Texas A&M offensive tackles Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi will take on Missouri defensive ends Michael Sam and Kony Ealy Saturday in a pair of head-to-head matchups that pit four future NFL players, Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said.
And while they aren't all considered the same level of prospect -- heck, they may not even be chosen all in one draft -- their collective impact on the Aggies' road game at Missouri figures to be a big one.
"I don't think there's any doubt those four guys are going to play at the next level," Sumlin said.
Matthews is considered the top prospect of the four as a dominant left tackle, perhaps as the first tackle chosen in the NFL draft next spring. An NFL scout told College Football 24/7 that Sam, a senior, projects as a mid- to late-round pick. Missouri's Ealy and A&M right tackle Ogbuehi are both juniors who are considering whether to turn pro early.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said getting to star Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel requires more than just beating two elite pass protectors. It also requires a greater-than-normal measure of discipline.
"You can't be real reckless against this guy (Johnny Manziel). This guy, the more reckless you are, the more you get out of your lanes, it creates opportunity for him to make plays," Pinkel said. "There's this cross between being very disciplined rush-wise, and responsibility-wise, gap-wise, but also relentless as a competitor. There's a fine line there."
Sam leads the SEC in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (17), while Ealy has delivered 6.5 and 8.5, respectively. Missouri's 35 sacks as a team leads the SEC, as well.
"There is a reason why they lead the league in sacks. And you see that on film, their athleticism, speed, and speed to power moves are very exceptional on the edges," Sumlin added.
All four should be heavily scouted Saturday, given their head-to-head competition, although Matthews' elite draft status is probably too secure to be affected much by a single game.