This week on the College Draft Podcast with Ross Tucker, I broke down all the best matchups from some of the top games of the week. Here, I look at five more matchups that fans should keep their eyes on in this weekend's action.
Five Matchups To Watch
1. Ohio State C Billy Price vs. Penn State LB Jason Cabinda
*Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio - 3:30 p.m. - FOX *
There are a lot of players to be excited about for Ohio State, especially on defense. I believe the best prospect on the offensive side of the football is Billy Price, who is in his fourth year as a starter for the Buckeyes but first at center. The Ohio native spent the first three years of his career at right guard. He's built like an icebox with a hot temper. Price is strong, smart, and tough, and that will carry him far in the NFL. There may be some red flags with his official measurements in the spring (arm length may be a concern for some), but I think he's a ready-made prospect on the inside who can be solid in pass protection and a mauler in the run game. To me, there's no reason to think he can't become a day one starter when he reaches the league next fall.
The Nittany Lions have a young defensive line, but at the linebacker level, there are three upperclassmen of note, namely senior Jason Cabinda. At 6-1, 234 pounds, Cabinda had a monster game in last week's blowout over Michigan, racking up 12 tackles, a forced fumble, and half a sack. If you can keep the Buckeyes' run game in check, you can stop the offense. That will be Cabinda's top priority on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: I think Ohio State wins this game. Urban Meyer is a big-game coach, and he hasn't lost coming off a bye week since 2001 (when he lost to some freshman quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger). I don't know if they'll win by more than a touchdown, but I think the Buckeyes win and the offense is able to put up at least three touchdowns on PSU's defense.
2. Oregon LT Tyrell Crosby vs. Utah DE Kylie Fitts/DT Lowell Lotulelei
*Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon - 5:45 p.m. - Pac-12 Network *
Crosby has started every year he's been in Eugene, but it wasn't until recently that he's started to generate some buzz. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as one of the best offensive linemen in the nation. He was recently named to the Senior Bowl's Midseason Team if you need an idea of how scouts are viewing him. At 6-5, 325 pounds, Crosby uses his hands very well at the point of attack and has the ability to consistently generate movement in the run game, which is huge for the Ducks' offense. A strong week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl will go a long way toward improving his stock.
Utah has boasted an active defensive front for the last couple of years, and this fall is no different. The best prospect up front for the Utes is nose tackle Lowell Lotulelei, a powerful run-stuffer who controls the point of attack better than most defensive linemen in this class. There will be times, in the run game, where Lotulelei (whose older brother, Star, plays for the Carolina Panthers) will see Crosby in the trenches but expect to see a bit more of senior Kylie Fitts. The senior defensive end and UCLA transfer is still making his way back from an ankle injury that hampered him earlier this season, but he returned last week against Arizona State to post two tackles against the Sun Devils.
Prediction: This game is one of the toughest to pick this weekend. Both teams started hot but have lost three straight. I'm going to go with the Ducks at home by a touchdown. Fitts is held to two tackles in the loss.
3. Washington RB Lavon Coleman vs. UCLA LB Kenny Young
*Husky Stadium, Seattle - 3:30 p.m. - ABC *
A lot has been written about Washington's junior running back Myles Gaskin, but I think the senior backup, Lavon Coleman, is just as intriguing, if not more. Coleman doesn't see the volume of touches that his teammate gets (he's only carried the ball more than 10 times once this year with just two total touchdowns), but his skill set is one of a defined role player in the NFL. Coleman catches the ball well, is a pretty good blocker, looks decisive as a runner, and is able to make defenders miss with the ball in his hands. At 5-11, 235 pounds, Coleman has NFL size. He may lack top-end athletic ability, but he's got the tools of an NFL player.
Charged with stopping both Gaskin and Coleman this week will be senior Bruins linebacker and team captain Kenny Young, who recovered from an early-season injury and has posted double-digit tackles each of the past four games. A member of the Senior Bowl Watch List entering the season, Young is 6-1, 235 pounds and appears to be in the conversation for the middle rounds of the draft.
Prediction: Washington laid an egg two weeks ago against Arizona State. Coming off the bye, I think the Huskies pull this one out against Josh Rosen and UCLA. Coleman has eight total touches; Young has 11 tackles.
4. Michigan LT Mason Cole vs. Rutgers Kemoko Turay
*Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan - Noon - Big Ten Network *
Michigan's offense has struggled this year, and one of the biggest factors has been the turnover up front on the offensive line. Mason Cole, who started last year at center and looked pretty good in that spot, shifted outside to left tackle this offseason to make up for the losses. At 6-4, 294 pounds, he's got to get bigger and stronger at the point of attack, but he's a competitive blocker who looks to finish defenders to the ground whenever he can. His position versatility will serve him well moving forward. I view him as more of an interior lineman than a tackle in the NFL, a strong performance against top edge rushers this fall could help him transition to the latter.
