2020 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Bowls I

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.
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Boise State vs. Washington; Friday, Dec. 30, 4:00 PM ESPN

Washington quarterback Jacob Eason could be playing in his final game, and after an up-and-down 2019 season, the junior needs a strong performance to end the year. There is an excellent draft matchup in this game with Washington left tackle Trey Adams taking on Boise State edge rusher Curtis Weaver. Adams had issues with Utah’s Bradley Anae late in the season, so Adams could use a good performance against Weaver. Washington center Nick Harris is another prospect to watch.

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State; Friday, Dec. 30, 4:00 PM ESPN

Texas A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond could be playing in his final game if he enters the 2020 NFL Draft, and he could use a bounce-back performance after a disappointing outing against LSU to end the regular season. Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard has broken out this season and could be a second-round pick next April.

USC vs. Iowa; Friday, Dec. 27, 8:00 PM FS1

This game has the potential for one of the best draft matchups of the bowl season with Iowa edge rusher A.J. Epenesa taking on USC left tackle Austin Jackson. Both are potential first-rounders, so it will be great to see who gets the better of their matchup. Trojans wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. is another good prospect to watch, as he could go in the top half of the 2020 NFL Draft.


Louisville vs. Mississippi State; Monday, Dec. 30, 4:00 PM ESPN

There is a good draft matchup in this game with Louisville left tackle Mekhi Becton taking on Mississippi State edge rusher Chauncey Rivers. Rivers had a slow start to the season, but came on strong in the back half of the year. Becton could be a future first-round pick, so it would be huge for Rivers to have a good game against him.

Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill is an early-round talent who will be playing in his final collegiate game if he enters the 2020 NFL Draft. Mississippi State has a bunch of other prospects to watch, including wide receiver Stephen Guidry, linebacker Erroll Thompson, linebacker Willie Gay, safety JaQuarius Landrews, safety Brian Cole, center Darryl Williams, wide receiver Deddrick Thomas and inside linebacker Leo Lewis.

Florida State vs Arizona State; Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2:00 PM ET CBS

Sun Devils running back Eno Benjamin could be selected in the mid-rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.

There is the potential for a good draft matchup with Florida State wide receiver Tamorrion Terry taking on Arizona State cornerback Chase Lucas. They both could go in the top half of the 2020 NFL Draft. Another future pro to watch is Seminoles defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.

Texas vs Utah; Friday, Dec. 31, 7:30 PM ET ESPN

In the Alamo Bowl, there will be some NFL talent going head-to-head with two Longhorn wide receivers Collin Johnson and David Duvernay taking on a secondary loaded with NFL talent. Johnson has been out with a hamstring injury, but Texas believes he will be back from this game. Utah’s defense is loaded with mid- and late-round picks for the NFL draft. Utes cornerback Jaylon Johnson could be one of the best cornerbacks defenders who the Texas duo will have faced this year. Johnson is a talented cover corner, but he is thin and could have issues with the strength of pro receivers, so the big wideout Johnson will be a challenge for him. The Utah safety tandem of Julian Blackmon and Terrell Burgess will both be playing in the Senior Bowl.

Utes defensive end Bradley Anae and Utes nose tackle Leki Foot could be mid-round picks next April. Anae is a dangerous edge rusher who would go higher if he had more physical skills for the NFL. Utah linebacker Francis Bernard will also play at the Senior Bowl in January.

Utah running back Zack Moss could be a second-day pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he has been a powerful runner with receiving ability this season. Moss could use one more good game given this year’s crowded running back class, and he will be a good test for Texas.

Oklahoma vs. LSU; Saturday, Dec. 28, 4:00 PM ET ESPN

After the injury to Tua Tagovailoa, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft due to his phenomenal 2019 season. Burrow does not have a strong arm, but he is accurate, makes good decisions, has good field vision, and uses his functional mobility. Burrow should enjoy taking on a Big XII defense, but Sooners linebacker Kenneth Murray could limit Burrow’s dangerous running ability because Murray is a heat-seeking missile who regularly dishes out violent hits. Murray will have his hands full in run defense and pass coverage against the electric LSU offense.

The best draft matchup in this game could be seen when Oklahoma has the ball as wide receiver CeeDee Lamb could be a top-20 pick next April, and he will challenge two future pro defensive backs, saftey Grant Delpit and cornerback Kristian Fulton. Delpit could be a top-20 choice next April, and Fulton has early-round potential as well. Hopefully, Lamb and Fulton will match up against each other frequently.

Tigers wide receiver Justin Jefferson could be a first- or second-round pick next April. LSU defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence, Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey and Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore are other prospects to watch.

