2017 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 3

Want to get to know the draft prospects for the 2017 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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Florida State vs Louisville; Saturday, Sep. 17, 12:00 PM ABC

Louisville edge rusher Devonte Fields will be a challenge for Florida State junior left tackle Roderick Johnson. Johnson had an ugly game against Ole Miss to open the season and needs to bounce back in a big way. Fields’ run defense will be under the microscope as Seminoles junior running back Dalvin Cook will be the best back who Fields will see all season.

Florida State defensive end Demarcus Walker was superb in the season opener, and the Seminoles are going to need him to step up as Louisville has a high-powered offense led by sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson. Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph and Cardinals wide receiver James Quick are other pro prospects to watch.

Alabama vs. Ole Miss; Saturday, Sep. 17, 3:30 PM CBS

There is a ton of NFL talent in this game. This will be a great contest to gauge Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson’s pass protection as Ole Miss has a dangerous speed rusher in junior Marquis Haynes. Haynes embarrassed Florida State’s Roderick Johnson in the 2016 opener.

Rebels senior tight end Evan Engram had an electric start to the season, and he will be a great test for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Eddie Jackson. Crimson Tide redshirt sophomore cornerback Marlon Humphrey is also a high first-round talent who could be called on to help stop Engram.

Ole Miss senior quarterback Chad Kelly is a gunslinger with a powerful arm, but he needs to show more controlled play. That will be put to the test as Alabama senior defensive tackle Jonathan Allen is a future top-20 pick. Crimson Tide linebackers Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams are future NFL edge rushers, so Kelly will need to show composure and good decision-making if Ole Miss is to beat Alabama for the third straight year.

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame; Saturday, Sep. 17, 7:30 PM FOX

I know NFL evaluators who feel that Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer is better than the other top quarterback prospects like Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Miami’s Brad Kaaya, or Chad Kelly from Ole Miss. Kizer will be tested by a tough Michigan State defense led by junior defensive lineman Malik McDowell. Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey is a first-round talent to watch as well. Fighting Irish defensive tackle Jarron Jones is another NFL prospect. Other Spartans seniors to watch include linebacker Riley Bullough, safety Demetrious Cox and tight end Josiah Price.

Ohio State vs. Oklahoma; Saturday, Sep. 17, 7:30 PM FOX

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield needs to perform better if he wants to be a serious NFL prospect, and Ohio State has a lot of NFL talent to challenge him. Sources say that Buckeyes redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore has a first-round skill set, and he is coming off a two interception game versus Tulsa. Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Thomas is another prospect to watch. Ohio State junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan has early round potential as well, and he will be going against a tough, physical runner in Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine.

Oklahoma defensive tackle Charles Walker had an impressive start against Houston, and the Sooners will need him to help limit Ohio State running quarterback J.T. Barrett. Walker is going to see some future NFL interior offense linemen with center Pat Elflein and guard Billy Price.

USC vs. Stanford; Saturday, Sep. 17, 8:00 PM ABC

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey will see some good defensive talent against USC. Trojans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson showed serious speed to chase down Alabama players in the opener, and that could be needed to slow down McCaffrey. Jackson could be pushed by Stanford wideout Michael Rector. USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster needs to produce against a good opponent after a disappointing performance versus Alabama in the season opener. Stanford linebacker Peter Kalambayi is another prospect to keep an eye on.

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