Zach's Draft Corner: Draft Scenarios for 49ers/What to Watch


Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.

It’s the final week of the regular season for the NFL, and that means draft positions will shuffle for the final time on Sunday and we’ll all have a better idea of how things will look for the 49ers in this April’s draft. The 49ers are currently picking second after this week’s games, with the Raiders’ victory over Denver and the strength of schedule matchups going in the 49ers favor. If the 49ers win, they are picking, at worst, fifth overall. There are enough games available to swing the strength of schedule battle from teams currently sixth overall and below, with only the Lions in a position to jump the 49ers (as the 49ers winning would increase the Bucs strength of schedule, which would give them enough wins to keep from tying with the 49ers).

The 49ers could still get the first overall pick (credit to Niners Nation for outlining the strength of schedule information I was able to use here). The Cardinals are the only team with a worse record, so if they win and the 49ers lose, so long as the strength of schedule is maintained, the 49ers will jump ahead of their division rivals. However, there are still those pesky Jets of New York to worry about. Assuming the 49ers lose, here are the game outcomes to cheer for that will matter for the 49ers strength of schedule determination against the Jets

- Dallas Cowboys defeat New York Giants

- Atlanta Falcons defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers

- Cleveland Browns defeat Baltimore Ravens

- Denver Broncos defeat Los Angeles Chargers

The 49ers need two of those four outcomes to happen in order to maintain their strength of schedule lead over the Jets. If three of those four outcomes swing in favor of the Jets, then the Jets will jump the 49ers in draft order. This means that, if the 49ers lose, they are picking third, at worst. If the Cardinals win and the 49ers lose, they are picking second, at worst, and potentially first, as the Cardinals cannot overcome the strength of schedule deficiency with the remaining games.

Ultimately, here are the 49ers rooting interests this week, regardless of the 49ers outcome

- Dallas Cowboys defeat New York Giants (for tiebreakers with Jets and Lions)

- Atlanta Falcons defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers (for tiebreaker with Jets)

- Detroit Lions defeat Green Bay Packers (for tiebreaker with Jets and to remove chance of 49ers and Lions finishing with the same record)

- New York Jets defeat New England Patriots (to remove strength of schedule from the equation if the 49ers lose)

- Cleveland Browns defeat Baltimore Ravens (for tiebreaker with Jets)

- Denver Broncos defeat Los Angeles Chargers (for tiebreaker with Jets)

- Arizona Cardinals defeat Seattle Seahawks (only chance of the 49ers picking first overall)

Given the potential range out outcomes, there is a wide range of directions the 49ers could go in the draft. This week, I’ll walk through some draft day scenarios that the 49ers may face, and show how it could affect the remainder of the draft.

For player availability, I used the combined big board on The Draft Network, taking out any prospect that doesn’t satisfy this equation: Position on Big Board > (32 x (Round of the pick – 1)) – (5 * (Round of the pick – 1)). In essence, I am saying that some teams will reach for their draft picks. In the second round, it is conceivable that the 27th ranked prospect will still be on the board due to other teams reaching. In the third round, the 54th ranked prospect might still be available, and so on. This will prevent me from saying “The 49ers should draft Josh Allen in the 5th round” and other unrealistic things.

I will also not project any trades of picks outside of the specific trade scenarios mentioned. There is too much unknown projection with non-first-round trades that make the exercise troublesome. For the first round picks, I will assume the 49ers pick second overall.

Finally, I will not assume the 49ers make any major free agent signings. Certain signings (Earl Thomas, Dee Ford, etc.) could affect whether the 49ers target various positions. In this exercise, I’m assuming that every hole the 49ers have still needs to be filled at the draft.

Nick Bosa

This would be the 49ers dream scenario. Despite winning twice at the end of the season, there is still a real chance that Bosa ends up a 49er. He is obviously the pick if the 49ers get the first overall pick, but he may slide to the second pick if the Cardinals make a trade for a quarterback-needy team or if they go elsewhere with the first pick. If the 49ers land Bosa, the rest of the draft could shape up like this:

2nd round – Riley Ridley, Wide Receiver, University of Georgia

3rd round – Cody Ford, Offensive Guard, University of Oklahoma

4th round – Mark Gilbert, Cornerback, Duke University

6th round – Michael Pinckney, Linebacker, University of Miami

One thing will be very evident in these scenarios, and it’s that the lack of draft capital is going to leave fans unsatisfied. There are too many holes on this team (pass rushing defensive end, wide receiver, weak-side and strong-side linebacker, safety, cornerback, interior offensive line, backup tight end, etc.) to satisfy fill them all with only five picks.

Riley Ridley will be a common player on many of my preferred draft scenarios. Outside of D.K. Metcalf, Ridley is my favorite receiver of this class. His advanced route running and ability to separate, combined with his ability to catch everything thrown his way and his 6’2” size, will make him a Kyle Shanahan favorite.

Cody Ford is an athletic lineman for the Sooners who has one major flaw in his game: the ability to kick back at the line of scrimmage and block speed rushers on the outside. For this reason, he may move inside to guard, where there will be no need for him to do that. He’s a mauler when run blocking, and is athletic enough to pull and block in space.

Mark Gilbert has fallen down the board due to injury, but he would be a perfect fit in the 49ers defense. Michael Pinckney is a value pick, as he is playing out of position at Miami due to the presence of Shaq Quarterman. Pinckney is an ideal fit at weak-side linebacker, and will excel when he is playing in the proper position.

Other pass rushers in the first

2nd round – Riley Ridley, Wide Receiver, University of Georgia

3rd round – Anfernee Jennings, Strong-side Linebacker, University of Alabama

4th round – Mark Gilbert, Cornerback, Duke University

6th round – Michael Pinckney, Linebacker, University of Miami

Take your preferred pick in the first round, whether it is Josh Allen, Brian Burns, Jachai Polite, Montez Sweat, or Clelin Ferrell. This is what the rest of the draft could look like.

The interior offensive line may be a luxury pick, given that the 49ers offensive line has been adequate this season. If the 49ers aren’t able to land a strong-side linebacker in free agency that can move down and rush the passer in sub-packages, the 49ers may need to double dip with edge defenders if they miss out on Nick Bosa.

Instead of Cody Ford, here I give the 49ers Anfernee Jennings. Jennings is more of a power rusher who can work through blocks rather than run around them, he would be an excellent candidate for the Sam linebacker position that relies more on straight-line speed and power as opposed to short-area quickness.

Deionte Thompson

2nd round – Anthony Nelson, Defensive End, University of Iowa

3rd round – Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor University

4th round – Mark Gilbert, Cornerback, Duke University

6th round – Michael Pinckney, Linebacker, University of Miami

Our first glimpse at what could be if the 49ers go elsewhere with their first-round pick. Deionte Thompson would shore up the back end of the defense for the next decade, but what does that do to the rest of the 49ers draft?

