It’s been a long season, but with championship weekend in the rearview, the College Football Playoff is set. If you want my opinion, the playoff committee selected the best four teams — they got it right. If Georgia was any good, they wouldn’t have lost to their two best resume games on the schedule in LSU and Alabama. However, they allowed 17 points in the 4th quarter against LSU and ended up losing by 20. They had Alabama backed into a corner and couldn’t finish the job. Another 4th quarter meltdown and a Kirby “not so” Smart move happened on 4th-and-11 with a fake punt, and the Crimson Tide escaped a 14-point deficit to beat the Bulldogs.
Sorry, Georgia, but you had your chance and you blew it. As for Ohio State, they had one loss on the schedule, and the Purdue loss was enough to convince the committee that their late-season surge just wasn’t enough to put the Buckeyes into the playoff. Does the College Football Playoff have to expand? Absolutely. Does it go to a six-team playoff where the top two teams get a first-round bye? We very well could see a similar format to the NFL, but with how stubborn the NCAA is, we’ll be retired to our senior citizen communities in Florida, before we see it happen.
No matter what is decided, we’re all going to watch the College Football Playoff. We’ve waited all season for these games, and we’re not going to stop now, regardless of what we agree or disagree with. As you prepare for Alabama vs. Oklahoma and Clemson vs. Notre Dame, what are some prospects that you should pay attention to for the 2019 NFL Draft? From the dominant offensive line that Oklahoma possesses to the talented Clemson defensive line, there are plenty of prospects to watch. But who’s the top prospect for each team in the College Football Playoff?
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Quinnen Williams is the best player on the field for Alabama. He’s surrounded by a ton of talented players, such as Isaiah Buggs on the defensive line and Deionte Thompson in the secondary, but Williams has pretty much been untouchable all season long. I don’t expect that to change during the College Football Playoff.
Quinnen Williams is ridiculous (as we all know). Terrific job playing below pad level. Straight bull rush through the left guard. RB tries to help but he counters back inside with club over and gets the sack. Arguably the best player in this class pic.twitter.com/fFBCDYN4eQ— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) November 16, 2018
Williams will align all over the defensive line, but he’s most dominant on the interior as a one-technique or as a three-technique. He often powers his way through multiple blocks to disrupt the backfield. No matter who Alabama plays playoff, his disruption isn’t going to change.
The redshirt sophomore gives me a Ndamukong Suh-type vibe (I don’t do pro comparisons either) when I watch him, and I think it’s because of his size. At 6’4 and 295 pounds, Williams will have no issues translating to the next level. It would be shocking if he doesn’t declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, as he’s got the ability to be the top pick in the draft. Without question, he’s the top prospect for the Crimson Tide.
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
Whenever you watch the Clemson defensive line, every single player stands out. My personal favorite is Austin Bryant on the opposite side of Ferrell, but Christian Wilkins will generate the most buzz and Dexter Lawrence is going to take up the most space with his 340-pound frame. The one that you need to watch, though, is Clelin Ferrell. He’s been incredibly productive for Clemson, and throughout his career, he has 153 tackles, 46.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
Ferrell is still eligible for another season at Clemson, but with the rest of the defensive line expected to go to the 2019 NFL Draft, Ferrell should join them. His length instantly stands out on film. He stands 6’5 and weighs 260 pounds, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he checks into the NFL Scouting Combine with some of the longest arms in the draft.
Off the snap, Ferrell has elite quickness and solid hand usage to harass offensive tackles. He plays with relatively good pad level and can change direction while countering back inside or outside on his rush. Ferrell should test well and should be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
I’m intrigued to see the feedback I get for this one. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think I’m right. Tillery has the best chance to translate to the next level, and I think that makes him the top prospect for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. I’m intrigued to watch Drue Tranquill in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, but Tillery should be the prospect you’re paying attention to for Notre Dame.
At 6’7″ and 305 pounds, Tillery has the size to play anywhere on the defensive line and will be a versatile weapon no matter where he aligns. He’s got a powerful first punch and loves to bully offensive linemen. Hand usage is good but needs to become more consistent, and so will his block recognition, especially when it comes to having the ability with two-gapping.
It’s hard to project where Tillery will fall in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I’d be shocked if he doesn’t declare. His upside screams first round, but because of some of the inconsistencies and being part of such a deep defensive line class, Tillery would likely hear his name on the second day of the draft. One way for him to help his draft stock is by proving that he’s the top prospect for Notre Dame during the College Football Playoff.
Ben Powers, LG, Oklahoma
Yes, I know who Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is, and I know how talented he is. Certainly, there’s a chance that Brown gets drafted before Powers. But you can’t be the best offense in football without help from the offensive line. Ben Powers will often get overlooked because of the position he plays, but he’s the most technically sound offensive lineman for the Sooners.
Going into this season, Powers had a 98.8 pass blocking efficiency rating from Pro Football Focus (PFF). It was the highest rating for guards in the Big 12, and there’s plenty to like when watching Powers on film. He’s got good length for the position and has no issues winning with power. There are times that his hand placement can get wild, but it’s clear that he loves to finish his blocks and has no issues operating in space. Not only will the senior guard get a chance to prove more consistency in the playoff, but he’ll also get a chance in Mobile at the Senior Bowl.
CeeDee Lamb has had a highlight reel of catches and Marquise Brown is a more complete receiver than he gets credit for, but Ben Powers is often forgotten about on the nation’s top-ranked offense. During the College Football Playoff, we could see Powers matchup against plenty of the names listed above, and if you don’t get excited for the battles in the trenches, then you’re not a real football fan. Football starts and ends in there, and these are the best draft-eligible players for each team in the College Football Playoff.