Five under-the-radar 2023 NFL draft prospects to watch in Week 2

What a first week of college football action! From a high-scoring affair in North Carolina to a beatdown in Atlanta to a special teams collapse in New Orleans, it was incredible all around.

There was a ton to unpack from Week 1. I wrote about my biggest takeaways earlier this week and now Week 2 is already upon us. There are a ton of fantastic matchups to watch once again this weekend.

Unfortunately, some of these games are going to be at the same time, so break out the tablet or set your DVR if you want to watch all of the amazing action from this weekend.

I wanted to highlight a few of the draft-eligible players I am most excited to watch this weekend. Without a doubt, Anthony Richardson vs. Will Levis will draw a ton of eyeballs. Plus, I’m really excited for the fanfare of Alabama and Texas.

What about the under-the-radar guys? Perhaps that is a bit of a misnomer. Many of these players fans of college football have likely heard of. However, these are not the guys you will likely see in a first-round mock draft at this point. So rather than just tell people to watch the games they already know to turn on, let’s take a look at some players who might not be household names yet, but could very well be Top 100 players at the end of the season.

Cameron Ward, QB, Washington State
Year: 3rd-year junior
Opponent: at #19 Wisconsin (Saturday at 3:30 pm ET on FOX)

This is a huge stage for Ward. He is a transfer from Incarnate Word looking to make an impression at the FBS level. Ward has a super quick release and can pick apart defenses when given the chance. He got off to a really solid start against Idaho, tossing three touchdown passes in a victory. Now, he will face much stiffer opposition in a Wisconsin defense that shutout Illinois State in their season opener. I wouldn’t be shocked if he returns to school for another season, but Ward is draft eligible this year. A big, nationally-televised game for him against a Top 25 team is the perfect stage to prove to NFL talent-evaluators that he deserves to be on their radar.

Brenton Cox, LB, Florida
Year: 5th-year junior
Opponent: vs. No. 20 Kentucky (Saturday at 7:00 pm ET on ESPN)

Talk about absolutely relentless. That is the best way I can describe Brenton Cox. He made himself some money last week with 10 tackles in the Gators’ upset of Utah. He will have a chance to earn even more this week against Kentucky. The Wildcats are another ranked team with a talented quarterback and a veteran-heavy offensive line. Cox showed incredible burst, great hand usage and good discipline against the run. If he can start pressuring the quarterback on a more consistent basis, he will be trending towards being a top 50 selection. I haven’t seen much buzz about him yet, but I expect that to change if he keeps playing like he did in Week 1, especially against Top 25 opponents.

Myles Jones, CB, Texas A&M
Year: 6th-year senior
Opponent: vs. Appalachian State (Saturday at 3:30 pm ET on ESPN2)

Being a sixth-year player coming off a major injury is going to be a lot to overcome, but Jones has a pretty unique skill set that I believe will see him get drafted this year. He reminds me a bit of Brandon Browner, or, if you want a more recent comparison, Israel Mukuamu from South Carolina, now of the Dallas Cowboys. That’s the type of role I think we could see him play and I would not be shocked if he was moved to safety in the NFL. He is a logical fit in zone heavy schemes, especially those that would not have him pressing much. He needs to improve his hand usage and physicality, but his combination of size (6’4″) and speed is enticing. Facing an App State team that just hung 61 on UNC should offer a pretty solid test.

Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
Year: 4th-year junior
Opponent: at Tennessee (Saturday at 3:30 pm ET on ABC)

Interior pass rushers are still in high demand at the NFL level. At this point, Kancey projects best as a situational pass-rusher rather than a three-down lineman. He struggles against the run, lacking the size and play strength to consistently disrupt the ground game. However, he is a slippery and crafty pass rusher. He excels at crashing the pocket on passing downs. He had a solid game against West Virginia to open the year. The more that I watch him, the more I want him to kick outside and play defensive end, but we will see how the NFL views him. He will get a chance to face off with a talented Tennessee offensive line with three upperclassmen on the interior. Plus, they have a solid two-headed rushing attack with Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright. Kancey needs to start showing improvement in that area of his game in order to bolster his draft stock.

Jaren Hall, QB, BYU
Year: 5th-year junior
Opponent: vs. #9 Baylor (Saturday at 10:15 pm ET on ESPN)

This looks like it is going to be an epic fight in Provo on Saturday. If you need an extra reason to stay up late if you are an East Coaster, Hall has you covered. The fifth-year junior is in his second season as the starter. His mobility is a huge strength and he looks comfortable throwing on the move. He is already showing some improvement from a year ago. His accuracy was a bit spotty last year, but he completed 25 of 32 passes to open the season against South Florida. Baylor has a much better defense and should force Hall into some tougher situations. He is a good improviser and will need to be at his best to take down the Bears. If Hall plays well and BYU picks up the win, he is going to be talked about a whole lot more moving forward.

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