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College football players to watch for: Week 12

Related: #PostPulpit Mailbag: What has changed for the Patriots offense?

Iowa State v Oklahoma State Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Remember last week when there were 11 games postponed/cancelled because of Covid-19? Well that’s nothing compared to this week: 15 games have been nixed that include five of the AP’s top-25 teams.

Luckily we will see the return of #1 Alabama and #3 Ohio State, who play in some pretty high profile games against quality opponents and who were both sidelined last week because their opponents had Coronavirus outbreaks.

So as I’ve been training you to do for the past few weeks, everyone relax, take a deep breath, and focus on the positives. Today we will take a look at five players with ties or potential prospects in New England.

Before we look at this week’s players, let us check up on the guys we profiled last week.

Steven Gilmore (#3), CB, Marshall

  • Not only did Stephon’s little brother play well (8 tackles, 2 passes defended) but he and his Marshall Thundering Herd teammates moved to 7-0 on the season with a 28 point win over Middle Tennessee State. With only two games remaining, #15 Marshall has a chance to finish undefeated for the second time in school history.

Hunter Long (#80), TE, Boston College

  • If you watched Boston College’s loss against Notre Dame you know that Hunter Long’s four receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown could have easily been tripled as the Fighting Irish could not cover him all day. He was open in the end zone on three separate occasions but missed by BC’s quarterback Phil Jurkovec. A good example of statistics not always telling the story.

Jack Sanborn (#57), LB, Wisconsin

  • Jack Sanborn had a quiet game against Michigan, even though the Wisconsin defense put an absolute beatdown on the Wolverines. Sanborn finished with three tackles and was pretty handily outplayed by his fellow inside linebacker Leo Chenal who added a sack and interceptions to his three tackles.

The following two entries were not great on my part.

Levi Onwuzurike (#95), IDL, Washington

  • Levi Onwuzurike opted out of the college football season in September, declaring for the NFL Draft.

Rondale Moore (#4), WR, Purdue

  • For the third straight week Moore sat out due to undisclosed reasons.

I’ll be better for you this week, let’s get into it.

*Weekly Disclaimer* I am not predicting that the Patriots will draft any of these players, I am just connecting the dots on who could fit in or have ties to New England.

Kyle Trask (#11), QB, Florida

  • Matchup: @ Vanderbilt
  • Gametime: 12:00pm
  • Network: ESPN

For the first time in this series we’ve got a quarterback!

Kyle Trask has emerged as one of the top-5 options at the position in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Redshirt-Senior exploded onto the scene last season after an injury to his predecessor Feleipe Franks. After taking over as a starter he led Florida to an 11-2 record in 2019 and is 5-1 so far this season. He’s a winner. He possesses an almost perfect NFL frame (6’5”, 240lb) and flawless mechanics. He’s been playing in a pro style system and has a knack for making the right read. One of the best things about Trask is the fact that he never started a game in high school or through his first three seasons in college, he stuck with the path he took and it payed off. A nice story for a really good player.

In terms of a fit in New England, I don’t know if there is a quarterback who fits better. Certainly Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are generational talents that you would take over almost everyone, but Trask is a proven commodity in a very similar system. He has some similar tools to Cam Newton (size, athleticism, arm strength) with better mechanics. He’s certainly not Cam but since he has similar tools the Patriots would be a great system for him to grow in, perhaps better than anywhere else. A guy that could possibly slip into the 2nd round could be a nice reward in the future.

Florida has a bit of a cupcake schedule left so this is as good a spot as any to watch Trask do what he does.

Jonathan Adams Jr. (#9), WR, Arkansas State

  • Matchup: @ Texas State
  • Gametime: 12:00pm
  • Network: ESPNU

Jonathan Adams Jr. has the opportunity to be the biggest steal in the draft come April. His mix unbelievable production (60 receptions for 832 yards and 8 touchdowns in 8 games), rare size and athleticism make him a top 50 player in my eyes. Unfortunately the low exposure that comes with playing at a smaller school along with some character concerns (arrested for possession of a firearm on campus on November 4th, charges were dropped) could force him to slip into the late rounds of the draft.

