2016 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 6

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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N.C. State vs. Virginia Tech; Friday, Oct. 9, 8:00 PM ESPN

A sleeper quarterback who is worth watching for the NFL is N.C. State’s Jacoby Brissett. He is a big pocket passer who has quietly turned into a nice prospect. The Wolfpack have played a lot of easy opponents to open the season, and while Virginia Tech is without top corner Kendall Fuller (season-ending knee injury), the Hokies will present some challenges to Brissett.

Edge rusher Dadi Nicolas has potential for the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft and defensive tackle Luther Maddy is a tough interior rusher. They will present a nice test for Brissett. Can Brissett show some mobility to avoid them? Can Brissett hang tough in the face of a rush? Will he get rattled? This game could help provide answers to all of those questions.

Hokies redshirt sophomore tight end Bucky Hodges is also worth watching for the NFL.

Maryland vs. Ohio State; Saturday, Oct. 10, 12:00 PM BTN

There is a nice draft matchup in this game with Maryland edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue going against Ohio State left tackle Taylor Decker. Ngakoue played well in their matchup last year. If Decker struggles with Ngakoue, that will increase the projections of Decker moving to right tackle for the NFL.

Of course, there are other prospects in this game with Ohio State featuring tons of first-round talent. Defensive end Joey Bosa (top 10), running back Ezekiel Elliott (top 25), defensive tackle Adolphus Washington (Rd. 1-2), linebacker Darron Lee (Rd. 1-2), wide receiver Michael Thomas (Rd. 1-2) and quarterback Cardale Jones (Rd. 1-2) are just some of the most obvious. All of those listed talents should perform well against Maryland.

Oklahoma vs. Texas; Saturday, Oct. 10, 12:00 PM ABC

There isn’t as much talent as there used to be in the Red River Rivalry, but there still are some future NFL players. Texas has a good defensive tackle in Hassan Ridgeway. He has had some tremendous games to open the 2015 season. Oklahoma has some second-day and mid-round talents in wide receiver Sterling Shepard, cornerback Zack Sanchez and linebacker Eric Striker.

Among that trio from the Sooners, Sanchez will probably be the highest graded and a potential second-rounder. However, he has had a mixed junior year with a superb game against Tennessee but an ugly game where he struggled against Tulsa.

Georgia vs. Tennessee; Saturday, Oct. 10, 3:30 PM CBS

This SEC battle will feature a nice draft matchup with Tennessee cornerback Cam Sutton going against Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell. Sutton’s deep speed will get tested by Mitchell, and the Volunteers will also need Sutton to contribute in run defense as Georgia features two dynamic runners in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

The Bulldogs have two linebacker prospects for the NFL with Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins. Floyd is a natural pass-rusher who has rare speed and bending ability off the edge. Jenkins is a balanced defender against the run and pass. Both will be challenged by dual-threat Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs. Floyd looks like a future first-rounder and Jenkins could go on Day 2.

Arkansas vs Alabama; Saturday, Oct. 10, 7:00 PM ESPN

This game features two potential starting running backs for the NFL in the Crimson Tide’s Derrick Henry and the Razorbacks’ Alex Collins. Both are juniors who are big, physical, downhill runners. Henry could be a first-rounder and Collins looks like a second-day talent.

There also are two NFL tight ends in this contest with Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Arkansas’ Hunter Henry. The latter is a more balanced player in terms of run blocking and receiving contributions. The former is a receiving weapon who has speed and athleticism, but Howard needs to improve run blocking and route-running. Henry will be a good gauge for the coverage skills of Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland. Covering is the question for Ragland, so if he can cover Henry that will help Ragland’s draft stock.

Elsewhere for the Crimson Tide, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and defensive end Jonathan Allen are two early-round talents who will have their run defense on display against Arkansas. In the trenches, there will be some great battles for the NFL with Razorbacks guard Sebastian Tretola on Robinson and Allen. That trio is all early-round talent on display.

California vs. Utah; Saturday, Oct. 10, 10:00 PM ESPN

This game will definitely be watched by NFL evaluators in the grading of California quarterback Jared Goff. The Golden Bear pocket passer has beaten up on some weak opponents, but the Utes are a top-10 team with a salty defense. To help his draft stock, Utah defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei needs to show pass-rush ability to get after Goff.

Goff has received a lot hype as a first-rounder, and lighting up a team like Utah could serve to validate those projections.

Utah running back Devontae Booker also needs to run well to help keep Goff on the sideline. Booker is a potential second-day talent for the 2016 NFL Draft.

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