2018 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 4

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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N.C. State vs. Florida State; Saturday, Sept. 23, 12:00 PM ABC/ESPN2

The Seminoles have been off for two weeks because of Hurricane Irma canceling Week 2 and moving their game against Miami to October 7. Thus, Florida State should be fresh, and the program has a ton of talent for the 2018 NFL Draft. Safety Derwin James is one of the top prospects at any position. Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden is also a potential first-rounderm and this duo will be charged with limiting N.C. State receiving H-back Jaylen Samuels. Samuels (5-11, 223) doesn’t get a lot of media attention, but sources from multiple teams have told me that he’s impressed them and they think he could be a nice receiving back in a passing offense in the NFL.

The Seminoles’ defense has other early-round prospects to watch in defensive end Josh Sweat, defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and linebacker Matthew Thomas.

On the other side of the ball, Wolfpack defensive end Bradley Chubb is a potential first-rounder. He could have some reps against Florida State offensive tackle Brock Ruble, who could end up grading out as an early-rounder, too. Seminoles wide receive Auden Tate and tight end Mavin Saunders are two rare size/speed athletes who have impressed team sources.

Boston College vs. Clemson; Saturday, Sept. 23, 3:30 PM ESPN2

There will be a lot of defensive line talent on display in this game. 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 ends Clelin Ferrell and defensive end Austin Bryant have been excellent to start the 2018 season, and each of them is a potential early-round pick. Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry is a likely first-rounder next April, and he will see a quality offensive tackle in Clemson junior Mitch Hyatt. Landry had an ugly outing last week against Notre Dame, so he could use a bounc back performance.

Another prospect to watch in this game is Clemson wide receiver Deon Cain. He will probably be an early-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Alabama vs. Vanderbilt; Saturday, Sept. 23, 3:30 PM CBS

Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb is a potential mid-round pick who will see the toughest defense he will face all year. Crimson Tide free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the top players for the 2018 NFL Draft. Strong safety Ronnie Harrison and nose tackle Da’Ron Payne are first-round talents as well. Linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton and Rashaan Evans have played well this year, too. If Webb runs well against Alabama, that could be huge for his draft stock. Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley is another pro prospect to watch and should have his way with the Vanderbilt secondary.

Mississippi State vs. Georgia; Saturday, Sept. 23, 7:00 PM ESPN

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald saw a tough defense last week with LSU, and that will be the case again against Georgia. Georgia has a lot NFL talent on its defense, led by defensive tackle Trenton Thompson. Thompson could be a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Linebacker Roquan Smith has been superb this year and could be a second-day pick. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy were very good against Notre Dame, and they will be challenged by the dual-threat quarterback.

Thompson, Bellamy and Carter will also being seeing a future NFL offensive tackle with Mississippi State’s Martinas Rankin. Prior to returning for his senior year with the Bulldogs, Rankin received a second-round estimation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board.

Penn State vs. Iowa; Saturday, Sept. 23, 7:30 PM ABC

This game will feature two future NFL running backs going head-to-head. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is one of the top prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, and he will be taking on a salty Iowa defense. Barkley is a fast runner with strength, great feet, balance, elusiveness and feel. Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley has been running really well this year, which will challenge an NFL prospect in Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda. Wadley is a tough back with speed, shiftiness and athleticism.

UCLA vs. Stanford; Saturday, Sept. 23, 10:30 PM ESPN

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has huge talent as a pocket-passing quarterback, but he is coming off an upset loss to Memphis in which some interceptions led to the Bruins falling on the road. Rosen needs to show better ball security and decision-making, but it won’t be easy against Stanford. The Cardinal has two defensive back prospects for the NFL with Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder. Rosen could use a bounce-back game as UCLA starts playing conference opponents.

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