2016 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 3

Want to get to know the draft prospects for the 2016 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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Clemson vs. Louisville; Thursday, Sept. 17, 7:30 PM ESPN2

Even though Louisville is 0-2, the Tigers will see their first real test of the season. It will be interesting to see how Louisville edge defender Devonte Fields fairs against Clemson and mobile quarterback Deshaun Watson. Fields has 11 tackles across two games with no sacks, so he needs to start getting after the quarterback if he hopes to redeem the draft estimations that came when he was the Big XII Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman at TCU. The Tigers have a lot of potential prospects on offense like Watson and wide receiver Charone Peake. Clemson safety Jayron Kearse is another prospect to keep an eye on.

Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame; Saturday, Sept. 19, 3:30 PM NBC

Notre Dame has two excellent defensive prospects for the NFL in linebacker Jaylon Smith and defensive lineman Sheldon Day. Both have played well to open 2015, and this Saturday will be a big test for their run defense with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets’ option offense leads the nation in rushing with 457.5 yards per game over the first two weeks. Smith and Day will have their rush defense and stamina put to the test by Georgia Tech.

On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Nick Martin will be players for Sundays. Stanley has top-10 potential.

Auburn vs LSU; Saturday, Sept. 19, 3:30 PM CBS

This tape is going to get studied a lot by NFL scouts, coaches and general managers in the months to come. There are some excellent draft prospects going head-to-head in this SEC grudge match. LSU guard turned right tackle Vadal Alexander is going to see a tough defensive line led by Carl Lawson and defensive tackle Montravius Adams. Alexander’s pass protection on the edge will be worth watching, along with his ability to open holes in the ground game. Alexander wasn’t very impressive against Mississippi State.

Behind the Auburn defensive line are linebackers Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost. Both have NFL talent, and they will see one of the best backs they’ll go against all season in LSU sophomore Leonard Fournette.

Elsewhere when Auburn has the ball, there will be a good view of wide receiver Duke Williams going against going against LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White. Both are early-round talents, and if one can beat the other, that will certainly help the winner’s draft grade.

Ole Miss vs. Alabama; Saturday, Sept. 19, 9:15 PM ESPN

This is another tape that NFL scouts are going to be reviewing for multiple players over the months to come. Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil has yet to play this season as he’s been held out by voluntarily by Ole Miss while the NCAA investigates Tunsil for eligibility violations. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Tunsil is reinstated by the Rebels for this game. He is a top-10 talent who will see some future NFL defensive linemen in Jonathan Allen and A’Shawn Robinson. Both defenders are potential early-rounders.

Ole Miss also has a potential first-round pick in wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and one of the top receiving tight end prospects in Evan Engram. They will be a challenge for the Alabama secondary and linebacker Reggie Ragland.

On the other side of the ball, Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche has received a lot of media hype as being a high first-round talent. However, sources with teams say that Nkemdiche is not a natural pass-rusher, and they want to see more production out of him. If they line up against each other, Nkemdiche will see a great test in Alabama sophomore left tackle Cam Robinson, a potential high first-rounder for the 2017 NFL Draft.

Nkemdiche and Ole Miss safety/cornerback Tony Conner will also have the challenge of slowing down Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry. He’s an early-round talent who could produce a first-round grade if he plays well against top defensive talent like the Rebels.

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