Scout's Eye: Top NFL Prospects to Watch in Week 14
SEC Championship: Alabama 12-0 vs. Georgia 11-1
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (CBS), Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Ga.)
This is a rematch of last year's thrilling National Championship Game, which Alabama won 26-23 in overtime. Georgia, after seeing just one player chosen during the 2017 NFL Draft (Isaiah McKenzie), rebounded with six players selected in 2018, including three first-round picks, under the development of head coach Kirby Smart, who is now 24-3 dating to last year. Smart faces mentor Nick Saban once again, who remains undefeated at 15-0 when coaching against his former assistants. A win for the Bulldogs would solidify another berth into the College Football Playoff. However, the Crimson Tide, which has outscored opponents 588-165 this season, enter the matchup as a 13-point favorite. Buckle up, this is a double chin-strap type of affair!
Five draft-eligible prospects to focus on:
DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama, rSO (6-3, 297, 4.96, #92): Not many prospects possess Williams' size, speed, strength and athleticism. A first-year starter, he bulked up 12 pounds during the offseason in anticipation of his move from edge defender to nose guard. Williams' quickness off the ball, along with his power to gain leverage, allows him to be a dominant run stuffer but also an effective pass-rusher. He shows sound technique with his hand placement and can hold his ground against just about anyone, while demonstrating the athleticism necessary to split double teams. He has been described as a 300-pound bar of soap by Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams, and head coach Nick Saban has praised Williams for his work ethic and leadership. This is a bonafide top 10 prospect when he does decide to declare for the draft.
CB Deandre Baker, Georgia, rJR. (5-11, 180, 4.49, #18): Blessed with excellent size, tremendous change of direction capability and extremely quick make-up speed, Baker possesses all the traits of a top cornerback. He has allowed very few touchdowns during his career, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a play that goes for more than 20 yards against him on film. He was named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the best defensive back in college football. Baker projects as a lockdown corner at the next level and should hear his name called early on Day 1. In fact, some would say that Baker is the best draft-eligible prospect in the nation and could land inside the top 10.
ILB Mack Wilson, Alabama, JR (6-1, 231, 4.73, #30: Wilson, the quarterback of the Alabama defense, bided his time behind multiple players who eventually went on to the NFL before stepping into the starting MIKE role this season. He possesses elite instincts and athleticism, along with prototypical size and speed. Wilson takes excellent pursuit angles and does a phenomenal job fighting through the trash and shedding blockers. While he has missed a few pre-snap reads and adjustments, coach Nick Saban is extremely confident in his linebacker and has heaped praise on his work ethic. Wilson is expected to test extremely well and is yet another Alabama first-round pick in the making.
RB Damien Harris, Alabama, SR (5-10, 216, 4.55, #34): What makes Harris so remarkable is his powerful running style combined with his vision and cutback ability. He's also a threat out of the backfield and showcases the speed necessary to gash defenses for big chunks of yardage. He fights through contact and bulldozes his way for extra yardage, but his balance and burst might be two of his most desirable traits. The Alabama backfield-by-committee approach has somewhat limited his carries, just 117, but he has averaged more than six yards per clip, gaining 719 rushing yards, while setting career highs in receptions (17) and receiving yards (177). Harris has only 444 career carries, so there's a lot of tread left on the tires. In what is considered to be a down year for running backs, Harris might be the best of the bunch and factors as a top 100 pick.
WR Riley Ridley, Georgia JR (6-2, 200, 4.48, #8): A reliable wide out with dependable hands, Ridley shows the ability to create separation, along with great body control and concentration. The Bulldogs have a deep and talented wide receiver corps, so his numbers are not going to jump off the stat sheet (906 receiving yards in 26 career games), but when the offense needs a big play, it turns to Ridley. He looks to join his brother, Calvin (Falcons) in the NFL, but teams will have to do their homework, as Ridley underwent ankle surgery in 2017. He also has a marijuana arrest on his resume, so medical and character will have an impact on how teams view his draft value. This matchup is an opportunity for him to showcase his skill-set in front of a full press box and win over some scouts to help solidify his stock.
