College Football Playoff: Prospect Breakdown

College Football Playoff: Prospect Breakdown

NFL Draft 2022

College Football Playoff: Prospect Breakdown

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Associated Press

The College football playoff is fun to watch just for the football aspect but also to see potential NFL stars in action, this year is no different as it may be the most loaded with NFL prospects. Each school has playmakers on both sides of the ball and they all will be tested with great matchups. Here I break down the top prospects to watch in each game along with the top matchups. 

Cotton Bowl: Dec 31, 3:30pm: (1) Alabama vs (4) Cincinnati

Alabama will be without WR John Metchie III due to an ACL injury. In addition, CB Josh Jobe will not play and RS JoJo Earle and CB Jalyn Armour-Davis will be game time decisions whether they’ll play. Cincinnati is fully healthy. 

Alabama 

  • T Evan Neal, 73, Top 10: The best OL prospect in the 2022 draft class gets a chance to play vs a talented Cincinanti pass rush, especially Myjai Sanders.
  • WR Jameson Williams, 1, Round 1: Likely one of, if not the first WR taken off the board in April, Jameson “Jamo” Williams also gets a nice matchup vs Cincinnati CB duo Coby Bryant and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Ahmad Garnder hasn’t allowed a TD in his college career, can Jameson Williams be the first to break that?
  • S Jordan Battle, 9, Round 2: Cincinnati is going to test Battle deep, and rather quickly. It will be interesting to see how Battle does both in run support and pass coverage vs a very high powered offense. Battle has the chance to raise his stock even more with a good showing. 
  • LB Christian Harris, 8, Round 2: Christian Harris is a fun player to watch, he’s a do it all linebacker and could be a game wrecker if Cincinatti doesn’t keep him under wraps. Watch to see how he matches up vs one of the best TE in college football, Josh Whyle. 
  • LB Henry To’oTo’o, 10, Round 3: The former Tennessee Volunteer has kept his draft stock in a rather stable place. He can keep rising up boards and a good game in front of numerous scouts and GMs will help a ton. To’oTo’o will be tasked with handling the heavy Cincinnati run game while trying to force Ridder into making some off throws. 
  • DT Phidarian Mathis, 48, Round 3: One of the better pass rush DT in the country, he gets a chance to show out and possibly dominante the game while forcing Desmond RIdder to make wild throws
  • HB Brian Robinson, 4, Round 5: One of the most powerful HB in the country, Robinson is facing a strong Cincinnati defense which will look to shut him down. If Robinson can have a big game, not only will Alabama likely win but Robinson will increase his stock even more. 

Cincinnati

  • CB Ahmad Gardner, 1, Round 1: The best CB in the nation will be facing off vs likely the best WR in the nation. Both will look to neutralize each other and it no doubt will be the most talked about matchup in a while. If Gardner shuts down Williams he could push his stock into the top 10 even. 
  • EDGE Myjai Sanders, 21, Round 2: One of the most athletic edge rushers in a while, Sanders will get the chance to raise his stock even more while playing against one of the best T in the country in Evan Neal. Watch for Sanders to potentially wreck this game if given the chance.
  • LB Darrian Beavers, 0, Round 2: An athletic monster at LB, Beavers can do it all and will be forced to do everything this week. While he will be tasked to blitz, most should be watching how he performs vs a top pass offense, where he needs to improve in order to rise his stock even more. 
  • CB Coby Bryant, 7, Round 2: The 2021 Jim Thorpe winner was likely going to be matched up vs John Metchi but due to injury will likely line up vs Junior receiver Slade Bolden. Bryant will get a chance on Williams also, so watch how he performs both in the slot and outside along with facing two different receiver types. 
  •  WR Alec Pierce, 12, Round 3: Pierce is facing the best pass coverage he has the entire season, and will be tasked with being the key piece in opening up this Cincinnati pass game. Watch to see how Pierce works deep vs a talented safety duo while also using his great YAC ability. 
  • TE Josh Whyle, 81, Round 4: While is one of the better sleeper TE in this class, while he isn’t overly athletic he will beat you in a multitude of areas. He’s going to be lining up vs likely 3 different Alabama defenders in linebackers Christian Harris and Henry To’oTo’o along with S Jordan Battle. It’ll be key for his draft stock for him to have a good game. 
  • HB Jerome Ford, 24, Round 5: A talented HB that’s likely going to fall due to injury issues, Ford could rise his stock a little more by having a good game vs an elite Alabama front 7. 

