Stanford vs Arizona St
DL Thomas Booker v OG Dohnovan West
After bulking up for a move to the inside last year former, big bodied defensive end Thomas Booker has truly settled in at three technique. Critics questioned if a lack of upper body strength would hinder Booker going against bigger interior bodies. In response the Stanford product has learned to leverage a lightning quick first step with his lengthy frame to penetrate backfields on a consistent basis. This season in particular though Booker has been on a tear wreaking havoc on opposing lineman. His best competition to date this year will come against Sun Devil Dohnovan West. Best suited for a wide zone team, West also could stand to gain some strength. However if Booker’s game plan revolves around speed it will play right into West’s hands. Technique along with pad level can still be an issue for West but if he can laterally match Booker’s efforts to knife through gaps and keep a lid on a defensive lineman flying hot from crushing Oregon’s dreams. We could see the conversation around West go from a “developmental” to an “ascending” talent.
Penn State vs Iowa
LB Brandon Smith vs OC Tyler Linderbaum
The jury was still out on Brandon Smith heading into the season. Switching from SAM to WILL linebacker this year more was expected to be put on the young athletes plate. So far Smith has shown very nice flashes of just how well his athleticism can translate in coverage. As it stands this year has been a quiet one for breakout linebacker prospects with few names pushing for the top role. Similar to inexperienced, but incredibly athletic backer Jamin Davis from Kentucky last year, all Smith needs to do is continue to show off his unique traits to become a buzzing name when spring rolls around.
Alright you caught me, there isn’t really a key matchup I wanted to focus on for this game, but I absolutely wanted to take a moment to wax on Linderbaum. First of all let’s start with the fact that most people have him as the top center in the draft, yet this is only his third season playing center. Originally, a defensive lineman who switched sides in 2019, Linderbaum turned a lot of heads with his jump in 2020, while leaving little to doubt his play has dropped this year. Where he really separates himself is his run blocking, most notably his movement when climbing to the second level or pulling is flat out jaw dropping. If any center gets the round one call this year, I’d expect it to be Linderbaum.
Alabama vs A&M
DL Phidarian Mathis v OG Kenyon Green
Every week I forage through the college football schedule in search of match ups just like these. In the Maroon corner we have at roughly 6’4 320lbs the front runner for the best interior lineman in the draft in Aggie guard Kenyon Green. This dude is a freaking tank with thigh power for days to just drop the anchor on rushers. Even when he appears beat Green shows enough movement skills to improve his position and has the athleticism to work up to the second level without plodding his cleats.
But, wait, his challenger is standing in the crimson corner and at this point should enter college stadiums to the glass shatter of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music. Phidarian Mathis has been on a hot streak this year on a Alabama defensive that many pegged Will Anderson and Christian Harris to highlight. Nobody alerted Mathis to this news as he has simply gone about his business to lead the entire Crimson Tide defense in sacks this year. Including a fairly ridiculous strip sack of draft darling Matt Corral last week. Initially given a round two grade from National Football Scouting if Mathis can make some plays against somebody of Green’s physical make up that could very easily turn into a growing campaign for a first round selection.
Oklahoma University vs University of Texas
FB Jeremiah Hall v LB DeMarvion Overshown
What better way to celebrate the red river rivalry than with some wholesome good valued fullback love? Looking to be the first and potentially only fullback drafted this spring, Hall provides some versatility to any team’s skill position group. Despite having hands and movement of a tight end, blocking is in no way a shortcoming in Hall’s game. Not unlike Tommy Tremble from last year, Hall’s athletic ability is very evident compared to the field. Even though production has been limited with a decent table of tight ends eating into his target share there reason to believe Hall can truly blossom if given a Kyle Juszcyzk type of role.
I can’t imagine a better opponent than fellow versatile play maker DeMarvion Overshown. A former safety Overshown has thrived after being brought in closer to the line of scrimmage. Currently a top five leader for tackles in the Big-12 he shows the tools to hold his own against both the run and pass at the next level. While Oklahoma’s run game should absolutely be a focus for the standout linebacker Overshown is the exact kind of chess piece defenses want to deploy when forced to face these H-back mismatches the NFL seems to be smitten with.