2016 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 5

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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Pittsburgh vs. Virginia Tech; Saturday, Oct. 3, 12:00 PM ESPN3

In the preseason, this game looked like it could have one of the best draft matchups all year with Pittsburgh junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd taking on Hokies junior cornerback Kendall Fuller. However, Fuller missed last Saturday against East Carolina with a sprained knee and is said to be doubtful for Pittsburgh. If Fuller does play, he and Boyd could provide a battle of future first-rounders.

West Virginia vs. Oklahoma; Saturday, Oct. 3, 12:00 PM FOXS1

West Virginia senior safety Karl Joseph is tied for the lead nationally with four interceptions thus far. He will see a quality offense with a good receiver in Sterling Shepard and a tough running back in Samaje Perine. Joseph will see his run defense and pass defense tested by the Sooners.

Alabama vs Georgia; Saturday, Oct. 3, 3:30 PM CBS

This is going to be a physical football game that will feature a lot of hard-hitting defensive prospects going against two big, powerful tailbacks. Alabama’s Derrick Henry is a downhill force and could be a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Georgia linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd will have the task of keeping Henry in check.

On the other side of the ball, Georgia sophomore Nick Chubb has been a force in the SEC since he arrived in Athens. Chubb will be a great challenge for Alabama middle linebacker Reggie Ragland, a tough run-defender. The Crimson Tide also has defensive line prospects for the NFL in nose tackle A’Shawn Robinson and defensive end Jonathan Allen. Bulldogs left tackle John Theus is a NFL prospect but will have his hands full with the Crimson Tide defenders.

Ole Miss vs. Florida; Saturday, Oct. 3, 7:00 PM ESPN

This game features a great draft matchup of potential top-10 picks going head-to-head. Gators cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell both could be chosen high in the next NFL draft. Treadwell has size, while Hargreaves is a tremendous cover corner who is highly skilled at preventing separation. If Treadwell can have an impressive game against Hargreaves, that could be huge for the former’s draft stock.

Florida has an early-round receiver prospect as well in Demarcus Robinson. There are two junior safety prospects in Ole Miss’ Tony Conner and Florida’s Keanu Neal. Neal is a hard-hitting strong safety. Conner is a jack-of-all trades who can cover. Robinson and Florida’s tight ends will be a challenge for Conner.

On the defensive line, the Rebels feature a highly hyped Robert Nkemdiche. He is a great run-defender, but hasn’t produced much in the pass rush (5 sacks in 28 games). Gators senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard has played extremely well in 2015. Nkemdiche has tons of athletic upside, while Bullard also has early-round potential.

Notre Dame vs. Clemson; Saturday, Sept. 26, 8:00 PM ABC

This game would have had another good receiver versus corner matchup if Clemson’s Mike Williams hadn’t gotten injured in Week 1. He suffered a neck fracture running into the goal posts, and it isn’t clear if he will play again this season. As it is, Fighting Irish cornerback KeiVarae Russell will still see some talented Tigers receivers.

Clemson athletic quarterback Deshaun Watson will also be a test for Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith and defensive lineman Sheldon Day. Smith could be a first-rounder, and Day has early-round potential. Showing well against a mobile quarterback would check another box off for Smith.

Clemson also has a good defensive line prospect in end Shaq Lawson. He played extremely well against Louisville in his last game and will see one of the best offensive tackles in the nation in Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley. Stanley could be a high first-rounder in the 2016 NFL Draft and franchise left tackle prospect. Notre Dame center Nick Martin also is a potential starter in the NFL.

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