Matchups to Watch: 

WR Jameson Williams, Alabama VS CB Ahmad Garnder, Cincinnati

  • Two of the best players at their positions in college football facing off against each other. Both are likely top 15 picks and we will get the chance to watch them in action early this week. The winner of this matchup could completely change the game. 

WR Slade Bolden, Alabama VS CB Coby Bryant, Cincinnati

  • Like Williams vs Gardner, these two are incredibly talented at their positions. Both could potentially change the game for their team. Bryant and Gardner form an elite CB duo and could limit Bryce Young’s ability to attack the Bearcats deep

LT Evan Neal, Alabama VS EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

  • Two top draft prospects at their positions facing off is always fun, but in this case it’s even more fun. Sanders is an explosive athlete and Neal a true power OT. It will be key for Neal to show he can handle the athleticism of Sanders, and for Sanders to show he can beat a top power T. Both will have their work cut out in the run game as well. Keep looking to the left side to see how Sanders and Neal approach each other

Alabama LB Core vs TE Josh Whyle, Cincinnati

  • As mentioned earlier, Whyle is a talented TE and will face multiple defenders. In order for him to be neutralized, Alabama will need to constantly keep an eye on him or things could get out of hands quickly. 

Alabama pass rush VS QB Desmond Ridder/Cincinnati OL

  • The Alabama DL is far better than Cincinnati’s offensive line. William Anderson has the potential to take over this game and if he does, life will be awful for Ridder. Ridder struggles against the blitz at times and will need to keep his focus and not worry about taking a hit while getting the ball out to the open receiver. Cincinnati will need to get a good push from their line both in the pass and run game in order to allow their offense the time needed to keep up with Alabama. This game is either going to be a blowout or a close game and it’ll all be determined in the trenches. 

Orange Bowl: Dec 31, 7:30pm: (2) Michigan vs (3) Georgia

Both teams are expected to be fully healthy and have 0 opt outs. 

Michigan:

  • EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, 97, Top 3: Hutchinson is likely the first overall pick and if he isn’t first overall then he’s going second overall.
  • EDGE David Ojabo, 55, Round 1: Ojabo has recently seen his stock skyrocket after coming into the season as a likely 3rd round pick. Now with a chance to start teetering from late first round pick into becoming a potential top 20 selection. Watch to see how he performs vs one of the best OL in college football.
  • S Daxton Hill, 30, Round 1: Hill was questionable to play today but it’s been reported that he will end up playing. The star safety is a lock to be drafted in the first round due to his range and size. His play will be key vs Georgia, and like OJabo watch to see how he performs vs a top UGA offense which could boost his stock even more
  • HB Hassan Haskins, 25, Round 4: One of the most explosive running backs in college, Haskins will get the chance to show up vs a top Georgia IDL, which includes possibly the best run defending NT in college. 
  • T Andrew Stueber, 71, Round 4: The Georgia pass rush is prolific, with Stueber getting the chance to play Travon Walker, he is in a good spot to see his stock climb if he performs well.
  • K Jake Moody, 13, Round 6: Had to include some kicker love, Moody has a cannon for a leg and is nearly deadshot accurate. If the game comes down to a kick, theres no one else I’d rather have

Georgia:

