2016 NFL Draft: Week 12 Scouting Preview, Led by Michigan State vs. Ohio State and Big 12 Showdowns


Week Twelve consists of six head-to-head Top 25 matchups with four being diagnosed here. The Big Ten and Big 12 could be decided this weekend with a few elimination games from a playoff and conference standpoint.

LSU and Ole Miss look to rebound in what was once looking like a decorated season and TCU and Baylor are back to gain some national credibility with plenty of ground to make up. Here are some players to watch and matchups to highlight this weekend with a focus on draft-eligible players.

By: Christian Page

No. 9 Michigan State at No. 3 Ohio State // Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST on ABC

The time has come when the two juggernauts of the Big Ten, outside of the 2015 Iowa team, face off in the recently created heated rivalry. The winner will capture a big advantage in making it to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.

With the string of Ohio State quarterbacks being mentioned in the news for good and bad reasons, the productive season of running back Ezekiel Elliott (#15, Junior) has been somewhat overshadowed by the celebrity quarterbacks in Columbus. Elliott has rushed for 100 yards in each game this season (15 straight dating back to last season) and was only held out of the endzone once versus Northern Illinois. Elliott’s size, speed and power have guided him to another 1,000 yard rushing season with a potential trip to New York for Heisman festivities. With his appreciated running style and production, Elliott’s pass blocking ability gets overlooked. Elliott isn’t far behind perfect when it comes to holding his own on passing downs picking up blitzes and helping the quarterback operate in a clean pocket. With a Michigan State defense ranked 18th in rushing defense this ability may be a big x-factor Saturday evening.

Highlighting matchups, Michigan State junior left tackle Jack Conklin (#74) and Ohio State all-star defensive end Joey Bosa (#97, Junior) will go at it with first round draft implications written all over this battle. Conklin has been slowed down by a leg injury this season struggling to stay 100 percent but this will be a good test facing off versus the always disruptive Bosa. Bosa has once again been effective this season causing havoc in the backfield affecting the play in every which way possible. Conklin held his own a year ago in this matchup, so this may not be as much as a lopsided matchup as you may think.


 No. 15 LSU at No. 22 Ole Miss // Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST on CBS

Both teams had Atlanta on their mind until a string of losses occurred and now find themselves with a couple of SEC losses heading into this SEC West showdown.

LSU has yet to get back on track since their defeat in Tuscaloosa trying to gain rhythm in any way possible. LSU offense guard Vadal Alexander (#74, Senior) struggled versus the disruptive Alabama front two weeks ago and is looking to re-establish his top billing as the best offensive guard prospect in the 2016 draft. Receiving different looks from the versatile Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche (#5, Junior) will test the highly regarded offensive lineman. Nkemdiche is currently the J.J. Watt of college football as teams have to set game plans around him to keep him away from the play. Nkemdiche still finds ways to avoid double teams with his elite strength and quickness which will be tested against Alexander or Jerald Hawkins (#65, Junior) this weekend.

The every play matchup between two of the SEC’s elites is still in question pending on how LSU plans to scheme against Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (#1, Junior). Hoping to see a classic showdown between Treadwell and LSU’s Tre’Davious White (#18, Junior), this battle will consist of physical contest and a separation battle with both being solid in that category. White has good length and speed to contain Treadwell which makes for a best on best type matchup in Oxford Saturday evening.

No. 10 Baylor at No. 6 Oklahoma State // Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EST on FOX

Dropping last week’s game to Oklahoma essentially eliminated Baylor from playoff contention but the Cowboys are still well-alive if a convincing victory occurs Saturday.

The combination of Oklahoma State defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah (#38, Junior) and Jimmy Bean (#92, Senior) make for the best pass-rushing duo in college football. Unfortunately, Bean fell victim to an ACL tear two weeks ago, so Ogbah’s play has even elevated more since the injury though receiving more attention from opposing offenses. Ogbah has the ability to counter plays being able to move the pocket around to initiate stress on opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen. Ogbah will possibly line up across from All-Big 12 offensive tackle Spencer Drango (#58, Senior) who has had an excellent season. Drango is an unmovable force with stone hands and is not bothered by any counter pass rushing moves staying aware of his assignment. With questions floating around Ogbah’s complete play as a defensive end product, this should be the best test yet.

No. 18 TCU at No. 7 Oklahoma // Saturday at 8 p.m. on ABC

Another big-time Big 12 showdown takes place in Lincoln, Oklahoma between TCU and Oklahoma. The Sooners captured an excellent road win at Baylor last week and TCU is trying to find its way back on track after struggling versus an inferior Kansas team last week defeating the Jayhawks 23-17.

Many will like to see how TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin (#2, Senior) reacts without first round prospect Josh Doctson, already missed last week, but we will now see the primary receiving role handed to Kolby Listenbee (#7, Senior). Listenbee is a track star on the football field blowing by corners and creating great separation in the secondary to make for an easy throw for Boykin. Matching up against superstar corner Zack Sanchez (#15) who played well last weekend versus Corey Coleman and Baylor’s high-powered passing attack. Sanchez, just a junior, has skills that could make him a day two selection but his declaration is still question at this point.

Both offenses make noise so the defenders that can show up on the highlight reel will gain much needed attention moving forward.

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