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2024 NFL Draft: Senior Bowl Watchlist For College Football Week 2

Pittsburgh Panthers Bub Means
Dec 30, 2022; El Paso, Texas, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Bub Means (15) celebrates with offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby (61) after scoring a touchdown against the UCLA Bruins defense in the first half of the 2022 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

For the second year, our Reese’s Senior Bowl scouting team will be on 10-plus college campuses around the country every week during the 2023 college football season. This year’s scouting team includes 10 former NFL scouts with more than 200 years of league experience. The Senior Bowl has had 100-plus players drafted, accounting for more than 40 percent of the past three NFL draft classes.

Follow @JimNagy_SB on Twitter on Saturday to see up-close, field-level videos on the following players:

Scouting College Football Week 2

All games are on Saturday.

Texas A&M at Miami — 3:30 p.m., ABC

Texas A&M DT McKinnley Jackson (6-foot-1 5/8, 320 pounds, 33 3/4-inch arm) — If we had to pick one prospect in this year’s entire draft class who nobody is talking about right now but will end up in first-round conversations in April it would be McKinnley Jackson. Nose tackles generally don’t pop off the stat sheet, and Jackson is no different (23 tackles, 7 TFL and two sacks in eight games as a junior), but his explosive traits are obvious when you put on the tape.

Our first exposure to Jackson was last year’s game against Alabama, and the Crimson Tide offensive line couldn’t handle him. We were in College Station, Texas, three weeks ago during fall camp and the intensity Jackson practiced with was impressive. He’s a big ball of muscle when you see him physically, almost like an oversize fullback, and keeping him off QB Tyler Van Dyke will be Miami’s top priority Saturday night. The head-to-head battle against Hurricanes center Matt Lee, a midround prospect in his own right, will be one to watch.

Notre Dame at North Carolina State — Noon, ABC

North Carolina State LT Anthony Belton (6-foot-5 5/8, 329 pounds, 35 1/4-inch arm) — This year’s offensive tackle class is deeper than in quite a few draft cycles, and Anthony Belton is one of the most physically talented in the group. Belton is flying under many draft radars right now after getting benched toward the end of last season, but his talent is undeniable. It’s hard to find long-bodied offensive linemen who are good enough foot athletes to play left tackle at the next level, but Belton has that kind of pass protection upside. Wolfpack staffers tell us Belton had his best offseason yet, so we have him as an “arrow-up” player on our Senior Bowl board.

Arizona Wildcats Jordan Morgan

Arizona at Mississippi State — 6:30 p.m. ET, SECN

Arizona LT Jordan Morgan (6-foot-4 7/8, 306 pounds, 34-inch arm) — We were all set to FedEx a Senior Bowl invite to Tucson, Arizona, last November before Jordan Morgan suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 10, so we’re excited to get an early look at him in Starkville, Mississippi, this week. Morgan played 32 snaps in Week 1 against FCS opponent Northern Arizona, but Saturday’s matchup in SEC country will be a better barometer of where he is physically 10 months post-ACL-surgery. The fifth-year senior has almost exclusively played left tackle for the Wildcats, but we think his best home might be inside at guard as a pro. He reminds us of Atlanta Falcons’ second-round pick and Senior Bowl alum Matthew Bergeron, who also played left tackle in college but will start his first NFL game this weekend at left guard.

SMU at Oklahoma — 6 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Oklahoma LT Tyler Guyton (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) — Nobody in college football has done a better job of producing NFL players in the past decade or so than Sooners’ OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh, and Tyler Guyton will assuredly be Bedenbaugh’s next early-round draft pick. Guyton is another offensive lineman in this year’s draft who way too many draftniks are sleeping on right now, probably because he was primarily a backup last year behind Jacksonville Jaguars first-rounder Anton Harrison and Kansas City Chiefs third-rounder Wanya Morris. Based on tape, you could argue Guyton has a higher ceiling than any offensive lineman in the 2024 draft because the former TCU tight end has wow-type athleticism. We’ve had a nice offensive lineman pipeline from Norman, Oklahoma, to Mobile, Alabama, in recent years, including with Pro Bowl–level guys such as Ben Powers (Denver Broncos) and Creed Humphrey (Chiefs), and Guyton is next in line.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh — 6:30 p.m. ET, CW Network

Pittsburgh WR Bub Means (6-foot 7/8, 218 pounds, 33 1/4-inch arm) — We frequently get calls after NFL scouts see players on a school visit they want to see in Mobile, and that’s happened a couple of times already this fall with Bub Means. The Louisiana Tech transfer has made some big plays over the past two years of tape study, but those flash-type plays have been offset by inconsistency.

Means is the type of big/fast/strong receiver who every team at the next level covets, but he needs to put it all together this year with Boston College transfer QB Phil Jurkovec. He only had two catches for 39 yards last week in a tune-up game against Wofford, so this week’s game against Cincinnati will be Means’ first opportunity to prove to NFL scouts that he’s taken the next step. An interesting side note many NFL evaluators will consider when projecting Means’ ST value is that he played defensive back as a true freshman at Tennessee.

UCLA Bruins Laiatu Latu

UCLA at San Diego State — 7:30 p.m. ET, CBS

UCLA Edge Laiatu Latu (6-foot-4 3/4, 261 pounds, 32 1/4-inch arm) — The Senior Bowl staff went with Minnesota safety Tyler Nubin as our Week 1 Defensive Player of the Week after he had a pair of clutch interceptions in a close conference win over Nebraska, but we could have easily picked Laiatu Latu, who had three sacks against an overmatched Coastal Carolina team. Latu has one of the best personal stories in this year’s draft, as he has overcome a neck injury that forced Washington to disqualify him medically and has become arguably the best defensive player in the Pac-12. Teams needing a skilled and NFL-ready pass rusher will spend a lot of time with Latu during the pre-draft process. Based on his junior tape, we currently have a solid Day 2 grade on Latu.

Texas at Alabama — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Texas LB Jaylan Ford (6-foot-2 3/8, 232 pounds, 31 7/8-inch arm) — During my time scouting for the Seattle Seahawks, our mantra on defense was “it’s all about the ball,” which stressed the importance of creating turnovers. No other defensive prospect in the 2024 NFL draft takes the ball away quite like Ford. The ball just seems to find certain players, and Ford certainly has that knack.

The fourth-year linebacker broke out last season, leading all linebackers in college football with four interceptions. He also added three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, and Ford picked up where he left off, grabbing another interception in last week's blowout win over Rice.

Saturday night’s road rematch against Alabama will present a unique challenge for Ford, who we anticipate will be spying the Crimson Tide’s lightning-fast, first-year, starting QB Jalen Milroe. Ford’s ability to cover ground is one of the first things that pops off the tape, and getting Milroe down in space will be a key for the Longhorns’ defense. Perhaps the best thing about Ford, in our assessment, is that his best football is still way ahead of him, which says a lot considering he’s a likely top-100 player in April’s draft.

Before taking over as executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl in 2018, Jim Nagy was an NFL scout for nearly two decades, having worked for five teams that won a combined four Super Bowls. Follow him on Twitter @JimNagy_SB.