2021 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – Week 1

Want to get to know the draft prospects for the 2021 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.

Central Arkansas vs. UAB; Thursday, Sept. 3, 8:00 PM ET ESPN

The Prospects:
  • Central Arkansas CB Robert Rochell, No. 9
  • UAB wide receiver WR Austin Watkins, No. 6
The Matchups: Hopefully, Rochell and Watkins line up against each other. Watkins (6-3, 210) is a big receiver, so the question with him will be if he has the speed to separate from NFL-caliber cornerbacks. Similarly, Rochell (6-2, 195) is a big cornerback, so showing the speed and fluid athleticism to run with receivers and prevent separation is important for him. Both players were on NFL teams’ preseason watch list for the 2020 season.

SMU vs. Texas State; Thursday, Sept. 5, 4:30 PM ESPN

The Prospects:
  • SMU QB Shane Buechele, No. 7
The Matchups: Buechele needs to dominate as a senior to help his chances of being drafted. He definitely can’t afford to have let-down performances against competition of the caliber of Texas State.

Arkansas State vs. Memphis; Friday, Sept. 5, 8:00 PM ET ESPN

The Prospects:
  • Memphis WR Damonte Coxie, No. 10
  • Arkansas State DT Forrest Merrill, No. 92
The Matchups: Unfortunately, Memphis running back Kenny Gainwell is sitting out the 2020 season, which takes away the top prospect in this game. With the loss of Gainwell to go along with other receivers moving on to the NFL in the 2020 NFL Draft, Coxie could take on a bigger role this fall. Memphis is also a quality opponent for Arkansas State, so this is a good opportunity for Merrill to give NFL teams a tape to watch.

BYU vs. Navy; Monday, Sept. 7, 8:00 PM ET ESPN

The Prospects:
  • BYU TE Matt Bushman, No. 89
  • BYU QB Zach Wilson, No. 1
  • BYU C James Empey, No. 66
  • BYU G Tristen Hoge, No. 69
  • BYU OT Brady Christensen, No. 67
  • BYU DT Khyiris Tonga, No. 95
The Matchups: Navy did not have any players on NFL teams’ preseason watch list, but the Midshipmen have fielded tough teams that challenge their opponents. Bushman could be the best player to watch in this contest, and it will be interesting to see if he is equally effective as a blocker and receiver in 2020. BYU has some possible NFL talent on its offense line and with Wilson at quarterback.

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