football season is now in full swing. The Future Stars are starting to emerge and 2021 NFL Draft talk is heating up.
Future Stars brings you the 2021 NFL Draft Prospects you should keep your eye on each and every week throughout the college season and into next year’s Draft.
Week 9 sees 4 games televised in the UK on BT Sport 3 and BT Sport ESPN.
You can watch Memphis at Cincinnati (16:00 UK time), LSU at Auburn (19:30) and Ohio State at Penn State (23:00) all are available on BT Sport ESPN.
You can also watch Mississippi State at Alabama (23:00) on BT Sport 3.
Here are your Future Stars in week 9.
ALEX LEATHERWOOD – OT – ALABAMA
Leatherwood’s draft stock would have likely been higher if he had declared in 2020 rather than going back to school. He now finds himself in a cluster of lineman chasing down the consensus top ranked tackle in Penei Sewell.
The key to Leatherwood’s game is versatility.
Leatherwood plays with great anticipation. His hands are always up ready for his blocks. He is a strong lineman and once he gets his hands on you it’s game over. Leatherwood has a springy first step and is able to get to the second level quickly. He is a player that is always on the move and had good footwork.
Although Leatherwood has good hands, he could move them better sometimes. He has a tendency to set his hands too low and thrust them up into opponents, rather than reaching forward with power. It’s a technique issues that can be worked on and coached. He can throw himself into blocks losing balance and control.
Leatherwood could also finish off opponents better. He can play a little out of control at times, but despite this, you don’t always see the gritty no nonsense finish.
Leatherwood may not have the upper ceiling that other prospects do, but he has the tools to reach the threshold. There may be some talk about him moving inside at the next level, but Leatherwood will be keen to prove he is one of the better guards in the country before next year’s draft.
PAT FREIERMUTH – TE – PENN STATE
Freiermuth is now in a battle for the TE1 spot. Kyle Pitts is doing everything he can to get his name to the top of the pile. Freiermuth was the top tight end prospect coming into the 2020 college season and he will need to step up again this year if he is to retain that nametag.
Freiermuth is a complete tight end. Predominantly a pass catcher, Freiermuth is a matchup nightmare and a key redzone target. He has already scored 16 touchdowns in his college career and is set for many more in 2020. His hands are as good as a top wide receiver prospect. Despite Freiermuth’s ability in the passing game he is also more than competent as a blocker.
To find a weakness of any substance in Freiermuth’s game is really pedantic. It would be good to see Freiermuth run more of a variety of routes in 2020, this will only improve his draft stock and cement his place as the top tight end in this class. This isn’t us being picky as we know Freiermuth is more than capable of surpassing our expectations.
If Freiermuth continues in this upward trajectory it’s difficult to see him not being the first TE off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. He will slot straight in at the next level and will automatically bring production. He isn’t being nicknamed ‘Baby Gronk’ for nothing!
TERRACE MARSHALL – WR – LSU
LSU already has 1 guaranteed first-rounder in Ja’Marr Chase. Is it really plausible they have another?
Without Chase on the roster, Marshall is starting to show he is a WR1 on merit. He had a productive 2019, but was overshadowed by the brilliance of Ja’Marr Chase. Already in 2020 Marshall has 512 yards and 9 TDs. Marshall is killing opposing defences in 2020 and he now faces a Auburn team struggling for any type of form.
Marshall seems to have learnt at lot from Chase. He combines size, speed and physicality to overpower his opponents. He has superb ball skills and is exceptional at the catch point. Marshall is lighting up that Tigers’ offence. He is excellent on go routes where he can use his explosive speed to beat defenders.
Marshall’s route running isn’t out of this world, but is more than adequate. He is great off the line of scrimmage but can drift off line on occasion. There were worries if Marshall would take the next step in an LSU offence without so many of their 2019 stars, but he has thrived under it.
Before the 2020 season it was expected Marshall would have been a late day 2 pick, but his draft stock is trending upwards and is now being spoken about in round 1 contention.
WYATT DAVIS – OG – OHIO STATE
Ohio State have a number of Future Stars on both sides of the ball. We could have included a number of Buckeyes who will be drafted in 2021. Wyatt Davis is a top interior lineman prospect who is NFL ready now.
Davis is a squeaky clean athlete. He does his job really well and keeps opponents out of the pocket by any means necessary. He is powerful and physical and can perform consistently whether he is in short space or in open field. Davis has the ability to climb to the second level with his smooth footwork which makes his transition look easy. Davis is a player who can face off against anyone and continuously beats out linebackers and defensive tackles.
There isn’t much not to like about Davis’ game. He is spoken about as one of the top interior lineman for a reason. On film you do notice that Davis has an appetite to get overly aggressive at times. He can be over eager to destroy his opponent, although this is a trait to like, you want fire and dominance at the heart of the offensive line. He may just want to be careful he doesn’t draw too many penalties in the NFL.
It would be a real shock if Davis wasn’t a round 1 selection come the 2021 NFL Draft. He will be a feature in the trenches for years to come.
JAMES WIGGINS – S – CINCINNATI
The Cincinnati Bearcats are currently ranked #7 in the latest AP College Football Rankings. This is in part to their strong defensive play and Wiggins is at the heart of that.
Wiggins has great measurables and is a freak athlete. He made Bruce Feldman’s freak list before the season. Feldman wrote in The Athletic “He benches 405, squats 675 and has tremendous burst, broad jumping 11-0, vertical leaping 37 inches and timing 4.40 in the 40.”
He has the ability to play in any coverage and has production. Wiggins had 4 takeaways in 2019. He defends the pass really well, but he can also play the Nickel and has no problem attacking the line of scrimmage.
Wiggins will be at late riser in the draft and will definitely be a name to watch out for. He will be a player that shines at the combine and at pro days. He is currently seen as a mid round pick and it will be interesting to see how high his physical attributes can take him.
Which Future Stars will you have your eye on this week? Let us know over on Twitter @NinetynineYards and @Owain_Jones_
Feature Image Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports