2017 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 9

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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Michigan vs. Michigan State; Saturday, Oct. 29, 12:00 PM ABC

Michigan has a lot of talent for the 2017 NFL Draft, led by safety Jabrill Peppers and cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Peppers is a highly hyped prospect who sources say would fit best as hybrid safety/linebacker in the NFL. He doesn’t have any interceptions in his collegiate career and zero pass breakups this season. Peppers could help himself by showing better coverage and ball skills. Lewis should go during the first two days of the 2017 NFL Draft, but his lack of size could push him into Day 2.

While Peppers has gotten a ton of hype, Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell could be the player on the field who is drafted earliest. WalterFootball.com knows a couple of teams that have McDowell in the top 20 and Peppers lower down. McDowell will have his run defense and pass rush tested by the Wolverines’ quality offensive line.

The Wolverines have offensive prospects to watch in running back De’Veon Smith and wide receiver Jehu Chesson.

Florida vs. Georgia; Saturday, Oct. 29, 3:30 PM CBS

Florida has a tremendous defense that has averaged only 12 points allowed per game. The Gators have a ton of NFL talent on the defensive side of the ball, and they will be a big test for Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb hasn’t been quite the same coming off his knee injury, but he has had a bye week to get ready for the Gators. Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley is a first-round talent, while Florida linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone are early round prospects as well. Their run defense will see a challenge with the Georgia duo.

Bulldogs freshman quarterback Jacob Eason is a future NFL prospect with serious arm talent. The Gators have a NFL secondary led by junior corner Jalen Tabor, who should be a first-round pick next April. Senior safety Marcus Maye is a first- or second-round pick, while junior corner Quincy Wilson could go early in the draft as well.

Washington vs. Utah; Saturday, Oct. 29, 3:30 PM FS1

There are some good defensive back prospects in this game. Washington cornerback Sidney Jones and safety Budda Baker are going to be draft picks. Utah safety Marcus Williams is another early rounder who will be tested by Huskies quarterback Jake Browning. The Utes also have an edge rusher in Hunter Dimick and a defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei to watch for draft purposes.

Miami vs. Notre Dame; Saturday, Oct. 29, 3:30 PM NBC

This is a game that will have a lot of NFL eyes on it. Right now, Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer is the top quarterback prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft, but he could use a bounce-back performance after a rough outing against Stanford.

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya also needs to improve his play. He has had three straight underwhelming games – against Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Kaaya is having a lot of problems with looking down at the rush and showing a crippling lack of mobility to avoid sacks.

Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson are future first-round picks to keep an eye on. Notre Dame defensive tackle Jarron Jones and Miami wide receiver Stacy Coley are prospects to watch.

Clemson vs. Florida State; Saturday, Oct. 29, 8:00 PM ABC

This game will be seriously studied by NFL evaluators. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson could use a good tape against the Seminoles as their leaky secondary has given up some big games to other signal-callers like Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky. This should be a big night for wide receiver Mike Williams and tight end Jordan Leggett.

Florida State is going to need a big game from running back Dalvin Cook to knock off Clemson. The Tigers have defensive tackle Carlos Watkins and linebacker Ben Boulware, who are second-day prospects who will need to step up to stop Cook.

Another matchup to watch is Clemson cornerback Cordre Tankersley taking on Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph. Tankersley could be a first- or second-round pick, but Rudolph has been very hot lately.

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