Bengals: Minnesota vs. Northwestern has plenty of decent draft prospects
Minnesota versus Northwestern is not the most glamorous matchup on the college football slate this weekend. This game, however, has a few NFL prospects that Cincinnati Bengals fans should start to get to know.
Let’s take a look at these prospects.
Minnesota Prospects for Bengals
For the Golden Gophers, there are two offensive linemen of interest. Daniel Faalele (RT) and John Michael Schmitz (C) are the guys to watch.
Minnesota’s offensive line received a lot of praise after their dominant performance over Maryland.
While quarterback Tanner Morgan would have liked to have thrown the ball more, even he admired his offensive line’s domination.
Faalele is listed at 6’9″, 380 pounds. Wow! When you watch him, he does not look out of place out on the edge. He looks athletic and powerful. Teams probably won’t want to have him play guard because of his height. His 6’9″ frame suggests that he has the reach that NFL teams covet in their tackles.
He is just now getting some of the national recognition that he deserves. Faalele just made Mel Kiper’s Big Board at 22nd overall.
If the Bengals want to target Faalele, it will have to be in the second round. Maybe even the late first. He is ranked 50th overall by PFF. He is their tenth-best tackle prospect. Bleacher Report and CBS are much higher on him with rankings at 36th and 38th overall, respectively. Mel Kiper Jr. has him listed as his fifth-best tackle prospect.
Schmitz made Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week for Week 7. He is currently ranked 52nd overall by Bleacher Report. He is not in Mel Kiper’s or PFF’s top 100 or top ten centers for the moment.
Schmitz is a player who could provide a team with depth at the center position. But with the way the Bengals offensive line is coming together, that may be less of a concern for the team than it was a couple of weeks ago.
This weekend, Faalele and Schmitz go against a good, but not great, defensive line. They should be able to continue their impressive performance.
Northwestern Prospects for Bengals
For Northwestern, the player to watch for Bengals fans is safety Brandon Joseph. He is a tall and physical playmaker. He has good coverage skills and seven career interceptions thus far. This year, he is making the move over to safety after starting his career at corner.
He is only a redshirt sophomore, so he may decide to stay in college. But if he does decide to enter the NFL draft, he is a second-round pick, according to PFF. They have him as their 35th overall prospect and their sixth-best safety as of now.
It also does not hurt that he is a capable punt returner.
While Joseph has shown to be more than capable in coverage and on blitzes, he will have to show up big time in run defense against Minnesota. If he can do that, he will show scouts that he is a versatile safety deserving of more buzz.
There is no way that the Bengals are going to let Jessie Bates walk next offseason but they might franchise tag him. If they were to do that, the organization could look to draft someone to groom for that position. All the while being able to say that they are still trying to work on a long-term deal. Joseph could fall into that category.
More Gophers who scouts will be looking at:
- (OLB) Thomas Rush
- (ILB) Jack Gibbens
- (DE) Esezi Otomewo
- (EDGE) Boye Mafe
- (DT) Nyles Pinckney
- (S) Jordan Howden
- (WR) Chris Autman-Bell
- (QB) Tanner Morgan
Other Wildcats hoping to catch the scouts’ eyes:
- (DE) Samdup Miller
- (LB) Chris Bergin
- (C) Sam Gerak
While it is not the sexiest game of the college football weekend, it could still be an impactful one for the NFL draft. And who knows, maybe for the Bengals as well.