College Football Playoff Scouting Guide

New Years Day Bowls NFL Draft Prospects Preview

December 31, 2017

Michigan Wolverines vs South Carolina Gamecocks
12:00 CST on ESPN2

Michigan Prospects
LT Mason Cole
C Patrick Kugler
DE Chase Winovich
DT Maurice Hurst
WLB Mike McCray

South Carolina Prospects
TE Hayden Hurst
C Alan Knott
DE Dante Sawyer
DT Taylor Stallworth
WLB Skai Moore
CB Jamarcus King
S Chris Lammons

While Michigan had a down year because of a young inexperienced team the Gamecocks young roster is providing hope for the future. The top matchup in this game will see South Carolina center Alan Knott face off against DT Maurice Hurst. Hurst is an explosive interior defender using that burst off the line to really stress offensive lineman. Another Hurst is the best prospect for South Carolina as tight end Hayden Hurst (#2 TE) stepped up his game this year providing a big athletic target that can find the soft areas in coverage for QB Jake Bentley over the middle. With Michigan playing a physical pound it at you offensive style, it will be interesting to see how LB Skai Moore does. Moore is one of the lighter fast linebackers we see more in college football, so playing against the Michigan offense could be a good test to see how he plays against good lineman that can get to the second level and whether Moore can take on the blocks or get around them to make plays.

Central Florida Knights vs Auburn Tigers
12:30 CST on ESPN

Central Florida Prospects
LT Aaron Evans
DE Jamiyus Pittman
DE Tony Guerad
OLB Shaquem Griffin
ILB Chequan Burkett
CB Mike Hughes

Auburn Prospects
RB Kerryon Johnson
LT Austin Golson
RT Darius James
RG Braden Smith
WLB Tre’ Williams
CB Carlton Davis
SS Stephen Roberts
FS Tray Matthews

This will be a fun matchup as the Tigers were a couple of wins from the College Football playoff while UCF is currently undefeated and looking to finish the season off with one more victory. UCF has some draftable prospects but really lacks a player that will go within the first four or five rounds. One player to keep an eye on for them is OLB Shaquem Griffin who may lack only one hand but that hasn’t stopped him from being a playmaker on their defense. For Auburn they have plenty of top tier talent and it all starts on offense with their line. RG Braden Smith (#2 G) is perfect for the Tigers offense as he is put on the move consistently pulling and trapping to take advantage of his athletic ability. He’s a big reason why RB Kerryon Johnson has had a big year. Johnson has gotten some LeVeon Bell comparisons due to his ability to be patient and make some big lateral cuts to make defenders miss. On defense it’s cornerback Carlton Davis (#10 CB) that leads the Tigers. Davis is an explosive cornerback who has the speed to run with receivers. Along with his size and Davis has the making for a top tier cornerback.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs LSU Tigers
1:00 CST on ABC

Notre Dame Prospects
RB Josh Adams
WR Equanimeous St. Brown
TE Durham Smythe
LT Mike McGlincey
LG Quenton Nelson
NT Jerry Tillery
MLB Nyles Morgan
CB Drue Tranquill

LSU Prospects
RB Derrius Guice
WR DJ Chark
TE John David Moore
LT KJ Malone
DE Christian LaCouture
NT Greg Gilmore
CB Donte Jackson
CB Kevin Toliver

With Arden Key (#2 Edge) not playing in this game it takes away a prime opportunity for us to see him go against a potential first round pick in LT Mike McGlinchey (#9 OT). Notre Dame rode their running game this season as RB Josh Adams used his speed and lateral quickness to carry the load. But it was the offensive line that was huge as McGlinchey and LG Quenton Nelson (#1 G) were road graders opening up holes. Nelson is the best offensive lineman in this class uses both power and athletic ability to shut down defenders in pass protection and run blocking. Neither Christian LaCouture or Greg Gilmore are high round prospects but they are good players and will look to give Nelson fits.

