2018 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 2

Want to get to know the draft prospects for the 2018 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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South Florida vs. Connecticut; Saturday, Sept. 9, 12:00 PM FS1

The Bulls have a few prospects to watch, led by senior quarterback Quinton Flowers and senior wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. They will see a NFL prospect in the Connecticut secondary with cornerback Jamar Summers. Summers has played both safety and corner over his career, and thriving as a corner in his final season would help his draft stock.

Pittsburgh vs. Penn State; Saturday, Sept. 9, 3:30 PM ABC

This game would have had a great matchup with Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead defending superstar Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, but unfortunately it won’t happen, because Whitehad is suspended. Barkley is still worth watching as he could be a top-10 pick next April. Other senior prospects to watch or the NFL include Pittsburgh wide receiver Jester Weah, Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda, Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki, Penn State safety Marcus Allen and Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.

Georgia vs. Notre Dame; Monday, Sept. 3, 7:30 PM ESPN

There is a great draft matchup in this game and should be one of top battles between interior linemen to watch see all season. Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, a first-round talent, is taking on another first-round talent in Georgia defensive tackle Trenton Thompson. Whoever wins that matchup could see a big jump in his respective draft stock.

Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey is another first-round talent who will see some skilled edge-rushing talent from Georgia, including outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter. Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith also is a good player to keep an eye on.

There are early-round skill position players as well with Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and Georgia running back Nick Chubb. St. Brown could be a top-20 talent, while Chubb could be back in the first-round conversation if he can return to his pre-injury form. Some scouts really like Georgia running back Sony Michel as well. Michel is a versatile back who will challenge the Fighting Irish as a runner and receiver.

Auburn vs. Clemson; Saturday, Sept. 9, 7:30 PM ESPN

Clemson lost a lot to the NFL after last season, but the program still has a lot of talent for the NFL on the roster. This matchup will see the Tigers face off against an Auburn team that has NFL prospects on both sides of the ball. Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins looks like a future first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Wilkins is a great athlete who is back at his natural position after injuries forced him out to end in 2016. Clemson defensive end Clellin Ferrell and linebacker Kendall Jospeh will also be tested by Auburn’s dangerous spread offense, led by talented quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Stidham has a good skill set and could explode this season. Running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson will also test Clemson’s defensive prospects.

On the other side of the ball, Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis is going to take on a future NFL wide receiver in Deon Cain. Cain had a good start to the season against Kent State and could be one of most talented receivers who Davis will see all season. Auburn also has an early-round defensive tackle prospect in Dontavious Russell.

Oklahoma vs. Ohio State; Saturday, Sept. 9, 7:30 PM ABC

Once again, Ohio State has ton of NFL talent for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Sources from multiple NFL teams have stated that Buckeyes like redshirt sophomore defensive tackle DreMont Jones, wide receiver Parris Campbell, defensive end Sam Hubbard and running back Mike Weber could end up grading out as first-rounders with their skill sets. Sources say linebacker Jerome Baker has been overhyped, but he still could be an early-round prospect. Other NFL prospects to keep an eye on include offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, defensive end Tyquan Lewis, center Billy Price and safety Damon Webb.

A great matchup will come in the trenches as Oklahoma’s big offensive tackle Orlando Brown will be challenged by the edge-rushing talent of Hubbard and Lewis. Both made plays in the backfield against Indiana in Week 1, and Brown needs to be ready for their speed rushes.

Another matchup to watch is Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Thomas taking on Campbell. Campbell had a big game against Indiana with a long touchdown. His speed will make for a tough test for Thomas.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is a good college signal-caller, but he needs to show more as an accurate pocket passer to be considered a potential early-round NFL prospect. The running ability of Mayfield will challenge Baker and the Ohio State front seven.

Sooners tight end Mark Andrews is a early-round talent and one of the top tight end prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. He will be a good challenge for Baker and Webb in pass coverage.

Stanford vs. USC; Saturday, Sept. 9, 8:30 PM FOX

USC quarterback Sam Darnold is the early favorite to be the No. 1-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Darnold will see his first big test of the season with Stanford. The Cardinal has two defensive back prospects for the NFL in Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder. USC cornerback Iman Marshall could be one of the top cornerback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, and he will see some talent with the Stanford offense. Trojans edge defender Porter Gustin and linebacker Cameron Smith are also pro prospects to watch.

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