2020 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 1

Want to get to know the draft prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft? This weekly column breaks down the best matchups to watch each week in college football.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Miami vs. Florida; Saturday, Aug. 24, 7:00 PM ET ESPN

The opening game in college football has some good NFL talent on display as Miami and Florida renew a historic rivalry. The Gators have more pro talent for the 2020 NFL Draft, led by cornerback C.J. Henderson. The cover corner is the top prospect in this game and is one of the top corner prospects for the pros. The Gators also have some second-day-caliber prospects in running back Lamical Perine and edge rusher Jabari Zuniga. Wide receiver Van Jefferson and defensive end Jon Greenard are also on NFL teams’ preseason watch list. Other draft prospects to watch on the Gators include cornerback Marco Wilson and linebacker David Reese. It will be interesting to see if Florida junior quarterback Feleipe Franks develops under head coach Dan Mullen as Franks has a pro skill set.

Miami has three players on NFL teams’ preseason watch list, led by a pair of linebackers in Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney. Quarterman has been a solid defender for the Hurricanes over the past few seasons. Defensive end Trevon Hill is another defender who NFL teams are scouting for next April’s draft.

Georgia Tech vs. Clemson; Thursday, Aug. 29, 8:00 PM ACCN

Georgia Tech gets to be the first team blown out by Clemson in 2019, and the Yellow Jackets have zero players who were placed on NFL teams’ preseason watch list for the 2020 NFL Draft. Clemson, on the hand, has a ton of talent for the next few drafts. Tigers safety Isaiah Simmons could have been a contender to go in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but he returned to school. With a good 2019 season, he could be a Thursday night pick next April. Clemson Speedster running back Travis Etienne is another early-round prospect to watch. Tigers wide receivers Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers are also on pro radar, and Higgins has early-round potential. Other Clemson players on NFL teams’ preseason watch list are guard John Simpson, cornerback A.J. Terrell, and safety Tanner Muse.

Wisconsin vs. South Florida; Friday, Aug. 30, 7:00 PM ET ESPN

There are few offensive prospects for the NFL in this game with South Florida tight end Mitchell Wilcox, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, and Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. Those three could all be selected in the top half of the 2020 NFL Draft. Badgers linebacker Zach Baun is another prospect to watch.

Ole Miss vs. Memphis; Saturday, Aug. 31, 12:00 PM ET ABC

There are two running back prospects to keep an eye on in this game. Ole Miss’ Scottie Phillips has fans in the scouting community and has second-day potential for the 2020 NFL Draft. Memphis linebacker Bryce Huff is a pro prospect who will be challenged by Phillips. Memphis running back Patrick Taylor was included on preseason watch lists, and he could produce a breakout year with Darrell Henderson now in the NFL.

South Carolina vs. North Carolina; Saturday, Aug. 31, 3:30 PM ET ESPN

North Carolina has four players who were included on NFL teams’ preseason watch list, safety Myles Dorn, tackle Charlie Heck, cornerback Patrice Rene and defensive end Jason Strowbridge. South Carolina has a few prospects of its own in defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and wide receiver Bryan Edwards. Kinlaw could be the best of this group and the top prospect to focus on in this game.

Northwestern vs. Stanford; Saturday, Aug. 31, 4:00 PM ET FOX

Cardinal quarterback K.J. Costello is an early-round candidate for the NFL, and he will get his season started by taking on a tough defense. Wildcats defensive end Joe Gaziano and linebacker Paddy Fisher are both NFL prospects who could be mid-rounders or third-day picks. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald always fields a tough defense that will be a nice challenge for Costello in Week 1.

Gaziano will have see a potential first-round pick and franchise tackle in Stanford’s Walker Little. He is a physical force, and if Gaziano has a good game against Little, that would be huge for Gaziano’s draft stock. Other Cardinal prospects to watch in this game are tight end Colby Parkinson, wide receiver Osiris St. Brown and cornerback Paulson Abedo.

Georgia vs. Vanderbilt; Saturday, Aug. 31, 7:30 PM ET SECN

Georgia has a lot of talent for the 2020 NFL Draft, including a trio of future first-rounders on the offense in quarterback Jake Fromm, left tackle Andrew Thomas and running back D’Andre Swift. Guard Solomon Kinkley could also emerge as a first-rounder this season, and right guard Ben Cleveland could also get drafted.

Defensively, the Bulldogs have two safeties to watch in J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte. They will be challenged by a trio of quality prospects from Vanderbilt led by tight end Jared Pinkney. Commodores running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Commmodores wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb are also on NFL teams’ preseason watch list.

Oregon vs. Auburn; Saturday, Aug. 31, 7:30 PM ET ABC

There will be some excellent draft matchups in this game, led by one of the top prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft in Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown. He could have been a top-10 pick last April but decided to return to Auburn. Ducks guard Shane Lemieux and center Jake Hanson will be challenged by Brown and the Tigers’ other defensive linemen. Auburn defensive end Nick Coe has a great skill set and sometimes lines up inside. On the other side, Tigers defensive end Marlon Davidson is a good technician and tough player. Coe could be an early-rounder, while Davidson has mid-round potential. Oregon offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton has played all over the line for the Ducks, and whether he lines up at guard or tackle, he will be seeing some future NFL defensive linemen.

Auburn has some future NFL offensive linemen of its own in left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho and right tackle Jack Driscoll. NFL sources have said that Wanogho could be this draft’s Greg Little, a high first-round skill set, but a lack of consistency could cause him to slide with his draft grade.

Oregon linebacker Troy Dye is another future NFL defender to keep an eye on, as he could be selected early in the 2020 NFL Draft. Auburn linebacker Big Kat Bryant and safety Auburn Jeremiah Dinson were also placed on NFL team’s pre-season watch list.

Other prospects to watch in things game include Oregon wide receiver Juwan Johnson and Auburn cornerback Javaris Davis. Hopefully, those future pro competitors line up against each other.

Houston vs. Oklahoma; Sunday, Sep. 1, 7:30 PM ABC

Once again, Oklahoma has a lot of talent for the NFL. Sooners wide receiver CeeDee Lamb could be an early-rounder as he has good size, route-running and hands. Other Oklahoma players to watch are defensive tackle Neville Gaillimore, tight end Grant Calcaterra and linebacker Kenneth Murray. Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones was included on NFL teams’ preseason watch list, with some teams projecting him to be a prospect for the back half of the 2020 NFL Draft or a priority free agent.

Notre Dame vs. Louisville; Saturday, Sep. 1, 8:00 PM ESPN

Notre Dame has a lot of talent for the 2020 NFL Draft. In the front seven, outside linebacker Julian Okwara, defensive end Khalid Kareem, edge rusher Daelin Hayes all have early-round potential, and they will be a test for Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton. Becton could be a first-round candidate in his draft class, and it would help him to produce a good tape taking on those three Notre Dame edge defenders. In the Fighting Irish secondary, safety Alohi Gilman, cornerback Troy Pride and safety Jalen Elliott are pro prospects. Nore Dame wide receivers Chase Claypool and Chris Finke are also on NFL teams’ preseason watch list.

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