Every weekend college football showcases intriguing matchups between future professional players battling in one-on-one situations. The result of these matchups will have implications in the 2022 NFL Draft order. Although the draft is still months away, NFL teams have their sights on players to preemptively stack their boards and assign grades to players. All of these prospects are eligible for the draft and some even have the opportunity to be drafted early. These matchups will allow NFL front offices to see how they produce against the best competition. NFL scouts will have their eyes on these upcoming matchups in Week 10 to help answer questions throughout the draft process.
USC Edge Drake Jackson vs. Arizona State OT Kellen Diesch
Saturday 10:30 PM
This Pac-12 matchup will feature Drake Jackson on the defensive side of the ball for USC. Jackson is a 6-foot-4, 250-pound junior who has started for the Trojans since his freshman year. Jackson brings a special combination of power and quickness on the edge that makes him a very difficult matchup.
He has powerful hands that stun linemen at the line of scrimmage and allow him to set the edge well. His first step during pass rush situations is good and it helps him generate force in his hand strikes when converting to power. Jackson has the ability to squeeze inside gaps with the strength to press tackles back inside while maintaining his gap responsibility. He shows above average athleticism in space, which allows him to be effective in curl to flats coverage assignments. Overall, Jackson is a solid edge prospect who has the ability to play at either 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.
Arizona State will be counting on Kellen Diesch to continue his anchoring of the left side of the line this weekend. Diesch is a monstrous 6-foot-7, 300-pound graduate student who transferred from Texas A&M in 2020. He earned a starting role in his first year and has performed well for the Sun Devils.
Diesch’s best trait is how he uses his length on the edge. He can attack chest plates and gain leverage on blocks with his long arms. This allows him to control the block and navigate defenders to open up holes.
This weekend will be a tough assignment for Diesch when he takes on a good edge player in Jackson. NFL scouts will be looking at this matchup to see how he handles strength and quickness on the edge.
Penn State Edge Arnold Ebiketie vs. Maryland OT Jaelyn Duncan
Saturday 3:30 PM
Penn State has produced a lot of NFL Edge rush talent in the past couple years and this draft will be no different. Arnold Ebiketie is on his way to becoming the next Penn State edge player selected in the draft with his performance this season. Ebiketie is a 6-foot-3, 256-pound redshirt-senior who transferred from Temple this past year and has made an impact for the Nittany Lions this season.
He is very quick off the ball and pursues every play with a hot motor. His effort level and attitude when defending the run is a big reason he has 12.5 TFLs in 8 games this year. He is a twitchy pass rusher which allows him to bend the edge and use counter moves to attack leverage on blocks. This weekend will be a big matchup when facing a hard-nosed Maryland offensive line. NFL scouts will be keeping an eye on Ebiketie to see how he finishes off the season.
Maryland’s offensive line will be counting on Jaelyn Duncan to protect the blindside of their quarterback when facing Penn State this weekend. Duncan is a 6-foot-6, 320-pound redshirt-junior who has 24 starts at tackle for the Terrapins in his career.
Duncan is a big-bodied and strong tackle who has average athleticism for the position. He is at his best when aggressively setting on the line of scrimmage on his pass sets. He struggles against speed on the edge and is missing some foot quickness to make up for counters back inside against wide rushes. His hands are strong and violent when they connect to the chest of defenders.
Duncan will have to bring his best game when facing Ebiketie this weekend. If he wants to prove he can handle NFL caliber pass rushers he will have to perform well against this Penn State pass rush.
Auburn WR Demetris Robertson vs. Texas A&M S Leon O’Neal Jr.
Saturday 3:30 PM
This SEC matchup will feature two skilled position players battling it out downfield. Demetris Robertson will be featured on the offensive side of this matchup. Robertson is a 6-foot, 185-pound graduate transfer who spent the last three seasons at Georgia. He primarily plays as the Z receiver in Auburn’s offense but can be seen lined up anywhere on the field.
Robertson has good hands and body control for a receiver that allows him to make catches near the sideline consistently. He has solid speed that allows him to separate across the field against man and find holes against zone coverage. This weekend will be a good showing of how he handles smart safeties who are savvy in zone coverage. NFL scouts will be looking to see how he separates using his routes downfield.
Texas A&M has been counting on Leon O’Neal Jr. to lead the Aggies secondary all year after unfortunate season ending injuries to their two starting cornerbacks. O’Neal is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound safety who has started 27 games in his career. He primarily plays as a deep safety but has seen snaps all across the field on a plethora of assignments.
O’Neal has good size for the position and is able to move well with the extra build. He has shown to be an effective deep coverage and buzz defender in Texas A&M’s defense. This season he has 2 interceptions and 5 pass breakups which are both career-highs. This weekend will be a battle between two players that are good at navigating the deep 2nd and 3rd level of the field. NFL scouts will be eyeing this matchup to see how good their ball skills translate against professional prospects.