While some edge defenders may fall, Anthony Nelson is the best of the bunch left after implementing my above restriction. Nelson is a very safe player who may not water the mouths of the faithful, but is an improvement over any pass rusher on the 49ers roster. Nelson is not a speed rusher. Instead, Nelson wins with finesse in his technique and strength. In the final product of the 49ers defense, Nelson may be best suited as a three-down player against opposing right tackles, but can play on both sides of the line and would improve the 49ers pass rush.

With Ridley off the board, the 49ers would look elsewhere in the third round and take the toolsy Denzel Mims out of Baylor. Mims is similar to many Baylor receivers in that he is big (6’3”, 208 pounds) and one of the most athletic prospects in the entire draft. There are some very specific mechanical issues when running his routes, but fixing those issues could unlock a top-end receiver. He’s a project, but one worth working on.

Greedy Williams/Byron Murphy

2nd round – Anthony Nelson, Defensive End, University of Iowa

3rd round – Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor University

4th round – Wyatt Ray, Defensive End, Boston College

6th round – Michael Pinckney, Linebacker, University of Miami

Addressing cornerback in the first round would still leave holes at the edge and wide receiver, but would free up the 49ers to look elsewhere with their fourth round pick. Here, I like Wyatt Ray out of Boston College. Ray would translate very well to the strong-side linebacker role for the 49ers, moving down to a pass rushing position on passing downs. Ray is not explosive off the line, but has the speed to complement Nelson’s power and technique and works well in space.

Trade

In the last article, I used Rich Hill’s draft value chart. However, with Justin Herbert returning to school, this could drive up the value of the 49ers picks. Jimmie Johnson’s classic draft chart values the top couple of picks much higher than Rich Hill’s chart. I will use this chart to construct these next few trades, as the market may be raised due to the lack of quarterback depth in this draft. I will also assume the 49ers stay at second overall, missing out on Nick Bosa. Here is what the 49ers draft could look like if they trade out of the second overall pick.

Trade back with Oakland

49ers trade 2nd overall for 4th overall, 25th overall, and 100th overall

2600 points outgoing, 2620 points incoming (2019 first, first, and fourth)

1st round – Clelin Ferrell, Defensive End, Clemson University

1st round – Amani Oruwariye, Cornerback, Penn State University

2nd round – Riley Ridley, Wide Receiver, University of Georgia

3rd round – Cody Ford, Offensive Guard, University of Oklahoma

4th round – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Safety, University of Florida

4th round – Wyatt Ray, Defensive End, Boston College

6th round – Michael Pinckney, Linebacker, University of Miami

While Nick Bosa is off the table, trading down allows the 49ers to fill more holes with quality players than they could otherwise. Ferrell is in here as an example, but can be substituted with your favorite second-tier pass rusher.

Trading back from 2nd overall to 4th overall allows the 49ers to still get a high-end pass rusher, while also picking up a strong, scheme-fitting corner with elite potential in Oruwariye. This clears up their own 4th round pick to pivot off of a cornerback and instead fix the strong-side linebacker position with Wyatt Ray. The 49ers also get an additional 4th round pick, which they use here on Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Gardner-Johnson was asked to play in the box and in man coverage quite often at Florida, which did not showcase his skills. Instead, Gardner-Johnson has great instincts and speed to make plays in front of him, and has the range to play single-high safety. The 49ers can benefit from Gardner-Johnson rarely playing his ideal position in college, snatching up their single-high safety of the future.

Trade back with Jacksonville

49ers trade 2nd overall for 9th overall, 40th overall, 71st overall, 169th overall, 200th overall, and a 2020 1st round pick

2600 points outgoing, 2610 points incoming (2019 first, second, third, sixth, and seventh, and 2020 first)

1st round – Jachai Polite, Defensive End, University of Florida

2nd round – Riley Ridley, Wide Receiver, University of Georgia

2nd round – Michael Jackson, Cornerback, University of Miami

3rd round – Cody Ford, Offensive Guard, University of Oklahoma

3rd round – Joe Giles-Harris, Linebacker, Duke University

4th round – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Safety, University of Florida

6th round – Tommy Sweeney, Tight End, Boston College

6th round – Isaiah Prince, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State University

7th round – Jalen Hurd, Wide Receiver, Baylor University

Crazy, huh? This difference in return from last week goes to show how much of a difference there is between Rich Hill’s chart and Jimmie Johnson’s chart. However, if the 49ers are able to create a bidding war for the 2nd overall pick, this could be the type of return the 49ers see.

So let’s dig in. Assuming Ferrell, Burns, and Allen are gone in this scenario, the 49ers grab Jachai Polite at 9th overall. The 49ers don’t get a second 2019 first round pick in this scenario, so Michael Jackson, a less flexible version of Amani Oruwariye, gets the nod with the additional second round pick. With the extra third round pick, the 49ers grab Joe Giles-Harris, an ideal fit as a weak-side linebacker who can run around and make plays so long as he is kept clean from blockers.

Tommy Sweeney is on his way to Santa Clara as a premiere blocking tight end who has soft hands when leaking out into clean areas of the zone. Don’t expect him to be George Kittle as a receiver, but he can be George Kittle as a blocker and better than Garrett Celek as a receiver.

With the final two picks, the 49ers grab tremendous athletes who are very raw in their technique. Prince was heavily recruited out of high school but still relies on his athleticism more than any technical prowess. Learning behind Joe Staley for a year could do him wonders, setting the 49ers potential succession plan at left tackle. The 49ers can also grab Jalen Hurd, a converted running back who is big (6’4”, 229 pounds), fast, and a reliable pass catcher, though his ability as a route runner is still very raw.

Trade back with Giants

49ers trade 2nd overall for 8th overall, 39th overall, 101st overall, 132nd overall, a 2020 1st round pick, and a 2020 3rd round pick

2600 points outgoing, 2680 points incoming (2019 first, second, fourth, and fifth, and 2020 first and third)

1st round – Brian Burns, Defensive End, Florida State University

2nd round – Riley Ridley, Wide Receiver, University of Georgia

2nd round – Michael Jackson, Cornerback, University of Miami

3rd round – Cody Ford, Offensive Guard, University of Oklahoma

4th round – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Safety, University of Florida

4th round – Trey Adams, Offensive Tackle, University of Washington

5th round – Wyatt Ray, Defensive End, Boston College

6th round – Michael Pinckney, Linebacker, University of Miami

Very similar to what the 49ers would be able to grab with the Jacksonville trade, except the Giants don’t own their third round pick because of the supplemental draft last season. Instead, the 49ers grab a fourth round pick, a fifth round pick, and a 2020 third round pick in place of Jacksonville’s third round pick, sixth round pick, and seventh round pick.

