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Forget scouting -- these players are just fun to watch

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Top plays: Week 4 (1:34)

SEC Network looks back at standout moments from around the conference. (1:34)

While Mel Kiper and Todd McShay spend most of their time watching players with an eye on their NFL futures, sometimes those players are just plain fun to watch.

Mel and Todd offer up their favorite players to watch regardless of whether they have a future in the NFL, as well as a couple of prospects on the rise and players to watch after Week 4.

Favorite players to watch

Todd McShay: Saquon Barkley, RB, PSU

This guy is one of the best college running backs I've ever seen. Better than Leonard Fournette. Better than Todd Gurley. And better than Ezekiel Elliott. Running backs who are 230 pounds just don't make lateral cuts the way he does and still have breakaway speed. Plus he showed guts picking up a blitz on the last play of the Iowa game, helping his QB Trace McSorley win the game.

Kiper: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Listen, I don't know whether Mayfield is going to be a starter in the NFL. But I'm not going to count him out. Yes, he's undersized, and yes, there are questions about his arm strength, but the kid's a playmaker. He thrives in chaos. The sacks Mayfield escapes are unbelievable. He'll run around for 15 seconds and toss it downfield. How can you not enjoy watching that? Mayfield already has a third- and fourth-place Heisman finishes. Can he win it this season? Don't count him out.

McShay: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold plays the position the way it's supposed to be played and doesn't look like a sophomore. He goes through progressions, uses the entire field and can extend plays with his feet. He's also physically and mentally tough and gives his wide receivers chances to make plays. I think people need to cool it on the interception narrative a bit, as three of the first six bounced off of wide receivers' hands.

And above all: No moment is too big for Darnold. It hasn't all been pretty, but USC is 4-0 right now and he has led the team to 13 straight wins.

Kiper: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama

Harris is just consistent and reliable. He's workmanlike. He's professional. Fans have wanted to see more of Bo Scarbrough or Josh Jacobs or another five-star recruit for the past two seasons, but Harris just keeps getting the job done. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry last season, and all anyone wants to talk about is Scarbrough. Harris produces every week.

McShay: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Not only does he have the right makeup, but he's also got speed to burn, the ability to create with the ball in his hands and the willingness to go over the middle. He has 19 catches for 251 yards and four TDs, and he averages 9 yards per carry and 32.4 yards per kickoff return.

Mel Kiper: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

The Michigan defense has a first-round talent up front in Maurice Hurst, but it's Bush who makes it go. He lines up all over the field and makes a ton of plays. The sophomore plays hard and hits hard. I scouted his dad, Devin Bush Sr., a first-round pick out of Florida State in 1995. He had a 41-inch vertical! His son is only a first-year starter, but look out -- he's fantastic.

McShay: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

Smith is the biggest standout on a loaded Georgia defense that ranks eighth nationally (11.5 points per game). Coach Kirby Smart recently compared Smith to former Alabama standout C.J. Mosley and I can see it. Smith is always around the ball, fast and can cover sideline-to-sideline.

Kiper: Hercules Mata'afa, DE, Washington State

Mata'afa plays defensive tackle and defensive end; he can play on his feet, he can play on the edge -- he's the Cougars' best defender since Deone Bucannon. After finishing with 5.0 sacks last season, he already has 4.5 this season. He's a phenomenal college player.

Almost famous

McShay: Ben Banogu, DE, TCU

Not heavily recruited out of high school, he went to Louisiana Monroe and had a big redshirt freshman year. He worked so hard after sitting out 2016 because of NCAA transfer rules that TCU coach Gary Patterson named him both a starter and team captain. He leads the team with three sacks and jumped out on tape when I was prepping for the Oklahoma State game.

Kiper: Deatrick Nichols, CB, South Florida

Nichols pops off the tape when I watch the Bulls, and he had a tremendous game against Temple -- two interceptions and a forced fumble. He now has 10 career picks. At 5-10, 190, Nichols is physical, and he's a good tackler. His experience is a plus, too -- Nichols has played in 35 games already. He's a solid midround corner prospect for next year's draft.

Prospects on the rise

McShay: Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona

He caught 14 passes for 206 yards and two TDs on Saturday, and in Week 1 against Arizona had eight catches for 147 yards. Marks needs to continue to get stronger, but he's a solid route runner and has become a dependable target.

Kiper: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Chubb's dominant performance in the Wolfpack's upset over Florida State was overshadowed by a postgame incident in which he spit on the Seminoles' midfield logo, a terrible moment for a great player. But on the field, he had two sacks and a forced fumble and wreaked havoc off the edge. He also had several hurries. He had already been in my Big Board, but I expect him to move up a few more spots. At 6-4, 260, Chubb plays with power but can bend on the edge. He has a great arsenal of pass-rushing moves, and he can also hold up against the run. He had 10.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss last season after posting 5.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2015.