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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Maryland vs. Michigan State; Saturday, Nov. 14, 12:00 PM ESPN2
This game will feature a nice draft matchup with Maryland defensive end/outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue going against Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin. Nagakoue got the better of Conklin last year and already has 12 sacks this season. NFL teams feel that Conklin would be a better fit at right tackle or guard, but if he can shutdown Ngakoue that could help to change some minds.
The Spartans have an edge rusher of their own for the NFL in Shilique Calhoun. He also is a potential 4-3 or 3-4 defender.
Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is a potential first-rounder and future NFL starter. Cook needs to show more accuracy and consistency in his passing so it is vital that he finishes the year strong.
Memphis vs. Houston; Saturday, Nov. 14, 7:00 PM ESPN2
Many have Memphis’ Paxton Lynch as the top-rated quarterback for the 2016 NFL Draft, and he will see a tough opponent in Houston. Lynch has all the tools for the NFL, and he needs to continue to show the field vision, accuracy and pocket passing in order to be a high pick. Lynch will be challenged by one of the top defensive backs in the nation with Houston’s William Jackson. He has been one of the best at breaking up passes this year. This could be a important tape for Lynch and his draft hopes.
N.C. State vs. Florida State; Saturday, Nov. 14, 12:30 PM ESPN3
This game will feature a nice test for Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey. N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett is a second-day prospect for the NFL and could be the best quarterback who Ramsey will face all season. Along with Ramsey, Brissett will be tested by other future NFL talent, including safety Nate Andrews. If Brissett can light up the Seminoles in a similar manner to how he played against Clemson, his draft stock should rise.
Oklahoma vs. Baylor; Saturday, Nov. 14, 8:00 PM ABC
Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman has been dominating college football this season with 58 receptions for 1,178 yards and 20 touchdowns. He may see his best test of the season with Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez. Sanchez has been missing time with a leg injury, but he could be back for this huge game.
Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings is one of the best nose tackles in the nation. He was putting together a great season before an ankle injury has slowed him down lately. Defensive end Shawn Oakman has had a mixed season. Billings has first-round potential, and Oakman could end up being a second-day pick.
Oklahoma has other pro prospects to watch in wide receiver Sterling Shepard and defensive end Charles Tapper.
Oregon vs Stanford; Saturday, Nov. 14, 7:30 PM FOX
There is a really good draft matchup in the trenches here with Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner taking on a tough Stanford line led by guard Joshua Garnett. Buckner lines up in a variety of spots and hopefully will go against Garnett. Buckner is a fast pass-rusher and has played the run well, but Stanford could field the best line that he will face all year. Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan also needs to finish the year well to get NFL consideration.
Alabama vs. Mississippi State; Saturday, Nov. 14, 3:30 PM CBS
The Alabama defensive front seven has a number of future NFL players with linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle Jarran Reed and defensive end Jonathan Allen. They will see a test of a dual-threat quarterback in Dak Prescott. Sources say that Ragland is a potential first-round pick, but there are some speed concerns, so if Ragland can show the ability to chase down Prescott, that could help ease those doubts.
Mississippi State cornerbacks Will Redmond and Taveze Calhoun will be tested by Crimson Tide standout freshman receiver Calvin Ridley. Redmond is a possible early-rounder. Redmond’s draft stock could be boosted by him showing the ability to run with Ridley.
Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry and tight end O.J. Howard are other early-round talents to watch. Mississippi State defensive lineman Chris Jones will have his run defense challenged by the Crimson Tide’s rushing offense.
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