5 Week 1 College Football Matchups Impacting 2015 NFL Draft

5 Week 1 College Football Matchups Impacting 2015 NFL Draft

Week 1 NFL Draft
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College football begins this week, which means it's the last chance for seniors to raise their draft stock. Each week I'll take a look at the top matchups involving draft prospects. Week 1 begins with battles all over the field.

While not a matchup, the biggest item NFL teams will be looking at is the throwing motion of Jameis Winston. He's been keeping the ball above his elbow in practice, but doing so in a game is a whole other challenge.

5. Eastern Illinois QB Andrew Manley vs. Minnesota Defense

Eastern Illinois NFL Draft
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5. Eastern Illinois QB Andrew Manley vs. Minnesota Defense

Eastern Illinois NFL Draft
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Last year, Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo lit up FBS member San Diego State in the opener with 361 yards and three touchdowns on his way to being a second-round pick. This year, Panthers QB Andrew Manley is a potential late-round pick. Can he follow in Garoppolo's footsteps and wow scouts with an elite performance against a higher level of competition? Manley did already beat Minnesota in 2011 when he played at New Mexico State.

4. Texas A&M C Mike Matthews vs. South Carolina DT J.T. Surratt

Texas A&M South Carolina NFL Draft
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4. Texas A&M C Mike Matthews vs. South Carolina DT J.T. Surratt

Texas A&M South Carolina NFL Draft
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Starting a freshman QB makes the offensive line even more important for Texas A&M. The matchup to watch is center Mike Matthews, brother of Jake Matthews, going one-on-one with Gamecocks DT J.T. Surratt. With South Carolina playing multiple fronts, the two won't face off every play, but when they do scouts will be paying attention. Surratt could be selected as early as the third round while Matthews is a top-five center.

3. Louisville Rushers vs. Miami (FL) Run Defense

Louisville Miami NFL Draft
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3. Louisville Rushers vs. Miami (FL) Run Defense

Louisville Miami NFL Draft
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In Louisville's ACC debut, the team is expected to rely more on the run game with Teddy Bridgewater no longer at QB. Luckily for Louisville, the team has a duo of backs with NFL talent. The explosive Michael Dyer, an Auburn transfer, may be limited due to injury. That leaves power back Dominique Brown to carry the load. Trying to stop the run will be DE prospect Anthony Chickillo and ILB Denzel Perryman, who I have as a late first-round pick.

2. USC WR Nelson Agholor vs. Fresno St. FS Derron Smith

USC Fresno State NFL Draft
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2. USC WR Nelson Agholor vs. Fresno St. FS Derron Smith

USC Fresno State NFL Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fresno State will be looking for payback after USC defeated the Bulldogs in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl. In that game, WR Nelson Agholor caught five passes for 94 yards and had the first multiple touchdown game of his career. With Marqise Lee in the NFL, Agholor becomes the No. 1 target for QB Cody Kessler. Trying to prevent Agholor from scoring will be FS Derron Smith. Smith, like Agholor, is a projected second-round pick.

1. Georgia RB Todd Gurley vs. Clemson Run Defense

Georgia Clemson NFL Draft
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1. Georgia RB Todd Gurley vs. Clemson Run Defense

Georgia Clemson NFL Draft
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

With Georgia not scheduled to play Alabama (at least until the SEC Championship Game), Clemson possesses the most NFL talent on defense of any UGA opponent. Top-10 talent Vic Beasley joins DE Corey Crawford and DT Grady Jarrett on a defensive line full of NFL talent. Todd Gurley is the best RB in college, and despite the recent decline in draft stock among rushers, he could be selected in the early stages of Round 1.

Shawn Spencer is an NFL Draft writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Spencer_NFL, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

Related: Preseason 2015 NFL Mock Draft


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