Week one of the college football season is in the books, which means we got our first 2019 regular season look at the stars of next year's NFL draft. Each week, I'll be picking the prospects from each power-five conference who stood out the most. Thus, this is the first edition of "TDN Power 5 Players of the Week."
Offense: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson - 12 carries for 205 yards | 3TD
What else is there to say about this guy? His explosiveness and burst is simply on another level. The only player I can ever remember watching with Etienne’s kind of speed and acceleration through the hole was Chris Johnson. If Etienne calls a game where he averaged 17 yards per carry “bad,” then I don’t want to know what he considers a good game.
Defense: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S/LB, Florida State - 12 tackles | 1 PBU | 2 FF
Florida State may have lost this weekend to Boise State, but there were multiple players that stood out for the Seminoles in this matchup. The most notable, in my opinion, was Hamsah Nasirildeen, who plays as a safety-linebacker hybrid. He was all over the field making plays, and it seemed like he was the only Seminole who could make open-field tackles. In addition, he forced two fumbles and was lights out in coverage. While his team lost, Nasirildeen’s performance shows why scouts love his upside.
Offense: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin - 16 carries for 135 yards | 2 Rushing TD | 2 catches for 48 yards | 2 Receiving TD
In his first two years as the workhorse starter for the Badgers, Jonathan Taylor had zero receiving touchdowns. ZERO. As you may expect, passing game value was my biggest concern of his projection to the next level, but his two receiving scores against USF tell a different story. We know how explosive and powerful Taylor is as a runner, but if he can continue this kind of production as a receiver, he will command first-round consideration.
Defense: Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State - 7 tackles | 1 sack | 2 TFL | 1 FF | 1 FR | 1 TD
No player in college football plays with more intensity or fire than Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes. My first note on his scouting report is “wrecking machine.” What’s crazy is that he looks even quicker and more explosive this year. Tulsa isn’t the biggest test in the world, but no one could block Willekes on that offensive line. I fully expect him to be one of the top senior defenders in this class.
Offense: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State - 26 carries for 221 yards | 3TD
How can you not like a football player named Chuba? Let alone the fact that he is a running back! Goodness gracious, he went wild on Oregon State, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Quietly, Oklahoma State has churned out some really good running backs in recent years, including Chris Carson and Justice Hill. Kudos to my colleague Benjamin Solak on touting Hubbard during the summer because he is the real deal.
Defense: Garrett Wallow, LB, TCU - 13 tackles | 1 sack | 3.5 TFL
Garrett Wallow is essentially the Hamsah Nasirildeen for TCU in that hybrid safety-linebacker role. He doesn’t possess the physical traits to be an early-round prospect, but as evident in the season opener, he plays with a ton of instincts and tenacity. While Wallow may not quite be on the early-declaration draft radar, this was easily the best Week 1 performance of any defender in the Big 12.
Offense: Jacob Eason, QB, Washington - 27/36 | 349 yards | 4TD - 0 INT
Before the season opener against Eastern Washington, there were questions all over the place about Jacob Eason. Some were wondering if he would be the same player after sitting out for two years. Some even wondered if he would be Washington’s starting quarterback. Eason took the first snap and didn’t look back in this one. In fact, he had the most impressive opening week performance of any draft-eligible quarterback prospect. Sure, it was against Eastern Washington, but Eason’s ball placement Saturday night was virtually perfect. If he can string together performances like this in conference play, he will assert himself as a top quarterback prospect.
Defense: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford - 1 INT
Say it with me. C-B-1. I get why some people are hesitant to put a cornerback with his inexperience at the top of the board, but Adebo has every trait you look for in a top cornerback prospect. He was lights out against Northwestern, and his interception on an out-breaking route showed exactly why his potential is sky high. The hype is real folks.
Offense: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama - 10 catches for 137 yards | 1 TD
The top player on several preseason 2020 big boards, Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy showed against Duke he is simply — that good. No collegiate wide receiver should be that smooth of a route runner, while also being the most explosive player on the field. Jeudy is the complete package, and I’m confident he’s the best Alabama wideout we’ve seen since Julio Jones.
Defense: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama - 1 INT
Sticking with Alabama here, Trevon Diggs had a monster game against Duke in coverage. He put the clamps on in both Press and Off, showing why he got a spot on my preseason top-five cornerback list for the 2020 NFL draft. The best part about the former wide receiver’s game though is predictably his ball skills. He had a full-extension interception that will be played throughout draft season, and if he can stay healthy, he will command first-round consideration.