The Watch List 2021: Week 5 Preview

Updated: October 3rd 2020

Welcome to The Watch List for the 2021 NFL Draft season, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the season as The Watch List will preview the prospects you should be watching each week so you know who will be fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

The 2020 college football season started in earnest last week with the SEC kicking off and things are only looking up for draft fans as the rest of the college football world returns soon. Until then, we’re “stuck” with the SEC for our premier matchups. The centerpiece game of Week 5 is without a doubt the matchup between #7 Auburn and #4 Georgia at 7:30pm on ESPN. Neither team looked convincing in their opening victories so this will be an important game for one of them to get back on track with a statement win. I touched on a number of players from those two squads last week (I see you Seth Williams) so for this preview I am instead going to direct your attention to two Top 10 talents who will be playing earlier in the day. At 12:00pm you should be watching TE Kyle Pitts and Florida face off against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Then at 3:30pm turn to ESPN+ for your only chance at seeing NDSU’s Trey Lance this year. Want to learn more about these two? You should…


Kyle Pitts, WR, Florida

Nobody did more for their professional prospects in Week 4 than Florida TE Kyle Pitts. He seemed even more dominant than his 8-170-4 stat line would dictate if that’s even possible. Regular readers will remember that I profiled Pitts in the Spring and predicted he would be a “hot NFL Draft commodity.” Frankly, I thought that would take more than just a single game but here we are. #DraftTwitter is abuzz with “Pitts as TE1” talk and I’m here for it.

So what was it about his outing against Ole Miss that has fans looking forward to his matchup against South Carolina this week? Let’s take a closer look thanks to this perfect tweet from the SEC Network that has a short video including each of Pitts four scores.

If you were trying to cherry pick a season-long highlight package that showcased all of Pitts strengths you couldn’t do better than the above video. On the first play you see how Pitts can be deployed as if he is going to block before sneaking out into the flat for an easy score. (Pitts being a serviceable and willing blocker obviously helps with this feint.) On the second score he fights with the press corner off the line of scrimmage and then again at the top of his stem. He maybe pushes off a bit but spins off the defender and locates the well-placed ball and makes the catch as he falls past the goal line. Neither defender had a chance to make a play on the ball, just a perfect connection between quarterback and receiver. On the third touchdown Pitts shows us his speed and separation as he beats his defender down the seam. Like in the second play, he adjusts well to the ball that is under thrown. He lands a stiff arm that knocks the tackler off of him because of his longer reach. Then it’s off to the races, and none of the three DBs gets within five yards of him. Finally, Pitts showed us that he can be a weapon in the red zone. He’s lined up just off the line of scrimmage, runs a middle route against double coverage and beats both defenders in the air. At 6060/240, Pitts can win just about any jump ball.

Pitts literally put on a clinic against Ole Miss and I’m so glad I was tuned in and will certainly be watching again this week against South Carolina. If we were drafting today, I have no doubt that Kyle Pitts would be the top tight end selected and surely in the top half of the first round. Hopefully this Gator keeps chomping all the way throughout the season.


Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

In a year full of strange seasons, perhaps none is stranger than that of the North Dakota State Bison. The FCS, as a collective, is not playing football this fall, however some of its teams were permitted by their conference to create their own schedule. Some of those teams, like Central Arkansas and Houston Baptist, have benefited from the situation because their early games surely had more viewers than in a usual year. NDSU has just a single game on their schedule and it comes this week against the aforementioned Central Arkansas. Thankfully for draft fans the game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN+ giving us a chance to see superstar quarterback Trey Lance in action once more before he inevitably starts his NFL Draft preparation. To his credit, Lance is apparently going to play in the game and says his focus is on the game and not his future. If he returns to campus next year it’ll be a big surprise.

Lance leapt into the national conversation about halfway through his redshirt freshman season, his first as the starter. He accounted for 11 total TDs through the campaign’s first three games and kept up an impressive pace all season long. He ended with 2,786 passing yards, 28 passing TDs and ZERO interceptions; he also added an even 1,100 yards and 14 TDs on the ground. Lance had a record-setting season and led the Bison to a perfect 16-0 record. The list of his 2019 accomplishments on his athletic department bio has twenty-two bullet points. In case the stats weren’t enough to convince you, take a look at these highlights:

On the field, Lance is a multi-faceted force for defenses to gameplan against. Size-wise he’s listed at 6040/226 and predicts he’ll run in the 4.60 range (think: Ryan Tannehill). When I wrote about Lance back in May, I gushed about his arm talent saying that “Lance has the ability to uncork the ball with placement.” Outside the pocket, he keeps his eyes downfield and throws very well on the move. When running Lance looks more like an upright running back than a scrambling QB. He’s not afraid to initiate contact and is a high effort player who will sacrifice his body for a first down. (That’s admirable but he’ll need to make sure he keeps himself healthy and avoids big hits.) I can’t wait to study Lance further and get to know him better as a prospect because he could be special. I have not seen that much of Lance yet, none of us really have given he’ll essentially come out as a one-year starter, so take this next sentence with the requisite grain of salt: Lance oozes natural talent, confidence and charisma that has me as excited as I was when studying Patrick Mahomes back in 2017.


Notes: Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources. I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats:,,,,,,,,
  • Recruiting:,,,
  • Film: 2021 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis,
  • Draft info and mocks:,,,,,
  • NFL rosters, depth charts and contract info:,
  • Draft history:
  • Combine info:,,,
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos:
  • Odds & Gambling Stats:

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a certified park and recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

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