4 key NFL draft prospect matchups to watch in Week 10

Future NFL talent is going to head-to-head all around the country this weekend. Steve Palazzolo breaks down the biggest battles.

| 1 month ago
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

4 key NFL draft prospect matchups to watch in Week 10


Week 10 is highlighted by Alabama’s trip to LSU, and while we could highlight a number of matchups from that game, there are some other good ones around the country as well. Even in lesser games, there is NFL talent going head-to-head on a weekly basis, and those matchups will often hold more weight in the analysis process than those that feature a talented senior taking advantage of an overmatched true freshmen.

Alabama LT Cam Robinson vs LSU edge defender Arden Key

While Key is still only a true sophomore, he’ll be in the first-round mix if he comes out in 2018 and this is an important matchup for Robinson’s draft stock. Robinson has been penciled into the top 10 in a number of mocks, but he’s yet to play up to that level during his two and a half year career. He is improving, but a 77.5 pass-blocking grade that ranks 102nd in the nation is not screaming “future first-rounder.” He will continue to need to prove himself every week and this will be one of his most difficult battles as Key boasts the No. 6 pass rush grade among edge defenders at 87.6 behind his eight sacks, 11 hits, and 24 hurries. He’s rushed off the right side on 63.3 percent of his rushes, so there will be plenty of head-to-heads with Robinson.

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Indiana G Dan Feeney vs Rutgers DT Darius Hamilton

I’ll give you a good reason to watch the Indiana game against Rutgers. Feeney is one of the best guards in the nation, ranking fourth overall at 86.4 and also fourth as a run blocker at 86.1. His run blocking has come a long way in recent years, though he’s always been strong in pass protection as he’s surrendered only 15 pressures on 1,016 attempts over the last three years. On the other side, Hamilton is one of the lone bright spots for Rutgers, grading at 85.0 overall to rank 24th among interior defensive linemen, including an 85.9 grade in the run game that ranks 17th. After missing all but 17 snaps last season, Hamilton has bounced back to his 2014 form in which he was one of the best defensive linemen in the country. He plays mostly “3-technique” for the Scarlet Knights, so he’ll be lined up on Feeney’s outside shoulder on nearly half of his snaps in what should be a battle of future NFL players.

Arkansas wide receivers vs Florida defensive backs

There were too many good players to isolate just one or two, but this entire battle will be one of the week’s best. On the outside, wide receivers Keon Hatcher (76.3 receiving grade) and Drew Morgan (75.2 receiving grade) have had strong seasons and they will see plenty of one of the nation’s best cornerback duos in Jalen “Teez” Tabor (78.6 coverage grade) and Quincy Wilson (75.6 coverage). Wilson and Tabor have combined to give up only 16 catches on 43 targets (helped by poor quarterback play) this season while intercepting seven passes between them.

In the slot, Arkansas features one of the SEC’s most underrated players in Jared Cornelius who has averaged 3.48 yards per route on his slot snaps, best in the nation. He’ll match up with Florida CB Duke Dawson who now has the top grade among Florida corners at 84.6 overall and he’s allowed only eight completions on 23 targets in the slot, so something has to give there.

The other matchup to keep an eye on is Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle and Florida safety Marcus Maye. Sprinkle is an athletic intermediate threat while Maye will do most of his work playing in the box in run support while matching up with opposing tight ends. Maye has an 84.3 grade in coverage while improving as a tackler with only one miss on the season.

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Wisconsin LT Ryan Ramczyk vs Northwestern edge defender Ifeadi Odenigbo

We’ve highlighted Ramczyk as a breakout star early in the season and he’s continued his strong play since that point. He’s an athletic tackle who has excelled in pass protection, only allowing 11 pressures on 244 pass blocking attempts and he’s been excellent in the run game with an 81.6 run-blocking grade that ranks seventh in the nation. Wisconsin will run behind him in their power game or pull on the backside of their zone game, so look for Ramczyk to have a big impact no matter which way Wisconsin is running.

However the feature attraction will be Odenigbo going against Ramczyk in the pass game where his 83.7 pass rush grade consists of eight sacks, one hit, and 23 hurries on 203 rushes. His sacks have come in bunches as he picked up four against Iowa and two against Michigan State, and if he can go off on a top prospect, it bodes well for his future. Odenigbo has all but one pressure from the right side, so his matchup with Ramczyk is one we should see early and often.

 

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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