2015 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 3

Want to get to know the draft prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft? This weekly column breaks down the best matchups to watch on Saturday and what players to watch.

By Charlie Campbell.
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Georgia vs. South Carolina 3:30 ET CBS

This is the premier game of Week 3 of the college football season. If you want to see running backs who could end up being some of the top backs in the NFL, this is the game for you.

Georgia running back Todd Gurley was an animal in the Bulldog’s Week 1 win over Clemson. He ran for almost 200 yards with three touchdowns and brought back a kick 100 yards for a touchdown. Gurley is one of the top running back prospects to come along in years – maybe since Adrian Peterson. Gurley should continue to impress against a South Carolina defense that is reeling from losing its defensive line and cornerbacks after the 2013 season. Gurley got a week off to rest before taking on the Gamecocks, so he should be poised for a huge day.

South Carolina junior running back Mike Davis barely played against Texas A&M in the 2014 season opener because of a rib injury, but he bounced back in Week 2 against East Carolina. Davis ran for 101 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 28 yards. With the attention that Gurley commands, this is a big opportunity for Davis to standout.

The Gamecocks also have some potential NFL offensive linemen in tackle Corey Robinson and guard A.J. Cann. They will take on some good talent in the Georgia defensive line.

Kentucky vs. Florida 7:30 ET SEC Network

This is a good under-the-radar draft matchup that could produce a tape that is studied closely over the months and years to come. The reason for that is Kentucky has two talented defensive ends in Alvin Dupree and Za’Darius Smith going against a Gators junior right tackle Chaz Green. Unfortunately, Florida junior left tackle D.J. Humphries is expected to miss this game after injuring his ankle last Saturday. Dupree and Smith were very good in 2013 and can put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.

Green was looking like a potential second-day pick during the 2012 season. He missed all of 2013 with an injury, but was dominant in his return to the field last Saturday.

Along with Green, Dupree and Smith should present a challenge for Gators junior quarterback Jeff Driskel. Some NFL draft pundits love Driskel, who has the physical skill set to be a starter in the NFL. Remaining poised under pressure hasn’t been Driskel’s strength, so it will be interesting to see if he gets rattled by Dupree and Smith. Green might move to left tackle, but either way, Florida will be starting a true freshman at tackle in place of Humphries.

The Gators have a potential first-round-pick edge defender in Dante Fowler. Fowler plays the Buck linebacker spot in the Gators defensive scheme, which is a 3-4 outside linebacker. He could play that position or defensive end in a 4-3 defense in the NFL. Gators junior linebacker Neiron Ball impressed last week with multiple sacks rushing from the other side.

Both teams also have sleeper junior running backs to keep an eye on in Florida’s Matt Jones and Mack Brown. Kentucky’s Braylon Heard had two carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. An ankle injury knocked him out versus Ohio in Week 2, but coach Mark Stoops said Heard may play against Florida.

Tennessee vs. Oklahoma 8:00 ET ABC

This is a good game for linebacker draft prospects. Tennessee senior inside linebacker A.J. Johnson had a great start to the season in Week 1 against Utah State and looks like the play-maker that he was in 2012. Oklahoma will be a good test for him as the Sooners have some talented running backs and a mobile quarterback in Trevor Knight who Johnson will have to spy on occasion.

Oklahoma has a potential early-round pick in outside linebacker Erik Striker. The Sooners also have other prospects in their front seven in outside linebacker Geno Grissom, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and defensive end Charles Tapper. All three of those defenders were impressive against Tulsa last week, but Tennessee will prove to be a bigger test.

UCLA vs. Texas 8:00 PM Fox Sports 1

This is an interesting game as UCLA struggled in Week 1 against Virginia while Texas was blown out by BYU for the second-straight season. Whichever program wins this game can get its season on track before conference play starts. The loser will have to be concerned.

Bruins junior quarterback Brett Hundley needs to show improved pocket-passing skills if he wants to get drafted high. Sources from multiple teams have told WalterFootball.com that Hundley is overrated. The time is now for Hundley to step his game up if he wants to entertain leaving early for the NFL.

Texas has some defensive prospects worth watching. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown had an excellent game against BYU with multiple sacks and a forced fumble. Defensive end Cedric Reed is also a potential early-round pick. Senior cornerback Quandre Diggs also has potential to be a second-day pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

UCLA has some defensive draft prospects as well. Linebacker Erik Kendricks was created 14 points in Week 1 with a forced fumble and a pick-six. Kendricks could go in the first two rounds next May. Defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy is another prospect to watch.

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