The Best CFB Prospect Watch List of the Year!
Three high upside prospects to watch for the 2022 NFL Draft that the Chiefs could be interested in this offseason.
The Kansas City Chiefs are three weeks into a stretch of the year coined “No Loss November” and they are staying true to the mantra. Wins over the New York Giants, Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers, and the Las Vegas Raiders have the Chiefs back atop of the AFC West and in a more familiar spot when looking at the upcoming NFL Draft. That being said, the Chiefs do have their biggest test this upcoming week with the Dallas Cowboys and this game could really shine some extra light on some potential needs for the upcoming NFL Draft.
As it stands, the Chiefs could go many different directions in the Draft but also are slowly elimination massive, must have needs at a lot of positions. There is a lot of season left to push every position to either category but this Sunday will like be a good barometer for a lot of these spots.
Which is why this weekly column exists! Let’s take a peep at arguably my favorite threesome I’ve slapped into one of these on the entire season.
Week 12 Prospect Watchlist
Day 1 Stud
Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner | CB
6’3” 200lbs | Cincinnati| #1
Ahmad Gardner was a three star recruit coming out of high school but made a huge impact as soon as he got to Cincinnati. As a freshman, he was able to make the All AAC First Team, pulling in three interceptions and deflecting six other passes. He matched those totals in a shortened 2020 campaign and has once again hauled in three interceptions so far this season. Even with teams trying to avoid him on the football field, he continues to find ways to make plays for the Bearcats’ defense.
Gardner is a big, lanky corner that is growing into a more physical style of play. He isn’t an elite athlete but he is an easy, fluid mover with enough speed and burst that he’s never put into panic situations. In 2021, he showed great improvement by trusting his length to play the ball even when slightly out of phase and using his size to disrupt receivers off the line of scrimmage. Gardner has a prototypical skillset to be a man cover corner in the NFL but he’s shown great ball skills and feel in zone coverage.
How to watch: SMU Vs Cincinnati, 2:30 PM CST, ESPN
Being a Group of Five team, Cincinnati doesn’t play the most imposing schedule in all of college football but Gardner has faced some Power Five competition. SMU may present the biggest challenge of the year for Gardner with their wide receiver trio of Reggie Roberson, Danny Gray, and Rashee Rice. Another big performance from Gardner and he could easily push for the corner two spot in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Tre Turner | WR
6’3” 190lbs | Virginia Tech | #11
Brother of former NBA player P.J. Hairston, Tre Turner played basketball and football in high school. At Virginia Tech, he was able to see the field as a freshman and was utilized in a variety of different ways. Unfortunately the offense at VT hasn’t evolved to a modern offense and has struggled to field a competent passing offense since he’s been there. Turner has still found a way to amass over 600 yards in three out of four seasons and has already set his career high in receiving yards in 2021.
Turner is the perfect example of a wide receiver that has all the physical traits to be really good that is just being underutilized in college. His combination of size, speed, and body control is phenomenal and will garner a ton of interest. The lack of elite production and some rawness in his route running ability does provide some cause for concern, but any team that feels confident in their ability to develop wide receiver skills will likely have him high on their draft board.
How to watch: South Virginia Tech vs Miami, 6:30 PM CST, ACC Network
Miami doesn’t have a ton of NFL caliber talent on the backend of their defense but there are enough NFL caliber athletes on the field that the test is certainly worth watching. Add on the fact that Miami’s offense has been competent enough to score, this game could turn into a little bit of a shoot-out in the ACC allowing Turner to build on a monster game against Georgia Tech two weeks ago.
Tre Williams| EDGE
6’5” 255bs | Arkansas | #55
Tre Williams initially went to Missouri from 2017 to 2020 before transferring to Arkansas as a graduate transfer. While at Mizzou, he showed some promise as a freshman but was never able to take that next step and just capped out as a useful rotational defensive end for four seasons. Then, after transferring to Arkansas the step - plus some - finally came. Williams has already set career highs in sacks and tackles for loss this season and simply looks like a different player. There are some off-field issues to be vetted with Williams - a domestic violence charge that ended up as a disturbing the peace plea and an ejection from brawling with the Florida Gators at halftime - but on the field he’s certainly putting his best foot forward.
The first thing that jumps off the tape for Williams is the initial burst off the line of scrimmage. There is some snap timing involved but he has an explosive first step and does a great job carrying that speed through the entire arc. His hip fluidity and ankle flexion certainly help turn the corner because he has no qualm dipping and getting his back flat to go under offensive tackles. The most impressive part is that Williams isn’t just a finesse rusher, he plays extremely violent with his hands when utilizing inside counters and long arm moves. If he truly is just a late bloomer, Williams has a fantastic base to be a top end pass rusher at the next level as he hones in his timing and technique.
How to watch: Arkansas vs Alabama, 2:30 PM CST, CBS
One of the premier prospect vs prospect matchups of the weekend is when Williams lines up across from Alabama’s left tackle Evan Neal. In big time matchups vs other top offensive tackle prospects - Kenyon Green at Texas A&M and Charles Cross at Mississippi State - Williams has three sacks. Could Neal be the next guy on the list or will Williams finally meet his match in the projected top ten pick?