Welcome to the fourth edition of the College Football Playoffs. This year the playoffs consist of Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and Oklahoma. All four teams are loaded with talent and many of them will be some of the top prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. As the Cleveland Browns season has come to its unfortunate end of being 0-16, all eyes turn to the 2018 NFL Draft where the Browns will have the first overall pick, the fourth overall pick, and six picks within the first 65 selections. The use of this offseason’s draft capital will be paramount to the success of the 2018 Browns and the future of the organization. These College Football Playoff games will be a must watch for Browns fans to view some of the possible players who could be future Browns.
Well, WFNY has Browns fans covered to get them ready to watch the two games on New Years Day and the National Championship game. WFNY’s Jake Burns and Joe Gilbert takes a look at the draft eligible players on the four teams and highlights the five key prospects to watch on all four teams.
So, let’s take a look at who to pay attention to in these upcoming prime time games.
Georgia v. Oklahoma | Rose Bowl | 5:00 p.m.
|Georgia Prospects||Oklahoma Prospects|
|#3 ILB Roquan Smith (JR)||#6 QB Baker Mayfield (SR)|
|#27 RB Nick Chubb (SR)||#78 OT Orlando Brown (JR)|
|#1 RB Sony Michel (SR)||#81 TE Mark Andrews (JR)|
|#6 WR Javon Wims (SR)||#36 FB Dimitri Flowers (SR)|
|#77 OG Isaiah Wynn (SR)||#31 OLB Ogbonnia Okornokwo (SR)|
|#78 DT Trenton Thompson (JR)||#14 OLB Emmanuel Beal (SR)|
|#7 OLB Lorenzo Carter (SR)||#10 S Steven Parker (SR)|
|#17 OLB Davin Bellamy (SR)|
|#35 CB Aaron Davis (SR)|
Georgia Key Draft Prospects
LB Roquan Smith, #3 (113 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks and 1 FF)
Smith is going to be one of the most sought after linebackers in this year’s class. He is extremely instinctual, plays at a speed superior to those around him and covers sideline to sideline. Expect Smith to go off the board late in Day 1 as teams will covet his abilities as the captain of their defense.
RB Nick Chubb, #27 (191 carries for 1,175 yards and 13 TDs)
The stable of Georgia running backs is led by Chubb. He is a powerful downhill back who has had a brilliant career in Athens, despite some knee injuries. Chubb is notorious for a powerful attacking style that punishes opposing defenses. There is plenty that worry his explosiveness is different post-knee injury, but he is showing that he can still change the game his own way.
RB Sony Michel, #1 (131 carries for 948 yards and 13 TDs)
Michel has been a long-time key cog for Georgia next to Chubb. His style is a little less downhill compared to Chubb, but he has an amazing ability to make defenders miss with one-cut moves. He is a mix of of the best features a back can bring, and he has shown the durability all teams covet. Expect Michel to be a Day 2 target for some teams.
DT Trenton Thompson, #78 (33 tackles and 3 TFLs)
Thompson is that rare kind of defender as he has a lot of ability to get after the quarterback. In the pass rush, he is a fast interior defender who routinely fires by guards to collapse the pocket. Thompson can bolt by guards, can use his speed to loop around the line on stunts, and can close on the quarterback in an instant.
OG Isaiah Wynn, #77 (6-foot-2, 302 pounds)
Wynn has impressed scouts this season as he has been an excellent run blocker for the Bulldogs. Wynn blocks with aggression and plays a nasty physical style. In pass protection, Wynn has held his own against impressive SEC interior competition. Wynn started at left guard in 2016, but he can also play center.
Oklahoma Key Draft Prospects
QB Baker Mayfield, #6 (262-369 for 4,340 yards, 41 TDs and 5 INTs | 81 carries for 310 yards and 5 TDs)
Mayfield is one of three quarterbacks the fan base is leaning toward taking with the first pick of the draft. He is well known in the draft community and most people have drastic opinions on him one way or the other. One thing is undeniable: Mayfield is one of the most prolific college quarterbacks of all time and many of his skills have the chance to be elite at the next level. His size is considered a problem, and many have questioned the level of defenses the quarterback has competed against in the last few years. These playoffs will show us some things about Mayfield’s makeup.
TE Mark Andrews, #81 (56 catches for 906 yards and 8 TDs)
Andrews has been one of Mayfield’s favorite targets for the past few years. He is often found in the slot, working against linebackers and up the hashes for big gains. Oklahoma uses him creatively, and he is often found in favorable match-ups. Andrews isn’t used as a traditional in-line blocking tight end so that adjustment will be key for his NFL success.
OT Orlando Brown, #78 (6-foot-8, 345 pounds)
Brown is a massive left tackle for Oklahoma who moves pretty well for his size. He is one of the bigger prospects at the position and overwhelms college level players. His feet will be the question for NFL scouts, as the speed of the edge rush will be something he is not accustomed to. A future at right tackle in the NFL is very likely.
OLB Ogbonnia Okornokwo, #31 (70 tackles, 17 TFLs and 8 sacks)
Okoronkwo is fast and explosive to rush the passer, but he is tight. He can get covered by length and mass on the edge with offensive tackles, and that will be a bigger issue in the NFL. Expect to see Okornokwo moved in and out a three-point stance at the next level as he will need to find speed to be successful in the NFL. He has a high ceiling.
