Clemson LT Mitch Hyatt vs Boston College DE Harold Landry
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 6, 2017
After being held in check by Michael McGlinchey last week, Landry (#2 Edge) is looking to bounce back against Clemson and Hyatt (#2 OT) who will be the best tackle he sees all season long. Hyatt has the lateral quickness and length to stay in front of the explosive Landry, but Hyatt has struggled to lock down and maintain blocks after initial contact. Hyatt has struggled at times with good speed and this battle will give him a chance to show improvement over last year. This matchup is big for Landry as he only as a single sack on the year and after a 16.5 sack 2016 he could use another big game as conference season kicks off.
Penn State RB Saquan Barkley vs Iowa LB Josey Jewell
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) May 5, 2017
A big reason why Penn State has one of the best offenses in the nation is largely due to running back Saquan Barkley (#1 RB). Barkely is a do it all back who can run with both speed and power while also providing a weapon in the pass game. For Iowa it will be a group effort to slow down Barkley, but I’m keeping an eye on Josey Jewell (#2 LB) who is the Hawkeyes top defensive player and someone who will be going against Barkley on a regular basis. Jewell has elite instincts which always put him right around the ball and is a good tackler. The big concern about Jewell is his overall speed. This match up should be able to show us if Jewell has the speed to get to the edge and stop Barkley on outside runs while also seeing if he has the speed to match up in coverage. This is a big game for Jewell.
West Virginia LT Yodny Cajuste vs Kansas DE Dorance Armstrong
While this matchup may not get a ton of attention it is definitely a battle that most scouts and those in the draft media will have their eye on. Kansas isn’t a program that has many draftable prospects, but they could have one here Armstrong who was voted preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the conference coaches at at 6’4 245lbs is coming off a 10 sack 2016 season. Armstrong uses his length and quickness well to penetrate into the backfield to get sacks and tackles for loss. He is without a sack this season but does have 4 TFL and is looking for this matchup to get his season going. However, he may have his hands full with Cajuste. This game and season are big for Cajuste as he has returned from tearing his ACL in 2016. Before the injury Cajuste was considered by many to be a potential first round draft pick and his offensive line coach Joe Wickline compared him to Russell Okung who he coached at Oklahoma State. Injury concerns likely knock Cajuste out of the first round, but a healthy season showing off his athletic ability and shutting down a talent like Armstrong could be big for Cajuste going forward.
Purdue QB David Blough vs Michigan Defense
The hiring of Jeff Brohm has paid off big for Purdue as they’ve been very impressive early this season and off to a 2-1 start. A big part of that success has been from QB David Blough who is completing 76% of his passes and has a 174.5 QB rating. Blough is a former Elite 11 finalist and may be finally reaching his potential with Brohm who has been in charge of some prolific offenses and had several prospects get drafted. While Purdue has played some solid teams, Blough hasn’t been tested like he will against Michigan. Don Brown’s defense despite losing 10 starters still has this defense in the top 5 of total yards given up. The attacking defense will really test Blough’s ability to handle pressure and diagnose coverage at a quick rate. While Purdue likely doesn’t win the game, a strong performance by Blough could allow him to become a up and comer in a QB class that seems to be struggling.
USC RG Viane Talamaivao vs California DT James Looney
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) May 25, 2017
One player that isn’t getting much attention is Cal defensive lineman James Looney who doesn’t have eye popping numbers (13 TFL and 4 sacks) but has the desirable traits to be a coveted interior pass rusher. Looney (#7 DL) uses good burst off the line and acceleration to get into the backfield to disrupt the play and often force the QB to have to move. Now that Cal plays a 3-4 defense Looney is moved around more often lining up as a DE. However, on passing downs Looney will slide inside and could see USC’s top guard in Talamaivao. Talamaivao isn’t your typical mauler of a guard and instead uses his quickness and hand strength to shut down tackles. This battle is strength on strength which should lead to some good action and see which player can make the adjustment needed to win.
Florida LT Martez Ivey vs Kentucky OLB Denzil Ware
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 31, 2017
Since Florida lacks any explosiveness to their offense they need their offensive line to really play away to put up points. Left Tackle Martez Ivey is in his first year at left tackle and has plenty of hype surrounding him. Early this season he’s dealt with Michigan’s power pass rushers, but hasn’t seen the speed that Denzil Ware can provide rushing off the edge. Ware has the speed to win around the corner but struggles if he’s asked to sink his hips and bend. It will be important for Ivey who doesn’t have great lateral quickness to attack Ware off the ball and use his length and strength to cut him off and lock him down.