College football officially kicked off last weekend with Central Arkansas facing off with Austin Peay, but this is Week 1 of the season. I know most Kansas City Chiefs fans are excited for Thursday to get here and the NFL season to start, but if you want to start getting in the mood for football, this is the best chance.
With nine games happening Week 1 — two of which are already complete — there are five games to watch Saturday and one to watch on Monday. Let’s take a quick dive into five players that could be on the Chiefs’ watch list this upcoming NFL Draft.
NFL Draft prospects to watch
Reggie Roberson | WR | SMU
SMU vs. Texas State - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Week 1 CFB prospects to watch from a Chiefs fan perspective:— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) September 5, 2020
SMU WR #8
+ Size & speed combo
+ Deep threat ability
+ Ball tracking and high point skills
+ Good on double moves
+ Attacks leverage vertically, living on DB's toes pic.twitter.com/nGexGpMO2C
James Proche got all of the publicity for SMU last season, but Reggie Roberson was the big-play weapon in the passing game. He’s listed at 6 feet, 201 pounds and has quality length to go along with the measurables. What really separates him is his ability to get vertical against any type of coverage. This season, Roberson will have a chance to be the guy for SMU. The challenge for him will be staying healthy.
Roberson stands out with his vertical receiving ability and ball-tracking ability, and his footwork is very enticing as a prospect. He’s able to set up corners off the line of scrimmage with footwork and then blaze by them with his speed.
He does need to show more consistency and not disappear from some games, but as the top receiving option, this is his season to do just that.
Reed Blankenship | S | Middle Tennessee State
Middle Tennessee State vs. Army - Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Reed Blankenship is a small-school safety who flashes the ability to play every single role asked of the position. His range as a centerfielder contests for the best in the class, and he has the ability to kick down into the slot and provide quality coverage. He has a really good feel for the game and taking proper angles from different levels of the field, but it’s hard to tell if that will translate to higher competition. He’s coming off a season-ending injury in 2019 and needs to show he’s the same level of athlete he had been before. He’s looking to follow in the footsteps of Middle Tennessee alum Kevin Byard.
If someone were to poke some holes into Blankenship’s game, it would be as a tackler and ability to play in the box. He’s not poor in that regard; it just isn’t his top strength. With a matchup against Army, who will throw the ball single digit times if they get its way, his angles as a tackler and ability to finish the play in the open field will be challenged here in Week 1.
Khyiris Tonga | DT | BYU
BYU vs. Navy - Monday, 6:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Khyiris Tonga— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) September 5, 2020
BYU NT #95
+ Great size
+ Good initial explosion off LoS
+ Powerful lower half to anchor and create movement
+ Good balance vs doubles or down blocks
+ Reduces pocket with bull rush vs OC consistently pic.twitter.com/s2jfY9XDps
Khyiris Tonga is listed at 6 feet 4, 326 pounds, and he moves like a player a good 20 pounds lighter. It’s evident that he has a background in other sports by how light on his feet he moves and the lateral agility he shows for a guy his size. He pairs that with a strong lower half and fantastic balance — both standalone and when facing contact. He can eat up double teams when he drops his pad level and is rarely knocked laterally to combo blocks, allowing second-level defenders to flow freely.
As a pass rusher, he’s mostly just a big, strong athlete with limited technique, but that’s all right, given his other strengths. He has a role on an NFL team with his ability to play against the run, but if he can flash a bigger impact against the pass this season, his draft stock could really take off. Tonga will have a good chance to showcase his run defense against a run-heavy Navy team on Monday and hopefully, his block recognition stands out this game.
Josh Ball | OT | Marshall
Marshall vs. Eastern Kentucky - Saturday, Noon Arrowhead Time.
Josh Ball is a bit of an intriguing prospect who has minimal game experience at the top level after originally committing to Florida State before transferring to Butler Community College. He wound up at Marshall last year and while impressive, didn’t get much playing time. Standing at 6 feet 8 and 309 pounds with good movement skills, he’s gotten some attention.
There isn’t much film to grade Ball off of yet, but from an athletic profile and size standpoint, he could easily push top-100 range, especially if he has a strong season at Marshall.
Damonte Coxie | WR | Memphis
Memphis vs. Arkansas State - Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Damonte Coxie— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) September 5, 2020
Memphis WR #10
+ Great size
+ Ball skills & body control
+ High point ability
+ Physicality through route stem
+ Long strider to eat up space
+ Active hands & feet vs press coverage pic.twitter.com/ntl8geCaI5
Damonte Coxie is a huge receiver, listed at 6 feet 3 and 200 pounds — although he looks more filled out and has plenty of room to add some more mass. He plays up to that size on the field with fantastic body control and physicality throughout his routes and into the catch point. He’s at his best working on back-shoulder throws or high pointing the ball in the end zone but has enough athleticism to threaten the field on all levels.
Coxie doesn’t have a ton of suddenness to his movement so adding more weight and playing even stronger than he currently does could be helpful. He doesn’t threaten vertically particularly well and relies on his superior size and ball skills rather than separation to win. In his final season, Coxie needs to show even more dominance with size and strength or the ability to generate consistent separation on intermediate routes.
The bottom line
Enjoy the first almost full weekend of college football and make sure to keep checking in for some NFL Draft prospects as the year goes on. As the season gets into full swing, we’ll try to keep up with some favorites at positions that look like the Chiefs could use some help at heading into 2021.