2018 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 7

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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Boston College vs. Louisville; Saturday, Oct. 12, 12:20 PM ACCNE

Multiple NFL team sources say they see Boston College defensive end Harold Landry as a late first-round or early second-round talent for the 2018 NFL Draft. Landry is going to have his hands full chasing around Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson is a potential first-round pick and franchise quarterback, as he has an elite arm with tremendous running ability. While Jackson is tough to sack, Landry does have a good matchup against a weak Louisville offensive line. Jackson needs to show poise and the ability to pass accurately from the pocket in the face of a rush. That was an issue for him in the loss to Clemson and could be seen somewhat against N.C. State last week.

Another prospect to watch is Louisville edge rusher James Hearns as a potential second-day pick. Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander has early-round talent, but he has been out with an injury since Week 1.

N.C. State vs. Pittsburgh; Saturday, Oct. 5, 12:00 PM ACCNE

There is a really good draft matchup in this game between Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead going against N.C. State H-back Jaylen Samuels. Sources say that Samuels is getting second-day grades for the 2018 NFL Draft and they see him as a Brian Westbrook-type contributor for the NFL. Samuels has been a dangerous weapon who has torched good defenses through the air this year. Whitehead is another talent who has impressed scouts, and he could use an impressive game to help his draft stock as he was suspended for three games to open the season.

N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb is the top prospect in this game. He is having a fantastic season and looks like a top-20 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Oklahoma vs. Texas; Saturday, Oct. 7, 3:30 PM ESPN

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has impressed NFL sources this season even though he doesn’t have typical NFL size. Mayfield and Oklahoma were shocked last week with a home upset by Iowa State. The Sooners will be out for revenge while taking on their biggest rival. Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson is a great athlete who hasn’t played up to his potential. Jefferson will be challenged by Mayfield, who can hurt defenses with his arm and legs.

Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown is an early-round talent to watch. Other prospects to watch from the Sooners are edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and cornerback Jordan Thomas. These three players could all be second-day picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Auburn vs. LSU; Saturday, Oct. 7, 3:30 PM CBS

LSU defensive end Arden Key is one of the top prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. Auburn’s offensive line allowed a double-digit sacks to Clemson in Week 1, but has played a lot better since then. Still, Key should get some good opportunities to rush Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Stidham had a slow start to the season, but he has been improving. With some young receiving talent at his disposal, Stidham and Auburn will challenge LSU cornerback Kevin Toliver. Toliver is an early-round prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft.

LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark will likely be taking on Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis. Both of them are early-round talents who will play on Sundays.

Other prospects to watch in this game include Auburn guard Braden Smith and Auburn defensive tackle Dontavius Russell.

Texas A&M vs. Florida; Saturday, Oct. 14, 7:00 PM ESPN2

The best matchup in this game is Texas A&M play-making wide receiver Christian Kirk taking on a talented secondary led by cornerback Duke Dawson. Kirk is a potential first-round pick and one of the top wideouts for the 2018 NFL Draft. Dawson is a mid-round prospect.

Another good prospect to watch is Texas A&M safety Armani Watts. He will see some offensive talent in the ground game and, if Gators wideout Tyrie Cleveland returns for this game, in the passing attack. Watts has come up with a lot of clutch plays for the Aggies over the past two seasons, and they will need him to make some important tackles as Florida’s stable of running backs challenge defenses at the second level.

Florida left tackle Martez Ivey is another prospect to watch. Ivey had a slow start to the season, but he has improved over the past weeks.

Utah vs. USC; Saturday, Oct. 14, 8:00 PM ABC

USC quarterback Sam Darnold has had a mildly disappointing season, struggling with interceptions, decision-making and confidence, plus pressing under huge expectations. Darnold still is a highly regarded quarterback prospect for the NFL, but he could use some big performances to help his chances of being the top quarterback for the 2018 NFL Draft. Darnold is going to see a gritty Utah team that plays tough on the defensive side of the ball. Utes nose tackle Lowell Lotulelei and Utes defensive end Kylie Fitts are prospects to watch.

A really good draft matchup in this game is Utah wide receiver Darren Carrington going against USC cornerback Iman Marshall. Carrington has enjoyed a big season with the Utes, and Marshall could be the top corner he will see all season. Marshall has first-round potential, and Carrington might be a mid-rounder. Showing the speed to separate from Marshall would be huge for Carrington’s draft stock.

USC running back Ronald Jones and USC wide receiver Deontay Burnett are second-day prospects to watch.

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