2015 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 14

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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Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

LSU vs Texas A&M Thursday, 7:30 ET ESPN

Thanksgiving night will feature some nice draft matchups in this SEC West showdown. Both teams have offensive tackle prospects with the Tigers’ La’el Collins and the Aggies’ Cedric Ogbuehi. Collins could be a better fit at guard in the NFL, while Ogbuehi had a rough stretch at left tackle in October and has moved back to the right side. Both players need a strong finish to the season to help their respective draft stocks. Texas A&M’s freshman star pass-rusher Myles Garrett will be a real test for Collins and junior guard Vadal Alexander.

This game also features a matchup worth watching in the secondary. LSU cornerback Jalen Collins and safety Jalen Mills will see some talented receivers from Texas A&M in Speedy Noil, Josh Reynolds, Malcome Kennedy and Ricky Seals-Jones. Both Collins and Mills have early-round potential that be aided with a strong showing against the Aggies’ weapons.

Nebraska vs Iowa Friday, 12:00 ET ESPN

This is a matchup I’ve been looking forward to all year. Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory will go head to head against Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff. Both are future first-round picks and high ones at that. Scherff is extremely strong and Gregory needs to show the ability to hold up in the ground game. On passing plays, the advantage switches to Gregory. Scherff has had some issues with fast edge rushers (see the Maryland game) and Gregory has elite speed. If one of the two dominates the matchup, that could lead to real a boost in the winner’s draft stock.

Also worth watching is Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah. He’s a potential second-day pick next year and going against him is Iowa senior defensive tackle Carl Davis, a run-stuffer who needs to show up against the Cornhuskers’ ground game.

Stanford vs UCLA Friday, 3:30 PM ABC

Bruins junior quarterback Brett Hundley will be tested by a Stanford defense that has some quality defensive backs led by cornerback Alex Carter. Defensive lineman Henry Anderson also is coming off a huge game against Utah, and Hundley needs to show the pocket-passing skills to hang tough against a rush and work through his progressions.

On the other side of the ball, UCLA linebacker Erik Kendricks is a tackling machine, and he should see plenty of opportunities with the Cardinal rushing attack. Also, Kendricks could be called to defend play-maker Ty Montgomery when Montgomery runs out of the wild-cat. Montgomery needs a strong finish to the year to help his early-round draft grade.

The best head-to-head draft matchup in this game is Stanford left tackle Andrus Peat going against UCLA defensive end Owa Odighizuwa. Odighizuwa just had an excellent game against USC. Peat needs to show that he can neutralize Odighizuwa’s speed and power rushes.

South Carolina vs Clemson Saturday, 12:00 PM ESPN

South Carolina left tackle Corey Robinson has really struggled in previous games against Clemson defensive end/outside linebacker Vic Beasley. Beasley’s speed rush has overwhelmed Robinson, so the big tackle will get an opportunity to show improvement. Robinson has the advantage over Beasley in the ground game, and South Carolina has a physical running back in Mike Davis who can run over defenders. This game will be a good test for all three prospects.

Florida vs. Florida State, 3:30 ESPN

This used to be a clash of powerhouses, and while this game has lost relevance in the college rankings, there still is a lot of NFL talent going matching up. Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston will be tested by one of the best defenses he’ll see all season. Winston will be challenged by a good pass rush led by outside linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr, a fellow future first-rounder. Fowler should give the Florida State’s offensive line a lot of problems, including tackle/center Cameron Erving. Guards Josue Matias and Tre Jackson also will see better defensive tackles than they’re used to in ACC action.

In the secondary, Winston likes to throw to senior Rashad Greene, but he could be taken out by Florida sophomore corner Vernon Hargreaves, the best cornerback in the nation and a future high first-round pick in 2016. If Greene can get open against Hargreaves, that could really help his draft stock.

Florida State defensive prospects cornerback Ronald Darby, cornerback P.J. Williams, defensive tackle Mario Edwards, Jr and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman should have their way with a weak Florida offense that struggles to pass the ball.

Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss, 3:30 CBS

This Egg Bowl features an interesting draft matchup with Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt taking on dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott. Sources have said that they have found Prewitt’s play disappointing this season and he’s done the opposite of battle. The Rebels need him to produce against a Bulldogs’ offense that can move the ball on the ground and through the air. Prescott has early-round potential, but should return for his senior year.

Mississippi State inside linebacker Bernardrick McKinney is a future three-down starter in the NFL. He should match up well against Ole Miss and add to his stat line.

Notre Dame vs. USC, 3:30 FOX

The Irish have a quality offensive line, but it will be hard pressed to stop USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Williams is a candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, and he has been dominant this season. Williams should win his matchup against the Notre Dame interior linemen.

Notre Dame’s secondary will have to contend with Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Hopefully, Irish cornerback Cody Riggs will be back for this game as that would be a good matchup for draft evaluation.

Auburn vs Alabama, 7:45 ET ESPN

The Iron Bowl will feature a good test for Alabama safety Landon Collins. Auburn has a speed receiver in Sammie Coates and is hopeful to get leading receiver Duke Williams back for this game. With both receivers presenting a size/speed mismatch, Collins could be needed to help defend the deep part of the field in pass coverage. That isn’t his strength as he is better as a strong safety in the box. Alabama will need him there as well to defend the Tigers’ ground game. Last year, Alabama really struggled with Auburn’s tempo and rushing attack. One can be sure that Nick Saban will have the Crimson Tide defense prepared.

On the other side of the ball, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back T.J. Yeldon should have their way with Auburn’s defense, Cooper especially. Cooper looks likely to be a top-10 pick with Yeldon possibly sneaking into Thursday night. Cooper could add to his impressive stat totals against Alabama.

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