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2015 NFL DRAFT

NFL Draft Prospect Matchup: Week One

By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst

BUFFALO at OHIO STATE

Saturday, Aug. 31, Noon
Columbus, Ohio – ESPN2

WHEN THE BULLS HAVE THE BALL…
Although junior CB Bradley Roby (5-11, 193, 4.39, #1) won't play, the Buckeyes will still field NFL talent in this game on defense, led by junior LB Ryan Shazier (6-2, 226, 4.58, #10), who is one of the more explosive and tough linebackers in the country. While senior FS C.J. Barnett (6-0, 203, 4.59, #4) receives most of the pub at safety, don't overlook senior SS Christian Bryant (5-9, 192, 4.54, #2) next to him. For the Buffalo offense, the top NFL prospect is senior RB Branden Oliver (5-7, 204, 4.54, #32), who led the team in rushing last season.

WHEN THE BUCKEYES HAVE THE BALL…
The country already knows junior QB Braxton Miller (6-1, 215, 4.46, #5) is one of the most dynamic athletes in all of college football, but NFL scouts want to see his maturation as a passer to determine whether or not he has the consistency throwing the ball to make a living doing so at the next level. The Buffalo football program has had only had seven NFL Draft picks in school history and none before the fourth round, but that should change because senior LB Khalil Mack (6-3, 248, 4.67, #46) is already earning top-40 grades from NFL scouts.

OTHER BUFFALO PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DE Colby Way, senior (6-3, 276, 4.92, #34)
WR Alex Neutz, RS senior (6-2, 205, 4.63, #19)
FB Boomer Brock, senior (5-10, 250, 4.82, #41)
CB Najja Johnson, senior (6-0, 182, 4.54, #22)

OTHER OHIO STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OT Jack Mewhort, RS senior (6-6, 308, 5.28, #74)
C Corey Linsley, RS senior (6-3, 298, 5.24, #71)
OG Andrew Norwell, senior (6-6, 320, 5.33, #78)
OG Marcus Hall, RS senior (6-5, 315, 5.28, #79)

BYU at VIRGINIA

Saturday, Aug. 31, 3:30 p.m.
Charlottesville, Va. – ESPNU

WHEN THE COUGARS HAVE THE BALL…
BYU has a youth movement at several spots on offense, but they do have key senior leaders, including senior WR Cody Hoffman (6-3, 215, 4.56, #2), who is one of the top-10 senior receivers in the country. A player ready to emerge is senior TE Kaneakua Friel (6-4, 250, 4.83, #82), who flashed impressive potential as a pass-catcher last season, but needs to eliminate the drops and prove to be more consistent. On defense, the top Virginia prospect to watch is senior DT Brent Urban (6-7, 295, 4.98, #99), who is hard to miss with his imposing size.

WHEN THE CAVALIERS HAVE THE BALL…
The key match-up to watch when Virginia is on offense will be senior LT Morgan Moses (6-6, 325, 5.28, #78), who moves to the left side after spending most of his career at right tackle, against BYU's top pass rusher, senior OLB Kyle Van Noy (6-3, 235, 4.68, #3). Also on defense, watch senior SS Daniel Sorensen (6-1, 215, 4.55, #9) and senior DT Eathyn Manumaleuna (6-2, 295, 5.16, #55), who enter the year as late round possibilities. Virginia senior WR Tim Smith (6-0, 190, 4.50, #20) has the talent, but can he stay on the field and healthy?

OTHER BYU PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LT Ryker Mathews, RS sophomore (6-5, 292, 5.18, #72)
RB Michael Alisa, RS senior (6-0, 220, 4.62, #42)
WR Ross Apo, RS junior (6-2, 208, 4.59, #1)
WR JD Falslev, senior (5-8, 185, 4.54, #12)

OTHER VIRGINIA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OG Luke Bowanko, RS senior (6-5, 295, 5.35, #70)
FS Rijo Walker, senior (5-10, 190, 4.54, #27)
RB Kevin Parks, RS junior (5-8, 200, 4.52, #25)
DE Jake Snyder, RS senior (6-4, 270, 4.96, #90)

