While the NFL season finally arrived last Thursday, the college football season is already in full swing. Of course, that also means the next generation of NFL stars have started to add to their resumes. For the Las Vegas Raiders, their hope is that they will pick late in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft.
With the improvements made across the roster, they have a legitimate shot at competing in the stacked AFC West. Even still, the front office will have their eyes glued to the college football landscape every week. As such, here are three players Raiders fans should watch out for this weekend.
College football today: 3 prospects the Raiders should watch today
Tyler Steen, occupational therapist (Alabama)
Currently, Raider Nation would probably be okay with never drafting an offensive tackle from Alabama again. After Alex Leatherwood’s insanely bad rookie season, you can forgive fans for being hesitant.
Obviously, it’s not fair to put those feelings on Tyler Steen. A transfer from Vanderbilt, he came on as the starting left tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide. A one-man monster at six-foot-five and 315 pounds, he had an up-and-down game in Week 1 against Utah State. This week they will face the University of Texas in one of the biggest games of the week.
Of course, the Raiders are likely to add to their offensive line next offseason, and Steen could be one of the biggest names available. Either way, this Week 2 match will be the one the talent evaluators return to at the end of the season.
Joey Porter Jr., BC (Penn State)
Yes, he’s the son of Joey Porter, former Pittsburgh Steelers standout passing thrower, but the Penn State cornerback is also making a name for himself. After eight tackles and three pass breakups in last week’s game against Purdue, he’s now on everyone’s radar.
Listed at six-foot-two and 198 pounds, Porter Jr. is huge for the job. However, he uses his long frame to his advantage as he is also an excellent tackler. At this point in his career, the Nittany Lion is full of potential. No doubt the NFL’s defensive coordinators will be drooling over shaping that potential.
Anthony Richardson, QB (Florida)
Will the Raiders be looking for a quarterback in next year’s draft? Very doubtful. However, Las Vegas can release Derek Carr this offseason with minimal dead money. So if disaster strikes the offense this season, Dave Ziegler could be looking for a new quarterback next season. Either way, it’s always good to watch the quarter market.
One of the most interesting players in this position this year is Florida’s Anthony Richardson. A big-bodied quarterback, he beat Emory Jones for the starting spot last season and led the Gators to an upset win over Utah in Week 1. Despite the win, he had just 168 passing yards, which left a lot to be desired.
Once again, Richardson and the Gators will host a ranked team in “The Swamp.” This time it’s 20th-ranked Kentucky that poses a serious threat to Richardson. With all the tools to be a productive NFL quarterback, it’s time for him to put it all together on the field.
As mentioned, the Raiders are unlikely to pick up a quarterback in next year’s draft. Either way, quarterbacks power the draft cycle, so it’s always worth watching the class throughout the season.
*Top photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images