2015 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 15

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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Arizona vs Oregon Friday, 9:00 ET FOX

The Ducks get another crack at Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and star quarterback Marcus Mariota could help his draft stock by proving to NFL evaluators he can win a big one. This is his first time getting to the conference championship, and a win here would send Oregon to the college football playoff. In the loss to Arizona in early October, Mariota didn’t play poorly, but he didn’t do enough to carry his team to a win. Mariota will be tested by the pass rush of Wildcats sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright. Wright has been a breakout star this year, and his pass rush will challenge Mariota’s ability to pass accurately from the pocket while facing a rush.

Left tackle Jake Fisher would help his draft stock if he can keep Wright from getting to his quarterback.

Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu also will be tested by Arizona receivers Cayleb Jones, Samajie Grant and Austin Hill. Ekpre-Olomu also will need to help defend the rushing attack led by Nick Wilson.

Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma Saturday, 3:30 PM FOX Sports 1

Sooners left tackle Tyrus Thompson and right tackle Daryl Williams are potential early-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Both of them will see a real test from Cowboys pass-rusher Emmanuel Ogbah. The breakout sophomore Ogbah has 11 sacks entering the game. Some think that Thompson and Williams are right tackles or guards in the NFL, so handling Ogbah would help the argument that either can get consideration at left tackle.

Oklahoma linebackers Eric Striker and Geneo Grissom also need to finish the season strong to help their respective draft stocks.

Missouri vs Alabama, 4:00 ET CBS

The SEC Championship game will feature some high first-round-pick talent for the NFL. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper has dominated in 2014, and the Crimson Tide need him to produce against Missouri. While the Tigers’ secondary doesn’t look capable of covering Cooper, edge rushers Shane Ray and Markus Golden could keep Cooper from getting the ball by ramping up their pass rush on quarterback Blake Sims. Ray has 13.5 sacks this season, and Golden has 8.5 while dealing with injuries. Ray could go in the top 16 if he declares for the 2015 NFL Draft. Golden and Ray are Missouri’s best defense against Cooper.

Ray’s weakness is in the ground game, and that is going to be challenged by Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon. Golden does better against the run, but that will be put to the test.

On the other side of the ball, Alabama safety Landon Collins is a future first-round pick in the next draft.

Georgia Tech vs. Florida State, 8:00 ABC

Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston is coming off his worst game as a starting quarterback. He needs to show evaluators that he can bounce back and move on from an ugly game. Florida State won in spite of Winston last week, and normally it is the opposite. Wide receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary need to help Winston against Georgia Tech.

Tackle/center Cameron Erving, guards Josue Matias and Tre Jackson also will see better tests than what they’re used to in typical ACC action.

Florida State defensive prospects cornerback Ronald Darby, cornerback P.J. Williams, defensive tackle Mario Edwards, Jr. and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman should have a challenge with the Yellow Jackets’ option offense. Georgia Tech has three runners who have over 600 yards. Senior wide receiver DeAndre Smelter is a big-play threat as well. He’s averaged 20 yards per catch this season.

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State, 8:17 FOX

The Badgers have a potential top-25 pick in star running back Melvin Gordon, and the fast runner will see a challenge with the Ohio State defense, which is a much more talented stop unit than what he has seen in most games. Gordon needs to finish the season strong while avoiding injury to maximize his chances of going in the first round.

Buckeyes defensive tackle Michael Bennett could be a second-day pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He is a good pass-rusher who can struggle in the ground game. Wisconsin provides an opportunity for Bennett to show that he can hold his ground at the point of attack as the Badgers will definitely run straight at him. Starting their third string quarterback, the Buckeyes need their defense to step up and keep Gordon out of the end zone. This is an important tape for Bennett’s draft grade.

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