2016 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 14

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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Texas vs. Baylor; Saturday, Dec. 5, 12:00 PM ESPN

The top prospect in this game is Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman. He put together a massive first half of the year, but has slowed down of late. Coleman could use a big game to close out his season and help his first-round hopes.

This game features two interior defensive linemen prospects for the NFL. Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings could be a first-round pick, while Texas defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway also has early-round potential. Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman needs a strong finish to the season as teams aren’t as high on him as the media hype suggests.

Florida vs Alabama; Saturday, Dec. 5, 4:00 PM CBS

Florida has some future NFL defenders in linebacker Antonio Morrison, defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, linebacker Jarrad Davis, safety Keanu Neal and safety Marcus Maye. They will all be tested by superstar Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry. Each Gator will need to show his run-defense skills against a special back like Henry. For Henry, Florida’s defense could be the best stop unit he’ll go against all year.

Another special player to watch when Alabama has the ball is Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who could be the top cornerback for the 2016 NFL Draft and a top-10 pick. He will be challenged by Alabama freshman wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Ridley is a play-maker and a vertical threat to test Hargreaves’ deep speed.

On the other side, Alabama’s tough front seven should have their way with Florida’s weak offensive line and backup quarterback Treon Harris. Defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle Jarran Reed, defensive end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reggie Ragland are all early-round picks and future starters in the NFL. Gators junior running back Kelvin Taylor has put together a quality season. His teammate Florida wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was suspended against Florida State and is in dire need of a good game to help his draft grade.

Stanford vs USC; Saturday, Dec. 5, 7:45 PM ESPN

USC linebacker Su’a Cravens could be a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he will be tested by one of the elite offensive weapons in college football. The Cardinal’s offense is led by play-making sophomore tailback Christian McCaffrey, while the aerial attack features tight end Austin Hooper. Cravens has some coverage skills to defend athletic tight ends down the seam, and Hooper will give Cravens a challenge.

This game also features some mid- to late-round quarterback prospects. Stanford senior quarterback Kevin Hogan just had a clutch game to beat Notre Dame, while USC’s Cody Kessler led the Trojans over UCLA. Kessler is a game-manager without an NFL-level arm, while Hogan, who has a better skill set, is inconsistent.

North Carolina vs Clemson; Saturday, Dec. 5, 8:00 PM ABC

Clemson redshirt sophomore cornerback Mackensie Alexander will see a quality receiver in North Carolina’s Quinshad Davis. Alexander is a shorter cornerback, so it will help his draft stock to show he can match up against a big receiver. Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson and safety Jayron Kearse have second-day potential if those juniors enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

Michigan State vs Iowa; Saturday, Dec. 5, 8:00 PM FOX

This game will feature a potential starting quarterback and early-round pick in Michigan State’s Connor Cook. He has displayed more accuracy in his pocket passing during the last two complete games he’s played, but it is vital that he finish the year strongly with some consistency.

Iowa cornerback Desmond King has had a huge year and is tied for the lead in the nation with eight interceptions. He will be tested by Spartans receiver Aaron Burbridge, who is having an excellent season.

Another prospect to watch is Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin. NFL teams feel that Conklin would be a better fit at right tackle or guard. Spartans edge rusher Shilique Calhoun could be a late first-rounder.

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