Other Alabama prospects to watch:
FS Deionte Thompson, rJR (6-1, 196, 4.50, #14)
OT Jonah Williams, JR (6-5, 301, 5.02, #73)
DE Raekwon Davis, JR (6-6, 303, 5.07, #99)
TE Irv Smith, JR (6-3, 241, 4.70, #82)
CB Trevon Diggs, JR (6-1, 199, 4.55, #7)
OLB Anfernee Jennings, JR (6-2, 265, 4.79, #33)
DE Isaiah Buggs, SR (6-4, 292, 4.94, #49)
RB Josh Jacobs, JR (5-9, 216, 4.49, #8)
CB Saivion Smith, JR (6-1, 200, 4.52, #4)
OLB Christian Miller, rSR (6-3, 244, 4.76, #47)
OG Lester Cotton, SR (6-3, 325, 5.32, #66)
OG Ross Pierschbacher, rSR (6-3, 309, 5.21, #71)
OT Matt Womack, rJR (6-6, 325, 5.46, #77)
Other Georgia prospects to watch:
OLB D'Andre Walker, SR (6-2, 240, 4.70, #15)
DE Jonathan Ledbetter, SR (6-3, 277, 4.86, #13)
WR Mecole Hardman, JR (5-10, 183, 4.38, #4)
WR Terry Godwin, SR (5-11, 185, 4.42, #5)
SS J.R. Reed, SR (6-0, 195, 4.60, #20)
TE Isaac Nauta, JR (6-4, 246, 4.74, #18)
OT Kendall Baker, rSR (6-5, 305, 5.15, #65)
RB Elijah Holyfield, JR (5-10, 215, 4.52, #13)
Big 12 Championship: Texas (9-3) vs. Oklahoma (11-1)
Saturday, noon ET (ABC), AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:
WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown, Oklahoma, JR (5-11, 162, 4.36, #5): A big time vertical threat, "Hollywood" can blow the top off any defense and just might be the most explosive, exciting draft-eligible wide receiver prospect. Brown has really elevated his game this season, showing to be a more polished receiver, expanding his route tree and becoming a more dangerous threat underneath in the passing attack, while showcasing his ability to make defenders miss in the open field. He's very similar to DeSean Jackson (Bucs) with a major need for speed!
WR Collin Johnson, Texas, JR (6-5, 220, 4.59, #9): Blessed with prototypical size and speed, Johnson possesses rare length and leaping ability, coupled with tremendous ball skills**.** He has excellent feet and impressive change-of-direction ability but NFL scouts want to see Johnson sharpen his routes, in addition to being able to do a better job holding onto the football. He currently projects as an early- to mid-round prospect.
OG Ben Powers, Oklahoma, SR. (6030, 310, 5.12, #72): A transfer from Butler Community College, Powers has been dominant since his arrival in Norman. He has started at both guard positions and plays with a nasty mean streak in the trenches that just irks the opposition. He has showed his toughness by playing through nagging injuries while not missing any games and rarely allowing a sack.
Other Texas prospects to watch:
FS Brandon Jones, JR (6-0, 205, 4.53, #19)
CB Kris Boyd, SR (6-0, 195, 4.50, #2)
WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey, JR (6-4, 225, 4.50, #84)
DE Charles Omenihu, SR (6-5, 280, 4.75, #90)
DT Chris Nelson, rSR (6-1, 315, 5.15, #97)
DE Malcolm Roach, JR. (6-3, 282, 4.88, #12)
QB Shane Buechele, JR (6-1, 210, 4.78, #7)
Other Oklahoma prospects to watch:
RB Rodney Anderson, JR (6-1, 218, 4.59, #24)
OT Bobby Evans, rJR (6-4, 301, 5.23, #71)
OG Cody Ford, rJR (6-3, 338, 5.30, #74)
OG Dru Samia, Oklahoma, SR (6-4, 305, 5.19, #75)
FS Parnell Motley, rJR (5-11, 175, 4.51, #11)
QB Kyler Murray, JR (5-10, 192, 4.58, #1)
Big Ten Championship: Northwestern (8-4) vs. Ohio State (11-1)
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (FOX), Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:
OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State, SR. (6-6, 310, 5.16, #59): Highly recruited out of high school, Prince chose Ohio State over Alabama and his hometown Maryland; the talent was always there, it just took some time for the light bulb to turn on. After struggling as a sophomore, Prince made tremendous strides as a junior and looks even more technically sound as a senior, especially with his footwork. Prince, a three-year starter at right tackle, will probably remain in that position when he transitions to the NFL.