I decided to switch it up and give the 49ers Brian Burns in this scenario, although the choice here is their preferred pass rusher of whoever is left. They still grab Ridley, Jackson, Ford, and Gardner-Johnson. Since the 49ers can grab Wyatt Ray in the fifth round in this scenario, the 49ers grab Trey Adams with the additional fourth round pick. Adams has struggled to stay healthy, but his ability as a left tackle is better than almost anyone in this class. He’s worth the risk in the fourth round.

Trade back with Denver

49ers trade 2nd overall for 13th overall, 43rd overall, 74th overall, 109th overall, 149th overall, 2020 1st round pick, and a 2020 2nd round pick (or 2021 1st round pick)

2600 points outgoing, 2613 points incoming (2019 first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, 2020 first, and 2020 second/2021 first)

1st round – D.K. Metcalf, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss

2nd round – Anthony Nelson, Defensive End, University of Iowa

2nd round – Michael Jackson, Cornerback, University of Miami

3rd round – Cody Ford, Offensive Guard, University of Oklahoma

3rd round – Joe Giles-Harris, Linebacker, Duke University

4th round – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Safety, University of Florida

4th round – Trey Adams, Offensive Tackle, University of Washington

5th round – Wyatt Ray, Defensive End, Boston College

6th round – Tommy Sweeney, Tight End, Boston College

Now things are getting interesting. In this scenario, I assume that a lot of the second tier of edge rushers are gone. Montez Sweat may still be available, but I went and gave the 49ers the best receiver in this class, and potentially in the last few classes. This means that Anthony Nelson and Michael Jackson are the choices in the second round.

The return of picks in the later rounds is the best of any of these trade options, giving the 49ers a second pick in each of the second, third, and fourth rounds, as well as a fifth round pick. The 49ers are also set for future drafts, getting an extra first in 2020 and an extra second in 2020 or an extra first in 2021 (these picks have equivalent values in the trade chart). With these extra picks, the 49ers can get a player to fill most every hole on the roster with talented players. The only downside to this path is that the 49ers miss out on elite pass rusher that everyone is clamoring for.

Trade back with Broncos… and trade up with Pittsburgh

49ers trade 2nd overall for 13th overall, 43rd overall, 74th overall, 109th overall, 149th overall, 2020 1st round pick, and a 2020 2nd round pick

2600 points outgoing, 2613 points incoming (2019 first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, 2020 first and second)

49ers trade 43rd overall, 74th overall, and Denver’s 2020 second round pick to Pittsburgh for 19th overall

895 points outgoing, 875 points incoming

1st round – D.K. Metcalf, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss

1st round – Josh Allen, Defensive End, University of Kentucky

2nd round – Bryce Hall, Cornerback, University of Virginia

3rd round – Cody Ford, Offensive Guard, University of Oklahoma

4th round – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Safety, University of Florida

4th round – Trey Adams, Offensive Tackle, University of Washington

5th round – Wyatt Ray, Defensive End, Boston College

6th round – Michael Pinckney, Linebacker, University of Miami

Alright, stay with me here. According to the collaborative big board used in this scenario, Josh Allen is the 17th overall prospect, meaning he could legitimately be there with the 19th overall pick. Ben Roethlisberger has teased retiring for years now, and if he finally pulls the trigger, Pittsburgh could look to load up on extra assets to kick off a rebuild.

By giving up the extra second and third round picks in 2019 and the extra second round pick in 2020, the 49ers are able to move back into the first round to grab their desired pass rusher. The 49ers sacrifice Joe Giles-Harris and Tommy Sweeney in this scenario, but still can come away with Pinckney at linebacker.

With their high second round pick now open, the 49ers are able to grab more of a playmaker at cornerback in Bryce Hall out of Virginia. That gives the 49ers three near-elite to elite talents at their three biggest positions of need, while addressing the remaining holes with valuable scheme fits in the later rounds.

TV Guide

It’s bowl season! Now that the games are more limited, in the TV Guide section of my column, I will walk you through each of the bowl games and outline the various prospects you can watch in those games. That way, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and hit the “Previous Channel” button on your remote to toggle between games chock full of pro prospects. Here is your guide for week two of the bowl season (all times Eastern, Playoff rankings in parentheses).

As a note, there is no real tracker to see who is skipping bowl games. With the sheer amount of talent playing in bowl games over the next few days, I’m not going to search every name to see who is playing and who is sitting out. I will note any names that I know for sure are not playing, but the lists provided may include some players not actually playing.

Friday, December 28

Purdue University vs. Auburn University, Franklin American Mortgage Music Bowl in Nashville, TN - 1:30 PM, ESPN

While Purdue is typically seen as a weak team in the Big Ten, they do have some talent of their own. Jacob Thieneman (senior safety, #41), Markus Bailey (junior linebacker, #21), and Lorenzo Neal (junior defensive tackle, #9) leads a defense that will hope to limit Auburn’s balanced attack, while Kirk Barron (senior center, #53) and Dennis Edwards (senior guard, #64) anchor an offensive line that has improved under head coach Jeff Brohm.

For Auburn, Jarrett Stidham (junior quarterback, #8), Ryan Davis (senior wide receiver, #23), Darius Slayton (junior wide receiver, #81), and Eli Stove (junior wide receiver, #12) have their work cut out for them. Prince Tega Wanogho (junior tackle, #76) will look to give Stidham enough time to deliver the ball effectively, even though Stidham has had a tough time of doing that thus far this season. Though they are largely a lost breed in today’s NFL, Chandler Cox (senior fullback, #27) is one of the top fullbacks in college football, providing a valuable blocking and receiving weapon out of the backfield. Cox will look to give Kam Martin (junior running back, #9) space to break some big plays. While Dontavius Russell (senior defensive tackle, #95), Andrew Williams (senior defensive tackle, #79), and Derrick Brown (junior defensive tackle, #5) are the true strength of the Auburn defensive line on the interior, Marlon Davidson (junior defensive end, #3) and Nick Coe (redshirt sophomore defensive end, #91, questionable with a wrist injury) are hoping to get their names on draft boards, and a strong performance against Alabama could do just that. Deshaun Davis (senior linebacker, #57) is another name to note, as he has been rising up boards with his stellar play this season.