Clemson vs. Ohio State; Saturday, Dec. 28, 8:00 PM ESPN

The sophomore quarterbacks with the Tigers’ Trevor Lawrence and Buckeyes’ Justin Fields could go No.1 and No.2 in the 2021 NFL Draft, but there is plenty of top talent for the 2020 draft in the second playoff game with three defensive prospects that could go in the top-10. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah. Both of them should be top-10 picks next April as they could be some of the first non-quarterbacks drafted. Young has been one of the best players in college football this season as the fast edge rusher set Ohio State’s single season sack record despite a two game suspension. Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons could join them in the top-10, and he shouldn’t make it to the playoff teams in the 20s. Simmons will have the challenge of defending Buckeyes running back J.K. Dobbins, a potential day-two pick next April.

Okudah, cornerback Damon Arnette, cornerback Shaun Wade, and safety Jordan Fuller will compete on Sundays. Wade has been dealing with an injury, but they will see a good challenge in Clemson wide out Tee Higgins. In the 2020 NFL Draft, Higgins could late first-round or second-round consideration.

Ohio State has a wide receiver K.J. Hill could also go in the early rounds of the draft and he will see a future NFL cornerback in Clemson’s A.J. Terrell.

Another early-round pick in this game is Clemson running back Travis Etienne. Other Tiger prospects to watch include safety K’Von Wallace, safety Tanner Muse, guard John Simpson, and right tackle Tremayne Anchrum. Other Buckeye prospects to watch include tight end Rashod Berry, wide receiver Austin Mack, guard Jonah Jackson, and inside linebacker Malik Harrison.

Minnesota vs. Auburn; Wednesday, Jan 1. 26, 1:00 PM ESPN

Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown could go in the top-10 next April and he will be playing his final collegiate game. Minnesota’s offensive line has not faced a talent like Brown this season, so he could put together a big performance to close out his collegiate career. Auburn senior defensive end Marlon Davidson could also get selected in the top half of the 2020 draft and this will be his final game.

Minnesota wide receiver Tyler Johnson is a potential second-day pick and he will see one of the best defenders he’s played al year in Auburn cornerback Javaris Davis. Hopefully Davis and Johnson will matchup against each other.

Auburn has some future draft picks on their offensive line as well. Let tackle Prince Tega Wanogho and right tackle Jack Driscoll are worth watching.

Alabama vs. Michigan; Saturday, Jan. 1, 3:30 PM ABC

The top prospects to watch in this game are in the Alabama wide receiving corps as they have a lot of first-round talent. Crimson Tide wide receiver Jerry Jeudy looks like a top-10 pick next April while Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith all are future early-rounders that could go on the opening night of the draft.

Alabama offensive line has future pro starters with left tackle Alex Leatherwood, right tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., and guard Deonte Brown. They will see a tough Michigan defense led by edge rusher linebacker Josh Uche. Uche is fast pass rusher but undersized so Alabama could look to run at him with Najee Harris, a potential day-two pick next April.

Crimson Tide cornerback Trevon Diggs and safety Xavier McKinney could be first-round picks next April and they will see some receiving talent with Michigan.

Michigan’s defense is led by linebacker Josh Uche and safety Khaleke Hudson. Both of them received preseason projections of having the potential to be picks in the top half of the 2020 draft. Other prospects to watch in this game include Michigan safety Khaleke Hudson, guard Ben Bredeson and cornerback Lavert Hill, they also had top half projections. Some prospects that back half projections include five Wolverines consisting of safety Josh Metellus, guard Michael Onwenu, running back Chris Evans, and defensive end Mike Danna.

Oregon vs Wisconsin; Friday, Jan. 1, 5:00 PM ET ESPN

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert will get one more game to impress NFL evaluators and compensate for an ugly loss to Arizona State, and a few other tapes that don’t invoke much excitement from his senior year. Herbert needs a big performance in the Rose Bowl to close out his collegiate career.

If you want to watch two future NFL starting centers, then this is your bowl game as well with Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz and Oregon’s Jake Hansen. Both could go in the early rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Biadasz is a key cog in opening holes for Wisconsin star running back Jonathan Taylor. This probably Taylor’s final collegiate game and he has been superb as a junior. Oregon has a quality defense led by linebacker Troy Dye, a possible day-two pick next April.

Oregon’s offensive line has some good NFL prospects with guard Shane Lemieux, center Jake Hansen, and guard Calvin Throckmorton. Some team sources think Lemieux could be a late first-round or early second-round pick next April.

Georgia vs Baylor; Friday, Jan. 1, 8:45 PM ET ESPN

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm could be playing in his final collegiate game and he could use a good game after an underwhelming back half to his junior year. Fromm has a second-day skill set, but he is a superb game manager that has been an accurate passer with excellent decision-making throughout his collegiate career.

Georgia has a NFL offensive line led by left tackle Andrew Thomas, a potential top-10 pick next April. Left guard Solomon Thomas could be a late first-round or early second-round pick. While the rest of the Bulldogs offensive line has early-round potential for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Baylor prospects to watch include wide receiver Denzel Mims, running back JaMycal Hasty, and defensive end James Lynch.

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