NFL Draft: Week 3 Key Prospect Matchups


LM Otero/ AP

TCU vs. Texas Tech

CB Jason Verrett vs. WR Eric Ward

Ward has had his share in the Texas Tech record books and has accumulated over 2,000 yards during his career. He has yet to find the end zone this season though, and may have troubles with this matchup Thursday. TCU cornerback Jason Verrett is one of best cornerbacks eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. He will continue to show his talents in hope to becoming a first round pick, Thursday when he matches up with Ward.




UCLA vs. Nebraksa

DE Cassius Marsh vs. OG Spencer Long

Marsh had a quiet week one versus Nevada recording just one tackle, but had a dominate 2012 season recording 10.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks. Marsh is used in a variety of techniques along the UCLA front, lining up in both defensive end and tackle positions. When Marsh lines up inside he will see plenty of All-American guard Spencer Long, who has started 28 straight games the past two seasons.

QB Brett Hundley vs. Nebraska Cornerbacks

Hundley is only a sophomore but is a quickly rising talent. On opening weekend Hundley completed 22 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. He is also a dual-threat as he added 65 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground. If Hundley can continue his high rate of success through the season, he is a guy we could very easily be talking about this or next May. Nebraska possesses two cornerbacks who could be on the rise quickly. Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste are having tremendous starts to their 2013 campaigns. The duo has already recorded five interceptions and five pass break ups, and will look to cause fits for Hundley.


Virginia Tech vs. Eastern Carolina

Cornerbacks Antone Exum & Kyle Fuller vs. WR Justin Hardy

Hardy is a rising prospect who’s name should not be thrown to the side. After a breakout 2012 in which he totaled over 1,000 yards receiving, Hardy is off to a hot start in 2013, catching 20 passes for 227 yards. The biggest question mark right now though is the level of competition Hardy has seen thus far. He will face his first true test of the season against the talented ACC duo. Exum is recovering from surgery and is expected to play his first game of the season this Saturday. Fuller has stepped up well with the absence of Exum and highlighted it with a strong week one performance against Alabama’s Amari Cooper.


Southern Mississippi vs. Arkansas

DT Khryi Thornton vs. C Travis Swanson 

Last week Thornton had a key matchup with Nebraksa’s Spencer Long, but failed to make much noise as he recorded only one tackle. This week Thornton will have a chance to redeem himself against the top 2014 NFL Draft center prospect in Swanson. Thornton is solid against the run, anchoring well and penetrating. Arkansas has had success running the ball this year, largely due to Swanson, and should make for an exciting matchup.


Alabama vs. Texas A&M

Texas A&M v AlabamaAlabama Secondary vs. QB Johnny Manziel & WR Mike Evans

As usual the Alabama secondary and defense is loaded with talent. Led by junior safety’s Ha-Ha Clinton Dix and Vinnie Sunseri, the Alabama secondary will be looking to grow off a dominating week one performance against Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech. Last season Manziel threw for 253 and two touchdowns against the Crimson Tide in way to the upset. Manziel is coming off a hot week two performance against Sam Houston State in which he threw for 426 yards and three touchdowns. Manziel relies greatly on 6’5″ sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans, 13 receptions, 239 yards and two touchdowns thus far. Evans will be seeing a lot of Deion Belue, Alabama’s newest shut down corner, but has a large size advantage over the 5’11” Belue.

Alabama Pass Rush vs. Texas A&M Offensive Tackles

The Alabama front seven has game changers all over the place, but mainly coming from the edge. Junior outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, seven sacks in 2012, and senior defensive end Ed Stinson, three sacks, will be relied on heavily to get to Manziel and keep him contained. Senior CJ Mosley, second on the team in tackles, will also play an integral piece to pressure scheme defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will dial up. For A&M, senior left tackle Jake Matthews and junior right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi will need to be on their best to stop this dynamic pass rush. Matthews is talked about as one of the top prospects for 2014 and has a very good chance to prove himself this Saturday.


