With Ohio State playing Alabama in the National Championship game, many NFL prospects will take the field on January 11. Here are some to watch.
The National Championship Game could feature as many as eight first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft from Alabama and Ohio State.
Both the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes are not short of professional-grade talent on their rosters. Alabama and Ohio State are annually among the top producers of NFL talent and this year will be no different. They’ll dominate the first round but will have players coming off the board throughout all seven rounds and will have more signed as undrafted free agents. And that doesn’t even include the top-end talent that’s not eligible for the NFL Draft yet.
The game will be a battle of first-round quarterbacks between Ohio State junior Justin Fields and Alabama senior signal-caller Mac Jones. Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis has the task of blocking Alabama’s interior linemen, but is Alex Leatherwood the top offensive lineman in the game? Shaun Wade will have to chase Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith around the field, while Patrick Surtain II has to shadow either Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave. Good luck to the Ohio State linebackers who have to tackle Najee Harris.
NFL Draft prospects to watch from Alabama and Ohio State in National Championship GameJustin Fields, Ohio State, quarterback
The junior quarterback is one of the leaders of a quarterback class with the potential of being as deep and talented as the famed 1983 or 2004 classes. Barring injury, Fields and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence could be linked like legends John Elway and Dan Marino.
Fields have all of the traits scouts look for in a starting quarterback for today’s game. The Georgia native is accurate and throws with anticipation. Fields’ dominant performance against Clemson proved that anyone is capable of a bad game. Indiana was a blip on the radar, and Fields was missing one of his best receivers in Chris Olave.
Fields’ ability to be both playmaker and caretaker is second to none. Not only can fields make big plays with his arm — a deep throw to Olave and another to Garrett Wilson are proof — but Fields also takes great care of the ball as indicated by a nearly seven to one touchdown: interception ratio. Fields could be the No. 2 pick of the New York Jets.
Mac Jones, Alabama, quarterback
Continuing the comparison to the 1984 class, Mac Jones could be the Ken O’Brien of the class. Jones could make a pro bowl or two given the right situation and have a solid NFL career. Jones does not possess elite traits like the top three or four quarterbacks leading most draft boards.
The Heisman finalist moves around the pocket well and keeps his eyes upfield. Jones is not a runner and rarely looks to run but escapes pressure. The Alabama quarterback will surprise scouts during the combine and pro day with better than average arm talent.
Jones’ best attribute is understanding the offensive schemes and how defenses attempt to defend those schemes. That understanding makes Jones one of the most accurate ball distributers in college football. The junior quarterback is completing over 77 percent of his passes, and Alabama throws downfield as much as any team in the country. Jones needs talent around him to be great, so the next level’s situation must be right. Jones could make a lot of sense in the first round for the New England Patriots who are expected to move on from Cam Newton.