2017 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 6

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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LSU vs. Florida; Saturday, Oct. 8, 12:00 PM ESPN

LSU running back Leonard Fournette missed last week with an ankle injury, so his status could be in question versus the Gators, but he is expected to play. Florida has a defense loaded with NFL talent and could be one of the best stop units Fournette will play in his final season of college football. The principle defenders to attempt to limit Fournette are linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone along with safety Marcus Maye. Davis and Maye are potential first-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Anzalone has early round potential as well.

Maye will also be called on to help defend against LSU wide receivers Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre. Both are early round talents who will see some excellent defensive backs. Gators junior Jalen Tabor looks like a future first-rounder, and teammate Quincy Wilson could also go on Thursday night.

Gators defensive tackle Caleb Brantley is a first-round talent who will see one of the best center prospects with LSU’s Ethan Pocic.

Florida left tackle David Sharpe played well for a half against Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, but Barnett dominated the final two quarters to help the Volunteers knock off the Gators. Sharpe will see a tough test with LSU superstar sophomore Arden Key. Tigers defensive end Lewis Neal and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux are also pro prospects.

LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White is a potential first-rounder, and he will be tested by Florida speedster wide receiver Antonio Callaway. LSU safety Jamal Adams has had a subdued season, and he could be called on to help protect the deep part of the field from Callaway.

Minnesota vs. Iowa; Saturday, Oct. 8, 12:00 PM ESPN2

Walt has had Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner in the second round of his 2017 NFL Mock Draft, and Leidner will see one of the best defensive backs in the Big Ten with Iowa’s Desmond King. King had a huge 2015 season with interceptions, but has been quiet in the early going this year. He could use a breakout game to keep pace with a lot of cornerbacks who are impressing this season.

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M; Saturday, Oct. 8, 3:30 PM CBS

This game has two special edge rushers for the 2017 NFL Draft. Aggies junior Myles Garrett is the top draft prospect in the nation and is a freak athlete who is a dangerous pass-rusher. Garrett’s run defense will be tested by the Volunteers’ physical running back Jalen Hurd and quarterback Josh Dobbs. The Volunteers also have defensive end Derek Barnett, who will get tested by a Texas A&M offense with a running quarterback in Trevor Knight. Barnett has really heated up lately, while Garrett has dealt with a knee injury and was held out last week against South Carolina.

Alabama vs Arkansas; Saturday, Oct. 8, 7:00 PM ESPN

There are a few good draft battles in this game, and the best draft matchup could be with Arkansas speed rusher Deatrich Wise Jr. taking on Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson. If Robinson can shut down Wise, that would really help the former to end up being projected as a high first-round left tackle. Wise also would improve his draft grade and early round hopes if he has a big game against Robinson.

Arkansas left tackle Dan Skipper had his hands full with Myles Garrett a couple of weeks ago, and Skipper will see some dangerous edge rushers from the Crimson Tide. Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson are speed rushers who will challenge Skipper. Skipper also could see reps against Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, one of the top draft prospects in the nation. Skipper’s pass protection will definitely be put to the test.

Alabama safety Eddie Jackson is good in coverage, and he will get tested by a big tight end in Jeremy Sprinkle. Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey is first-round talent who could use a good game after a rough outing against Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide have perhaps the top tight end prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft in senior O.J. Howard.

Florida State vs. Miami; Saturday, Oct. 8, 8:00 PM ABC

This is a big game for Brad Kaaya even though the Seminoles’ secondary has struggled this year. Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky lit up Florida State, so Kaaya needs to show he can take advantage of the vulnerable secondary, especially if Derwin James continues to miss action. Florida State edge rusher Demarcus Walker needs to come through with a big game to help protect the Seminoles’ defensive backs.

On the other side of the ball, Florida State has junior running back Dalvin Cook running well after a slow start. Cook looks like a future top-20 pick. Left tackle Roderick Johnson has been disappointing as a junior, so he needs to show improvement against Miami.

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