West Virginia University vs. Syracuse University, Camping World Bowl in Orlando, FL - 5:15 PM, ESPN

Will Grier (senior quarterback, #7) won’t be playing in this game, but there is still plenty of talent that will be on display in the land of Disney. Yodny Cajuste (senior tackle, #55) is continuing his strong 2017 season, garnering some first-round talk himself. David Sills V (senior wide receiver, #13) is trying to prove that he can be a number one receiver for a team, and Gary Jennings (senior wide receiver, #12) is showing off his talent in his own right. David Long, Jr. (junior linebacker, #11), Dravon Askew-Henry (senior safety, #6), Kennedy McKoy (junior running back, #4), and Ezekiel Rose (senior edge, #5) are having strong seasons, but still are Day 3 prospects at best.

Syracuse is typically pretty barren in football, but they have some interesting prospects this year. Cody Conway (senior tackle, #60), Koda Martin (senior tackle, #78), and Aaron Roberts (senior guard, #59) form an underrated trio on the offensive line. They will look to keep Eric Dungey (senior quarterback, #2) upright in the backfield. Dungey has had injuries each of his first three years on campus, and has not had the clean season he has hoped for. Ravian Pierce (senior tight end, #6) is a nice mismatch in the middle of the field, and Chris Slayton (senior defensive tackle, #95) leads a defense that will be challenged plenty by the West Virginia offense.

Iowa State University vs. Washington State University, Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX – 9:00 PM, ESPN

For the Cyclones, Kyle Kempt (senior quarterback, #17) has been down with an MCL injury for a few weeks, but the backup, true freshman Brock Purdy (quarterback, #15), has stepped in admirably to lead upsets over both Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Teams typically sell out to stop the single season record holder for broken tackles in David Montgomery (junior running back, #32), but Purdy has been making them pay. He’ll need the help of Hakeem Butler (junior wide receiver, #18) to keep up with Washington State. Defensive captain Brian Peavy (senior cornerback, #10) is on a mission to keep Iowa State in games this season, and is accomplishing that thus far. Willie Harvey (senior linebacker, #2), Marcel Spears, Jr. (junior linebacker, #42), JaQuan Bailey (junior defensive end, #3), Ray Lima (junior defensive tackle, #76), and D'Andre Payne (senior safety, #1) are also decently strong prospects on defense.

Gardner Minshew (senior quarterback, #16), the transfer from East Carolina, is the story of the year for Washington State. After some productive seasons at East Carolina, Minshew and his mustache kept the production high after the jump in competition, though he still throws a lot of interceptions. Washington State normally isn’t a team stocked with talent, but they do have an exciting style of play (Mike Leach is their coach, after all) and are playing way above what their talent says they should. There is no reason this team should be ranked 8th in the country, yet here we are. Andre Dillard (senior tackle, #60) and Jalen Thompson (junior safety, #34) lead their respective sides of the ball, and are each likely to be drafted somewhere on Day 2 or 3, but these are really the only serious 2019 prospects for the Cougars.

Saturday, December 29

(10) University of Florida vs. (7) University of Michigan, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, GA - 12:00 PM, ESPN

Florida’s strength lies in their defense. Specifically, they have a very talented set of pass rushers in Jachai Polite (junior defensive end, #99), Cece Jefferson (senior defensive end, #96), and Jabari Zuniga (junior defensive end, #92). Khairi Clark (senior defensive tackle, #54) and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (junior safety, #23) are also strong defenders for the Gators. On offense, Martez Ivey (senior interior offensive line, #73), Jawaan Taylor (junior tackle, #65), T.J. McCoy (junior interior offensive line, #59), and Fredrick Johnson (senior guard, #74) are leading Florida to success this season in the trenches. Tyrie Cleveland (junior wide receiver, #89) has disappointed, but Van Jefferson (junior wide receiver, #12) and Jordan Scarlett (junior running back, #25) have produced plenty in Gainesville.

Michigan looks to be finally hitting their stride, which is a dangerous thought for a team with so much talent. A major reason for their success is the improved play of Shea Patterson (junior quarterback, #2), who was very erratic earlier in the season. Karan Higdon (senior running back, #22) has stayed relatively healthy, and Zach Gentry (senior tight end, #83) and Sean McKeon (junior tight end, #84) have been an effective safety blankets and third down weapon for Patterson. Ben Bredeson (junior tackle, #74) and Juwann Bushell-Beatty (senior tackle, #76, questionable with an undisclosed injury) are 2019 prospects on the offensive line, as Michigan is very young at that position. What makes the Wolverines tick, though, is one of the most talented defenses in the country. Rashan Gary (junior defensive tackle, #3), Devin Bush (junior linebacker, #10), Chase Winovich (senior defensive end, #15, questionable with an undisclosed injury), Lavert Hill (junior defensive back, #24), Khaleke Hudson (junior linebacker, #7), David Long (junior cornerback, #22), Bryan Mone (senior defensive tackle, #90), and Tyree Kinnel (senior defensive back, #23) are all locks to be drafted next year, barring any catastrophic injuries. Gary has the most perceived talent of that bunch, but he is still battling an injury and may be out.

University of South Carolina vs. University of Virginia, Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC - 12:00 PM, ABC

South Carolina boasts a strong offense, including A.J. Turner (junior running back, #25), Dennis Daley (senior tackle, #74), and Zack Bailey (senior guard, #78). The real stars of the Gamecock offense are their stud receivers, Deebo Samuel (senior wide receiver, #1) and Bryan Edwards (junior wide receiver, #89). Both of these receivers could be top-10 at their position in April, and are sure to be taken before the end of the second day. While South Carolina doesn’t boast a super strong defense, T.J. Brunson (junior linebacker, #6), Javon Kinlaw (junior defensive tackle, #3), Bryson Allen-Williams (senior linebacker, #4), and Rashad Fenton (senior cornerback, #16) are talented enough to get drafted in 2019. D.J. Wonnum (junior defensive end, #8) should be a priority undrafted free agent for a team light in that area. Jake Bentley (junior quarterback, #19) is too inconsistent to warrant draft consideration.

For Virginia, Juan Thornhill (senior safety, #22) and Bryce Hall (junior cornerback, #34) are the studs of a secondary that has found surprising success as the season has rolled on. These two are the main reason that Virginia were ranked during the season. Olamide Zaccheaus (junior wide receiver, #4) and Evan Butts (junior tight end, 46) are the playmakers on offense, and will hope to put up enough points to get the Cavaliers another victory.

Arkansas State University vs. University of Nevada, NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson, AZ - 1:15 PM, CBS Sports Network

The third game in an early Saturday slate, nobody will blame you for skipping this one. Arkansas State has no draftable talent. Nevada has had some strong linemen come through their program lately, and Sean Krepsz (senior interior offensive lineman, #64) is no exception. He and the rest of the Nevada line will look to protect Ty Gangi (senior quarterback, #6). Malik Reed (senior defensive end/outside linebacker, #90) and Asauni Rufus (senior strong safety, #2) will look to create pressure on the Arkansas State offense and force some turnovers.

