NCAA

Top NCAA Football Prospects To Watch on Saturday

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It will be difficult for this week’s college football slate to beat last week’s thrilling matchups; however, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a number of interesting matchups that will hold a lot of weight once the NFL Draft rolls around.

Every draft season, there are a couple of matchups that evaluators place a lot of importance on. For example, Amari Cooper’s dismantling of Vernon Hargreaves last year was a great indicator as to why he was one of the top-five prospects in the draft. Furthermore, Randy Gregory’s success against Ereck Flowers was a reason why so many were high on him before his off-field issues surfaced.

This week, there are a few matchups that will either catapult or diminish each player’s draft stock significantly. We will look back and state that these matchups are the reasons why evaluators thought these players are ready for the NFL or not.

With that said, let’s take an in-depth look at each of these individual matchups.

Myles Garrett vs. Laremy Tunsil

It appeared as though we might not get a glimpse of Ole Miss’ star left tackle Laremy Tunsil due to a suspension from receiving improper benefits. However, the wait is over this week as Tunsil will make his return against Texas A&M and the best pure pass-rusher in the college football, defensive end Myles Garrett.

Based on last year, Tunsil was the best draft-eligible offensive tackle in college football, it will be interesting to see if he can build upon that after missing substantial time. Last year, Tunsil had the best pass set in all of college football. He consistently hit his landmarks and stayed in balance. Furthermore, he displayed independent hand usage and a devastating punch.

Tunsil will not have any time to knock off the rust against Garrett. He is the best pure pass-rusher in college football with his incredible blend of speed and pass-rush moves. If there were one area where Garrett could improve, it would be converting his speed to power, but as he proved against Alabama’s Cam Robinson, he can beat anyone in college football with his speed and bend to get around the edge.

It will be interesting to see how Ole Miss attacks Garrett. Last week, Alabama avoided Garrett like the plague and mitigated his ability to make an impact as a pass-rusher by moving the pocket away from him. However, Garrett was able to make his presence felt anytime Alabama had a traditional drop back pass. This is easily the premier matchup of the week and it will go a long way toward determining whether Tunsil is a top-10 level talent or not.

Jason Spriggs vs. Shilique Calhoun

One of the draft-eligible prospects who has seen his draft stock soar since the beginning of the college football season is Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs. As an athlete, Spriggs is at the top of the class among offensive linemen. He seamlessly operates in space and he works to the second level extremely well. However, Spriggs tends to get in trouble with his footwork and his ability to utilize leverage on a consistent basis.

This is an area where he will have a ton of trouble against Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun. While Calhoun doesn’t have the athleticism to consistently threaten the edge, he does play with great fundamentals and a lot of power at the point of attack. If Calhoun can take advantage of Spriggs deficiencies, he can have a huge day against a top-100 type of talent.

Individual Players To Watch

One player who has gained a lot of steam in the draft community lately is Clemson safety Jayron Kearse, who has the size and athleticism to be an imposing safety at the next level. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Kearse’s game is reminiscent of Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. Kearse plays downhill and he packs a heck of a punch. On top of that, Kearse moves well for his size and he appears to be a perfect fit as a strong safety in the NFL.

Another player you should keep your eye on his Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. Coming into college, Howard was a lanky tight end who was purely a pass catcher. However, under the tutelage of Nick Saban, Howard has developed into a very good blocker and quite possibly the most well-rounded tight end in college football.

The last player who you should check out this weekend is Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman. There is not a wide receiver in the country who can compare statistically to Coleman, as he has reeled in a ridiculous 16 touchdowns already this season. Coleman is dynamic once he gets the ball in his hands and he is always a threat to take it to the house. As with any Baylor wide receiver, you worry about his ability to run the full route tree, but the rest of his skill set is nothing to balk at.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com