CB Michael Jordan, Ohio State, JR. (6-6, 310, 5.24, #73): The big man has been put to the test in 2018, as the Buckeyes have asked Jordan to man the center spot after playing the previous two seasons at guard. It has resulted in a handful of low and borderline dangerous snaps, which could prove costly in a close matchup such as this one. While the big, powerful mauler has struggled at his new position, it shouldn't hurt his draft stock too much, as his best position at the next level projects as guard. A bit of an ironman, this will be Jordan's 40th consecutive start.
QB Clayton Thorson, Northwestern, SR (6-3, 225, 4.76, #18): Thorson has endured an inconsistent season in which he began on a limited "pitch count" due to his recovery from a torn ACL, suffered in last year's Music City Bowl. At times, he has looked horrendous (see; Rutgers), lofting deep balls that look like butterflies and missing entirely off the mark. In other games, Thorson has looked to be a competent game manager in wins over Wisconsin and Iowa. From an evaluation standpoint, it would be hard to invest a draft pick on Thorson during the first two days.
Other Northwestern prospects to watch:
ILB Paddy Fisher, rSO (6-3, 241, 4.78, #42)
CB Montre Hartage, SR (6-0, 195, 4.52, #24)
WR Flynn Nagel, SR (5-11, 195, 4.59, #2)
Other Ohio State prospects to watch:
DE Nick Bosa, JR (6-3, 270, 4.76, #97)
QB Dwayne Haskins, rSO (6-3, 220, 4.59, #7)
DT Dre'Mont Jones, rJR (6-2, 286, 4.96, #86)
WR Parris Campbell, rSR (6-0, 208, 4.39, #21)
RB Mike Weber, rJR. (5-9, 215, 4.52, #25)
CB Damon Arnette, rJR (5-11, 195, 4.55, #3)
CB Kendall Sheffield, JR (5-11, 193, 4.50, #8)
WR K.J. Hill, rJR (6-0, 198, 4.49)
ACC Championship: Clemson (12-0) vs. Pittsburgh (7-5)
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (ABC), Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:
DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson, SR. (6-3, 300, 5.04, #99): One of the most impressive athletic specimens eligible for this year's draft, Wilkins has proven his worth as a run-stopper since moving to the interior a season ago. He possesses ultra-quick hands, disengages quickly, demonstrates excellent change of direction in pursuit and can beat opponents with his strength or agility, which includes an excellent dip move. At 300-plus pounds, Wilkins can do back-flips, splits and dunk a basketball with ease. On the field, he can dominate with physicality or finesse. His future appears bright, as this is a highly competitive leader who helps fuel his teammates.
DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson, JR. (6-3, 340, 5.27, #90): No one is going to question the value of Lawrence, another athletic freak on this extraordinary defensive line. At 340 pounds, he has been timed in the 4.9-range for 40 yards and has just 18 percent body fat. He also recorded 32 bench press reps of 225 as a freshman and can dunk a basketball. Considered a high character player, Lawrence demonstrates great balance, excellent hand placement and keen instincts. He has superstar written all over him.
OG Alex Bookser, Pittsburgh, rSR (6-5, 315, 5.36, #78): With over 30 career starts at right guard and right tackle, Bookser possesses the versatility and experience to play multiple positions. The local product has worked on becoming more of a leader, something he self-admittedly failed to do in the past. He did serve a one-game suspension in 2017 for a DUI that resulted in him being held at gunpoint after a police chase.
Other Clemson prospects to watch:
DE Clelin Ferrell, rJR. (6-4, 260, 4.78, #99)
DT Dexter Lawrence, JR. (6-3, 340, 5.27, #90)
CB Trayvon Mullen, JR (6-1, 195, 4.49, #1)
ILB Tre Lamar, JR (6-2, 255, 4.72, #57)
ILB Kendall Joseph, SR (5-11, 235, 4.78, #34)
OT Mitch Hyatt, SR (6-5, 310, 5.08, #75)
DE Austin Bryant, SR (6-5, 280, 4.83, #7)
WR Hunter Renfrow, rSR (5-10, 185, 4.54, #13)
ILB Shaq Smith, rSO (6-1, 255, 4.74, #5)
DT Albert Huggins, SR (6-2, 315, 5.12, #67)
C Justin Falcinelli, rSR (6-3, 315, 5.33, #50)
Other Pittsburgh prospects to watch:
RB Qadree Ollison, rSR (6-1, 230, 4.63, #30**)**
FB George Aston, rSR (6-0, 245, 4.86, #35)