2018 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 9

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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Florida State vs. Boston College; Friday, Oct. 27, 8:00 PM ESPN

This game has some good defensive talent with at least three likely first-rounders in the 2018 NFL Draft. Florida State safety Derwin James is one of the best prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft at any position. Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden is another first-round talent in the Florida State secondary. Boston College defensive end Harold Landry is viewed as a late first-round or early second-round prospect.

Other early-round prospects to watch from the Seminoles include defensive end Josh Sweat, defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, linebacker Matthew Thomas and wide receiver Auden Tate.

Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia; Saturday, Oct. 28, 12:00 PM ABC

There are going to be a ton of points scored in this game with two prolific college offenses going head-to-head in college football’s Arena League, the Big XII. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph is a bit of a love/hate prospect in the scouting community. Some are high on his potential, while other teams project him to the mid-rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. Cowboys wide receiver James Washington is another prospect who has some fans and detractors for the NFL.

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier has a strong arm and is a prospect for the NFL as well. Grier versus Rudolph may end up being a battle of future NFL backups, but they should provide an entertaining game with a ton of points.

Louisville vs. Wake Forest; Saturday, Oct. 28, 12:20 PM ACC Network

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is a potential first-round pick and franchise quarterback, as he has an elite arm with tremendous running ability. Jackson also has a terrible supporting cast with a weak offensive line and wide receivers who struggle to get open. Louisville asks him to do everything, and that will be put to the test with Wake Forest as defensive end Duke Ejiofor is a likely second-day pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and he could end up being a starter early in his NFL career. Jackson’s running ability will also challenge Ejiofor. Showing the ability to break down and tackle Jackson in space and get him in the ground in the pocket could help Ejiofor to show NFL evaluators just how high his level of athleticism is.

Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander is another early-round prospect to watch in this game.

Georgia vs. Florida; Saturday, Oct. 28, 3:30 PM CBS

This rivalry game looks one-sided as Georgia should run all over Florida. While the Bulldogs probably will blow out the Gators, there will be plenty of future NFL players battling each other in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan is enjoying a breakout seaso,n and he will see a future NFL offensive lineman in Georgia left tackle Isaiah Wynn. The Gators will need Bryan to be disruptive against Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb could be a first- or second-round pick next April, while Michel is a likely second-day selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Florida left tackle Martez Ivey is a prospect for the NFL, and he will see some edge-rushing prospects led by linebacker Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith is a first- or second-round pick next April to watch. Other prospects who could go in the mid-rounds or Day 3 include Florida cornerback Duke Dawson and Georgia safety Dominick Sanders.

Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina; Saturday, Oct. 28, 3:30 PM SECN

A draft matchup to watch in this game is Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks taking on South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. Hurst is an excellent athlete with the size and speed to be a mismatch weapon in the NFL. Burks can show if he has coverage skills to match up on a future pro tight end who can hurt defenses with excellent size and speed.

UCLA vs. Washington; Saturday, Oct. 28, 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2

UCLA quarterback Sam Rosen is one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, and Washington is one of the toughest opponents he will see all season. The Huskies have a future NFL prospects in safety Taylor Rapp, linebacker Azeem Victor and defensive tackle Vita Vea. Vea will have a battle in the trenches taking on UCLA guard/center Scott Quessenberry. Rosen’s play has been up and down this year, so he needs to be steady and good versus Washington.

Indiana vs. Maryland; Saturday, Oct. 28, 3:30 PM BTN

This game has a draft matchup that will go under the radar, but features two players with early-round skill sets. Indiana wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. is a big play-maker who combines run-after-the-catch skills to go with big size. Maryland cornerback J.C. Jackson is a big, fast corner who is very adept at preventing separation. Cobbs has No. 1-receiver potential for the NFL, but Jackson has No. 1-corner potential in his own right. This tape will get studied thoroughly by pro evaluators for each prospect.

Penn State vs. Ohio State; Saturday, Oct. 28, 3:30 PM FOX

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley has been the best player in college football this season, and he will see a tough defense loaded with NFL talent. Ohio State Defensive end Sam Hubbard and Ohio State defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones are both early-round talents who will have their run defense challenged. Ohio State Linebacker Jerome Baker is a potential mid-rounder, while Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward is likely to go in the first or second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Ward will be pushed downfield as Penn State likes to go vertical off the running threat of Barkley.

Ohio State has first- or second-round picks in wide receiver Parris Campbell and center Billy Price. Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki and Penn State safety Marcus Allen are talents to watch as well.

N.C. State vs. Notre Dame; Saturday, Oct. 28, 3:30 PM NBC

This game could have one of the best draft matchups of the entire 2018 college football season. Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey will be seeing N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb. Chubb is playing like a top-10 pick this year, while McGlinchey has received first-round grades from some teams. Whoever gets the better of this matchup will see a real boost to his draft stock. Chubb is the best lineman McGlinchey will see this year, and McGlinchey is the top tackle who Chubb will play against.

Lining up next to McGlinchey is Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who is a more complete prospect than McGlinchey. Nelson could go lower in the 2018 NFL Draft because he is a guard and teams prioritize edge protectors, but Nelson is phenomenal and one of the most complete prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. He is going to see some future NFL defensive tackles with the Wolfpack tandem of Justin Jones and B.J. Hill. Notre Dame has a defensive lineman to watch in tackle Jerry Tillery.

This game also features two dynamic receiving talents. Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown could be one of the top receivers for the 2018 NFL Draft, but his draft stock is being drastically suppressed by the passing limitations of Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Another of the dangerous receiving mismatch weapons is N.C. State tight end/H-back Jaylen Samuels. For the NFL, he is a receiving running back in the mold of Brian Westbrook.

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