The Alabama Crimson Tide and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will meet in the Rose Bowl from AT&T Stadium on Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. ET in a College Football Playoff semifinal. Two traditional powerhouses will square off for a berth in the national championship game a little more than a week later. It will not be the last time that many of these players take the field, however. Several have futures in the NFL and fans will be seeing some of them there very soon.
Here is a look at the top 2021 NFL Draft prospects for each team:
DT Christian Barmore
Barmore was highly regarded coming into the year after being lightly used. He had the highest pass-rush win rate among all defensive tackles in 2019, according to PFF. The expectations did not meet production to start the season, but Barmore has come on strong down the stretch. He is a really strong player with a great frame who has drawn several double teams.
In the updated CBS Sports prospect rankings, Barmore is ranked No. 27.
RB Najee Harris
Harris is built like a linebacker but has not lost the explosive traits that define an elite running back. The California native has displayed his athletic ability multiple times by hurdling defenders and there is a natural comfort catching passes out of the backfield. Harris has put himself into a position to be one of the first running backs taken in April.
He is our No. 44 ranked prospect overall.
QB Mac Jones
Jones has been highly efficient for the Crimson Tide and throws with the most touch on deep balls. There are concerns about his ceiling, however. Quarterbacks who are finding the most success in the NFL have at least one elite trait. The quarterbacks drafted into the league recently typically have above average mobility. Jones is a statue in the pocket and will need to be an elite passer to overcome that deficiency in his game. To find success, he needs to go to a situation with a good offensive line and talented skill players surrounding him. The Saints might be a fit if they decide to move on from Taysom Hill and/or Jameis Winston, and Drew Brees retires.
Jones is our No. 25 ranked prospect overall.
OT Alex Leatherwood
Leatherwood is among the prospects in that second tier of offensive tackles who could be taken late Round 1 or Round 2. It is over when the lineman gets his hands on the defender, but too often he is caught leaning rather than moving his feet. He had some issues against those talented Georgia edge rushers that were able to get their hands on him first.
Leatherwood is our No. 45 prospect ranked overall.
WR Devonta Smith
Smith, along with Jones, represents half of the Heisman Trophy finalists. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask are the other two. Smith is slight in frame but electrifying. He attacks his routes and does as well as anyone getting open in his routes. No wide receiver has had as much impact on the game this season as Smith.
There is no question that he will be one of the first wide receivers to hear his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft. Smith is regarded as a top 10 prospect by CBS Sports.
CB Patrick Surtain II
Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley and Surtain have essentially established themselves as the top cornerback options available. The latter is ranked No. 13 in our updated prospect rankings. Surtain is a physical, patient cornerback who does a good job mirroring the receiver down the boundary. His father was an 11 year veteran in the NFL.
WR Jaylen Waddle
Waddle is lightning in a bottle. Teams in search of a player who can stretch the field vertically will covet Waddle, who averaged 22.3 yards per reception this season. With the Crimson Tide’s depth at wide receiver last season, Waddle was primarily known as a return man but he has been able to establish himself as one of the top pass catchers in college football this season.
Waddle is ranked one spot behind Smith in the updated CBS Sports prospect rankings.
More prospects to know
Cornerback Josh Jobe could be taken on Day 2. Jobe is the No. 84 ranked prospect in our rankings. Offensive guard Deonte Brown is a massive human being. He plays with good leverage and drives his feet in the run game. Brown is the No. 38 ranked prospect. Linebacker Dylan Moses missed the entire 2019 season with an injury so it was important for him to play this season. After beginning the season as a top 10 prospect, he now barely sits in the top 50.
Center Landon Dickerson had a chance to be one of the first interior offensive linemen off the board before his injury. He has a past with injuries dating back to his time at Florida State and that will hurt his stock. Dickerson has risen to the No. 74 prospect overall.
EDGE Adetokunbo Ogundeji
Ogundeji has looked like a grown man playing against children at times. He has tremendous play strength and heavy hands. The Michigan native does well getting high into the pads of the blocker and dictating that player’s movement. The Reese’s Senior Bowl participant does a good job of shooting gaps and containing the edge as well. He may not possess the same elite athleticism of other edge rushers in this class but teams know what they are getting from Ogundeji.
He is CBS Sports’ No. 87 prospect overall and the No. 8 edge rusher.
More prospects to know
Offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg is a prospect that has been mocked in the first round but he is ranked much lower for me personally. He is athletic and quick out of his stance but struggles to lock onto moving targets. Eichenberg is currently ranked No. 102 overall in the CBS Sports prospect rankings. Offensive guard Robert Hainsey, another Reese’s Senior Bowl participant, should also be drafted.
Running back Kyren Williams and safety Kyle Hamilton are not eligible for the upcoming draft but they will be among the top prospects the following year.
#NFL #Draft #Top #prospects #watch #AlabamaNotre #Dame #College #Football #Playoff #semifinal