Week 8 Prospect Matchups

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

There are no cutting-edge games of national title importance highlighted in the Week 8 Prospect Matchups. On the other hand, there are matchups where scouts will witness multiple top-60 prospects facing off.

Louisville vs. Florida State

12 p.m. EST -- ESPN

This game usually impacts the ACC title race, but not this year. Florida State is struggling to keep its head above water while Louisville has a losing record in conference. Regardless of that, there are some pretty important next level matchups.

As we reported last Tuesday, multiple sources tell me Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has chosen an agent whom he is expected to sign with once the season is complete. And while that may be two months away, Jackson has improved his standing with scouts as he’s becoming a passer and not just a great athlete who throws the ball -- and there’s a difference.

Jackson’s decision-making, accuracy and overall quarterback awareness is much better in 2017 than it was a year ago when he was awarded the Heisman Trophy. He has a big arm, a good head on his shoulders and a tremendous amount of upside. 

Jackson was graded as a first-round pick since our initial mock draft last May and I believe he will be a top-18 selection next April.

Against Florida State he’ll be facing a trio of talented defensive prospects.

Defensive end Josh Sweat has shown great improvement in his game and is turning his raw athleticism into football ability. Sweat is displaying a rounded game this season, making plays on the passer and against the pass as well as stopping the run.

Safety Derwin James has shown no effects from the knee injury which kept him on the sidelines last season and is a force capable of stopping Jackson when he carries the ball or throws the pass. His athleticism and explosion are very impressive, as is James' ability to play sideline to sideline rather than just downhill.

Tarvarus McFadden is someone I rated highly prior to the season, though I did question his speed. Earlier this year, McFadden struggled against Calvin Ridley when the Crimson Tide stomped FSU. 

Lamar Jackson has a trio of receivers at his disposal who can light it up and take it the distance. McFadden’s deep speed will be tested on Saturday.

Colorado vs. Washington State

10:45 p.m. EST -- ESPN

It’s been a disappointing season for Colorado. The defense has not held an opponent under 27 points in any of the past four games and it has allowed 975 passing yards during that stretch. This week they face the pass-happy Washington State Cougars, who were embarrassed last week at Cal.

Washington State and their quarterback Luke Falk, who had been rising up draft boards, will look to make up for last week’s debacle.

Falk and company face the talented Buffaloes secondary, themselves looking for redemption.

Cornerback Isaiah Oliver is a physical specimen who flashes next-level skill but also a degree of inconsistency. As we reported last month, Oliver will enter the draft if he receives positive feedback from the NFL Advisory Committee.

Safety Afolabi Laguda is someone we think highly of who is given higher grades from scouts than his former teammate Tedric Thompson, who was selected in the fourth round of April’s draft.

Like Oliver, Laguda has looked pedestrian at times this season but must be on his game against Falk.