Alex Forsyth, Tommy Eichenberg Include Week 8 2023 NFL Draft Risers

    Continuing to look ahead to the 2023 NFL Draft, Tony Pauline shares his 2023 Big Board Risers and Sliders from Week 8 of the college season.

    Week 8 on the college football schedule saw another previously undefeated team fall as Ole Miss lost to an ever-improving LSU squad in Baton Rouge. We also saw several talented next-level linemen improve their 2023 NFL Draft stock, as well as a pair of linebackers. Finally, once a highly thought-of quarterback slips after he was pulled from the lineup. Here are the Risers & Sliders for Week 8.

    Risers: Alex Forsyth, Tommy Eichenberg Among the Group

    Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina

    In a game of two teams heading in the opposite direction, South Carolina beat Texas A&M by a score of 30-24. The game was not as close as the score would indicate, as Texas A&M was constantly playing from behind, and the two quarterbacks the Aggies put on the field were constantly running for their lives, courtesy of Zacch Pickens.

    The senior finished the game with two tackles, three hurries, and a pass breakup. Pickens was an incessant nuisance, exploding off the snap, penetrating the backfield, and disrupting the Aggies’ game plan. Several scouts graded the 6’4″, 305-pound defensive tackle as a second-round prospect before the season, and he looked every bit of that on Saturday.

    Alex Forsyth, C, Oregon

    From the first time I scouted Alex Forsyth live against Ohio State during the season opener in 2021, I loved his play and next-level potential. And once again, the senior did not disappoint on Saturday against UCLA.

    The Ducks’ offensive line thrashed the Bruins’ defense, totaling 545 yards of offense, including 262 yards on the ground. The offense ran behind Forsyth, who was dominant in every way. He looked terrific in space, showed a lot of skill in motion, and opened up the middle of the field.

    Forsyth is smart, tough, and blocks with great awareness. He won’t test well before the draft, he has a funky body type NFL scouts don’t like, and past back issues may raise red flags. Yet, Forsyth is one of those prospects people will look to find ways to downgrade, but in the end, if he’s healthy, I believe he’ll be a terrific center in the NFL.

    Jordan McFadden, OL, Clemson

    Last week, it was Syracuse offensive tackle Matthew Bergeron who made the risers list. This week, the honor goes to Clemson left tackle Jordan McFadden, after he helped vanquish the Orange in a close come-from-behind game.

    McFadden did an outstanding job against Syracuse, especially in pass protection, regardless of the change at quarterback. He’s fundamentally sound and a wide-bodied blocker who makes great use of angles protecting the edge. Measuring 6’2″, it’s likely McFadden gets pushed into guard at the next level, but he’s a legitimate Day 2 prospect.

    Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State

    The Buckeyes thrashed Iowa by a score of 54-10, and it would’ve been worse were it not for the Hawkeyes’ defense holding strong in the red zone early in the game. The OSU defense was stellar, holding Iowa to 158 total yards, and Tommy Eichenberg led the way with seven tackles, a pass breakup, and even scoring a touchdown.

    Much of his impact did not show up on the stats sheet, as Eichenberg’s ability to read the action and remain disciplined with assignments resulted in teammates making plays on the ball. I gave Eichenberg a wait-and-see grade over the summer and the junior has shown tremendous progress in his game.

    He is a thinking man’s linebacker who can play middle LB on Sundays.

    Nick Hampton, LB, Appalachian State

    Nick Hampton is the second App State player to make the risers list this season, and this linebacker is incredibly well-liked in scouting circles.

    During the victory over Georgia State, Hampton had a breakout game posting eight tackles, two sacks, and forcing a fumble. He’s undersized but explosive and athletic. While I grade him as an early fifth-round pick, there are some in the scouting community who believe Hampton is a Day 2 prospect.

    Sleeper Prospect: Christian Braswell, CB, Rutgers

    There was a time several years ago when I graded Braswell as a fourth-round prospect. He played for Temple back then. Since that time, Braswell transferred to Rutgers and sat on the sidelines last season but has roared back to look like that potential top-125 prospect I saw three years ago.

    He was a one-man show during the Rutgers comeback victory over Indiana, breaking up three passes and intercepting one, which he brought back for a touchdown to seal the victory.

    In six games, Braswell has three interceptions and four pass breakups. He has legitimate next-level size and speed, as well as enough ball skills to line up in dime packages on Sunday.

    Small-School Prospect: Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State

    Tucker Kraft has the distinction of being the highest-rated non-FBS player on my board and holds a fourth-round grade. Much of the ranking is off the 2021 film, as Kraft hurt his foot during this season’s first game against Iowa and missed the next month and a half until he suited up on Saturday.

    In his return against North Dakota, the junior caught three passes for 53 yards (17.7-yard average) with one touchdown. Kraft is an incredibly athletic tight end with excellent size and hands. He easily moves around the field and splits the seam while also showing the ability to line up as a blocker on running downs.

    SDSU had just two players selected during the initial top 100 picks since 1976, and both were tight ends — Steve Heiden in 1999 and Dallas Goedert in 2018.

    There is no reason not to believe Kraft will join that duo.

    Sliders: DJ Uiagalelei Falls in Victory

    DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson

    It’s rare when one school has a riser and a slider in the same week, but that’s the case in Week 8. While Clemson won the game, it was primarily the end result of DJ Uiagalelei being pulled from the lineup in favor of a freshman quarterback after he failed to move the offense.

    His fumble also led to a scoop and score for Syracuse, which seemed to be on its way to victory. Two years ago, when Trevor Lawrence was sidelined with COVID, Uiagalelei came in and guided Clemson to consecutive wins, looking terrific in both games. His play has been inconsistent to poor since then.

    At one time considered a potential early draft pick, it will be interesting to see what happens with Uiagalelei moving forward. While Dabo Swinney proclaimed Uiagalelei is still the team’s No. 1 quarterback, is a move to the transfer portal in the offing if he’s benched again?

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