(2) Clemson Univeristy vs. (3) University of Notre Dame, College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, TX - 4:00 PM, ESPN

Clemson has only one win against a ranked team this season, meaning this will be a huge step up in competition for the Tigers. Christian Wilkins (senior defensive tackle, #42), Dexter Lawrence (junior defensive tackle, #90), Clelin Ferrell (junior defensive end, #99), and Austin Bryant (senior defensive end, #7) form maybe the best defensive line in the country, leaving Kendall Joseph (senior linebacker, #34), Mark Fields (senior cornerback, #2), Tanner Muse (junior safety, #19), Isaiah Simmons (sophomore safety, #11), Albert Huggins (senior defensive tackle, #67), and Tre Lamar (junior linebacker, #57) with the task of cleaning up whatever manages to make it past the line. Dexter Lawrence, however, may be out for this matchup, as a potential positive drug test may keep him out of this one. One intriguing name to note is Trayvon Mullen (junior cornerback, #1), who has improved as the season has gone on and worked his way into the CB2 conversation behind Greedy Williams of LSU. On offense, Mitch Hyatt (senior tackle, #75) looks to work his way into the top tackle conversation, while Hunter Renfrow (senior wide receiver, #13) is proving his worth as a potential slot receiver. Greg Huegel (senior kicker, #92) is another kicking prospect who has a chance to make it into the NFL with a strong senior season.

Notre Dame’s talent starts with a stifling defense, led by a trio of first-round hopefuls in Jerry Tillery (senior defensive tackle, #99), Julian Love (junior cornerback, #27), and Te'Von Coney (senior linebacker, #4). Alohi Gilman (junior safety, #11), Julian Okwara (sophomore defensive end, #42), Khalid Kareem (junior defensive end, #53), Daelin Hayes (junior defensive end, #9), Drue Tranquill (senior linebacker, #23), Asmar Bilal (senior linebacker, #22), Nick Coleman (senior safety, #24), and Shaun Crawford (senior cornerback, #20) all provide valuable support for the Fighting Irish, and are late round prospects. On offense, Notre Dame does have some talent, with Alize Mack (senior tight end, #86) being the best of the bunch. Alex Bars (senior tackle, #71), Tommy Kraemer (sophomore tackle, #78), Sam Mustipher (senior guard, #53), Nic Weishar (senior tight end, #82), and Dexter Williams (senior running back, #2) all hoping to have a strong 2018 and work their way into draft consideration. Chase Claypool (junior wide receiver, #83) and Miles Boykin (senior wide receiver, #81) have opened eyes recently with strong route running, speed, and size, and gives Notre Dame a pair of playmakers on the outside. Notre Dame also boasts one of the strongest pairs of specialists in the country, with Tyler Newsome (senior punter, #85) and Justin Yoon (senior kicker, #19) each competing for the top spot at their respective positions. Ian Book (junior quarterback, #12) took over for the struggling Brandon Wimbush (senior quarterback, #7), and the results have been glorious for the Fighting Irish. Clemson will be his toughest test to date.

(1) University of Alabama vs. (4) University of Oklahoma, College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami, FL – 8:00 PM, ESPN

The Crimson Tide have perhaps the most talented defense in the country, and an offense to match. Deionte Thompson (junior safety, #14), Anfernee Jennings (junior outside linebacker, #33), Raekwon Davis (junior defensive tackle, #99), and Mack Wilson (junior linebacker, #30) all have lived up to the first round chatter they have been receiving thus far. Isaiah Buggs (senior defensive tackle, #49), Terrell Lewis (junior linebacker, #24), and Quinnen Williams (redshirt sophomore defensive end, #92) are all having solid seasons as well, and are starting to garner first round buzz themselves. Saivion Smith (junior cornerback, #4), Shyheim Carter (junior cornerback, #5), and Trevon Diggs (junior cornerback, #7) have come on strong this season in the secondary, and would all be drafted if they decide to enter the 2019 draft. On offense, Jonah Williams (junior tackle, #73), Matt Womack (junior tackle, #77), Ross Pierschbacher (senior guard/center, #71), and Lester Cotton (senior guard, #66) hope to all come off the board before the end of the second round, and should open plenty of running lanes for Damien Harris (senior running back, #34) and Joshua Jacobs (junior running back, #8). Irv Smith, Jr. (junior tight end, #82) almost matched his solid 2017 production in the first three games of 2018, giving Alabama yet another weapon to play with. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (sophomore quarterback, #13) will hope to cement his status as 2020’s QB1 with a strong showing in the playoff.

With Rodney Anderson (junior running back, #24) being out for the season with a knee injury, “Hollywood” Marquise Brown (junior wide receiver, #5) has stepped up and is proving his worth as a big-play receiver. He's also Antonio Brown's cousin, so I’m sure that will be mentioned a couple of times. Kyler Murray (junior quarterback, #1) is a Heisman candidate, but his committed baseball career means that his football career will be limited to this season. Enjoy him while you can. Ben Powers (senior guard, #72, out indefinitely), Cody Ford (junior guard, #74), Bobby Evans (junior tackle, #71), and Dru Samia (senior tackle, #75) have been exceptional along the line thus far, and look to continue that dominance against a strong Texas team. While the Big 12 isn’t known for defense, Neville Gallimore (junior defensive tackle, #90, questionable with an undisclosed injury), Prentice McKinney (senior safety, #29), and Caleb Kelly (junior linebacker, #19) are all talented enough to hear their names called next April.

Monday, December 31

University of Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech University, Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman in Annapolis, MD - 12:00 PM, ESPN

Marquise Copeland (senior defensive tackle, #44) is the stud of the Cincinnati team this year, and is likely the only draftable prospect worth mentioning. Virginia Tech does not have the level of talent that they are used to, but still have some prospects worth watching in Ricky Walker (senior defensive tackle, #8), Yosuah Nijman (senior tackle, #69), Trevon Hill (junior defensive end, #94), Vinny Mihota (senior defensive end, #99), and Divine Deablo (redshirt sophomore safety, #17). One name to watch in this one is my "diamond in the rough" at the safety position, Reggie Floyd (junior safety, #21).

Stanford University vs. University of Pittsburgh, Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX - 2:00 PM, CBS

Stanford’s Bryce Love (senior running back, #20) came into the season with such high hopes, but has been inconsistent and banged up throughout the season. Meanwhile, my favorite preseason receiver sleeper, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (junior wide receiver, #19), is looking to maintain his dominating season and work his way into first-round consideration. Kaden Smith (junior tight end, #82), Nate Herbig (junior guard, #63), Jesse Burkett (senior center, #73), A.T. Hall (senior tackle, #75), Brandon Fanaika (senior guard, #71), and Trenton Irwin (senior wide receiver, #2) all hope to continue their strong seasons. On defense, Bobby Okereke (senior linebacker, #20) and Alijah Holder (senior cornerback, #13) will look to stop Washington State’s high-powered offense to help the Cardinal come away with a win. Jake Bailey (senior punter, #14) is one of the best punting prospects in the nation, but Stanford hopes that he remains on the sideline throughout the contest.

