College Football Week 2: 2024 Draft prospects to watch, including Shedeur Sanders, Michael Pratt and Alabama vs Texas

2RNTWM3 FORT WORTH, TX - SEPTEMBER 02: Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) looks downfield for an open receiver during the game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Colorado Buffaloes on September 2, 2023 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

• Can Shedeur Sanders stay red hot?: The true junior put college football and the NFL Draft on notice last week. Can he continue that this week?

• Michael Pratt climbing the QB rankings: Pratt was nearly perfect against South Alabama. Why his day was even more impressive than just the box score

• Texas vs. Bama Part 2: When the Longhorns head to Tuscaloosa, it will be a must-watch due to big matchups from the skill position players

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The excitement in college football continues as we make our way into Week 2.  For this week’s slate of games, we once again have our eyes on quarterbacks who could be really shaking things up (in a good way) on the next big board updates, as well as some cornerback/wide receiver matchups that could determine spots in the top 30.

QB Shedeur Sanders, Colorado

  • Vs. Nebraska

Sanders played well during his first two seasons at Jackson State, earning passing grades of 90.1 as a true freshman and 83.7 as a true sophomore. This offseason, he followed his father to Colorado, as Deion Sanders took the job as their head coach, which led to a much-anticipated game for Sanders to prove his passing prowess against FBS opponents.

So far so good – so great, honestly – as Sanders passed for 510 yards with four passing touchdowns, three big-time throws, zero turnover-worthy plays and an 83.0% adjusted completion percentage. Given his past success, that performance wasn’t out of the ordinary, but his ability to stack them throughout this season will only increase the volume in which we talk about him in this potential 2024 class.

QB Michael Pratt, Tulane

  • Vs. Ole Miss

Pratt was nearly flawless on Tulane’s season opener against South Alabama. Well, technically he was flawless, as his adjusted completion percentage was 100% after going 14-for-15 passing with one drop. Seven of his 14 completions were 10 yards or less. Nonetheless, of the other seven that were further down the field, five were categorized as big-time throws.

Pratt's most impressive stat, though, was his 93.2 passing grade under pressure, which included going 3-for-3 with two big-time throws. Handling pressure and being confident with pressure in the pocket was the sticking point on his preseason scouting profile. Ascension in that area will likely mean a quick rise up the big board. He’ll get a great chance for an encore as he faces an SEC opponent at home this week. Last week, Ole Miss’ defense recorded an 84.0 team grade with 17 total pressures against Mercer.

WRs Xavier Worthy, Adonai Mitchell (Texas) vs. CB Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama)

  • Texas vs. Alabama

The big matchup in college football, regardless of conference, is Alabama versus Texas this week. Saturday will be Part 2 of the home-and-home agreement between the two, as Alabama came through with a field goal in the final minute of the game to win against the Longhorns in Austin last season. This time it will be in Tuscaloosa.

No Bryce Young in this one anymore, but a headliner will be between three draft prospects who are both top 30 on PFF’s preseason 2024 big board in Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry and Texas wide receivers Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell.

Last season was McKinstry’s first as a full-time starter, and his performance against Texas was his lowest-graded game all season. He recorded a 48.1 coverage grade on 44 coverage snaps. Worthy, on the other hand, fared well, earning a 71.2 receiving grade (third highest of his season) with 97 receiving yards (second highest of his season). Of Worthy’s 10 targets that game, four were when he was matched up with McKinstry, but two were behind the line of scrimmage; another was a good catch from Worth on a hook route, and the other he had McKinstry beat on an out-and-up vertical route, but it was a bad throw from Quinn Ewers.

Mitchell comes to Texas via the transfer portal from Georgia. Mitchell and McKinstry did have two games where they were on the same field in 2021 as true freshmen in the SEC Championship Game and National Championship. In those two games, Mitchell saw eight total targets, four of which were against McKinstry, who did not give up a catch on any of the four targets, though he was called for a flag on two of them.

There’s a lot of NFL draft bragging rights on the line in that matchup.

WR Will Sheppard (Vanderbilt) vs. CB Caelen Carson (Wake)

  • Vanderbilt vs. Wake Forest

This weekend, we have a fun non-conference matchup with NFL draft implications when Vanderbilt plays Wake Forest. Vandy’s top wide receiver, Will Sheppard, will likely get more than a few reps with Wake Forest cornerback Caelen Carson.

Carson ranks highly on PFF’s preseason big board at No. 27. He has an aggressive coverage style that can sometimes get him in trouble. That was the case last week, as he yielded three catches in two quarters before leaving the game due to injury. He should still be good to go on Saturday to face a steady and reliable Sheppard, who has 12 catches on 15 targets for 130 receiving yards already in two games this season. Sheppard doesn’t create a ton of separation with athleticism but is very competitive at the catch point. It will be fun to see if Carson is up to that challenge.

DI Leonard Taylor (Miami) vs. IOL Bryce Foster (Texas A&M)

  • Miami vs. Texas A&M

Taylor was a highlight for last week’s college football slate and gets another nod here this week, as he’ll face off against fellow 2024 potential draftee, Texas A&M’s center Bryce Foster.

Taylor only played 15 snaps in the Hurricanes' win over Miami (OH) but still had a 20% pass-rush win percentage and two pressures on 10 pass-rush snaps. He is one of the most efficient and dominant interior defensive linemen in the country when it comes to getting into the backfield. Foster started just four games last season after missing two due to illness and the rest due to a season-ending knee injury. However, he did play 52 snaps last week against New Mexico and earned a 66.3 overall grade.

CBs T.J. Tampa (Iowa State) & Cooper Dejean (Iowa)

  • Iowa vs. Iowa State

Even though these two prospects won’t be lining up against one another, when either defense is on the field this Saturday, you’ll be able to see a future NFL draft cornerback.

Tampa is listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. He has elite size for the position and knows how to use those long arms to press releases and when getting physical with receivers at the break or catch point. Last season, he earned an 81.6 coverage grade with 12 forced incompletions.

On the other side of the field, we have DeJean, who ranked 11th on PFF’s preseason big board. He is an incredibly natural athlete who also has great size for the position at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. DeJean earned an 88.6 coverage grade with six forced incompletions, five interceptions and two pick-sixs.

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