2015 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 4

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.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Auburn vs. Kansas State Thursday, 7:30 ET ESPN

Auburn hasn’t played a tough opponent yet, so it will be interesting to see how quarterback Nick Marshall performs against better competition. He worked in the offseason to improve his pocket passing, and one can be sure that Kansas State Wildcats’ game plan will be to make Marshall beat them from the pocket. Under Bill Snider, Kansas State may be short on elite talent, but his teams always play disciplined football. The Wildcats will sell out to stop the Tigers’ rushing offense.

Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates has early-round potential and is due to break out this season. He had only one reception for 13 yards in Week 1 and didn’t play in Auburn’s second game.

Kansas State center B.J. Finney and wide receiver Tyler Lockett are also potential draft picks. Finney should be challenged by some young talent in Auburn’s front seven.

Florida vs. Alabama 3:30 ET CBS

The Gators were lucky to beat Kentucky last Saturday, so Alabama should roll Florida on Saturday. Still, there will be a lot of great draft matchups in this game. This game actually features one of the best draft matchups we’ll see all season. The high-profile battle should have ramifications in the 2016 draft as well.

The top matchup to watch is battle between the country’s best wide receiver going against the best cornerback in the nation. Alabama’s Amari Cooper is expected to have Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III following him all day. The Gators’ only hope for an upset would have Hargreaves locking down Cooper with the rest of the defense stifling Alabama’s rushing attack and getting a few breaks go their way to win a low-scoring affair.

Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Hargreaves would have been a first-round pick after his freshman season, and some feel that he is best corner prospect for the NFL since Patrick Peterson. Hargreaves has drawn comparisons to Peterson and Champ Bailey. Cooper looks like a potential top-10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, so this is an elite matchup. If one player is the clear winner, it could propel him into top-three consideration.

Florida’s defense also features a likely 2015 first-round pick in edge rusher Dante Fowler. He had a monster game against Kentucky last week and will test Alabama’s new left tackle. Crimson Tide junior running back T.J. Yeldon is an early-round prospect, and Florida could feature the toughest defense he’ll face all season.

On the other side of the ball, there is pro talent going head-to-head. Gators tackle Chaz Green, running back Matt Jones and quarterback Jeff Driskel are all juniors who have looked improved thus far this season. However, Driskel needs to play a lot better to be an early-round pick or lead Florida to a win. Going against this group is an Alabama defense with lots of future NFL talent led by safety Landon Collins. The Crimson Tide will surely favor using Collins against Florida sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson after Robinson went over 200 yards receiving against Kentucky.

Mississippi State vs. LSU 7:00 ET ESPN

There could be a nice draft matchup in this game depending on how the Bulldogs line up. LSU tackle La’el Collins and guard Vadal Alexander could go against Mississippi State defensive lineman Chris Boyd. Boyd was a freshman standout last year and will test the pass protection of the talented LSU linemen.

Miami vs. Nebraska 8:00 PM ESPN 2

This game features two running back prospects who could be mid-round picks: Miami’s Duke Johnson and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah. Both runners aren’t the largest or most physical of backs, but they make up for it with their speed. The Hurricanes have to get Johnson going to help their new quarterback because one can expect that Nebraska edge rusher Randy Gregory will make life hell for the signal-caller. Gregory is the best pass-rusher in college football, but has been slowed by knee surgery following the first game. The surgery was said to be minor, and Gregory should be poised to break out against the Hurricanes.

Clemson vs. Florida State 8:00 PM ABC

Last year, Florida State laid a whipping on Clemson, and that was the Seminoles only real test before meeting Auburn in the National Championship. Clemson isn’t as good this year after losing Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and others to the NFL, but there is still plenty of pro talent on display in this prime-time matchup.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will see an improved Clemson defense this year. Senior defensive end Vic Beasley is one of the top pass-rushers in the nation and is likely a first- or second-round pick next May. Seminoles senior left tackle Cameron Erving looked awful in Week 1, but shutting down Beasely could help redeem his draft stock. Florida State also has pro prospects in guards Josue Matias and Tre Jackson, who were underwhelming against Oklahoma State in the opener.

Seminoles senior wide receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary are worth watching as the targets for Winston. Senior running back Karlos Williams also is physically talented and is developing his game for the next level.

Clemson has a lot of young talent on offense that will challenge the Florida State defense. Seminoles cornerback P.J. Williams, cornerback Ronald Darby and defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. are all potential first-round picks in 2015. The Clemson offense is the best offense that they’ll face during the regular season.

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12