Alabama plays Ohio State in tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game, and you’ll hear a lot of names tonight that you’ll also hear during the NFL draft. Here are some of the players worth keeping an eye on:
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: The Buckeyes’ quarterback is a long shot to go ahead of Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence as the first overall pick, although if Urban Meyer becomes the head coach of the Jaguars that possibility can’t be ruled out. If Fields doesn’t go first overall, he won’t be waiting long to hear his name on the night of the 2021 NFL draft.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: Jones isn’t the same kind of elite talent that Fields is, but it’s hard to argue with his results: Jones has completed 77 percent of his passes this season, throwing for 4,036 yards with 36 touchdowns and four interceptions. Jones’ production compares well with what Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts did as quarterbacks at Alabama.
Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama: The Heisman Trophy winner, Smith is a truly elite playmaker with the ball in his hands. At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds he doesn’t look physically imposing, but he imposes his will on any cornerbacks trying to cover him.
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama: Heading into this season, many observers considered Waddle, not Smith, to be Alabama’s best wide receiver. Unfortunately, Waddle suffered an ankle injury in October and hasn’t played since, and it’s unclear whether he’ll play tonight. If he’s back to full speed, watch out.
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: The son of a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Surtain II may be even more impressive athletically than his father. He’s outstanding in coverage and will be a thorn in Fields’ side tonight.
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State: Olave caught 10 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown in the Big Ten Championship Game, and followed that up with six catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson. His matchup with Surtain will be a good one.
Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State: The grandson of Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Davis, Wyatt Davis initially planned to opt out of the 2020 season but later decided to play and was a leader on the Buckeyes’ offensive line.
Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama: Barmore was one of the best players on the field in Alabama’s semifinal win over Notre Dame, and Ohio State needs its offensive line to keep him off Fields tonight.
Alex Leatherwood, LT, Alabama: The 6-foot-6, 312-pound Leatherwood is strong as a run blocker and improving as a pass blocker, with the Notre Dame game being perhaps his best yet.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama: Harris is the latest in a long line of excellent running backs at Alabama, and he might have the best combination of size, speed and explosiveness. A backup as a freshman and sophomore, Harris has topped 1,200 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards in both his junior and senior seasons.
Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State: After three years at Oklahoma, Sermon transferred to Ohio State this year and came on strong late in the season, with 331 rushing yards in the Big Ten Championship Game and another 193 rushing yards in the semifinal win over Clemson.