2024 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch Week 12
Week 12 of the college football season has quite a few games that I like to call money maker games. I’ve singled out three 2024 draft prospects that are playing money maker games this weekend.
Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.
There perhaps hasn’t been a more impressive college quarterback in the entire country this year than Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. Dating back to his days at Indiana, Penix has been a gamer. Now in year six in college, he’s been dominant as a passer in the most entertaining offense in football.
To this point in the season, Penix’s most difficult defensive matchup has come against the Utah Utes, just last week. For Penix, this week’s matchup against the Oregon State Beavers will likely be the game where NFL general managers and head coaches will be able to see what Penix can do mentally.
Penix is going to be in a hostile environment this weekend, and he will be facing a defense that’s been lights out in recent weeks, allowing under 20 points in back-to-back games. Oregon State also hasn’t allowed more than 24 points in a single game at home this season.
At this point in his career, we’ve seen Penix make plays time and time again. In one of his last big games of his college career, he’s facing one of the toughest tests of his career.
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Georgia LB Smael Mondon Jr.
The Georgia Bulldogs will always have NFL Draft prospects coming out of Athens, Georgia, as long as Kirby Smart is the head coach of that program. Smael Mondon Jr. isn’t a Nakobe Dean caliber-prospect but he’s clearly got the physical traits that NFL teams will look at and want to mold.
Taking on the Tennessee Volunteers offense is no easy task for any defender, but it can be especially taxing for linebackers. The Vols like to spread out defenses as much as possible, then attack vertically and horizontally with receivers and running the ball when defenses go light.
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel is constantly using linebackers as conflict defenders, and Mondon is going to likely be the target man here. It’s going to be especially interesting to see Mondon’s usage as he’s also the usual blitz man for the Bulldogs.
TCU CB Josh Newton
When TCU cornerback Josh Newton transferred from Louisiana-Monroe to TCU, the big question was going to be how he would perform facing Big XII receivers. Well, last season he was arguably the best cornerback on a TCU defense that featured the Jim Thorpe award winner last season in Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson.
Newton has average size for an NFL corner, and his athleticism leaves a lot to be desired, which is exactly why his technical ability and IQ are that much more impressive. Against a Baylor Bears offense that’s been forced to throw the ball more due to a weak run-blocking offensive line and playing from behind frequently, it’s going to be interesting to see if Newton can make a young QB pay while also being matched up with 6’3 208 pound Ketron Jackson Jr at times.
Newton also needs to bounce back coming off of a game where he allowed over 50 receiving yards for the first time this season against Texas, as he allowed 131 yards. It was also the first time this season that Newton allowed a touchdown in coverage.