Scouting Notebook: Illinois Fighting Illini at Penn State Nittany Lions

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The NFL Draft isn’t until April 28, 2022, but we are always preparing for the next crop of young rookies. Right now the Cleveland Browns are predicted to draft in the 20-25 range and most pundits have Cleveland taking a wide receiver early, but there is still a ton of football left to be played before anything is final.

One of the more interesting games on this week’s slate features two Big Ten teams in the Illinois Fighting Illini visiting the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State was favored by more than three touchdowns, but there were still some fun prospects to watch.

The game ended up going into nine overtimes with Illinois getting the upset victory. Here are a few prospects from that game that are of interest:

Illinois Fighting Illini prospect to watch

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Brandon Peters, QB, 6-5, 220 pounds, 24 years old

The first prospect being named is likely already marked off the prospect watch list for the Browns due to their age guardrail, but Brandon Peters is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on. He has some early-round hype but is now largely viewed as a late-round prospect due to some injuries and an obvious step back in play.

Peters has been the life-blood of the Illinois offense and he made what was supposed to be one season after transferring from Michigan last three years. He missed five games last season due to COVID and has been in and out of the lineup this season, with his status for Saturday still technically up in the air.

Peters looks like an NFL quarterback with the ideal size and enough athleticism to make something happen with his feet when needed. The Fighting Illini gunslinger also has a big-time arm that can hit every blade of grass.

Penn State Nittany Lions prospect to watch

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Brandon Smith, OLB, 6-3, 240 pounds, 20 years old

Brandon Smith is well within the age guardrail and he is a player that is steadily improving and filling the role left by Micah Parsons admirably. Linebackers in the NFL need to be athletic and Smith has the physical tools to be an asset.

Smith has been a versatile piece for the Penn State defense as he transitioned from the strong side to the weak side this season and he hasn’t skipped a beat. His finest contest was against the Auburn Tigers, where Smith totaled ten tackles and a pass break-up. He earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for those efforts and that was legit early-round tape.

Smith can be a presence as a pass rusher and plays with the physicality needed at the next level, but his most important trait may be his “FBI”. Smith has the football intelligence to rarely be out of space. The Nittany Lion backer is being mocked in the early rounds.

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