MISSISSIPPI STATE vs. OKLAHOMA STATE

Saturday, Aug. 31, 3:30 p.m.
Houston, Tex. – ABC

WHEN THE BULLDOGS HAVE THE BALL…
Although Mississippi State has sent more defensive players to the NFL in recent years, the Bulldogs have several offensive prospects to watch this season, starting with possible first round senior OG Gabe Jackson (6-3, 335, 5.34, #61). Mississippi State's QB-RB tandem is also worth watching in this game: seniors QB Tyler Russell (6-4, 220, 4.87, #17) and RB LaDarius Perkins (5-9, 190, 4.44, #27). On defense, the Cowboys top NFL prospect might be senior CB Justin Gilbert (6-0, 200, 4.52, #4), who needs a strong rebound season in 2013.

WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL…
Senior QB Clint Chelf (6-1, 210, 4.58, #10) saw the most snaps under center for the Pokes last season and is expected to be the starter again this fall. His top two targets this year will be junior WR Josh Stewart (5-10, 185, 4.51, #5) and senior WR Tracy Moore (6-1, 215, 4.56, #87) – Stewart is coming off a 100-catch season, but Moore is coming off a season-ending injury. On the other side of the ball, seniors FS Nickoe Whitley (6-0, 205, 4.59, #5) and DE Denico Autry (6-4, 265, 4.73, #90) are the highest rated Bulldogs prospects on defense.

OTHER MISSISSIPPI STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
P Baker Swedenburg, senior (6-0, 205, 4.96, #39)
OLB Deontae Skinner, RS senior (6-1, 250, 4.86, #51)
RT Charles Siddoway, senior (6-6, 305, 5.24, #77)
C Dillon Day, RS junior (6-4, 300, 5.19, #63)

OTHER OKLAHOMA STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DT Calvin Barnett, senior (6-2, 300, 5.06, #99)
OLB Shaun Lewis, senior (5-11, 225, 4.74, #11)
FS Daytawion Lowe, RS senior (5-11, 205, 4.59, #8)
RB Jeremy Smith, RS senior (5-10, 208, 4.55, #31)

ALABAMA vs. VIRGINIA TECH

Thursday, Aug. 31, 5:30 p.m.
Atlanta, Ga. – ESPN

WHEN THE CRIMSON TIDE HAVE THE BALL…
Despite winning the last two BCS National Championships, senior QB A.J. McCarron (6-3, 214, 4.84, #10) wasn't voted to the first or second All-SEC preseason teams by the coaches. He likely isn't a future top-10 draft pick either, but he continues to be productive and win in college football's toughest conference. A great match-up will be when junior LT Cyrus Kouandijo (6-5, 310, 5.12, #71) lines up across from the Hokies' top pass rusher, senior DE James Gayle (6-4, 253, 4.58, #99). Senior CB Antone Exum (5-11, 220, 4.53, #1) won't play (ACL).

WHEN THE HOKIES HAVE THE BALL…
A prospect who passes the eye test, senior QB Logan Thomas (6-6, 254, 4.67, #3) is a well-built athlete with a rocket arm and the toughness that will draw Ben Roethlisberger comparisons. But his maturation as a passer is the key to his NFL Draft stock and Bama will be a tough test. On defense, the Tide has to replace a few leaders, but their top defensive player returns, senior LB C.J. Mosley (6-2, 232, 4.65, #32). A pair of intriguing up-and-coming Alabama juniors: LB Adrian Hubbard (6-5, 252, 4.76, #42) and FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6-1, 208, 4.54, #6).

