2015 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 8

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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Baylor vs. West Virginia Saturday, 12:00 ET Fox Sports 1

This will be an excellent test for West Virginia safety Karl Joseph. He’s one of the top safeties in the nation and will be tested by the Bears’ explosive offense. Taking on senior wide receiver Antwan Goodley and quarterback Bryce Petty will be a challenge for Joseph’s eye discipline to make sure that he doesn’t allow big plays deep down the field.

Goodley has played extremely well since coming back from an injury. Beating Joseph for some big plays downfield would add to his impressive play this season. Petty needs to improve his accuracy and is a third-day prospect worth watching.

On the other side of the ball, Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman should be starting in the NFL before too long. The 6-foot-9, 280-pounder is a physical freak with speed and athleticism to go with his mammoth size. Oakman should be able to add to his sack total against West Virginia.

Texas A&M vs. Alabama 3:30 PM CBS

Both of these teams have been slumping lately, and one of the players who hasn’t been playing as well is Aggies left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Against Mississippi State, he was beaten for three sacks, and last week against Mississippi, he was beaten for another while allowing a critical hit on Kenny Hill to help produce Cody Prewitt’s 75-yard pick-six. Alabama doesn’t have an elite edge rusher, so Ogbuehi should be able to bounce back against the Crimson Tide.

After getting burned for big plays versus Ole Miss, Alabama safety Landon Collins bounced back against Arkansas. With the Aggies dangerous receivers of Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones, Collins’ pass coverage will be tested in the deep part of the field. He needs to show that his performance against the Rebels was a one-time occurrence.

After starting the season like a man on fire, Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper was slowed down some against Ole Miss (9-91) and locked down by Arkansas (2-22). Cooper should produce some good totals against the Aggies’ secondary.

Washington vs. Oregon 8:00 PM Fox Sports 1

This should be a great game for NFL draft evaluation. The Huskies’ four defensive prospects will see one of their best tests of the season with a Ducks’ offense led by star quarterback Marcus Mariota. The dual-threat quarterback is going to be challenged in all levels of the field by the talented defenders from Washington.

At the point of attack, Mariota will have to deal with Huskies nose tackle Danny Shelton. Not only is Shelton tough against the run, but he can collapse the pocket as he has seven sacks on the season. Shelton will battle perhaps the best center in college football in Hroniss Grasu. This will be a huge tape for both Grasu and Shelton. Grasu needs to show he has the strength in his base to handle the heavy Shelton (6-2, 339).

On the edge, there is another good draft matchup with Oregon left tackle Jake Fisher taking on Washington outside linebacker Hau’Oli Kikaha. Kikaha has 10 sacks on the year and will be looking to add to that total. Mariota has had a problem with fumbles in his career, and Kikaha should look to exploit that with some strip sacks. He’ll be a great test for Fisher.

While Mariota has shown a tendency to put the ball on the ground, he is great at avoiding interceptions and hasn’t thrown one this season. Washington cornerback Marcus Peters will still be tested by the Ducks’ aerial attack. A big game for Peters could help generate a first-round grade for him.

Lastly, Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson will have the challenge of chasing Mariota and the Oregon running backs. The fast and instinctive Thompson will also see his pass coverage tested by Ducks tight end Pharaoh Brown, an underrated weapon in the Oregon offense.

Notre Dame vs. Florida State 8:00 PM ABC

This is the most hyped game of the week as No. 2 takes hosts the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish. Seminoles redshirt sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston has an easy schedule in the ACC, so a quality defense like Notre Dame’s should be a rare test for him. A matchup to watch on the outside is Seminoles wide receiver Rashad Greene going against Florida Gators transfer Cody Riggs. Riggs is undersized, so he needs to show that he can prevent separation with receivers like Greene (6-1, 180).

Some pundits have been hyping the improvement of Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, but that will be put to the test against Florida State. The Seminoles have two good defensive line prospects for the NFL in tackles Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman. Cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby are going to make throwing windows small for Golson. Perhaps the best player on the Florida State defense is sophomore safety Nate Andrews, and Golson will have to be wary of Andrews’ play-making ability.

Stanford vs. Arizona State 10:30 ET ESPN

Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong will see one of the best cornerbacks he’ll play against all season in Stanford’s Alex Carter. If one of them out plays the other, that could be a big boost for the successful prospect’s respective draft stock and help the winner to go on Thursday night of the 2015 NFL Draft. Strong had a huge game against Stanford last year while putting up big totals in his last two games against UCLA and USC. The Cardinal will probably roll double coverage his direction.

Stanford has a receiver prospect of its own in Ty Montgomery. He should be able to have to his way with a vulnerable Sun Devils secondary. Cardinal left tackle Andrus Peat is another first-round prospect to watch in this game.

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