College Football is about to turn the page to begin another amazing season as schools compete against one another for bragging rights and the chance to compete in the College Football playoffs.
Not only are teams focused on beating their opponents week in and week out, but individual players are focused on standing out and putting themselves on the NFL’s radar. Making an NFL roster is the hope of essentially every player that puts on pads for their respective schools and their chance to do just that begins next Saturday.
We’ll see players rise and fall in NFL Draft discussions, but this is where the work begins. For the die-hard Dynasty players, your work in adding talent to your rosters begins now with learning some of the names you should be watching this College Football season.
(Note: The players are listed below in no particular ranking order)
Grant Calcaterra – Oklahoma Sooners
Strengths: Grant Calcaterra’s the epitome of the “Move” tight end. He’s excellent in space, lines up all over the field at Oklahoma and has great hands. He possesses excellent body control and has the ability to slow down and cut quickly in and out of his breaks, which gives him an advantage when lined up on stiffer linebackers. He catches the ball in stride and has the natural receiving ability you love to see from an athletic tight end.
Weaknesses: While Calcaterra is a willing participant in the run-blocking game, he doesn’t possess the size to be used that way frequently at the NFL level. He’s currently listed at 221lbs, which is slight for a tight end. If he doesn’t bulk up, he may be caught in the middle of a tight end or wide receiver, which could cause some questions regarding his draft stock come next April.
2019 Outlook: After watching Calcaterra’s film against Texas, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia last season, I’m confident in my player comparison of Trey Burton. Both are undersized players for the position, but hyper-athletic. Kyler Murray is no longer at Oklahoma, so it’ll be up to Jalen Hurts to move the offense and get the ball in Calcaterra’s hands. If he can bulk up to at least the 235lb range, while maintaining his explosiveness, we could be looking at the top TE in this 2020 class.
Albert Okwuegbunam – Missouri Tigers
Strengths: Different tight ends utilize different strengths to win one-on-one matchups. While Calcaterra (mentioned above) utilizes his quickness and route-running ability to win, Albert Okwuegbunam uses his size and strength. Okwuegbunam is 6’5″/255 lbs and utilizes it snap after snap. He has great body control at the top of his routes and excels at tracking the ball in the air. He’s a mismatch nightmare lined up against corners and safeties purely based on his ability to box out and his ball tracking skills. Additionally, he possesses run after the catch ability and has the speed to break away from defenders. On top of his receiving ability, he also has the size to stand his ground in the run game.
Weaknesses: While Okwuegbunam excels at using his size for positioning, he lacks fluidity in his movements. He has a tendency to be stiff and can be a bit “choppy” before he reaches his breaks at the top of routes. Also tends to rely on his pure size in the run game, rather than technique or drive. He has the size to survive in the NFL attached to the line of scrimmage but will be best when detached from the line and he’s able to use his size to beat defenders.
2019 Outlook: One of the most hyped players heading into CFB in 2018, Okwuegbunam disappointed people last season. He chose to stay at Mizzou and will look to prove the doubters wrong and display the raw talent that had many people enthralled with his potential. He’ll need to prove he has the passion and drive in the run game in order to be a highly drafted prospect, but all of the tools and traits are there to be great in the NFL. It’s simply about putting it all together now.
Brycen Hopkins – Purdue Boilermakers
Strengths: Brycen Hopkins is my #1 tight end going into 2019. He has a great release out of his stance and is extremely powerful off the line of scrimmage. He uses his body well in the first parts of his route to gain leverage and then has enough “bend” to break away quickly from his defender. Once he has the ball in his hands though is when he’s the most dangerous. He’s lethal after the catch and possesses great movability and fluidity for a 6’5″/245lb man. He has natural receiving ability and he’s a willing blocker and stands his own against the tough competition in the Big 10.
Weaknesses: Hopkins is still raw as a prospect. He has only 69 total receptions in college football up to this point, so he’ll need to prove that he can be a centerpiece of an offense and be a consistent receiving threat. Also needs to improve technique in the run game, but this should come with time. The majority of his receptions came in the open field as he worked into space, so he’ll need to prove that he can win in contested catch situations as well in order to prove he’s a well-rounded prospect.
2019 Outlook: While Hopkins is still raw, I expect NFL teams are going to fall in love with his skillset. We could see him fall into a very favorable Fantasy Football situation, so he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. He has all the tools and traits to be a weapon for an NFL offense, it’s just a matter of seeing if he can rise to the occasion this season at Purdue.