OTHER ALABAMA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OG Anthony Steen, RS senior (6-2, 312, 5.22, #61)
DE Ed Stinson, RS senior (6-3, 282, 4.87, #49)
WR Kevin Norwood, RS senior (6-1, 195, 4.58, #83)
CB Deion Belue, senior (5-11, 185, 4.48, #13)

OTHER VIRGINIA TECH PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
CB Kyle Fuller, senior (6-0, 190, 4.45, #17)
WR D.J. Coles, RS senior (6-3, 238, 4.59, #18)
DE J.R. Collins, RS senior (6-2, 252, 4.94, #42)
C Andrew Miller, RS senior (6-3, 298, 5.27, #74)

GEORGIA at CLEMSON

Saturday, Aug. 31, 8 p.m.
Clemson, S.C. – ABC

WHEN THE BULLDOGS HAVE THE BALL…
Senior QB Aaron Murray (6-1, 212, 4.84, #11), who is on pace to break several SEC passing records, has started the last 41 games for the Bulldogs. Questions about his size and arm velocity will make it an uphill climb for him to be an early round draft pick, but Murray will have a chance to get off to a quick start against a shaky Clemson defense. Murray loses two talented receivers from last season (Tavarres King, Marlon Brown), but Georgia does return a pair of targets with intriguing NFL potential: junior WR Malcolm Mitchell (6-1, 192, 4.49, #26) and senior TE Arthur Lynch (6-5, 258, 4.82, #88).

WHEN THE TIGERS HAVE THE BALL…
The reigning ACC Player of the Year, senior QB Tajh Boyd (6-1, 225, 4.64, #10) doesn't have ideal height, but he is built well for the position and is a tough, strong runner. He needs to improve his anticipation and ball placement as a passer, which won't be easy against a tough Georgia defense that finished top-20 in the nation in scoring defense. Entering the 2013 season, junior WR Sammy Watkins (6-1, 205, 4.49, #2) is in the mix to be the top receiver drafted next May. He has outstanding acceleration and coordination, flashing the body control to make athletic moves many wideouts his size aren't able to do.

OTHER GEORGIA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RG Chris Burnette, RS senior (6-2, 315, 5.23, #68)
LT Kenarious Gates, senior (6-5, 318, 5.24, #72)
WR Michael Bennett, RS junior (6-3, 205, 4.58, #82)
ILB Amarlo Herrera, junior (6-2, 245, 4.76, #52)

OTHER CLEMSON PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LT Brandon Thomas, RS senior (6-3, 305, 5.24, #63)
DE Vic Beasley, RS junior (6-3, 228, 4.68, #3)
DT Grady Jarrett, junior (6-1, 290, 5.30, #50)
RB Roderick McDowell, RS senior (5-9, 195, 4.46, #25)

LSU vs. TCU

Saturday, Aug. 31, 9 p.m.
Arlington, Tex. – ESPN

WHEN THE TIGERS HAVE THE BALL…
A quarterback prospect with all the size and arm strength needed for the next level, senior QB Zach Mettenberger (6-5, 238, 5.18, #8) will shoot up draft boards if he shows more consistency. When he lines up under center, he'll need to identify senior CB Jason Verrett (5-10, 178, 4.49, #2), who is the top senior at his position and possible future first rounder. The Horned Frogs' secondary is also made up of a pair of talented safeties: senior FS Elisha Olabode (5-9, 195, 4.52, #6) and junior SS Sam Carter (6-0, 215, 4.62, #17).

WHEN THE HORNED FROGS HAVE THE BALL…
Despite playing just a few dozen miles from TCU's campus, a lot of pressure will be on senior QB Casey Pachall (6-4, 230, 4.89, #4) as he returns to the field after leaving the team after four games last season due to substance abuse issues. He'll face a LSU defense that returns just four starters on defense, but the cupboard is far from bare. Junior DT Anthony Johnson (6-3, 305, 5.29, #90) might be the best NFL prospect in this game and senior SS Craig Loston (6-1, 209, 4.56, #6) plays with a tough, aggressive style reminiscent of Eric Reid.

OTHER LSU PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
ILB Lamin Barrow, RS senior (6-1, 232, 4.76, #57)
RB Alfred Blue, senior (6-1, 220, 4.59, #4)
FB J.C. Copeland, senior (6-0, 272, 4.84, #44)
WR Jarvis Landry, junior (6-0, 195, 4.49, #80)

OTHER TCU PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
WR Brandon Carter, junior (5-11, 186, 4.46, #3)
DT Chucky Hunter, junior (6-1, 300, 5.17, #96)
DT David Johnson, RS junior (6-2, 285, 4.92, #53)
RB Waymon James, RS senior (5-8, 203, 4.63, #32)

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