2022 NFL Draft Prospects To Watch: Penn State vs Auburn
It’s the infamous Whiteout at Beaver Stadium, and the SEC is in town to attempt to spoil the party. One of the best match ups of the weekend see’s the Auburn Tigers visit Penn State, and on Saturday, the two face off in front of 107,000 fans, all in white. It’s going to be quite the spectacle. Here are the prospects to keep an eye on during the game, ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Auburn Tigers head to face the Nittany Lions off of back to back 60+ point games, and new head coach Bryan Harsin has them looking well oiled. Penn State have a few battle scars already on the season, after toughing it out on opening weekend against rival Wisconsin. It’s not an easy start to their schedule for Penn State, as Wisconsin and Auburn both pose a genuine challenge, but so far, they look good, and if they can dispatch of the Tigers on Saturday, and send them back to the SEC with a loss, college football is going to have to start paying attention to Penn State. Who should be on the radar as far as the 2022 NFL Draft goes? Let’s take a look.
Penn State Safety – Jaquan Brisker
Brisker is a top three safety in all of College Football this season, along with Kyle Hamilton of the Fighting Irish, and Tykee Smith, formerly of West Virginia, now a Georgia Bulldog. Brisker went out in week one and iced the game against Wisconsin, picking off an end zone throw in the dying moments, right in the middle of the field. He was everywhere in that game, and it only further proved what a talent he really is.
A former JUCO project, Brisker converted to free safety from a nickel/strong safety role ahead of the 2020 season, and proceeded to be great. Now in 2021, he’s a top prospect for the draft, and his versatility in the secondary is only going to help him further in what is a very talented pool of safeties who could be called early in the 2022 NFL Draft.
It was only right that Brisker caught the game ending interception to defeat the Badgers, as he was pivotal all day, and battling some sort of shoulder trouble, simply wouldn’t come out of the game. He had five tackles, one assisted, allowed zero catches on three targets, and of course, the interception. You’ll find him making tackles up on the line of scrimmage, affecting the run game, and then covering a receiver step for step down the field. Brisker is a day one guy, and a real talent to watch.
Penn State WR – Jahan Dotson
Dotson has steadily progressed with the Nittany Lions, and in his fourth season, the senior is looking to solidify his place among the top receivers in the draft. Following on from KJ Hamler, Dotson is a similar type of talent. He’s a burner, capable of impacting a game in the return game, or as a wide out.
He’s got track speed, and as soon as he picks the ball up whether it be off of a screen or over the middle of the field, he’s looking to run right by everybody else standing in his way.
Dotson is an electric receiver to watch, and Auburns secondary is going to have their work cut out tracking him all day. He’ll be looking to improve on an excellent 2020 campaign, contributing 884 yards and eight TDs. Having trained in the offseason, focusing on the 40 yard dash and getting stronger, and faster, the possibilities for him this season are tremendous. He’ll likely be a day two guy in the 2022 NFL Draft, with fantastic upside.
Penn State LB – Brandon Smith
Ask Justin Fields who Brandon Smith is. He introduced himself to Fields in a major way last season with a monster hit. Smith will play on Sundays, and is going the right way about joining ex-teammate Micah Parsons in the first round. He’s one of the hardest hitting linebackers in all of college football, and some of the plays he makes will leave your jaw on the floor.
He doesn’t slow down, at all. Smith plays the game at 100 mile an hour all game long, and hits you with every ounce of force in his body. Penn State likes to blitz him off the edge, and if it’s a hand off to the running back Smith has dragged him down before he even gets back to the line of scrimmage. A force on the defense, he’ll be looking to introduce himself to Bo Nix on Saturday.
Penn State OT – Rasheed Walker
Walker is largely considered a first round talent, and the left tackle could likely have been just that would he have declared for the draft this year. However, he decided one more season with the Nittany Lions was his preference. The 6’6″ left tackle is looking to dominate again this college football season.
Auburn CB – Roger McCreary
Auburn’s secondary is full of talent this season, and both guys I have my eye on in this Penn State game are from that very position group. The first of those is Roger McCreary. The senior is playing in his fourth season of SEC football, and has been consistent for the Tigers since he got there.
McCreary has great burst, and his closing speed stands out. He’s a speedster, and the match up between he and Jahan Dotson is going to be a lot of fun on Saturday night. McCreary has an eye for the football, and already has one interception this season against Alabama State last weekend.
Roger McCreary is a headache and you’ll regularly find him draped all over a wide receiver. He excels in the red zone, with great burst and footwork in tight coverage. He had a 100 yard interception return against Kentucky called back for a targeting call, but the play was still spectacular. He could be special.
Auburn Safety – Smoke Monday
One of the better names in all of college football, Smoke Monday is another top safety to look out for in the 2022 NFL Draft. Smoke Monday is quite the presence, at 6’2″ and almost 200 pounds, he’s one of the bigger safeties on our draft radar. But his play is outstanding.
Make no mistake, this is a hard hitting safety, and commentary teams all over the country love to say ‘he got smoked’, when a ball carrier gets levelled by Smoke Monday. He plays like a heat seeking missile towards the football, and will meet you in a gap, or up the sideline, with a whole lot of force.
Watching Penn State throw the ball against this secondary makes for a very interesting matchup in the Whiteout on Saturday night. Get your popcorn for all these 2022 NFL Draft prospects.