2018 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 3

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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Notre Dame vs. Boston College; Saturday, Sept. 16, 12:00 PM ESPN

There will be a matchup of likely future first-rounders in Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey and Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry. McGlinchey’s speed and athleticism will be tested by Landry, who is a fast defender who flies off the corner. Fighting Irish guard Quenton Nelson lines up next to McGlinchey and could also be a first-rounder. Nelson could help in double teams on Landry.

Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown is another first-round talent to watch. St. Brown had a disappointing performance against Georgia, so he could use a bounce-back game. Boston College cornerback Kamrin Moore is on the Senior Bowl watch-list as well.

Pittsburgh vs. Oklahoma State; Saturday, Sept. 16, 12:00 PM ABC

This game would have had a great matchup with Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead defending Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington, but unfortunately Whitehead will be out with a suspension. Rudolph and Washington should get drafted next April. Other senior prospects to watch for the NFL include Panthers wide receiver Jester Weah.

Clemson vs. Louisville; Saturday, Sept. 16, 3:30 PM ESPN

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson could be a high pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and he will see one of the toughest defenses he will face all year with the Tigers. Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins looks like a future first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He is a great athlete who is back at his natural position after injuries forced him to defensive end in 2016. Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, linebacker Kendall Joseph, and defensive end Austin Bryant will be tested by Jackson. Jackson needs to continue to show the improved accuracy he has displayed this year. The Cardinals’ offensive line isn’t very good, so Jackson could see Wilkins, Bryant and Ferrell in his face all day. This will be a test to see how Jackson holds up under steady pressure.

On the other side of the ball, Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander is going to take on a future NFL wide receiver in Deon Cain – if Alexander makes it back onto the field. A knee injury cost Alexander Week 2, and he is said to be week-to-week. Cain is a dangerous play-maker who should have his way with Louisville’s secondary, especially if Alexander is out. The Cardinals also have an early-round defensive end prospect in James Hearns.

Tennessee vs. Florida; Saturday, Sept. 16, 3:30 PM CBS

Typically, this game has a lot of NFL talent to watch, but this is a down year for this rivalry. That will especially be the case if Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett remain suspended. Callaway is a first-round talent, but has major off-the f-eld problems. Scarlett could be a mid-round pick if he enters the 2018 NFL Draft.

Florida left tackle Martez Ivey is a pro prospect who has to prove he can be a tackle and not a guard at the next level. Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings is a pro prospect, but is likely out of this game after suffering an injury in the opener against Georgia Tech. Gators senior cornerback Duke Dawson started his year well with a pick-six against Michigan. Other Florida prospects to watch include senior defensive end Jordan Sherit and junior defensive end CeCe Jefferson. Tennessee tight end Ethan Wolf is another prospect to keep an eye on.

LSU vs. Mississippi State; Saturday, Sept. 9, 7:30 PM ESPN

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald will see his first tough test of the season taking on LSU’s defense. The Tigers have a lot NFL talent on their defense led by edge rusher Arden Key. Key missed the first two games of the season with a shoulder injury, but he is being projected to make his 2017 debut against Mississippi State. Fitzgerald is a dual-threat quarterback to challenge LSU.

Key will also being seeing a future NFL offensive tackle with Martinas Rankin. Prior to returning for his senior year with the Bulldogs, Rankin received a second-round estimation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Rankin could really help his draft stock by playing well against Key and LSU.

Tigers cornerback Kevin Toliver II is another potential first-rounder to challenge Fitzgerald.

Texas vs. USC; Saturday, Sept. 16, 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 should take advantage of a Texas defense that allowed a lot of points against Maryland in Week 1. The Longhorns are led by junior linebacker Malik Jefferson. He has a first-round skill set, but hasn’t produced up to it yet. Jefferson will see a talented running back with Trojans junior Ronald Jones.

USC cornerback Iman Marshall could be one of the top cornerback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, and he will see a tough test from Texas giant sophomore wide receiver Collin Johnson (6-6, 220).

Texas left tackle Connor Williams is a potential first-round pick who will take on Trojans edge defender Porter Gustin, another pro prospect. Linebacker Cameron Smith is another pro prospect to watch from USC.

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