Pitt has been up and down team so far this season, but somehow managed to secure a spot in the ACC championship game (that they easily lost). While they aren’t loaded with talent, the Panthers do have some prospects to keep an eye on. Dewayne Hendrix (senior defensive end, #8) and Rashad Weaver (sophomore defensive end, #17) lead the defense, while Qadree Ollison (senior running back, #30) and Darrin Hall (senior running back, #22) form a mighty thunder (Ollison) and lightning (Hall) tandem, with Alex Bookser (senior guard, #78) leading the brigade.

Michigan State University vs. University of Oregon, Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara, CA - 3:00 PM, FOX

Michigan State features Brian Lewerke (junior quarterback, #14), who has had a disappointing season thus far and is looking more and more certain to return to school for his senior season in an attempt to reclaim his lost luster. He leads an offense with some dynamic and balanced weapons, including Felton Davis III (senior wide receiver, #18), L.J. Scott (senior running back, #3), and Matt Sokol (senior tight end, #81). On defense, Khari Willis (senior safety, #27), David Dowell (junior safety, #6), Justin Layne (junior cornerback, #2), Raequan Williams (junior defensive tackle, #99), Kenny Willekes (junior defensive end, #48), and Joe Bachie (junior linebacker, #32) all have hopes of being drafted from a talented, albeit underachieving, Michigan State team.

Oregon is maybe the most talented overall team in the PAC 12, but their record this year didn’t show it. Justin Herbert (junior quarterback, #10) has had an exceptional season, but is returning to school for his senior season. Jake Hanson (junior tackle, #55) and Calvin Throckmorton (junior guard/center, #54) lead a line that will try to give him plenty of time in the pocket, as well as open up holes for Tony Brooks-James (senior running back, #20). Dillon Mitchell (junior wide receiver, #13) and Jacob Breeland (junior tight end, #27) could be late-round picks if they decide to declare. On defense, Jalen Jelks (senior defensive end, #97) is one of the nation’s premiere pass rushers, with Troy Dye (junior linebacker, #35) and Justin Hollins (senior outside linebacker, #11) patrolling the middle of the field. Without many strong safety prospects, Ugochukwu Amadi (senior safety, #7) has used a strong senior season to catapult him into Day 2 consideration.

University of Missouri vs. Oklahoma State University, AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, TN – 3:45 PM, ESPN

For Missouri, Drew Lock (senior quarterback, #3) is impressing a lot of scouts, and dissecting a tough Georgia defense could make him a certainty to going the first round. Albert Okwuegbunam (redshirt sophomore tight end, #81) and Kendall Blanton (senior tight end, #11) are dynamic receivers, but it’s Emmanuel Hall (senior wide receiver, #84) who has emerged recently as the best weapon for the Tigers. Damarea Crockett (junior running back, #16) gives Missouri some balance on offense. Paul Adams (senior tackle, #77) will look to keep Lock upright and Corey Fatony (senior punter, #26) off the field. On defense, Terez Hall (senior linebacker, #24) has the athletic profile of an SEC linebacker, but has had difficulty having the production of a star linebacker with the lack of a supporting cast. However, his traits are good enough that he should be drafted next April. The same goes for Terry Beckner (senior defensive tackle, #5).

Oklahoma State is having a down year as far as draftable talent, but they still have plenty of offensive firepower. Justice Hill (junior running back, #5), as overhyped as he may be, is still a good back for the Oklahoma State system. Tyron Johnson (junior wide receiver, #13) was looking to take over the receiving game from recent draftees James Washington and Marcell Ateman, but he just isn't at their talent level despite the strong production. Taylor Cornelius (senior quarterback, #14) is taking over the mantel left by Mason Rudolph, slinging the ball all over the field effectively. Britton Abbott (senior tight end, #41) is a sneaky name to know in the undrafted market. Trey Carter (senior defensive tackle, #99) is the leader of the defense, although Oklahoma should have their way. Jordan Brailford (junior defensive end, #94) and Justin Phillips (senior linebacker, #19) are late round prospects, but names to know nonetheless.

Northwestern University vs. University of Utah, San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl in San Diego, CA – 7:00 PM, Fox Sports 1

Paddy Fisher (redshirt sophomore linebacker, #42) was contending for a first round draft position and the top overall linebacker in the class, though a relatively pedestrian sophomore season has put him more in the Day 2 discussion. Fisher leads a Wildcat defense that also includes Montre Hartage (senior cornerback, #24), Joe Gaziano (junior defensive tackle, #97), and Nate Hall (senior linebacker, #32) as draft-eligible prospects with a legitimate chance of hearing their names called in April. On offense, Northwestern is led by Clayton Thorson (senior quarterback, #18), who came back from a torn ACL in 2017 to have a respectable year. Scouts love Thorson’s intangibles, but his already weak physical traits make Chad Pennington look like Patrick Mahomes by comparison, giving him an extremely limited ceiling.

Utah doesn’t have a ton of talent, but they are always really tough for opposing teams, which is looking to hold true again this year. Chase Hansen (senior linebacker, #22), Bradlee Anae (junior defensive end, #6), Julian Blackmon (junior cornerback, #23), Leki Fotu (junior defensive tackle, #99), are draftable talents on defense, but are all likely late-round prospects. Zack Moss (junior running back, #2) is the strongest prospect for Utah, but is still a mid-round pick at best, and an ankle injury causing him to miss the remainder of the season may push him back to school next season. Jackson Barton (senior tackle, #70) is another late-round guy on the offense worth watching. Matt Gay (senior kicker, #97) is one of the best kickers in the country, but his position will devalue him to being a late-round guy. Although, plenty of NFL teams have had kicking woes this season, so maybe some team will reach for him in the third round. Marquise Blair (senior safety, #13), Tyler Huntley (junior quarterback, #1, out with a collarbone injury), and Cody Barton (senior linebacker, #30) are likely undrafted free agents at this point.

