National championship bowl watch

January 11, 2016


The prelims are done and the stage is set for what could be a very good CFP national championship game between unbeaten, top-ranked Clemson and perennial power Alabama in Glendale Santa Clara later Monday evening.  Despite its one loss, Alabama comes in as the favorite, but Clemson made a statement that they may not go easily when the steamrolled a very good Oklahoma team in the semi-finals on New Year’s Eve. And adding just a little spice to the whole business is the fact the game also features the top two finalists in this year’s Heisman voting in Alabama junior RB Derrick Henry and Clemson sophomore QB DeShaun Watson. Indeed, the only missing piece to this year’s championship game could be Clemson junior DE Shaq Lawson, the Tigers’ top prospect for the 2016 draft who injured a knee early in the semi-final win over Oklahoma and likely will be a game-time decision. If healthy, Lawson is one of college football’s more explosive edge rushers with the potential to go in the first 10-15 picks this coming April. Same for brash Tigers’ sophomore CB Mackensie Alexander, who has top 15-20 potential of his own. Meanwhile, Clemson junior FS Jayron Kearse figures to be a second-day pick, while Clemson veteran DT D.J. Reader, a 325-pound run-stuffing interior defender, along with TE Jordan Leggett, OG Eric Mac Lain and WR Charone Peake are mid-to-late round candidates.

Win or lose or draw in the desert, Alabama again figures to be one of the dominant teams at the upcoming draft, In fact, the program has had at least one player selected in the opening round in each of the past 7 years; indeed, the Tide has had at least one player taken in the top ten in 6 of those 7 years. Whether Alabama makes in 7 out of 8 with a top ten pick remains to be seen, but Alabama could have as many as a half dozen first-round prospects including junior DT A’Shawn Robinson, DEs Jarran Reed and junior Jonathan Allen, MLB Reggie Ragland and junior RB Derrick Henry, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner who has already run for over 2,000 yards and 25 TDs. Meanwhile, junior TE O.J. Howard should be at, or near, the top of his positional ranking this year, although for now he appears to be a more likely second-day pick, as will junior MLB Rueben Foster. Interestingly, all the Alabama juniors agreed to not even look at their draft evaluations until after their final game. That includes junior DE/OLB Tim Williams, arguably the most explosive pass rusher in college football who originally said he was returning to school, but is reportedly reconsidering entering the draft where he projects to be another second-day prospect. Meanwhile, other Alabama seniors that could get calls in the later rounds include QB Jake Coker, RB Kenyan Drake, C Ryan Kelly, OLBs Denzel Devall and Dillon Lee, and CB Cyrus Jones. Prospects to watch:

CLEMSON                                                                              ALABAMA

QB DeShaun Watson, #4, 6-1, 210, SO                                  QB Jake Coker, #14, 6-4, 235
RB Wayne Gallman, #9, 6-0, 215, SO                                    RB Derrick Henry, #2, 6-2, 245, JR
WR Charone Peake, #19, 6-2, 215                                           RB Kenyan Drake, #17, 6-0, 210
OT Isaiah Battle, #79, 6-6, 290                                               TE OJ Howard, #88, 6-5, 245, JR
OT Joe Gore, #73, 6-5, 290                                                      OT Dominick Jackson, #76, 6-5, 315
OG Eric Mac Lain, #78, 64, 315                                               C Ryan Kelly, #70, 6-4, 300
C Ryan Norton, #54, 6-3, 285                                                  DE Jonathan Allen, #93, 6-4, 315, JR
DE Shaq Lawson, #90, 6-2, 275, JR                                       NT A’Shawn Robinson, #86, 6-3, 315, JR
DT DJ Reader, #48, 6-2, 325                                                    OLB Tim Williams, #56, 6-4, 230, JR
MLB BJ Goodson, #44, 6-0, 250                                             OLB Denzall Devall, #30, 6-1, 255
CB Mackensie Alexander, #2, 5-10, 190, RSO                      OLB Dillon Lee, #25, 6-3, 245
FS Jayron Kearse, #20, 6-3, 210, JR                                       OLB Ryan Anderson, #22, 6-2, 255, JR
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                                          ILB Reggie Ragland, #19, 6-2, 255, JR
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                                          ILB Reuben Foster, #10, 6-0, 240, JR
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                                          CB Cyrus Jones, #5, 5-10, 200
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                                          S/CB Eddie Jackson, #4, 5-11, 195, JR
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DE Jarran Reed, #90, 6-3, 315