NCAA

Top NCAA Football Prospects To Watch on Saturday

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After a couple of weeks of less than stellar college football weekends, at least on paper, this week has a couple of gigantic games that will go a long ways toward discovering who will take part in the four-team college football playoff. This means there will also be a number of big-time individual matchups that scouts and fans will take a close look at.

There are three games between ranked teams and a number of other ranked teams face very stiff foes, even if they aren’t ranked. The biggest game of the weekend will take place between No. 2 ranked LSU and No. 4 ranked Alabama. Both teams are loaded with NFL quality players and you can be sure that the NFL will keep a close on eye on all of them.

Reggie Ragland vs. Leonard Fournette

The sheer force generated when Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland and LSU running back Leonard Fournette collide may shift the landscape as we know it. Ragland is probably the best run defense linebacker in the nation and Fournette may be the best player in college football this season.

Ragland is a huge linebacker with very good movement skills, which allow him to generate a ton of momentum and force when he tackles his opponents. Ragland rarely wastes movement and he trusts his eyes, which allows him to play fast and make plays behind the line of scrimmage.

Fournette may be the most powerful running back in the nation, but he couples that with surprising athleticism and the ability to win with speed. If defenders take bad angles, they are toast against a player like Fournette. Furthermore, Fournette is extremely difficult to bring down on first contact and on one-on-one.

Ragland will have to bring his A-game if he hopes to take down Fournette and slow him down on a consistent basis. He may have to sacrifice some of his power so that he can focus on making sound tackles to bring Fournette down. Whatever the case is, this matchup will surely bring fireworks as Ragland is an almost sure-fire first-round pick and Fournette may be a top-10 pick when he is eligible to declare.

Tyler Boyd vs. KeiVarae Russell

An underrated matchup this weekend takes place when Notre Dame and Pittsburgh lock horns on Saturday. Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd is one of the most fundamentally sound receivers in the nation and KeiVarae Russell is a physical cornerback that battles every receiver he faces. Both players are battling to be early day-two picks in this year’s NFL draft and this game will go a long way toward each one making their case.

Tyler Boyd is a sure-handed receiver who wins with the subtleness to his game, instead of outright athleticism. He understands how to manipulate his route to get open and he consistently makes tough catches in tight quarters. Boyd hasn’t faced a cornerback as physical as Russell; therefore, it will be interesting to see how he fares.

Russell is a stout cornerback who loves to get in his opponent’s face and make their life uncomfortable. He doesn’t have the greatest athleticism, so he has to be able to use his physical nature to cover the receivers. Russell will have to be sound with his technique and footwork if he hopes to stick with a receiver as fundamentally sound as Boyd.

Jalen Ramsey vs. Artavis Scott

The last individual matchup that should be monitored is the electrifying receiver Artavis Scott against the excellent defensive back Jalen Ramsey. Scott is one of the best playmakers in the country with his beautiful blend of speed and dynamic ability in the open field. Ramsey may be the most pro-ready defensive back in the country with his ability to play cornerback or safety and his ability to be physical and play with speed.

Scott has helped lead an electrifying Clemson offense with his ability to make big plays on the outside. Scott is a dynamic athlete, but he also has underrated technical nuance to his game. He does a good job of varying the stem of his routes so that the cornerback can’t get a good read on what he is doing and once he gets the ball in his hands, he is dynamic.

If there was a cornerback in the country who was a good matchup against Scott, it is Ramsey. He has the speed and hip fluidity to stay with the shifty receiver in and out of breaks, but he also has the strength and length to knock Scott of his route and disrupt his timing in the play.

Ramsey and Scott will be a matchup that will showcase whether Ramsey is as good as he is billed up to be at this point. If he can blanket Scott, expect to see his stock skyrocket around draft time as he tries to make a case as a top-10 pick.


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