North Carolina State University vs. Texas A&M University, TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL – 7:30 PM, ESPN

Ryan Finley (senior quarterback, #15) was QB1 coming into the season for Todd McShay, so he’ll likely be drafted at some point in the first few rounds if he can continue being reliable. Kelvin Harmon (junior wide receiver, #3) is widely seen as a top-five wide receiver prospect, and is as consistent as they come, with Jakobi Meyers (junior wide receiver, #11) handling duties on the opposite side of the field. Garrett Bradbury (senior interior offensive line, #65), Terrone Prescod (senior interior offensive line, #70), and Tyler Jones (senior tackle, #53) are the core of a strong offensive line for the Wolfpack. A.J. Cole III (senior punter, #90) is good if you enjoy watching punters. Darian Roseboro (senior edge, #45) has admirably filled in for Bradley Chubb, but is certainly a few notches below his more talented predecessor. Germaine Pratt (senior linebacker, #3), no relation, has worked his way into Day 2 consideration in this weak linebacker class.

Texas A&M has seen a downtick in talent over the past few seasons. However, they still have a few prospects worth mentioning, and have played close games with a lot of tough teams so far this season. Colton Prater (junior tackle, #76) has the physical profile and the traits to be a top tackle prospect if he can be more consistent, and will have one of his toughest assignments of the season in squaring off against the Bulldogs and their duo of defensive line talent. He will be blocking for Trayveon Williams (junior running back, #5), who is the focal point of the Aggie offense. Daylon Mack (senior defensive tackle, #34) and Kingsley Keke (senior defensive tackle, #8) are both strong prospects in their own right who can garner some buzz with a strong finish to their season.

Tuesday, January 1

Mississippi State University vs. University of Iowa, Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL - 12:00 PM, ESPN2

Mississippi State’s true talent is on their defensive line, with Jeffrey Simmons (junior defensive tackle, #94) and Montez Sweat (senior defensive end, #9) both looking like first-round locks, potentially even in the top ten overall picks, while Gerri Green (senior defensive end, #4) is working his way into the Day 2 conversation. Johnathan Abram (senior safety, #38), Mark McLaurin (senior safety, #41), and Jamal Peters (senior cornerback, #2) are the beneficiaries of the strong defensive line, as they usually don’t have to maintain coverage for very long. Leo Lewis (junior linebacker, #10) and Chauncey Rivers (junior defensive end, #5) round out the talented defense. Nick Fitzgerald (senior quarterback, #7) was heralded as a possible breakout quarterback this year, but he continues to prove he is more running back than thrower. Elgton Jenkins (senior interior offensive line, #74) and Darryl Williams (junior interior offensive line, #73) are good linemen to have on a strong running team, and will look to continue their exceptional run blocking against Iowa. This will likely be a slugfest, where the winner in the trenches will be the winner of the game.

Iowa is led by the top tight end in the nation in Noah Fant (junior tight end, #87), but it is his counterpart T.J. Hockenson (sophomore tight end, #38) who has been on the rise this season with punishing blocks and advanced receiving skills. Nate Stanley (junior quarterback, #4) and Nick Easley (senior wide receiver, #84) will look to continue producing in the passing game, while Keegan Render (senior center, #69) and Ross Reynolds (senior guard, #59) provide leadership on an offensive line with true sophomores at the tackle positions. On defense, Anthony Nelson (junior defensive end, #98), Matt Nelson (senior defensive end, #96), and Parker Hesse (senior defensive end, #40) all are capable of causing disruption in the backfield. Amani Hooker (junior safety, #27) and Jake Gervase (senior safety, #30) form a solid safety duo in the secondary. Miguel Recinos (senior kicker, #91) is a generally reliable kicker, and could be working his way into draft consideration with a relatively strong season.

University of Kentucky vs. Penn State University, VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL - 1:00 PM, ABC

Benny Snell (junior running back, #26) is my personal favorite of this running back class, reminding me of Frank Gore whenever he touches the ball. Logan Stenberg (junior guard, #71), C.J. Conrad (senior tight end, #87), George Asafo-Adjei (senior tackle, #64), and Landon Young (senior tackle, #67), along with Snell, give Kentucky an attitude of toughness on offense that is different than most college football programs nowadays. On defense, Josh Allen (senior defensive end, #41) and Derrick Baity (senior cornerback, #8) are the strongest prospects and will at least be Day 2 picks in 2019, with Allen is making enough noise that he is looking like a guaranteed first round pick with his productive speed rush ability. Jordan Jones (senior outside linebacker , #34), Mike Edwards (senior safety , #7), Chris Westry (senior cornerback, #21), Darius West (senior safety, #25), Lionel Johnson (senior cornerback, #6), and Adrian Middleton (senior defensive tackle, #99) are also solid prospects in their own right, and will look to push their way into draft consideration during the final month of the season.

Penn State lost quite a bit of talent in the 2018 draft process, but they still keep churning out legitimate players. Miles Sanders (junior running back, #24) has filled in very well for Saquon Barkley, and may be the best draftable running back in the Big Ten. Conner McGovern (junior interior offensive line, #66) and Ryan Bates (junior tackle, #52) anchor a surprisingly strong Penn State offensive line. Juwan Johnson (junior wide receiver, #84) and DeAndre Thompkins (senior wide receiver, #3) are in line to return from injury, strengthening a Penn State offense that needs playmakers. Trace McSorley (senior quarterback, #9) has gutted out some tough victories for the Nittany Lions this season, but this test might be the toughest one remaining. Amani Oruwariye (senior cornerback, #21) is a top-five cornerback prospect, while Koa Farmer (senior linebacker, #7), Shareef Miller (junior edge, #48), Kevin Givens (junior defensive tackle, #30), John Reid (junior cornerback, #29), Robert Windsor (junior defensive tackle, #54), Steven Gonzalez (junior defensive tackle, #57), and Nick Scott (senior safety, #4) all have the potential to be Day 3-type prospects.

Louisiana State University vs. University of Central Florida, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, AZ - 1:00 PM, ESPN

LSU lost a tough one to Florida two weeks ago, but came back with a vengeance last week in a dominating performance against Georgia. Still, every game is now a must-win, and they will have to keep pushing if they want to make a push for the playoffs. Greedy Williams (redshirt sophomore cornerback, #29) is a CB1 and a potential 49er draftee in the top five overall, Devin White (junior linebacker, #40) is working his way up to LB1, and Rashard Lawrence (junior defensive tackle, #90) has also shown first-round talent. Breiden Fehoko (junior defensive end, #91) and Edwin Alexander (junior nose tackle, #99) are likely mid-round selections, making that defense even stronger. Garrett Brumfield (senior guard, #78) is one of the better guards in the class. Foster Moreau (senior tight end, #18) could be an interesting late round pick. Joe Burrow (junior quarterback, #9), a transfer from Ohio State, is starting to look comfortable, and an improved passing game could be exactly what LSU needs for a bowl game victory. Nick Brossette (junior running back, #4) has stepped up and started off the season strong as Derrius Guice’s replacement, but regressed as the season wore on.

