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Week 3- Players to Watch

by J.T. Toth

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report.

Draft 412 is ready for Saturday’s games and wants to make sure you are as well. Each week, we will go through the games and the players to watch, on our way to the draft in April 2024.

Here is our preview for - Week 3:

Pitt (1-1) at West Virginia (1-1) 7:30pm ABC (Saturday)

Line- Pittsburgh (-1)

Draft 412 Prediction - Pittsburgh 30 West Virginia 17

With no top 25 matchups in week 3, the Backyard Brawl becomes one of the best games of the weekend. Pitt is coming off a stinging loss to Cincinnati at home, and they look to right their ship in the most unpleasant of places…Morgantown. West Virginia, however, is coming off a 56-17 win over Duquesne, and they hope to keep momentum going against their arch enemies.

Pittsburgh - Quarterback - Phil Jurkovec

To say Jurkovec had a rough outing last week would be an understatement. The Cincinnati defense held him to 10-32 passing, sacked him 5 times, and made him look uncomfortable from the opening snap.

On the positive side, he threw 3 touchdowns and made it a game late. Draft 412 ranks Jurkovec as a potential late round draft pick next April and this can be a big bounce back game for him in front of a raucous crowd. And he shouldn’t hear the boos if he plays poorly.

Pittsburgh - TE - Gavin Bartholomew

Gavin Bartholomew has made plays in each of his first two games and is establishing himself as the go-to guy in this Pitt offense. An athletic tight end who has excellent hands, Bartholomew can beat a defense many ways, including up the seam.

Quarterback Phil Jurkovec needs to feed Bartholomew more every game, especially since Bub Means and the Pitt receivers have not been very consistent. Bartholomew, who has 5 receptions for 118 yards and 1 touchdown in 2 weeks, is starting to slowly creep up draft boards.

Pittsburgh - Tackle - Matt Goncalves

Matt Goncalves was beaten several times around the edge by Cincinnati last week. He was slow to explode out of his stance and had issues with the quicker edge rushers. He will have his hands full this week going against West Virginia’s edge rusher, Sean Martin. This will be a matchup that Draft 412 will pay attention to all night long.

West Virginia - DE - Sean Martin

As mentioned above, the matchup of the day is Sean Martin vs. Matt Goncalves. Martin is a large man with foot quickness and an arsenal of moves. He has 7 tackles in 2 games and will be looking for his first sack against an NFL bound tackle in Goncalves.

West Virginia - C - Zach Frazier

Zach Frazier is one of the best centers in college football and will need to be at his best against a Pitt defensive line that rotates a talented bench of defensive linemen throughout the game. Frazier hopes to be the first center off the board in next year’s draft, and playing well against the Panthers' front four will add to his already impressive resume.

Others to Watch

Pitt - RB - Rodney Hammond

Pitt - DT- David Green

Pitt - CB - M.J. Devonshire

West Virginia - RB - C.J. Donaldson

West Virginia - WR - Hudson Clement

(1-2) Hawai’i at #13 (2-0) Oregon 8:00 pm PAC-12 Network (Saturday)

Line- Oregon (-3)

Draft 412 Prediction - Oregon 52 Hawai’i- 31

This is the first time Hawaii and Oregon will face each other since 1996. The Ducks lead the all-time matchup 4-3 but have not beaten Hawaii since 1969.

Hawaii - Quarterback - Brayden Schager

Brayden Schager is a gunslinger for Hawaii who leads the nation in passing yards with 972. It will be fun to see what the junior quarterback can do against a talented Ducks defense, but one that tends to give up a big play or two every game. Though he is not on many scouts' radar at this point, his resume might grow among scouts with a good performance at Eugene. At 6’3” 225, he has NFL size. Draft 412 looks forward to watching him play Saturday night.

Oregon - Quarterback - Bo Nix

Bo Nix, the ex-Auburn signal caller, is off to a hot start in 2023. He has thrown for 646 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2 games without throwing an interception. Nix, a potential 2nd day draft pick, will look to keep the momentum going against a porous Rainbow Warriors defense.

Oregon - Wide Receiver - Troy Franklin

Draft 412 looks forward to seeing do-it-all receiver Troy Franklin on Saturday night. Franklin has 13 receptions for 209 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first 2 weeks. He can beat teams many different ways and must keep producing at his current clip to keep pace with what will be a very deep and talented 2024 wide receiver draft class.

Oregon - Defensive Lineman - Brandon Dorlus

Brandon Dorlus has been off to a slow start in 2023, but with a quarterback who will likely drop back 50 or more times on Saturday night, Draft 412 is interested to see if Dorlus has a productive game against a smaller offensive line.

Others to Watch

Oregon - DE - Jordan Burch

Oregon- RB - Bucky Irving

Oregon - CB - Trikweze Bridges

Hawaii - WR - Pofele Ashlock

Minnesota (2-0) at #20 North Carolina (2-0) 3:30 pm ESPN (Saturday)

Line- North Carolina (-7.5)

Draft 412 Prediction - North Carolina 23 Minnesota 20

A week three ACC vs. BIG-10 matchup? Thank you, football gods! North Carolina, coming off a double overtime win against Appalachian State, will be playing their 3rd consecutive home game against a 2-0 Minnesota team who has beaten Nebraska and Eastern Michigan.

North Carolina - Quarterback - Drake Maye

Drake Maye has had a slow start in 2023. In two games, Maye has thrown for 477 yards and 2 touchdowns to go along with 2 interceptions. Draft 412 still thinks Maye has what it takes to be the 2nd quarterback selected in 2024, but he needs to produce against Minnesota (and Pitt the following week).

Minnesota - Tight End - Brevyn Spann-Ford

The 6’7” athletic tight end for Minnesota is growing into one of the Golden Gophers' best targets. He has 7 catches for 50 yards and though he hasn’t scored yet, he can stretch the field. North Carolina will have their hands full trying to stop Spann-Ford.

North Carolina - LB - Cedric Gray

Cedric Gray has 20 tackles in 2 weeks and continues to show draft pundits he can be the first inside linebacker selected in 2024. Draft 412 looks forward to seeing him matched up against a Minnesota team that loves to run, looking to secure another double-digit tackle week.

Minnesota - S - Tyler Nubin

Tyler Nubin may be the top free safety in this draft class and a matchup against Drake Maye is going to show scouts what he can do against an elite quarterback. Through 2 games, Nubin already has 2 interceptions and has been making plays all over the field.

Others to Watch

North Carolina - RB - Omarion Hampton

North Carolian - WR - Kobe Paysour

North Carolina - DT - Myles Murphy

Minnesota - DB - Tre’Von Jones

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