With College football starting up again our weekly tradition of previewing top NFL Draft prospects in college football continues. Each week we'll highlight major games and key match ups for you to watch to help prepare yourself for the names that will be called in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Game of the Week
Florida State Seminoles vs Alabama Crimson Tide
When Florida State Has the Ball
|FSU Prospects||Alabama Prospects|
|#12 QB Deondre Francois||#94 DT Da’Ron Payne|
|#9 RB Jacques Patrick||#9 DE Da’Shawn Hand|
|#18 WR Auden Tate||#32 MLB Rashaan Evans|
|#81 TE Ryan Izzo||#20 SLB Shaun Dion Hamilton|
|#2 CB Tony Brown|
|#28 CB Anthony Averett|
|#29 SS Minkah Fitzpatrick|
|#6 S Hootie Jones|
|#15 FS Ronnie Harrison|
The key to Florida State’s success on offense will come down to protecting QB Deondre Francois who took way too many hits and was constantly running for his life last season. Looking to disrupt will be another deep and talented defensive line lead by DT Da'Ron Payne whose strength at the point of attack and burst off the line make it difficult to keep him at bay. While Payne and the line will clog up lanes it will free their athletic linebackers to run and make plays. Looking to replace Rueben Foster the Crimson Tide could look to Rashaan Evans who will fill running lanes from the middle and even rush off the edge on passing downs.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 22, 2017
In the passing game the Seminoles will have their hands full dealing with a loaded Crimson Tide secondary. Strong safety Minkah Fitzpatrick leads the group with his do it all skill set. His ability to play back in coverage, match up in man to man situations and fly up to stop the run make him a complete safety. One advantage the Seminoles have is with Auden Tate whose 6'5 225 size could pose some match up problems much like Mike Williams gave them last year. If Tate can have success it could lead to more double teams and freeing up his fellow receivers.
When Alabama Has the Ball
|#9 RB Bo Scarbrough||#91 DT Derrick Nnadi|
|#34 RB Damien Harris||#90 DT Demarcus Christmas|
|#3 WR Calvin Ridley||#9 DE Josh Sweat|
|#1 WR Robert Foster||#18 MLB Ro’Derrick Hoskins|
|#75 C Bradley Bozeman||#16 SLB Jacob Pugh|
|#4 CB Tavarus McFadden|
|#3 FS Derwin James|
|#20 SS Trey Marshall|
|#29 S Nate Andrews|
As with any Alabama team their success will be whether they can run the ball and they'll do so with the power of Scarborough and the speed of Harris. With two talented run stuffers in Nnadi and Christmas the Seminoles will look to shut down the middle and use their speed and linebackers to chase down Scarbrough. But as we've seen last season, the pounding that Scarbrough can lay will wear out defenses.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 8, 2017
Against the pass the Seminoles must force QB Jalen Hurts to beat them from the pocket and not let him win with his legs. That means DE Josh Sweat will have to get pressure but maintain his lane. Sweat has the length and change of direction skills to still win while mush rushing.
The marquee match up of this game will see the top WR in this class against the best cornerback. Ridley is at his best using his explosive speed to run away from cornerbacks either underneath or on deep routes. McFadden has good size at 6'2 and enough speed, but this match up will could show us if he has enough speed to warrant an early pick or is he just system guy. If McFadden can lock up his side of the field it can allow Derwin James to roam and make plays like he did in a standout freshman year.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) May 20, 2017
8 Additional Match Ups to Watch
Wyoming QB Josh Allen vs Iowa Hawkeyes Defense
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) May 5, 2017
Not only is this the first chance to one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, but it's likely against the best defense he'll face in 2017. Iowa has a strong pass rush, a stud LB in Josey Jewell and a talented secondary. Allen burst onto the scene last year with a strong arm and a knack for making tough throws. However if he wants to be in consideration for the top QB spot in the 2018 draft and a top 10 pick, he needs to cut down on his interceptions. Last year's marquee match up was against Nebraska where he threw 4 INTs. If Allen can have a good showing against Iowa it should only increase his stock as the season progresses. This is likely the first tape most scouts will put on for him come draft season.
