As the Dallas Cowboys prepare for a huge playoff battle with the Rams out in L.A. this weekend, there is a pretty big football game also taking the stage in California on Monday night. For the third time in four seasons — and fourth year in a row that the teams play one another — the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers battle for the National Championship crown of college football.
Just like we have come to expect from these two squads, both teams are absolutely loaded with players that will be playing in NFL as soon as next season — and that does not even include the two quarterbacks or wide receiver rooms stacked with professional talent that are not draft eligible just yet.
Needless to say, you will want to have your eyes glued to the television this evening. BTB gives you just ten prospects to watch as the two top teams in college football try to knock each other out in Santa Clara.
*Note: Projected first-round defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence will not play Monday evening due to suspension.
Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama:
One of the most dominant players in college football this season has been Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. Williams, who played sparingly prior to this season, has transformed into a monster in 2018 posting 66 total tackles, 18 tackles-for-loss, and eight sacks in 13 games for the Tide. Along with running mate Raekwon Davis, who will also likely be taken in the first, the Clemson offensive line will have their hands full on Saturday evening. Do not be surprised if you see Williams be taken in the first three picks in April.
Quinnen Williams swimming through blocks like he’s Michael Phelps pic.twitter.com/0qAJz7kte8— Barstool Bama (@BarstoolAlabama) November 4, 2018
Irv Smith, TE, Alabama:
Noah Fant is the top tight end on many boards, but Irv Smith, Jr. is one that can climb up the draft boards quickly. The son of former New Orleans Saints tight end Irv Smith, Sr. has caught 38 passes for 648 yards and seven touchdowns this season, becoming a reliable and big-play target for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. With a need at the tight end spot, the Cowboys would love to somehow have the NFL legacy fall to the second-round, or at least in striking distance for Dallas to consider making a move.
Irv Smith Jr. is such a fluid athlete for a TE. Perfect throw by Tua pic.twitter.com/9Jl66MhA66— Fed Scivittaro (@MeshPointScout) November 4, 2018
And if you have any questions or concerns about his ability to block — don’t.
Imo, Smith’s blocking is actually what continues to move him up my board. Not many athletes that block like that at TE anymore https://t.co/qej7tvwIX3— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 7, 2019
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson:
One of the better pass rushers in this draft class resides in Clemson, South Carolina, and will look to reside in the Clemson Tide backfield on Monday night. Ferrell flirted with the NFL Draft last offseason, but opted to come back in hopes of winning a championship for the Tigers. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound EDGE has 47 tackles, 17.5 tackles-for-loss, and 10.5 sacks to his name in 2018.
Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell might not have the bend you’d want, but with a lighting quick first step and fantastic moves, particularly his chop-rip combo, Ferrell continues to prove that he will be a force at the next level. He’s legit as hell. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/afb3CSqJZX— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 5, 2019
Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson:
Much like fellow defensive line teammate Ferrell, Christian Wilkins could have left Clemson early for the 2018 draft, but he too wanted another shot at glory. Wilkins, 6-foot-4 and 300-pounds, has been a key piece on the Tigers defense since his freshman campaign. In 2018, Wilkins has made 46 total stops, including 12.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks. Look for the Massachusetts native to hear his name called on day-one or day-two come April.
Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson:
The majority have LSU’s Greedy Williams as the draft’s top corner, but Clemson’s Trayon Mullen has a case to be right up there. The lengthy 6-foot-2, 190-pound defensive back is the Tigers best player in a secondary that will look to make life hard for Alabama signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa. Mullen has not picked off a pass yet this season, but he has made 25 tackles, three behind the line of scrimmage, and has gotten to the quarterback once.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama:
Perhaps the most unknown draft prospect in this game is Alabama tailback Josh Jacobs. The Oklahoma native was under-recruited until after a huge senior season to cap-off his high school career. Playing a backseat to running backs Damien Harris and Najee Harris over the past two seasons, Jacobs has been overlooked by many; however, Jacobs put his name in the national spotlight in the semifinal game against the Sooners — rushing for 98 yards on 15 carries and adding a receiving touchdown in the win. If the junior decides to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, expect the ‘Bama back to be in the conversation as the best at his position in the class.
Josh Jacobs isn’t fair— Comeback SZN (@ComebackSZNshow) December 30, 2018
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama:
LSU’s Devin White is the top linebacker in the upcoming draft class, but Mack Wilson is certainly not far behind. The former five-star recruit has been a star for Nick Saban’s defense during his time in Tuscaloosa. Wilson has totaled 65 tackles, one sack, and a pair of interceptions in his junior season. There has been some speculation that Wilson could return for his fourth year, but he would be a first-round selection in 2019.
Deionte Thompson, SAF, Alabama:
The best safety in the 2019 draft class plays for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Texas native has had a huge 2018 season for Saban, making 75 tackles, two interceptions, and forcing three fumbles as a redshirt-junior. Thompson, 6-foot-2, is a true centerfield prospect that should make an immediate impact in the NFL.
Thompson is a true centerfield prospect. He plays at a different speed than the other 21 guys on the field when hunting for the football in the air.
If a quarterback sets his eyes to one side of the field, he has the instincts and athletic ability to come from the hashes to the opposite sideline. Hip fluidity allows him to change direction quickly.
His click-and-close ability is the best in a prospect since Malik Hooker left Ohio State for the 2017 NFL Draft. Thompson’s length is a weapon, it allows him to take more aggressive angles when playing passes near the sideline. The length also helps keep him off the body of the receiver, as he is able to reach through to break up a pass without illegal contact.
Austin Bryant, EDGE, Clemson:
Overshadowed by some other beasts on the defensive line, Austin Bryant is yet another playmaker for Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. Bryant was a candidate to come out early, but decided to return to school with his teammates for the very game that the Tigers are playing in tonight. We wrote on the Clemson defender last fall when it appeared as if Bryant was going to make the jump to the NFL:
Bryant has played like he has been shot out of a cannon this fall. The now junior has been an absolute force through two games. Number seven recorded five total tackles — four solo — in the season opener against Kent State. His play took off to another level when the defending champs welcomed in top-15 Auburn into town last weekend.
The Clemson defense got to Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham eleven times last Saturday night. Bryant racked up seven total tackles and brought down Stidham on four different occasion.
There's a chance that the Lions have a shot at Jachai Polite, Josh Allen or Clelin Ferrell in the first round but if they don't...I wouldn't be mad with selecting Austin Bryant. Not in the first round but at some point in the draft. pic.twitter.com/Eenk4b8W5u— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) December 23, 2018
Jonah Williams. OT, Alabama:
The consensus top offensive tackle prospect in April’s draft is Alabama’s Jonah Williams. The former five-star prospect has lived up his billing for the Crimson Tide, anchoring one of the most explosive offenses across the nation. Williams, 6-foot-5 and 310-pounds, is projected to be taken within the first ten picks of the draft. Williams is not the longest, but he is a physical lineman that is capable of being a key piece on a good offensive line on the next level.