Georgia Bulldogs vs Oklahoma Sooners
5:00 CST on ESPN

Georgia Prospects
RB Nick Chubb
RB Sony Michel
WR Javon Wims
TE Jeb Blazevich
LT Isaiah Wynn
NT John Atkins
DE Trenton Thompson
SLB Lorenzo Carter
OLB Davin Bellamy
WLB Roquan Smith
CB Malkom Parrish
CB Aaron Davis
FS Dominick Sanders

Oklahoma Prospects
QB Baker Mayfield
LT Orlando Brown
C Erick Wren
OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
ILB Emmanuel Beal
SS Steve Parker

All eyes on this game will be glued on Baker Mayfield (#9 QB) and rightfully so after winning the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield may run around a bunch but he can win within the pocket with a strong arm and good touch. I’m anxious to watch is decision making and accuracy. Mayfied can get into the habit of throwing the ball into coverage or just locking into throws. Georgia has the defense to really limit Mayfield with a strong front four, especially their linebackers. Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter can lock down the edges and apply pressure while Roquan Smith has the speed and athletic ability to go sideline to sideline and really spy him.

When Georgia has the ball they’re going to be pounding the rock behind two talented backs. Nick Chubb (#3 RB) is the more well known runner of the two using patience and acceleration to navigate through the line and accelerate to reel off long runs. His running mate Sony Michel is right behind Chubb and uses and is a powerful runner who can run through contact and shows deceptive speed. Oklahoma will look to shut down the running attack and force true freshman Jake Frohm to throw the ball. That way the Sooners can turn loose their best pass rusher Ogbonnia Okronkwo to attack. Okronkwo is a bit stiff but uses his quickness off the ball and acceleration to beat offensive tackles and rack up sacks.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs Clemson Tigers
8:45 CST on ESPN

Alabama Prospects
RB Damien Harris
RB Bo Scarbrough
WR Calvin Ridley
WR Robert Foster
C Bradley Bozeman
DE Da’Shawn Hand
DT Da’Ron Payne
WLB Rashaan Evans
CB Levi Wallace
CB Anthony Averett
CB Tony Brown
SS Minkah Fitzpatrick
FS Ronnie Harrison

Clemson Prospects
WR Deon Cain
WR Hunter Renfrow
LT Mitch Hyatt
RG Tyrone Crowder
DE Clelin Ferrell
DE Austin Bryant
DT Christian Wilkins
SLB Dorian O’Daniel
WLB Kendall Joseph
CB Ryan Carter
FS Van Smith

Just like last year’s National Title Game or the year before these two teams are no strangers and much like those two previous games, both teams are loaded with NFL Draft talent. When Alabama has the ball they’ll have to move it against a defensive line that is arguably one of the best in college football. Whether it’s the two big athletic ends in Clelin Ferrell (#4 Edge) and Austin Bryant or the penetrating ability of DT Christian Wilkins (#1 DL) the Tigers are loaded. That doesn’t even include Dexter Lawrence (not draft eligible) who will be a top prospect for the 2019 class. They’ll look to stop a rushing attack that is led by the thunder of RB Bo Scarbrough and the lightning of Damien Harris. On the outside the Crimson Tide have Calvin Ridley (#1 WR) who has explosive speed down the field to take the top off the defense but also the ability to create separation underneath. It will take a group effort from a young Tiger secondary to corral him and Robert Foster (#10 WR).

When Clemson has the ball they’re highlighted by a deep receiving core of Deon Cain (#4 WR), Hunter Renfrow (#9 WR) and Ray-Ray McCloud. Alabama matches up well with a secondary that is full of talent. Anthony Averett and Levi Wallace man the outside while elite athlete Tony Brown (#6 CB) will look to cover the quick Renfrow in the slot. The key will be SS Minkah Fitzpatrick (#1 CB) who is listed as a safety but he’s a do it all player who can cover man to man, drop back into zone and even rush the passer. Looking to stop the run will be the combination of NT Da’Ron Payne (#4 DL) and ILB Rashaan Evans (#3 LB). Payne is a powerful run stuffer who uses his hands well to get past defenders. Evans is also powerful in his own right flying forward to make plays and uses that power to take on blockers and free himself.

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