Washington LT Trey Adams vs Rutgers DE Kemoko Turay
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) June 24, 2017
Turay is an urban legend within #DraftTwitter having great size at 6'5 and burst tallying 7.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman. However injuries derailed his career playing only 11 games over the past two years totaling only 4 total sacks. Hopefully healthy we can see the same Turay we once saw. He'll have his shot against one of the most underrated tackles in Trey Adams who will be looking to lock down the left edge. Adams has good size at 6'7 and can use his lateral agility combined with his length to shut down defenders. Adams has the potential to be a first round pick but he needs to show that he has gotten stronger and possibly that he can shut down elite pass rushers.
South Carolina RT Zach Bailey vs North Carolina State DE's Bradley Chubb and Kentavius Street
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 4, 2017
After excelling at left guard the Gamecocks moved their top lineman outside to right tackle. Bailey doesn't waste anytime facing arguably the toughest end duo in the nation. North Carolina State will flip their ends based on short side and wide side meaning that Bailey will get to face two different types of pass rushers. Chubb is an athletic edge defender using his speed and agility to attack the edge and bend the corner while Street wins by setting up moves with his quickness and power. Bailey will have his hands full with both while playing a new position, but if he's able to hold his own it only increases his marketability being able to play multiple positions.
Michigan LT Mason Cole vs Florida DE CeCe Jefferson
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 31, 2017
After moving inside to center for the 2016 season, Cole is moving back out to his former left tackle position that he manned back in 2015. Cole is better suited to play inside because he lacks the lateral agility to sustain movement and mirror pass rushers out on the edge. However in Michigan's scheme they'll run the ball and ask Cole to quick set to utilize his strength and quick burst. CeCe Jefferson will really test Cole with his explosion and change of direction ability. If Florida is able to force 3rd and longs then we could see Jefferson bend the edge and attack the quarterback, but seeing how he does holding the point of attack and stopping the run will tell us a lot also.
Western Michigan LT Chukwuma Okorafor vs USC OLB Porter Gustin
Don't let his 6'5 333 frame fool you, Okorafor is light on his feet using his size and length to cut off defenders and put himself into position. But what plagued Okorafor last season and what to look out for is his hands where too often he'd put himself into position but fail to lock down the defender. He'll be tested immediately against Gustin whose change of direciton ability will give Okorafor fits if he's not able to lock his hands inside and shut him down. If Okorafor hasn't improved, this could be a long game and really stunt his rise before it even starts.
Indiana WR Simmie Cobbs and Nick Westbrook vs Ohio State CB Denzel Ward
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 28, 2017
Normally Big 10 games don't open the season, but this match up allows us to see the Hoosiers best prospects matching up against the loaded Ohio State team. The marquee match up in this game is between Indiana's two tall receivers going against a young Buckeyes secondary. Both Cobbs (6'4) and Westbrook (6'3) are contested catchers that thrive in 50/50 balls using their height to go up and get the ball. Ohio State will utilize different cornerback, but their best is Denzel Ward who was the nickle back last year. Ward is an explosive athlete who can stick with receivers, but if he wants to be considered a first round pick like Lattimore and Conley were last year, he has to prove he can defender bigger receivers. At 5'11 this may be difficult but Ward will get plenty of shots to show his ball skills and leaping ability.
UCLA C Scott Quessenberry vs Texas A&M DT Daylon Mack
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 1, 2017
While QB Josh Rosen gets all the attention in regards to UCLA prospects, his center is one of the best in the nation himself. Quessenberry has good height at 6'3 but at 295lb he is on the lighter side and uses leverage to seal off defenders. Against A&M Quessenberry's strength and anchor will be tested against the 320lb defensive tackle. Using his size and power Mack has shown the ability to dominate offensive lineman putting them on skates. That being said, Mack came to A&M with a lot of fanfare and hasn't been the consistent force that many thought he would be. With Mack becoming draft eligible it is imperative that he starts living up to his promise.
North Dakota CB Deion Harris vs Utah WR Darren Carrington
Normally a game between Utah and North Dakota doesn't get much attention but with the addition of Oregon transfer Darren Carrington it gives us an under the radar prospect battle. Carrington is at his best running deep go and post routes to take advantage of his effortless deep speed. Looking to contain him is the 6'3 Harris who is trying to make a name for himself. Harris has the body type of a press man corner but needs to show that he has the speed to hang with a top level deep threat. A good game for Harris could cause people to dive deeper into Harris and help improve his stock.