For Central Florida, the only true prospect was quarterback McKenzie Milton (junior quarterback, #10). Unfortunately, a gruesome knee injury leaves his football career in jeopardy, and almost guarantees he returns for his senior season, whether that season is played in 2019 or 2020. The remaining prospects are all good AAC players, but are nothing more than training camp hopefuls at this point. Trysten Hill (junior defensive tackle, #9) is an athletic defensive line prospect, eating up blockers while Pat Jasinski (senior linebacker, #56) and Titus Davis (senior outside linebacker, #10) clean up the mess. Kyle Gibson (senior cornerback, #25) has done an admirable job taking over for Mike Hughes as the team’s primary cornerback, but is certainly not at the first-round level his predecessor reached. On offense, Tyler Hudanick (senior tackle, #53) and Wyatt Miller (senior tackle, #78) bookend a strong offensive line, and Dredrick Snelson (junior wide receiver, #5) gives the Knights a dangerous weapon on the outside.

(9) University of Washington vs. (6) Ohio State University, Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual in Pasadena, CA – 5:00 PM, ESPN

Trey Adams (senior tackle, #72) was the preseason OT1 for many draft pundits, but a back injury ended his season early. Or so we thought. Adams suited up for Washington in the regular season finale, and immediately elevated the Washington offense. Him returning and proving he is healthy could solidify him as a first-round pick come April. Kaleb McGary (senior tackle, #58) is a behemoth on the right side, and Nick Harris (junior center, #56) guides the unit. Myles Gaskin (senior running back, #9) has been the main weapon for the Huskies. Jake Browning (senior quarterback, #3), and Drew Sample (senior tight end, #88) will hope to keep Washington’s passing offense afloat, but are certainly later round prospects. The strength of Washington’s defense, and their team in general, lies in their secondary, with Byron Murphy (sophomore cornerback, #1), Jordan Miller (senior defensive back, #23), Taylor Rapp (junior safety, #7), Myles Bryant (junior cornerback, #5), and JoJo McIntosh (senior safety, #14) all being strong prospects to hear their names called early in next April’s draft, though Jordan Miller is dinged up with a leg injury. Greg Gaines (senior defensive tackle, #99) has tried to replace the production of Vita Vea on the defensive line, while Ben Burr-Kiven (senior linebacker, #25) is an athletic playmaker in the front seven. Other potential prospects that could be drafted late include Tevis Bartlett (senior linebacker, #17), Jaylen Johnson (senior defensive end, #92), Chico McClatcher (junior wide receiver, #6), and Shane Bowman (senior defensive tackle, #96), although Bowman's hopes may be fading with a foot injury caused him to miss around two months of his final season. Also keep an eye out for my "diamond in the rough" on the interior defensive line, Levi Onwuzurike (sophomore defensive tackle, #95).

Nick Bosa (junior defensive end, #97) may very well be the first overall pick next year, but he is missing the remainder of the season with a core injury. Dre'Mont Jones (junior defensive tackle, #86) and Robert Landers (junior defensive tackle, #67) each have first round aspirations with their strong 2018 campaign. It seems, though, like Dwayne Haskins (redshirt sophomore quarterback, #7) is the most likely to join Bosa in the first round after his hot start to the season and his dominating performance against Michigan. Ohio State’s receivers – Parris Campbell (senior wide receiver, #21), Johnnie Dixon (senior wide receiver, #1), K.J. Hill (junior wide receiver, #14), and Terry McLaurin (senior wide receiver, #83, probable with a head injury) – all have the athletic profile to get drafted, but need to show the production to go along with it to have a real chance to be more than Day 3 prospects. Parris Campbell is the most likely of the bunch to work his way up the ranks. Michael Jordan (junior guard, #73) and Isaiah Prince (junior tackle, #59) anchor an offensive line that will look to clear room for Mike Weber (junior running back, #25), who shares the backfield with talented true sophomore J.K. Dobbins. Prince in particular has been exceptional as a right tackle this season. On the back end of the defense, Damon Arnette (junior cornerback, #3), Kendall Sheffield (junior cornerback, #8), and Jordan Fuller (junior safety, #4) hope to continue Ohio State’s recent tradition of strong play in the secondary. Dante Booker (senior linebacker, #33) and Jashon Cornell (junior defensive tackle, #9) are likely undrafted guys, but should find a camp home next summer.

(15) University of Texas vs. (5) University of Georgia, Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA – 8:45 PM, ESPN

On defense, Texas boasts a talented secondary with potential first round pick Kris Boyd (senior cornerback, #2) on one side, Davante Davis (senior cornerback, #18) on the other, and P.J. Locke III (senior safety, #11) roaming the back end. They will be tested throughout this game, and they could all make themselves a lot of money with a strong performance. Anthony Wheeler (senior linebacker, #45), Charles Omenihu (senior defensive end, #90) and Breckyn Hager (senior defensive end, #44) round out the talented defense. On offense, Texas is led by Collin Johnson (junior wide receiver, #9), a receiver with consistency issues but has been physically compared to Calvin Johnson. On the other side is Lil’Jordan Humphrey (junior wide receiver, #84), who is anything but little at 6’4” and 220 pounds. Calvin Anderson (senior tackle, #66) and Tre Watson (senior running back, #5) also have some potential. Sam Ehlinger (sophomore quarterback, #11) has been much improved this season, and could be a top quarterback prospect in 2020.

Quite a bit of Georgia's main talent is younger, but there is still plenty to be excited about in this Georgia class. Deandre Baker (senior cornerback, #18) and J.R. Reed (junior safety, #20) form a strong tandem on the back end and could each be picked before the end of Day 2. Tyler Clark (junior defensive tackle, #52), Julian Rochester (junior defensive tackle, #5), and Jonathan Ledbetter (senior defensive end, #13) anchor a fierce defensive line, which benefits D'Andre Walker (senior outside linebacker, #15) coming off the edge. Terry Godwin (senior wide receiver, #5), Calvin Ridley’s younger brother Riley (junior wide receiver, #8), and Mecole Hardman (junior wide receiver, #4) provide the firepower on the outside. Isaac Nauta (junior tight end, #18) gives Georgia a reliable extra blocker and checkdown option. Elijah Holyfield (junior running back, #13, and son of Evander) and Brian Herrien (junior running back, #35) have done an admirable job replacing the duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Lamont Gaillard (senior center, #53) and Kendall Baker (senior guard, #65) anchor the middle of the Bulldog offensive line. Georgia’s Jake Fromm (sophomore quarterback, #11) is another prospect looking to get into 2020 QB1 contention, meaning that this battle of underclassman quarterbacks will be a great way to finish up the Bowl season.

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