2016 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 12

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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Michigan vs. Penn State; Saturday, Nov. 21, 12:00 PM ABC

This game will feature a tough test for Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg. This Michigan team doesn’t feature a lot of NFL draft picks for the 2016 NFL Draft, but the Wolverines have a ferocious defense that is very tough to score on. Hackbenberg is in crunch time to have any hopes of being an early-round pick and needs to finish the year strongly.

Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib has been phenomenal this season, and he has put his draft stock on the map.

Memphis vs Temple; Saturday, Nov. 21, 12:00 PM ESPNU

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch could be the first signal-caller taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. Lynch will see a good test against a gritty Temple defense led by linebacker Tyler Matakevich. Matakevich had a great start to the year by terrorizing other NFL prospects in Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg and Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel. Matakevich looks like a mid-rounder, and Lynch needs to play well in his games against good competition.

Michigan State vs Ohio State; Saturday, Nov. 21, 3:30 PM ABC

This game will feature a ton of good draft matchups for the NFL. 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 strongly. He will be going against a defense that is stacked with NFL talent.

Ohio State’s Joey Bosa is the top defensive end prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft, and he will go against Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin. NFL teams feel that Conklin would be a better fit at right tackle or guard, but if he can shut down Bosa that could help to change some minds.

On the inside of the line, Michigan State center Jack Allen is a possible third-day pick, and he will see Ohio State defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, a potential early-rounder. Washington doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he has played really well this year.

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 who will test Ohio State left tackle Taylor Decker. Both Decker and Calhoun could be selected in the back half of the first round in the 2016 NFL Draft.

UCLA vs. Utah; Saturday, Nov. 21, 3:30 PM FOX

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark has enjoyed a strong season, and some project him to be a future first-round pick. He will see a test against the Utes and their strong running game led by senior running back Devontae Booker. The tough slasher needs to show the ability to run against tough defenses, and that will be what he sees with the Bruins.

LSU vs. Ole Miss; Saturday, Nov. 21, 3:30 PM CBS

There are some very good draft matchups in this game. If LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White lines up against Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, that would be a potential battle of future top-25 picks. White has had some issues with big receivers, and while Treadwell doesn’t have elite speed, he is a physical wideout who uses his size to beat cornerbacks. This could be a huge tape for White.

LSU has a wide receiver prospect of its own with Travin Dural. He could be a challenge for the Ole Miss defense and safety Tony Conner. Dural and Conner are early-round athletes.

Another battle of potential first-rounders is Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche going against LSU right tackle Vadal Alexander. Nkemdiche is a great athlete, but rarely produces tackles or sacks. He needs to generate some tapes of actual production to help his draft grade. Sources see Alexander as a guard in the NFL, but if he can do well against Ole Miss speed rusher Marquis Haynes (a 2017 NFL Draft prospect), that could make an argument to change those opinions.

Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil has been at the top of my big board since the summer and will see good LSU edge rushers like Lewis Neal.

Other prospects to watch include: Ole Miss junior tight end Evan Engram, LSU junior center Ethan Pocic and LSU junior left tackle Jerald Hawkins.

Baylor vs Oklahoma State; Saturday, Nov. 21, 7:30 PM FOX

There are some good linemen for the NFL on display in this game. The best of which is Cowboys junior defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. He has been one of the most consistent pass-rushers in college football and will see a nice test in Baylor left tackle Spencer Drango. Some feel that Drango is a second-day guard prospect for the NFL. If Drango has success against Ogbah, that could help change some opinions.

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, while Oakman could end up being a second-day pick.

Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman has been dominating college football for most of this season, and that should continue against Oklahoma State.

California vs. Stanford; Saturday, Nov. 21, 10:30 PM ESPN

Golden Bears junior quarterback Jared Goff had a great start to the season and lit up some weak opponents, but his play hasn’t been as strong against quality opponents. Stanford is one of the top teams in the Pac-12 so this game will be important for Goff’s draft grade.

Stanford senior quarterback Kevin Hogan is worth watching as a possible mid or late-rounder. The Cardinal has a guard in Joshua Garnett worth watching for the NFL.

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