Cole won't have many pass rushers on the schedule as naturally explosive as Rutgers' Kemoko Turay, who has completely transformed his body throughout his career in Piscataway. A 210-pound track guy when he first arrived on campus, Turay now checks in at over 250 pounds with long arms, an explosive first step, and the ability to bend and turn the corner unlike many in this class. His speed to close from the back side sets him apart. He's not a finished product against the run and has had issues with injuries in his career, he's got the upside that people get obsessed with leading up to the draft.
Prediction: After starting 1-4, Rutgers has actually won two in a row, but I think the streak ends there. Michigan rebounds from a rough outing against Penn State with a W over the Knights. Turay gets five tackles and a sack in the game.
5. Missouri WR J'Mon Moore vs. UConn DB Jamar Summers
*Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut - 6:30 p.m. - CBS Sports Network *
There aren't many receivers in this draft with the physical tools of J'Mon Moore. At 6'3, 201 pounds, Moore has freaky length and speed to burn. If you put on his highlight reel, you'd think you were watching the next Randy Moss. While he has high upside, he's far from a finished product. Moore lines up primarily in one spot in the Missouri offense (the far left side of the formation) and does not run a full NFL route tree. He's not polished off the line of scrimmage in press coverage. He had a lot of drops when I studied him as a junior as well. This year, his two biggest games have come against Missouri State (4-187-2 TDs) and Idaho (11-174-1 TD). He's reached the end zone three times in four games, but consistency and refinement are going to be the biggest points of contention for Moore as he transitions to the NFL.
One of the defenders charged with keeping Moore out of the end zone is senior defensive back Jamar Summers. A defensive back who has seen time at both cornerback and safety throughout his career, Summers has reportedly underperformed (according to some analysts) this season, but with his physical tools he could be seen as a riser as the process continues. A big performance against Missouri and Moore would go a long way toward that.
Prediction: Missouri hasn't won a game in the SEC yet, but I expect them to win this out-of-conference matchup by a pretty wide margin (at least two or three scores). Moore reaches the end zone again with over 100 yards receiving.
That Senior Bowl Midseason All-Senior Team has a lot of household names that you should be familiar with. Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield at quarterback, star pass rusher Bradley Chubb, dynamic receiver James Washington, and playmaking linebacker Josey Jewell all made the list, which was to be expected. One surprising name, outside of Chandler, was the first cornerback listed, Michael Joseph from Dubuque. I haven't studied Joseph (yet), but the Senior Bowl said that Joseph "is an under-the-radar star at Division III Dubuque and had a three-interception game to up his 2017 total to eight picks. He had seven interceptions in his career going into his senior season. The eight interceptions lead the nation." Keep an eye out for Joseph as the postseason approaches.
Entering the year, I always try to watch a few small-school prospects to keep an eye on entering the senior seasons. This summer, I got a chance to study defensive end Marcus Davenport out of Texas-San Antonio, and I'm glad I did. The senior has absolutely torn through the competition through the team's first six games, posting 32 tackles (including 12 behind the line of scrimmage) and 6.5 sacks. Davenport has scheme versatility at the next level as a big, powerful rusher who can defend the run and collapse the pocket off the edge. At 6-6, 254 pounds, he stands up in their 3-4 scheme off the edge and will drop in coverage at times. He's not a great athlete but I think he has the ability to develop into an NFL starter down the road.
This player hasn't seen the field in a few weeks but is close to being back in the rotation for the top team in the country. Senior defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand, a former No. 1 recruit in the country, has been playing since his true freshman season for Nick Saban down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and has the tools you look for in a penetrating interior lineman in the NFL. At 6-4, 290 pounds, Hand has a quick first step, the athleticism to make plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage, and plays with a high motor whenever he steps between the lines.
How about a bonus matchup - and the only reason it didn't make my top-five list is that I used him last week - but don't miss Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey against N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb. McGlinchey is one of the top tackles in the nation while Chubb is arguably the best pass rusher in the country. Last week McGlinchey, along with left guard Quenton Nelson, helped create giant holes for Notre Dame running back Josh Adams in the blowout victory over USC. I've been a McGlinchey fan for a long time, since he was the right tackle on the other side of future top-10 pick Ronnie Stanley. McGlinchey's combination of size, athleticism, and patience as a pass protector will allow him to be a starter at left tackle early in his NFL career.
Fran Duffy is the producer of "Eagles Game Plan" which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University Football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices and opponents.