Top Five Offensive Players To Watch On Saturdays
Ainias Smith – WR, Texas A&M
2021 Stats – 31 Receptions for 347 yards and 6 TDs. 6 Rushing Attempts for 24 yards
First, we’ll start in College Station and with a name that most should know, but that doesn’t mean Ainias Smith isn’t a name worth talking about. Smith is an interesting case study. He mainly plays receiver for the Texas A&M Aggies, but his size and skillset seem well suited for playing running back. He is a good route runner. His hips are very fluid, and he is very smooth coming out of breaks or coming to a stop. He has solid hands, but a smaller catch radius (due to his size). He is just an average athlete, but his change of direction ability is elite, and this helps him create the separation he desperately needs as he is unable to win contested catches or to box out opponents. Smith should likely move into the slot for the NFL. His smooth route running, and smaller frame might pigeonhole him in this role. He should also be used as a runner or in the short passing game in order to get the ball into his hands. You can catch him next vs. Auburn on Nov. 6.
Other Texas A&M Offensive Players to Watch: RB Isaiah Spiller, TE Jalen Wydermyer, OG Kenyon Green
Greg Dulcich – TE, UCLA
6’4, 245 lbs
2021 Stats – 25 Receptions for 425 yards and 3 TDs.
We’ll head west to Los Angeles and shift to the tight end position with Greg Dulcich. He is a versatile player as he lined up in-line, out wide, in the slot and as a lead blocker for the Bruins, to varying effectiveness. He is always a willing blocker but was not that great blocking in space and taking the proper angles on blocks. Dulcich does offer upside at receiver as well, as this is his strength currently. He has a decent catch radius and is usually able to pull passes in within this radius. He is a solid route runner and should be used on short or medium routes. He also offers run after the catch ability. Dulcich needs to be a more heads up player and work on finding work in the run game, finding holes in zones, and making sure to play through the snap. He will likely start as a second tight end, but should be able to grow into a versatile and reliable starter. You can catch him next on October 30th vs. Utah.
Other UCLA Offensive Players to Watch: QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, RB Zach Charbonnet, OT Sean Rhyan, OT Alec Anderson
Bernhard Raimann – OT, Central Michigan
2021 Stats – 10 Pressures Allowed on 367 Pass-Blocking Snaps
I have got to get a big ugly into here. While offensive linemen typically don’t pop, Bernhard Raimann is an exception for the Central Michigan Chippewas. Hailing from Austria, Raimann is massive and powerful. He is surprisingly flexible for someone of his size and can lock up defenders effectively. Raimann has a surprising amount of wiggle and he can shimmy from side to side with rushers. He is strong at the point of attack; however, I would like to see his punch to be stronger and come out faster. Too often Raimann lets defenders get into his chest and he must rely on his power instead of his technique. Even with all his power, Raimann doesn’t put opponents into the dirt consistently. He is a smart tackle that’s good at passing off rushers to his guard and good at keeping his head up to catch free rushers. Raimann is rarely asked to move in space for the Chippewas and the times he has been, he hasn’t been that great at it. He isn’t particularly fast or quick and didn’t take the best angles to make blocks. He has pretty good length in a vacuum, but for a 6’7 player his arms seem short. He also does not use his length well. He lets defenders get into his chest too often. Raimann has to clean up a lot of his technique. He relies too much on his power and strength to lock up rushers, especially because he plays in the MAC conference. He could also stand to gain a bit of weight, in order to stand up to NFL power rushers and to fill out his frame a little bit. You can catch him next playing in state rival Western Michigan on November 3rd.
Other Central Michigan Offensive Players to Watch: Honestly not much. WR Kalil Pimpleton. If you want another OT, Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa.
Zonovan Knight – RB, N.C. State
2021 Stats – 90 Attempts for 519 yards and 3 TDs with 11 Receptions for 66 yards.
The Wolfpack’s offense rotate their backs every drive, so Zonovan Knight still has a lot of tread left on the tires. N.C. State’s offense looks much more effective when Knight is in than his running mate, Ricky Person. Knight is a tough runner. He’s great at breaking tackles and fighting for yardage after/during contact and preventing lost yardage. His vision is average, but when he sees the hole, he accelerates through it quickly and is shifty enough to fit between tackles. Knight possesses good acceleration, short area quickness and change of direction ability. However, he does not possess great speed. He is not fast enough to consistently challenge the edge, and this will limit his scheme fit at the next level (especially in outside zone schemes). Knight is a reliable pass catcher but isn’t anything to write home about on third downs. Knight would work best in a tandem at the NFL level, like he did in college, as he does not possess the elite running or pass catching ability to be a workhorse back at the next level. You can watch him next playing against Louisville on October 30th.
Other N.C. State Offensive Players to Watch: RB Ricky Person, WR Emeka Emezie, WR Thayer Thomas, OT Ikem Ekwonu
Tre Turner – WR, Virginia Tech
2021 Stats – 27 Receptions for 415 yards and 1 TD. 9 Rushes for 52 yards.
Staying in the ACC, but going back to wide receivers, we have Tre Turner of Virginia Tech. As a receiver, he primarily lines up outside, but the Hokies also use him as a designated runner very often. He is used on sweeps and even lined up in the backfield on occasion and he’s effective here as well. Turner is great with the ball in his hands. He has great acceleration, speed, and change of direction ability in order to make a man miss. However, Turner is very skinny, and he may have trouble taking hits in the NFL. This size also hurts during contested catch situations and against press. However, Turner is also a technician on his routes, and he relies on technique to create separation. He is smooth during his breaks and his change of direction speed, false steps, and head fakes make him able to trick defenders. His hands are a bit inconsistent. He had some exciting catches, but his catch radius is limited, and he had a few concentration drops on routine throws as well. In the NFL, Turner would benefit from just getting the ball in his hands and allow him to create. He is a slippery, small pass catcher that can provide value for his future team, especially as a deep threat. You can catch him playing against Georgia Tech on October 30th.
Other Virginia Tech Offensive Players to Watch: RB Raheem Blackshear, TE James Mitchell