Best NFL Draft Matchups for Week 3 of College Football
Since the upcoming slate has a grand total of zero matchups between ranked teams, Week 3 of the 2019 college football season is not exactly a showdown-filled Saturday.
Not in the traditional view, that is.
A few nonconference games stand out alongside several league tilts when looking at Week 3 from an NFL draft perspective. Each contest we've highlighted has a particular individual matchup that NFL executives, scouts and draftniks will watch closely.
These matchups are limited to what happens on the field. Remember, a quarterback isn't playing a quarterback, but a wide receiver goes against a cornerback.
Note: The list is ordered chronologically based on kickoff time.
Pitt C Jimmy Morrissey vs. Penn State DT Robert Windsor
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, at Noon ET (ABC)
Penn State's top draft prospect is defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, but Pitt center Jimmy Morrissey probably won't see him much.
Robert Windsor, on the other hand, should be right in his face.
The senior defensive tackle collected 11 stops for loss with 7.5 sacks last season. Through two games―a couple of blowout wins―Windsor has provided six tackles and a half-sack. Week 3 is his first opportunity to play a full game in 2019.
Morrissey is entering his third year as a starter. After securing third-team All-ACC honors last season, the redshirt junior is working to solidify himself among the best draft-eligible centers.
Alabama LT Alex Leatherwood vs. South Carolina EDGE D.J. Wonnum
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, at 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
No matter whether his NFL position is an interior spot or tackle, Alex Leatherwood has a professional future. For the Crimson Tide, though, he's opened 2019 at left tackle.
That means he'll be opposite talented South Carolina edge-rusher D.J. Wonnum in Week 3.
Wonnum, a "Buck" linebacker, collected seven tackles―including three behind the line of scrimmage―during the Gamecocks' season opener against North Carolina. It was a strong performance in his return from an ankle injury, which limited him to five appearances last year.
Leatherwood will attempt to keep Wonnum away from Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who already has eight total touchdowns in two games.
Arizona State LT Cohl Cabral vs. Michigan State DE Kenny Willekes
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, at 4 p.m. ET (Fox)
Similar to Leatherwood at Alabama, Arizona State's Cohl Cabral might eventually shift inside. He's focused on stopping edge-rushers now, though, and they don't get much tougher than Kenny Willekes.
Last season, MSU's standout defensive end amassed 20.5 tackles for loss―the eighth-most in the country. In 2019, he's recorded 12 tackles with 4.5 in the backfield, including 3.5 sacks. Willekes also has three hurries and fumble return for a touchdown.
So, yeah, it's a tough matchup for Cabral.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. listed the senior as the top draft-eligible prospect at center. His quickness will be tested constantly Saturday.
North Texas QB Mason Fine vs. Cal Secondary
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, at 4:15 p.m. ET
The 2020 quarterback class is full of well-known players. Tagovailoa highlights the group, which also features Oregon's Justin Herbert, Georgia's Jake Fromm and Washington's Jacob Eason, among others.
But plenty of scouts are keeping an eye on Mason Fine.
Two games into his senior year, he already holds North Texas' record for career passing yards. Fine's next touchdown will give him the outright lead in career touchdowns too. However, he's coming off a disappointing showing in a loss to SMU, and the Cal secondary is packed with talent.
Last week, the Bears limited Eason to 5.4 yards per attempt, didn't allow a passing touchdown and grabbed an interception. Senior safeties Ashtyn Davis and Jaylinn Hawkins and junior cornerback Camryn Bynum are all on NFL draft radars.
Kentucky WR Lynn Bowden Jr. vs. Florida CB Marco Wilson
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Unfortunately for draft followers, the most anticipated matchup from this game likely won't happen. According to Nick de la Torre of Gator Country, Florida star CJ Henderson (ankle) is doubtful for the game at Kentucky.
In his early mock draft, B/R's Matt Miller pegged Henderson as the seventh overall pick and lauded the 6'1", 202-pound defensive back's physicality, size and speed.
Missing him defend Kentucky's Lynn Bowden Jr. will be a disappointment. On the bright side, Florida also has Marco Wilson to counter the wideout. Wilson tore his left ACL against the Wildcats in 2018, so this is somewhat of a redemption opportunity for the redshirt sophomore.
Bowden caught four passes for 79 yards and a score in UK's victory over Florida last year. He leads the Wildcats with 13 receptions, 131 yards and one touchdown.
Clemson RT Tremayne Anchrum vs. Syracuse DE Alton Robinson
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Considering the immense talent Clemson has at the offensive skill positions, it might surprise you that the best matchup is up front.
This, however, is a credit to Syracuse defensive end Alton Robinson.
In 2018, he gathered 17 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, he totaled 56 pressures too. Robinson has six tackles with 1.5 for loss and a half-sack this season.
Clemson right tackle Tremayne Anchrum won't be the only lineman faced with the tough matchup, but he's likely to see Robinson most often. Senior guards John Simpson and Gage Cervenka―both of whom are NFL-caliber prospects―will block Syracuse's star as well.
Florida State WR Tamorrion Terry vs. Virginia CB Bryce Hall
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
Bryce Hall could've heard his name called early in the 2019 NFL draft, but the cornerback elected to return to Virginia for one final season.
What better test for Florida State receiver Tamorrion Terry?
A redshirt sophomore, he's eligible to declare for the pros after this season. Perhaps it would be an ambitious decision, yet the 6'4", 203-pound target has demanded attention. Terry averaged 21.3 yards per catch on 35 receptions last season, and he's grabbed 10 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown in 2019.
Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb vs. UCLA CB Darnay Holmes
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, at 8 p.m. ET (Fox)
This matchup comes with an asterisk we hope disappears.
Although UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes hasn't yet played in 2019, there's a chance he'll return against Oklahoma. Mike Regalado of 247Sports noted Holmes "appeared as if he would" play in Week 2, but the defender ended up sitting. He's since practiced with the first-team defense.
And if he does return, it couldn't happen at a better time. CeeDee Lamb is one of the best receivers in college football.
Lamb totaled 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and he's reeled in eight passes for 190 yards and two scores in 2019. The potential first-round pick will probably have a productive day either way, but UCLA won't have an answer for Lamb if Holmes is out.