By Draft Lead Philip Arnold @Philip_PFC
As the college football season rolls on, there are always key matchups in games that will help determine a players draft stock. Many NFL Draft scouts will be evaluating these matchups to help determine a players ability against top tier talent. Check out the top battles going into this weekend to follow along and track the performance of this weeks biggest draft stock matchups.
Florida Atlantic vs. East Carolina
CB Keith Reaser vs. WR Justin Hardy
Neither Reaser or Hardy are household names, and probably won’t be top notch names for the 2014 draft, but the two could be valuable later rounds additions. Reaser held speedy Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett to only two catches and 14 yards last weekend. Hardy went wild last weekend against Old Dominion. He caught 16 passes for 191 yards while shredding the Monarchs secondary.
QB Stephen Morris vs. Florida Secondary
Morris is battling for his positioning atop the 2014 NFL Draft quarterback rankings. Morris wasn’t phenomenal in the week one win over FAU, throwing for 160 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but a strong performance this week will help his stock immensely. Morris though, has a very tough task ahead with the Gators secondary. Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson lead the heavily talented Florida secondary. Morris will also face the likes of Jaylen Watkins and safety Cody Riggs.
Western Kentucky vs. Tennessee
ILB Andrew Jackson vs. Tennessee Offensive Line
One of the rising, underrated players in college football is Western Kentucky linebacker Andrew Jackson. Scouts will be keying in on Jackson, an All-Sun Belt Conference selection in 2012. Jackson recorded 8 tackles and a TFL last week against another SEC opponent in Kentucky. This week Jackson will face a much larger task against arguably the best offensive line in college football. The Tennessee offensive line allowed only eight sacks last season. Jackson will see the inside of the Tennessee offensive line which is led by three seniors; James Stone, Zach Fulton, and Alex Bullard. Though Jackson may not see too much of them, the presence of senior tackle JaWaun James and junior tackle Antonio Richardson will be felt.
RB Antonio Andrews vs. ILB AJ Johnson & DT Daniel McCullers
Andrews is another player from this Western Kentucky squad who may not be known to many as of yet. Andrews is used in many ways for Western Kentucky; rushing, receiving out of the backfield and returning kicks. Last week Andrews carried the ball 20 times for 105 yards and a touchdown, while adding three receptions out of the backfield against Kentucky. Andrews has good speed and uses his body well to fight off would be tacklers. One of those tacklers this week will be Tennessee LB AJ Johnson. Johnson led the SEC in tackles last year and will be searching to shut Andrews down early. To help keep Johnson free will be DT Daniel McCullers, who stands at 6’8″ 360 lbs. McCullers will likely draw double teams this weekend, leaving Johnson free to track down Andrews.
Oregon vs. Virginia
OT Morgan Moses vs. DE Taylor Hart & OLB Boseko Lokombo
Last week against BYU Moses saw much of OLB Kyle Van Noy, while this week Moses has big task ahead of him with Hart and Lokombo. One of Moses’ biggest knocks to this point is his pad level in run blocking. Hart plays with good leverage and is is good against the run. In passing situations, Moses will be fighting to keep his own with Hart and Lokombo. Hart led the Ducks in sacks last season with eight. Lokombo is another freak athlete out of the Oregon system and could cause fits for Moses with his speed ability on the edge.
Buffalo vs. Baylor
OLB Khalil Mack vs. Baylor Offense
Though Baylor doesn’t have elite tackles on their roster, Mack will have a chance for the second straight week to show his talents against a power conference team. Mack had a strong week one performance against Ohio State, being named to the PFC Players of the Week. Mack is known for his pass rush ability and should be able to dominate the Baylor tackles. Baylor guard Cyril Richardson will most likely be used to help his tackle in Mack’s pass rush. Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk is coming off an 112 yard performance last week after piling 1,012 yards last season. Richardson will most likely be used at the second level to help chip or seal Mack from Seastrunk. If Mack can have a similar or a better performance this weekend against Baylor, he will have a huge chance to fly up draft boards.
South Carolina vs. Georgia
Kenarious Gates vs. South Carolina Defensive Ends
Gates is not an elite tackle prospect, and may not ever be, but will surely have a opportunity to prove himself as a later round prospect for May. He will be matching up with one of the most dynamic defensive end combos in all college football. Jadeveon Clowney is a household name at this point, but the man opposite of him is no slouch. Chaz Sutton, has recorded 11.5 tackles and six sacks while playing in the shadows of Clowney and Melvin Ingram. Gates struggled last week with Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, who recorded two sacks and a quarterback pressure. While Gates will be fighting to keep the duo off quarterback Aaron Murray, Sutton will have another chance to continue proving himself opposite of Clowney.
Southern Mississippi vs. Nebraska
DT Khyri Thornton vs. OG Spencer Long
Long was an All-American selection last season for the Cornhuskers, the first at the school since 2001. He’s started 28 straight games at right guard dating back the past two seasons. Long has a shot to help his stock with his matchup on Saturday with Thornton who is 6’3″ 310 lb. Thornton is solid against the run, anchoring well and penetrating and will likely see Long a majority of the game.
Texas vs. BYU
CB Carrington Byndom vs. WR Cody Hoffman
It still is unclear whether Hoffman will be active for the game on Saturday. If Hoffman does play, this matchup will play key for both players. Hoffman is trying to prove himself as a top tier receiver among Jordan Mathews, Brandon Coleman and Sammy Watkins. Hoffman had a strong 2012 season, 1,248 yards on 100 receptions, but we’ve yet to see him this season. Byndom is a guy who can climb up boards with a strong season, and shutting down Hoffman would be a great starting point. It will be interesting to see how Byndom (6′ 0″ 180 lbs.) handles a bigger framed receiver in Hoffman (6’4″ 215 lbs.) , as he has struggled against stronger and bigger competition.
Arkansas State vs. Auburn
DT Ryan Carrethers vs. Auburn Offensive Line
Carrethers has dominated in the Sun Belt conference the past two seasons. He is a big body (6’2″ 332 lbs.) and has superb strength. Carrethers was named to the CBSSports.com “Freak List” which describes the best 20 freak athletes in college football. Auburn doesn’t have a great offensive line, or much of an offense at all. Carrethers should be able to show his ability outside Sun Belt competition and dominate the interior of a SEC offensive line.
DE Stephon Tuitt vs. OT Taylor Lewan
NFL scouts and draft fans will be glued to this matchup Saturday night. Both, Tuitt and Lewan, were All-American selections last season and will most likely be Top 20 to 25 picks next May. Tuitt is used in multiple positions along the Notre Dame defensive line, but Lewan will see plenty of him throughout this game.
San Jose State vs. Stanford
QB David Fales vs. Stanford Defense
Fales has drawn a lot of attention and could end up being the number one senior quarterback for the 2014 draft. Fales owns seven different San Jose State and had an impressive 2012 season. The Stanford defense is loaded with talent and is one of the best in all college football. Between Trent Murphy, Ben Gardner, and Henry Anderson, Fales will be under pressure constantly and will have an opportunity to show off his pocket presence ability. Fales will need to keep the ball accurate to receivers Noel Grigsby and Chandler Jones or we will be hearing Free Safety Ed Reynolds‘ name called often in this one. Last season Fales threw for 216 yards, a touchdown and an interception when San Jose State nearly upset Stanford in week one last season.