With a third of the 2023 NFL season behind us, 2024 NFL Draft talk has already begun to heat up for a few teams.
Minnesota could still be in line for one of the top draft positions in the league this year, so here is a look at a few potential draft prospects to keep an eye on in Week 8 of the college football season.
Alabama EDGE Chris Braswell
The injuries to Marcus Davenport this season have made it abundantly clear that it’s time for the Vikings to invest more in their depth at EDGE. Danielle Hunter, Davenport, and D.J. Wonnum all have their contracts end following the 2023 season, leaving major question marks moving into 2024.
One option for Minnesota could be Chris Braswell out of Alabama. The Crimson Tide defender has vaulted up draft boards this season, recording 7 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks so far this season. He even has a pick-six to his name this year, which came against Mississippit State.
This weekend, Bama has a huge game against Tennessee, which could shake things up both in the SEC and the national polls as two top-20 teams face off on Saturday.
Michigan RB Blake Corum
Minnesota’s experiment of using Alexander Mattison as a bell-cow back this season really hasn’t worked so far. If things don’t improve, and they continue not to trust either Cam Akers or Ty Chandler to take on a bigger role, the Vikings should consider bringing in another RB in the draft.
One of the top options in this upcoming draft class is Michigan RB Blake Corum. The back may be just 5’8, but he is an electrifying presence in the Wolverines offense. So far this season, the senior has totaled 96 carries for 546 yards and 12 TDs. He is averaging 5.9 carries over his four-year career and has 45 total TDs to his name.
This weekend, Michigan has an in-state rivalry game against Michigan State. The Spartans defense has not been a very strong unit this year, so Corum should be in line for another big rushing total on Saturday.
USC RB Marshawn Lloyd
Let’s stick with the running back position for a bit. Again, it’s one of the more glaring problems with the Vikings offense this season, so it should be a position that Minnesota pays attention to this offseason.
Another option in the draft is USC RB Marshawn Lloyd. The back spent his first three years at South Carolina before transferring to USC this year, and he has enjoyed the highest workload of his career in the Trojans offense. So far this season, he has totaled 75 carries for 565 yards and 5 TDs. He can be an effective player in the passing game as well with 24 catches for 256 yards and 2 TDs over the past two seasons.
USC suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, so they are hoping to get back on track in Week 8 when they take on Utah in a PAC-12 rivalry game. Lloyd will play a big role in ensuring the Trojans capture another win.
Auburn CB D.J. James
Minnesota’s young secondary has proven to be a positive unit through the first six weeks of the season. Akayleb Evans is a solid starter, and even 2022 second-round pick Andrew Booth came in last weekend for some positive snaps.
Even still, extra depth could be used in the Vikings CB room, especially if Byron Murphy doesn’t improve his play. An option to keep an eye on is Auburn CB D.J. James, who is a feisty playmaker in the Tigers secondary. The corner can be used all over the field and has recorded 18 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions so far this season.
Auburn has lost three consecutive games after a 3-0 start to their year, and now, they have to go up against Ole Miss, the #13 team in the country. In order to pull off an upset this weekend, Auburn will need James to come up with a big play.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.