2014 NFL Draft: Key Prospect Battles in Clemson vs. Florida State

By Rick Stavig
NFL Draft
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a full slate of exciting games in store for football fans this upcoming weekend, with a plethora of NFL Draft prospects continuing to work on improving their stock.  Though perhaps no game will be as big, or as chocked full of top prospects, as the Florida State and Clemson game Saturday night.

Who are some of the prospects to keep an eye on in this battle of the undefeated?

Clemson features two of the highest ranked prospects not only in this game, but in the country with quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins.  Boyd has been absolutely stupendous this season, throwing for 1,783 yards (66.5 percent completion) and a 15/2 touchdown to interception ratio.  Let’s not forget Boyd has also rushed for 187 yards and leads the team with five rushing TDs.  Watkins has been the main recipient of Boyd’s outstanding play, hauling in 36 receptions for 582 yards and four TDs.  Watkins has the look of a first rounder while Boyd looks like a potential top-10 guy.

Boyd and Watkins will have their hands full against the ‘Noles defensive backfield, which features two other big name prospects in DB Lamarcus Joyner and FS Terrence Brooks.  Both are veteran seniors who have gone up against Clemson and their vaunted passing attack before, though not always being met with success (Boyd threw for three TDs in last year’s meeting).  Both Joyner and Brooks are being viewed as second to third rounders in most scouting circles.

In the trenches, expect more intriguing match-ups.  Clemson’s defensive end Vic Beasley against Florida State’s offensive tackle Cameron Erving looks to be one of the better match-ups all week.  Both have been hailed as potential first round picks, and both have enjoyed strong junior campaigns, especially Beasley, who leads the nation with nine sacks through only six games.

Another good battle to keep an eye on in the trenches will be FSU defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan against Clemson’s Brandon Thomas.  Jernigan is in the running for top 3-tech in the country while Thomas has been an absolute rock for the Tigers.  The two won’t face off on every play considering one is playing inside and the other on the edge, but their paths will cross during the game; and when they do, expect a dogfight.

These aren’t the only good match-ups in this game.  In a game between undefeated, top-5 teams, every match-up is a good match-up.  But the match-ups mentioned above will carry the most significance in terms of either improving or hurting draft stock.

Yes sir, this game looks like it’s going to be incredible.

Rick Stavig is an NFL Draft Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google.


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