FB Dimitri Flowers, #36 (13 carries for 26 yards and 4 TDs | 23 catches for 411 yards and 4 TDs)
Considered by many to be the top fullback in this class, Flowers is used all over the field for the Sooners. He will line up in the backfield, the wing, the slot, wherever. He hasn’t shown the traditional I-formation look most scouts want to see, but he is perfect for the modern NFL. Soft hands, nice overall speed and feet, and powerful when called upon to block. Expect Flowers to be an early Day 3 pick and make his new team instantly better.
Alabama v. Clemson | Sugar Bowl | 8:00 p.m.
|Alabama Prospects||Clemson Prospects|
|#29 S Minkah Fitzpatrick (JR)||#42 DT Christian Wlkins (JR)|
|#3 WR Calvin Ridley (JR)||#8 WR Deon Cain (JR)|
|#75 C Bradley Bozeman (SR)||#75 OT Mitch Hyatt (JR)|
|#9 DE Da’Shawn Hand (SR)||#55 OG Tyrone Crowder (5th SR)|
|#94 DT Da’Ron Payne (JR)||#99 DT Clelin Ferrell (RS SO)|
|#32 OLB Rashaan Evans (SR)||#7 DE Austin Bryant (JR)|
|#28 CB Anthony Averett (SR)||#31 CB Ryan Carter (5th SR)|
|#2 CB Tony Brown (SR)|
|#15 S Ronnie Harrison (SR)|
Alabama Key Draft Prospects
DL Da’Ron Payne, #94 (45 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 sack)
Payne is one of the top interior defensive lineman in the class if he declares early for the 2018 NFL Draft. He has the size and athleticism that teams covet in their interior defensive lineman. He can play in multiple positions on the line, making him valuable to every team in the NFL. His matchup with the interior of the Clemson offensive line will be one to watch.
S Minkah Fitzpatrick, #29 (52 tackles, 6 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 INT)
Fitzpatrick is likely to be a top ten pick in the 2018 NFL Draft if he declares and should be of high interest to Browns fans. He is probably the best player on the Alabama defense, let alone the entire team. He offers the ability to play safety and cornerback at a high level. He is seemingly always around the ball. Look for him to fly around and make some plays in the college football playoffs.
S Ronnie Harrison, #15 (68 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks and 3 INTs)
Harrison is overshadowed by Fitzpatrick, but Harrison should be one of the more coveted strong safeties in the 2018 NFL Draft if he declares. He is a tough run defender who can make plays at the line of scrimmage. You should see him making plays in the run game throughout the game versus Clemson.
WR Calvin Ridley, #3 (55 catches for 896 yards and 3 TDs)
Ridley is one of the top receivers in the 2018 NFL Draft and another possible target for the Browns. He is the Crimson Tide’s best playmaker. He is a smooth athlete with the route running and athleticism to draw separation from his coverage. He can make plays with the ball in hands, so he will be a big focus for the Clemson defense to slow down.
RB Damien Harris, #34 (110 carries for 906 yards and 11 TDs)
Damien Harris is an underrated running back in the stacked 2018 class. Harris splits carries with Bo Scarbrough in the backfield. He is a bigger back with the strength to break tackles, but also the speed to beat defenders to a spot. He will be an important player for the Alabama offense if the Crimson Tide wants to win the National Championship.
Clemson Key Draft Prospects
DL Clelin Ferrell, #99 (61 tackles, 17 TFLs, 2 FFs and 8.5 sacks)
Ferrell is a freak on the defensive line amongst a defensive line full of freakish athletes. His athleticism and bend on the edge is hard to contain. He is Clemson’s best pass rusher and someone teams must focus on in pass protection at all times. He could be a difference maker in the college football playoffs.
DL Christian Wilkins, #42 (47 tackles, 8.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks)
Wilkins might be the most heralded player on the Clemson defense, earning the billing of one the top interior defensive line prospects in the upcoming draft. He has impressive athleticism for a player his size. He is seemingly always around the ball and should be a major playmaker for the Clemson defense.
LB Kendall Joseph, #34 (80 tackles, 4 TFLs, .5 sack, 1 FF and 1 INT)
Joseph is one of the better inside linebacker prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. He is a really good athlete, who can play sideline to sideline and be a tackling machine. He is the center of the Clemson defense, flying around to make plays all over the field. He should be seen around the ball on almost every play.
WR Deon Cain, #8 (52 catches for 659 yards and 6 TDs)
Deon Cain is another talented wide receiver who adds to the loaded 2018 class if he declares early. Cain is Clemson’s biggest playmaker on offense with the ability to take the top off the defense with great speed and athleticism. Clemson will want to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.
LT Mitch Hyatt, #75 (6-foot-5, 305 pounds)
Hyatt is one of the best offensive tackle prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft if he decides to come out early. He is a good athlete with the size and length teams look for in a left tackle. He is the rock on the Clemson offensive line, keeping the pocket clean from some of the best pass rushers in the SEC. He will be important to success of Clemson because he will be in charge of slowing down the plethora of rushers Alabama has on their defense.