Tennessee vs. Oregon

DT Daniel McCullers vs. C Hroniss Grasu 

Daniel McCullers is one of the largest, and best nose tackle prospect for the 2014 draft. McCullers is 6’8″ 360 lbs and causes problems for opposing centers just because of his size. Across from him will be a much smaller 6’3″ 297 lbs. Hroniss Grasu. Grassu hasn’t missed one start as the leader of the Oregon offensive line and what he make lack in size on McCullers, he makes up for in his athleticism. McCullers has had a relatively quiet first two games against week competition and will need to be a force in the Oregon backfield to help slow down De’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota. 

Tennessee Offensive Tackles vs. DE Taylor Hart & OLB Boseko Lokombo

The Oregon pass rushing duo of Hart and Lokombo will be at it again this week. Last week the two saw plenty of Virginia Tackle Morgan Moses, but will have a much tougher test this weekend. Hart has recorded one sack through two games this season after he led the Ducks in 2012. Lokombo has yet to record a sack but is another freak athlete out of the Oregon system and causes fits for offensive linemen with his speed ability on the edge. On the opposing end are two of the best offensive tackles from one of the best offesive lines’ in the country. Junior left tackle Antonio Richardson is a rising name and his counterpart, senior JaWuan James, has 39 career starts at the right tackle position.


Ohio State vs. California

LB Ryan Shazier vs. RB Brandon Bigelow

Last season when these two teams met, Bigelow broke out and ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns on the Ohio State defense. Still only a junior, Bigelow has room to grow but another strong performance against the run defense of Ohio State will certainly help. Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier will play the biggest role in shutting down Bigelow. Shazier is one of the top linebackers prospects for 2014 and has recorded 12 tackles and two tackles for loss thus far in 2013.


Kent State vs. LSU

RB Dri Archer vs. DT Anthony Johnson & LB Lamin Barrow

Dri Archer is one of the most, if not the most dynamic player in college football with the ball in his hands. Archer missed last weekend’s loss to Bowling Green but is expected to play this week. Offensive Coordinator Brian Rock will find ways to get Archer the ball if he wants to keep this game close. Barrow is second on the LSU defense with nine tackles this season. If Johnson can keep Barrow free, they should have no problems stopping the Kent rushing attack.


Ole Miss vs. Texas

Chattanooga Times Free Press

WR Donte Moncrief vs. CB Carrington Byndom & CB Quandre Diggs

Donte Moncrief is one of the most talented, and maybe the top 2014 wide receiver out of the SEC. He has already racked up 130 yard and a touchdown this season from quarterback Bo Wallace. Moncrief is 6’3″ and will see much smaller corners in the 5’10” Diggs and 6’0″ Byndom. The duo limited talented BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman to just 63 yards on two receptions last weekend and will continue to prove themselves as the top Big 12 cornerbacks this weekend against Moncrief.

Oregon State vs. Utah

DE Scott Crichton vs. OG Junior Salt

Though Crichton is listed as a defensive end, he plays many different techniques across the Oregon State defensive front. Crichton is a physical player, and dominated the Utah offensive line when the two met last season. Salt is a former defensive tackle who is playing in his first season as a offensive lineman. If Salt wants to show scouts he can play at the next level, Saturday will be a good showing.

Wisconsin vs. Arizona State

Wisconsin Offensive Line vs DT Will Sutton

The Wisconsin offensive line will have their hands full with All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton. Sutton is a force in the middle and has no problems getting into the backfield, proved by his 20 tackles for loss last season and 10.5 sacks. The Wisconsin offensive line has guys that could become top prospects in 2015 with guys like Dallas Lewallen, Kyle Costigan and Rob Havenstein and can begin their journey’s with a strong performance holding up Sutton.

LB Chris Borland vs. RB Marion Grice

Borland is a physical linebacker who attacks downhill with great explosiveness. Borland dominates lead blockers and frees himself to make tackles. Borland will be counted on heavily in the middle to slow the rushing game of Arizona State led by Marion Grice. Grice has been off to a slow start only collecting 59 yards and a touchdown, but had a strong 2012 where he ran for 684 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Philip Arnold is the lead NFL Draft & College Football writer for ProFootballCentral. He is also the co-host of PFC Draft Radio. Follow him on Twitter @Philip_PFC