Week 5 college football games that should interest Bengals fans
This weekend, your Cincinnati Bengals are coming off of a thrilling come from behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But this is not the time to bathe in glory. Especially not this weekend. The NFL scouts will earn their keep over the next 48 hours.
Welcome to Week 5 of the college football season! It is going to be a great one! Here are just a few games and players that Bengals fans must watch.
Notre Dame (9) vs. Cincinnati (7)
The game between Notre Dame and Cincinnati should be a great one. Hopefully, the Cincinnati Bearcats can continue the city’s winning ways.
Notre Dame is a team that Bengals fans should watch the entire year. They have several players who could help the Bengals next year.
Kyle Hamilton has seen his draft stock soar. He is one of the best safety prospects in quite a while. Currently, he is ranked second by Pro Football Focus. He is also second on ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s brand new Big Board rankings.
Of Hamilton, Kiper writes:
"Hamilton, one of the most versatile defenders in the country, moves up three spots from my preseason rankings. He had two interceptions against Florida State and added another in the win over Purdue. He now has eight in his career since 2019. Hamilton has the size to move up to the line of scrimmage and help in the run game, and he has the speed and range to cover pass-catchers out of the slot. He’s exactly what NFL teams want in their first-round safeties."
Hopefully, the Bengals will reach a deal with their star safety, Jessie Bates. If they do not, Hamilton could be at the top of the Bengals draft board.
Other Fighting Irish looking to get drafted:
Jarrett Patterson (C)
Cain Madden (OG)
Josh Lugg (OT)
Kyren Williams (RB)
Kevin Austin (WR)
Isaiah Foskey (DE/EDGE)
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (DL)
From the Bearcats, there are several players to watch. The focus for Bengals fans should be on the defensive backfield. That is where you will find cornerback Ahmad Gardner.
As of today, Gardner is eighth amongst cornerbacks on Kiper’s Big Board. PFF has him 22nd overall. Mike Renner writes the following about Gardner:
"Gardner has only improved after packing on some serious muscle mass over the course of the offseason. The junior has allowed only two of his 10 targets to be caught for 14 yards while securing a pick and a pass-breakup in the process."
Most draft prognosticators have him as a first-round talent. Gardner and his defensive back running mate, Coby Bryant, will get every opportunity to improve their draft stock this week against Notre Dame.
Depending on how the Bengals feel about Trae Waynes at the end of this season, they could be looking into drafting a cornerback high in next year’s draft. If that is so, rest assured that Gardner will be near the top of their scouting reports. If Mel Kiper is correct with his rankings, Gardner may even be available in the second round.
More Bearcats hoping to hear their names called during the 2022 draft (all of whom are at positions that will interest the Bengals, except for the quarterback, of course):
Myjai Sanders (EDGE)
Darrian Beavers (LB)
Coby Bryant (CB)
Ja’Von Hicks (S)
Josh Whyle (TE)
Desmond Ridder (QB)
Kentucky vs. Florida (10)
The last time we talked about the Florida Gators, we focused on the defensive linemen. This week let’s focus on cornerback Kaiir Elam. Spoiler alert, concentrating on cornerbacks may become a thing.
Right now, Elam is PFF’s seventh-best ranked prospect. Mel Kiper sees him differently. Kiper has Elam outside his top 25. Kiper also has him listed as the fifth-best cornerback prospect. Who do you trust more on this? You get to watch Elam with your own eyes Saturday to make your own opinions.
Other Gators to watch:
Stewart Resse (OG)
Jeremiah Moon (EDGE)
Zachary Carter (EDGE)
Brenton Cox (LB)
Ventrell Miller (LB)
Darian Kinnard is the Wildcat player who will garner the most attention from the scouts.
Renner wrote of Kinnard two weeks ago:
"Kinnard is going to be a Godsend to any gap scheme rushing attack. He’s one of college football’s best line-of-scrimmage movers. Kentucky is also running far more dropback passing concepts than ever before, and Kinnard is proving capable, as he’s only allowed one pressure on 95 pass-blocking snaps"
Now, according to PFF, in 121 pass block attempts this year, he has allowed one sack and one hurry.
If Kinnard can hold his own this week, look for his name to skyrocket up draft boards.
Other Wildcats to scout:
Yusuf Corker (S)
Josh Paschal (EDGE)
Georgia (2) vs. Arkansas (8)
Here is another top 10 matchup that Bengals fans should watch. Not only are there several players to scout, but the game has a chance to be great.
One player to watch for the Bulldogs is left tackle Jamaree Salyer.
But Salyer is not just a left tackle. NFL Teams are going to fall in love with his versatility.
NFLBuzz.com has them as their seventh-best offensive tackle.
NFL.com lists Salyer as the 17th best senior bowl prospect.
Playing week in and week out against pro prospects will allow him to impress the scouts. This week is one such occasion. He will have to line up against Arkansas’ defensive end, Tre Williams. Williams will be looking to make a name for himself at the expense of Salyer.
The players you should zone in on for the Bulldogs are cornerback Derion Kendrick and safety Tykee Smith.
According to PFF, Kendrick has been targeted eight times on 92 coverage snaps. He has allowed only three receptions for 83 yards. He also has one interception.
The Bulldogs are hoping that West Virginia transfer Tykee Smith will see the field on Saturday. They are excited to see what he can add to their defense. So are the NFL scouts.
Smith is a versatile player. He played cornerback for the Mountaineers last year. He was supposed to play safety at Georgia, but he has been dealing with a foot injury. This puts his draft status into doubt. But if he decides to declare for the draft, he is still likely to be a day two pick. If he plays, keep an eye out for him.
Treylon Burks is the most recognizable name for the Razorbacks. However, the Bengals will not be in the market for a wide receiver early in the draft.
The name Cincinnati fans should look out for is safety Jalen Catalon. The Bengals will need a safety if they are not able to come to terms with Jessie Bates. But even if they do work it out with the star safety, Catalon is the type of safety who could complement Bates. He could excel in multiple phases of the game. Catalon is strong against the run as well as the pass.
In Pro Football Focus’ updated draft rankings, he is 42nd overall. Of Catalon, Mike Renner writes:
"Catalon is the definition of fun to watch at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds. He already has two picks and three pass-breakups this season. He’ll be a tone-setter for any defense he’s in."
As of now, we should expect Catalon to come off the board in the second round. Maybe to the Bengals.
Other Razorback players to check out:
Ricky Stromberg (C)
Myon Cunningham (OT)
Treylon Burks (WR)
John Ridgeway (DT)
Tre Williams (DE)
Grant Morgan (ILB)
There is a lot of college football to be consumed this weekend. It is always fun to watch on Saturdays and wonder which of these players will end up in stripes? This weekend is a great one to get a head start on your draft boards for next year.
And, hopefully, the Cincinnati Bearcats can keep the party going in the Queen City.