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 eye’s on these upcoming matchups in Week 4 to help answer questions throughout the draft process.
Oregon RB C.J. Verdell vs. Arizona LB Treshaun Hayward
Saturday 10:30 PM ESPN Network
C.J. Verdell set the tone for Oregon’s season and boosted himself in the discussion as a top back in this upcoming draft after he ripped off 161 yards and 2 touchdowns against Ohio State in Week 2. He will be looking to continue his hot streak when facing Arizona this weekend. Verdell is a 5-foot-8, 211-pound redshirt junior who has had a major impact in Oregon’s backfield his entire career. He is a shifty back who displays good contact balance and has the receiving ability to play on third down. Verdell is decisive in his vision and commits to gaps with his quick burst and ability to make plays at the second level. One concern about Verdell is his size when transitioning to the professional level. Standing at an unofficial 5-foot-8 raises concerns about the strength mismatch that will occur when adapting to the next stage.
Arizona will be looking for 2019 MAC Defensive Player of the Year and transfer Treshaun Hayward to lead the Wildcat’s defense against Oregon this weekend. Hayward is a 6-foot-1, 229-pound redshirt senior who transferred from Western Michigan following the 2020 season. Hayward is the middle linebacker for Arizona’s even front defense. He plays with a physical tone and is aggressive in his pursuit of ball carriers. There are some question marks in Hayward’s play that should be answered more in-depth this weekend. He will have to show he can defeat blocks at a high level and keep his feet running through contact. He has tendencies to initially stun blocks but then lose leverage after slowing his feet down. Hayward will have his hands full this weekend when facing Oregon’s offensive line and Verdell in pursuit of raising his draft stock.
Boston College OL Alec Lindstrom vs. Missouri DL Akial Byers
Saturday 12:00 PM ESPN2 Network
The first half of this matchup will take place on the offensive line with Alec Lindstrom from Boston College. Lindstrom is a 6-foot-3, 298-pound redshirt senior who has been a long-term starter for the Eagles. Lindstrom is the younger brother of Chris Lindstrom who was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the 13th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Lindstrom is a big, strong and physical center that has the mobility to reach 1-techs in their zone runs. He has tight clenching hands that allow him to control the flow of blocks. Lindstrom has shown a good ability to manage pocket depth in the passing game. He is strong enough to sit down and withhold bull rushes while maintaining pocket integrity.
Missouri’s Akial Byers will be looking to have a disruptive weekend when facing Boston College. Byers is a redshirt senior who stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 288 pounds for the Tigers. He primarily plays as a 3-tech in their defense but has played across the defense line. Byers is an athletic lineman who can stunt across gaps and use leverage to maintain his responsibilities. He is strong out of his stance and can fit his hands to keep extension on blocks. He struggles to shed blocks and is not extremely active in resetting his hands for block destruction. Although he is more athletic and light for an interior player, he is hot and cold when it comes to winning pass rush reps. If he wins initially he is a disruptive player when taking a good angle. He can struggle to counter or bull-back into his rush lane to stay in the play when his angles are poor. This weekend will be a good matchup for both sides to see how they fare against NFL talent.
Virginia Tech OL Lecitus Smith vs. Richmond DT Kobie Turner
Saturday 4:00 PM ACC Network
Virginia Tech returned Lecitus Smith who was a key piece of their offensive line in the 2020 season. Smith is a 6-foot-3, 315-pound redshirt junior guard who has started 30 games for the Hokies in his career. He brings a physical presence to Virginia Tech’s offensive line with his bully-like demeanor when blocking. Smith has strong legs that allow him to drive open gaps and create space for running backs. He has the ability to block areas in their zone scheme and find work through defensive stunts. Smith is a solid pass blocker who has the feet to laterally keep up with pass rushers. He has the core strength to stand up bull rushes and keep the depth of the pocket from collapsing. Smith will be battling with Richmond DT Kobie Turner this weekend who will test his lateral mobility and athleticism inside.
Richmond’s defensive tackle Kobie Turner will have the responsibility of dictating the line of scrimmage this weekend in their matchup against Virginia Tech. Turner is a 6-foot-3, 290-pound redshirt senior who is athletic and mobile between the tackles. He has quick feet that allow him to stick multiple gaps down and end up occupying blocks to free up his teammates. He plays with low pad level and can initially stalemate double teams at contact. However, he is missing some anchor strength and drive to hunker down or even split double teams as the play progresses. Turner can also be an effective pass rusher when his motor is hot. He displays heavy hands that can turn offensive linemen’s shoulders but he needs to be more opportunistic in his rush angles. There are some instances where he gets double-teamed and becomes lethargic instead of attacking his rush lane to push the pocket. Overall, this Turner and Smith matchup will test how well Smith moves laterally in pass protection and show how Turner handles stronger interior linemen against the run.