Wake Forest CB Caelen Carson, Duke QB Riley Leonard to face off on the scouting spot

College football’s Week 10 is already underway thanks to some welcome midweek MACtion, but it really kicks into gear on Thursday night. An ACC battle between Duke and Wake Forest will feature two 2024 NFL draft prospects who are trending in the wrong direction lately.

It’s an important night in Durham for Wake Forest CB Caelen Carson and Duke QB Riley Leonard. Recent games have not been kind to their draft evaluations.

Carson has not had a great college season. He’s been inconsistent in his coverage and his tackling — specifically, his tackling after the catch. For a player generally labeled as a “man coverage only” corner, that’s a bad problem to have. Diving at feet like he did against Georgia Tech QB Haynes King won’t get it done either.

Florida State went after Carson without worry. He gave up two touchdowns in coverage. The inability to locate the ball in the air on one of them was surprising; Carson has shown really nice ball skills in his Demon Deacons career, but the awareness and reading of the receiver cues were poor. The same was true a week earlier against Pittsburgh. The flashes were still evident though, including one very nice PBU against high-flying Keon Coleman.

At Duke, Carson doesn’t face off against dynamic wide receivers. The Blue Devils move the ball around a lot to various targets and extend pass plays well, which means attention to detail and technique are going to be very important for Carson.

Riley Leonard is a savvy quarterback for Duke, but he’s also looking to get back on track after a rough game in the Blue Devils’ shutout loss to Louisville. Leonard has not looked like a pro prospect since returning from the leg injury he suffered against Notre Dame.

One of the appealing qualities for Leonard pre-injury was his ability to handle pressure and still try to challenge down the field. That has not been there in the Florida State and Louisville losses. Both those defenses are good at generating pressure, something Wake Forest doesn’t do so well. EDGE Jasheen Davis is capable of making trouble for Leonard, but this is a game where the Duke QB should have more time to do his thing in the pocket or on controlled avoidance.

Story originally appeared on Draft Wire