As i’ve mentioned before and will mention again. Wide receiver is the Patriots biggest need. This obviously isn’t groundbreaking news but the emergence of Jakobi Meyers has slowed the clamoring for receiving talent down a bit. I won’t stop clamoring, though. Adams fits not only the need for a wide receiver but is a schematic fit as well. He can play all three receiver positions and is known for his high on-field IQ and play strength. If the Patriots decide to wait to take a receiver until the later rounds, this is the guy.

Arkansas State vs. Texas State isn’t exactly the most exciting matchup (some people won’t even have the TV package necessary to watch it) but Adams Jr. is the type of player to make you watch an entire football game just for him. He’s a load of fun.

Charlie Kolar (#88), TE, Iowa State

  • Matchup: vs. Kansas State
  • Gametime: 4:00pm
  • Network: FOX

Heading into this season an argument could have been made for Charlie Kolar being the top tight end in the 2020 class. In 2019 he had more receptions, yards, and touchdowns than Kyle Pitts, Pat Freiermuth, Brevin Jordan, and Hunter Long. This year he’s on pace to have a similar statistical season, unfortunately all of the players mentioned have exploded and jumped him in terms of draft stock. He’s become the consensus No. 5 tight end in a class that he dominated last season. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

Given the change up in stock amongst the 2021 tight ends, Kolar could be a nice/safe option for a team like the Patriots, who invested pretty heavily at the position in 2020. I’m very much a believer in the idea that tight ends need time to develop into the Patriots system. It’s an argument that i’m sure you’ve heard a million times. In this scenario the Patriots would head into 2021 with three, first- or second-year tight ends, and a veteran (preferably Jordan Thomas). That sounds like a major upgrade over Ryan Izzo and... well, just Ryan Izzo.

Kolar will play a very scrappy Kansas State team that forces a ton of turnovers. He’s a security blanket that should get lots of use in this one.

Tylan Wallace (#2), WR, Oklahoma State

  • Matchup: @ Oklahoma
  • Gametime: 7:30pm
  • Network: ABC

Tylan Wallace is going to be a major value pick in April. Sneakily one of the most explosive players in college football, Wallace has 25 touchdowns in 28 games over the past three seasons. His forty yard dash won’t jump off the page but he’s fast enough to get the job done, and his play strength more than makes up for any lack of speed. He has good change of direction and very strong hands. He can play inside or outside, but is more of a vertical threat as a receiver. He could use some work at creating separation and his college offense is known for manufacturing touches, he won’t get that treatment at the next level.

Another value selection, if Wallace were to end up in New England it would most likely be in the middle rounds. He would need time to develop into an actual receiver at the next level, making him a candidate for the Patriots rookie red shirt. Not a pick that I would love but I can’t afford to leave any wide receivers off these lists as it is such a shot in the dark at who the Patriots would target.

Playing in Bedlam — one of college football’s best rivalries — this weekend, Wallace should have plenty of time with the ball in his hands. He’ll be one of the best players on the field in a top-25 matchup, what more can you ask?

Nick Bolton (#32), LB, Mizzou

  • Matchup: @ South Carolina
  • Gametime: 7:30pm
  • Network: SECN

Nick Bolton is a really good new age linebacker with a throwback personality. When he gets going downhill he looks like a truck, he’s got good instincts and a high motor that help him make some big time plays, and he can fit at either off ball linebacker spot. He’s not the biggest guy (6’0” 230lbs) but he gets the job done. When asked to play in coverage he can struggle, especially against new age backs that can run good routes. He should be a good fit on the weak side at the next level.

I think the Patriots are finding that they need a better option in the middle of the defense without Dont’a Hightower. Ja’Whaun Bentley has been fine but he is not a three-down player. A guy like Bolton would give the Patriots a plug-and-play option immediately, though I don’t know how much room he has for growth.

Watching the leader of a defense is always exciting, Bolton commands the field at all times and he should have a good game against a South Carolina team that just fired their head coach.