Draft Countdown has a preseason watchlist that is over 800 players deep. I can say I have comfortably watched 150 of them. So, narrowing down five players that are the most intriguing for me to watch was a challenge. But we are going to give it a go.
Grayson McCall, RSo QB, Coastal Carolina
A year ago, quarterback Grayson McCall took the nation by storm like the rest of the Chanticleers team. As a redshirt freshman, McCall completed nearly 69% of his passes for 2488 yards. He also had a 26-3 TD-INT ratio. McCall also ran 569 yards and seven scores. He helped bring Coastal Carolina its first Sun Belt championship while nearly leading the Chants to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
McCall has the height you look for (6’3”). However, I would like to see him add some weight to his 200-pound frame. With McCall’s athletic ability and arm strength, another season like 2020 could see him enter the upper QB hierarchy in the 2022 class.
Connor Bazelak, RSo QB, Missouri
Bazelak is a former four-star recruit from Dayton, Ohio. He was one of the best high school players in the state of Ohio in 2018. During his freshman redshirt season at Mizzou, Bazelak created a buzz in the NFL Draft community with his touch and arm strength. Unfortunately, he didn’t take care of the football all that well.
Bazelak threw seven TDs but also tossed six picks in 2020. He completed 67% of his throws for 2366 yards. Bazelak had two rushing scores but averaged less than a yard per carry. There is still enough to like from Bazelak that makes him an intriguing follow for the 2021 season.
Charles Cross, RSo OT, Mississippi State
Charles Cross was one of the highest-rated offensive tackles as a High School senior in Laurel, Mississippi. Cross chose the Bulldogs over rival Ole Miss. As a redshirt freshman, the 6’5” 310-pound massive human started every game for head coach Mike Leach. Cross ranked #4 nationally per PFF as a pass blocker. This success was against an all-SEC schedule in 2020. Cross appears to have the potential to be a first-round pick in 2022, and I can’t wait to watch him.
Jordan Strachan, Sr EDGE, South Carolina
Strachan tied for the FBS lead in sacks in 2020 with 10.5. He is a former walk-on safety who transitioned to linebacker. Strachan was an undersized rusher at Georgia State but has added thirty pounds to his frame since arriving in Columbia in the spring. Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy recently sang the Burlsworth Trophy candidate’s praises on Twitter. With Kingsley Enagbare attracting most of the opposing blocker’s attention, Strachan will have plenty of opportunities to make plays and send his draft stock soaring.
.@seniorbowl has had past 7 Burlsworth Trophy (top former walk-on) winners and Georgia State➡️South Carolina transfer OLB Jordan Strachan could be next. Last year’s CFB sack leader is great with his hands & can affect QB without completely getting home.#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️ pic.twitter.com/j4i2HpX7qW
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) August 22, 2021
Bubba Bolden, Jr S, Miami-FL
Bolden was a Parade All-American in high school, initially committing to Southern Cal. He had a tremendous season in 2020, Bolden’s first as a starting safety. He finished the season with 74 tackles, including a staggering 50 solo stops. Bolden also forced four fumbles, had three PBUs, and one interception. With production like this, it is easy to see why Bubba Bolden gets the love he does.