#1 Alabama (13-0) vs #4 Washington (12-1); Peach Bowl; Atlanta; 3 PM ET; ESPN … The first of today’s two national championship semi-finals has a kind of David and Goliath feel about with the underdog Washington Huskies playing David to the unbeaten, top-ranked defending national champion Alabama. Not that Washington isn’t a talented team; they are, but the Huskies still haven’t beaten any of any real substance this year and they still don’t have the overall depth of the Crimson Tide. One could also make the case that the Huskies also don’t have the elite talent of Alabama. Indeed, Alabama could have as many as 3-4 top ten picks this coming April. Veteran DE Jonathan Allen, for example, is generally considered to be one of the top two prospects overall in this draft class along with Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett, while MLB Reuben Foster and redshirt sophomore CB Marlon Humphrey are also starting to get some top 5 notice, Meanwhile, junior LT Cam Robinson is the consensus top offensive lineman in this year’s draft, while enigmatic OLB Tim Williams, one of the most explosive edge rusher in the country, could be one of this year’s opening round wild cards as he has top 5-10 physical talent, but there are also character concerns that could literally drop him out of the first round. TE O.J. Howard, is also ratede as one of the 1-2 prospects at their respective positions, while SS Eddie Jackson, OLB Ryan Anderson, and 5T DE Da’Shawn Hand have top 100 potential.
However, let’s not shed too many tears for poor old Washington quite just yet. Indeed, the Huskies have several first-round candidates of their own starting with rising junior WR John Ross, who isn’t all that big but he has track speed along with outstanding quickness and agility making his breaks. In fact, nobody should be surprised at all if Ross is ultimately a top 10 pick if he enters the 2017 draft. As usch, scouts are really intrigued to see Ross go up against Alabama’s Humphrey in some one-on-one duels. The Huskies also have as many as 4 other underclassmen who could get some first-round consideration this coming April including juniors CB Sidney Jones, FS Budda Baker and 5-tech DE Elijah Qualls, along with redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Vita Vea. For good measure, the Huskies also have one of the leading contenders to be the #1 pick overall in 2018 in sophomore QB Jake Browning.
#74 OT Cam Robinson, 6-5, 330, JR #3 QB Jake Browning, 6-2, 205, SO
#50 OG Alphonse Taylor, 6-5, 345 #15 WR John Ross, 6-2,1 90, JR
#88 TE OJ Howard, 6-5, 245 #8 WR Dante Pettis, 6-1, 190, JR
#93 DE Jonathan Allen, 6-3, 295 #15 TE Darrell Danilels, 6-3, 240
#9 DE Da’Shawn Hand, 6-3, 280 #76 OG Jake Eldrenkamp, 6-4, 285
#54 DE Dalvin Tomlinson, 6-3, 305 #11 DT Elijah Qualls, 6-1, 325, JR
#10 MLB Reuben Foster, 6-1, 240 #28 LB Psalm Wooching, 6-3, 230
#56 LB Tim Williams, 6-3, 240 #52 CB Sidney Jones, 6-0, 180, JR
#22 LB Ryan Anderson, 6-2, 255 #20 CB Kevin King, 6-2, 190
#26 CB Marlon Humphrey, 6-1, 200, RSO #32 FS Budda Baker, 5-10, 185, JR
#4 SS Eddie Jackson, 6-0, 195 #48 PK Cam Van Winkle, 5-10, 190
#99 PK Adam Griffith, 5-10, 195
#15 P JK Scott, 6-5, 200, JR
#3 Ohio State (11-1) vs Clemson (12-1); Fiesta Bowl; Phoenix; 7 PM ET; ESPN … If the first national semi-final looks like a possible mismatch, the second game between Ohio State and Clemson has all the appearances of a straight-up pick-em contest which could come down to which team takes better care of the ball. Both teams are talented, both have outstanding young QBs and both have plenty of depth up and down the line-up. Needless to say the QB duel between juniors DeShaun Watson of Clemson and J.T. Barrett of Ohio State will be front and center. Indeed, both are among the top dual-threat QBs in the country, although Watson, who some teams feel has first-round talent, appears to be the better pro prospect. In fact, Watson appears headed to the 2017 draft after taking part in the Tigers’ senior day festivities at the end of the year, while Barrett appears to be headed back to school next fall for another run at the national championship and maybe the Heisman. In fact, Ohio State has about as young a roster as there is among the major national playoff teams. Indeed, the Buckeyes have just one senior considered to be more than a fringe prospect, although veteran C/G Pat Elflein is actually one of the better interior offensive linemen in the country with top 100 potential. At the same time, though, OSU juniors like RB Curtis Samuel, OG Billy Price, DE Tyquan Lewis, ILB Raekwon McMillan, and CB Gareon Conley, along with redshirst sophs CB Marshon Lattimore, FS Malik Hooker and DE Sam Hubbard each has some first or second day potential for the upcoming draft should any opt to turn pro winter this winter.
Meanwhile, QB Watson may not actually be the Tigers’ best prospect for the upcoming draft. That honor could go to his primary target WR Mike Williams, a rangy big-play threat with top 10-15 potential who has made an inspiring comeback from a serious neck injury suffered in the 2015 season opener to lead the team with 84 receptions for almost 1,200 yards and 10 TDs this fall. He combines with junior Artavis Scott and sophomore Hunter Renfrow to give the Tigers as good a wide receiver as any in the country. Throw in rangy TE Jordan Leggett, a second-day candidate for the upcoming draft, and it gets all that more dynamic. At the same time, steady junior RB Wayne Gallman isn’t flashy but keeps the chains moving in the ground game. The Tigers also have a couple of defensive stars with second-day potential in DT Carlos Watkins and CB Cordrea Tankersly, while LB Ben Boulware isn’t the most talented guy out there, but nobody in the country plays harder or smarter.
OHIO STATE CLEMSON
#16 QB JT Barrett, 6-2, 222, JR #4 QB DeShaun Watson, 6-2, 210, JR
#4 RB Chris Samuel, 5-10, 200, JR #9 RB Wayne Gallman, 6-0, 215, JR
#54 OG Billy Price, 6-3, 315, JR #7 WR Mike Williams, 6-3, 220, JR
#65 C/G Pat Elflein, 6-2, 300 #3 WR Artavis Scott, 510, 190, JR
#6 DE Sam Hubbard, 6-5, 265, RSO #16 TE Jordan Leggett, 6-5, 255
#59 DE Tyquan Lewis, 6-4, 265, JR #10 LB Ben Boulware, 5-11, 240
#5 ILB Raekwon McMillan, 6-2, 245, JR #18 FS Jadar Johnson, 6-0, 205
#2 CB Marshon Lattimore, 6-0, 195, RSO #25 CB Cordrea Tankersly, 6-0, 195
#8 CB Gareon Conley, 6-0, 195, JR #94 DT Carlos Watkins, 6-2, 300
#24 SS Malik Hooker, 6-2, 205, RSO