  • DT Jordan Davis, 99, Round 1: The winner of the Outland trophy, Jordan Davis is one of the most dominant run defending NT in football, if UGA wants to put this game in their favor, Davis must dominante the run and take away Haskin’s lane’s if not, Michigan runs away. 
  • EDGE Travon Walker, 44, Round 1: Following the loss of Adam Anderson, Walker has shot up boards due to his explosive nature and now sits as a potential first round pick. He dominated vs Evan Neal in the SEC championship and now gets to see another top 120 selection in Andrew Stueber. 
  • LB Nakobe Dean, 17, Round 1: Potentially the best LB in all of college football, Nakobe Dean is a game wrecker and he will need to show out this week. Watch to see how he performs both in coverage and run defense vs a high powered and quick Michigan offense. Something that could boost his stock
  • WR George Pickens, 1, Round 2: Pickens returns this season in great timing after suffering what was thought to be a season ending torn ACL. Instead, Pickens has rebounded and played in a few games down the stretch. After being a projected first rounder prior to injury, another big game could help propel his stock into that conversation again. 
  • S Lewis Cline, 16, Round 2: Cline is a fun player to watch and Michigan likely won’t try to throw deep while he’s around the ball but his biggest factor will be in the run game, where he tends to struggle. He needs to wrap up tackles and force Michigan to try and test him deep where he can perform far better.
  • T/G Jamaree Salyer, 69, Round 3: A dominant bully on the OL, Salyer is likely going to get the start at LT this week which means a matchup vs Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, no easy task. Salyer is just inside the 3rd round at the moment on most boards but a game where he dominantes even one of these two could shoot him up into the earlier rounds. 
  • CB Derion Kendrick, 11, Round 3: After being kicked off Clemson following the team’s loss in the CFP, Kendrick transferred to Georgia. He was not good last year in a similar situation so it will be important for him to rebound and show that he can perform on big stages vs big time talent. Kendrick has first round talent but his inconsistency paired with character issues is causing a slip. Being able to knock one of those off his list will go a long way in helping his stock. 
  • DT Devonte Wyatt, 95, Round 3: Facing a strong Michigan IOL, Wyatt will be challenged to play quick football while also being a run anchor while Davis is subbed out. Wyatt is an under the radar prospect that could put his name on a ton of maps with a good showing this week. 
  • LB Nolan Smith, 4, Round 3: Another terrific Georgia linebacker, Smith will be tasked with covering Haskins out of the backfield and covering the TE. Smith is a versatile piece that UGA uses all over so showing he can do multiple things in one game such as covering a HB and blitzing will help bump him up a little. 
  • HB James Cook, 4, Round 4: one of the two heads on this monster Georgia HB duo, Cook is the more powerful runner and does a good job combining his power with speed. The brother of NFL Star Dalvin Cook, he has a good chance vs a top run defense to show he can be a workhorse in the NFL. 
  • HB Zamir White, 3, Round 4: The other half of that great duo, Zamir White is lightning in a bottle. He’s fast and explosive as a runner, something that will be key vs an incredibly fast Michigan defense. 
  • CB Ameer Speed, 9, Round 5: A very interesting prospect, Speed stands at over 6-4 and nearly 210 pounds. He projects more as a safety in the NFL but plays excellent coverage as a CB. Watch how Georgia uses him and how he performs when targeted as his stock is one to watch, as this game could either plummet it or start some good conversations. 

Matchups to Watch:

  • Aidan Hutchinson/David Ojabo, Michigan VS T Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
    • As mentioned earlier the duo of Ojabo and Hutchinson is the best pass rush duo in college football. Both will get their shot to face talented Georgia offensive tackles but for Ojabo and Salyer this matchup is huge for their stock. Both are on the rise and being able to put more film of dominante football vs a top 100 player will go a long way. 
  • Michigan IOL VS NT Jordan Davis, Georgia
    • The best run defending DT in football vs a powerful and nasty playing Michigan IOL is going to be fun to watch, both teams have stars in the trenches and whoever wins this battle could end up winning this game. 
  • WR Cornellius Johnson, Michigan vs Derion Kendrick, Georgia
    • Johnson is an excellent WR and a likely top pick in 2023 and he gets a matchup vs one of the more physical CB in college football. Kendrick needs to perform well this week in order to push his stock back to where it belongs. If he can show out vs an athletic monster it helps. The same goes for Ameer Speed, who could see more looks on Johnson due to the height similarity.
  • Michigan DBs VS Georgia WR core
    • DJ Turner and Gary Vincent are not bad CB for the Wolverines but they have their work cut out for them facing a prolific Georgia pass offense. George Pickens, Adonai Mithcell and Jermaine Burton will be working the outside for Georgia while freshman WR Ladd McConkey will get a shot in the slot. Michigan likely keeps using star DB Daxton HIll in the nickel which will be important to see how he plays after missing a week of practice and facing a top passing offense. This is one of the more exciting matchups of the entire CFP
  • Michigan Front 7 VS HB Zamir White and James Cook, Georgia
    • Michigan sports a talented front 7 which includes the likes of the aforementioned David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson. But that’s not to leave out stars in LB Josh Ross and Junio Colson, who have been excellent this season when asked to do everything possible. In addition NT Christopher Hinton has been pushed around at times but holds his own, and was a key part in the Michigan win over Ohio State. For Georgia they possess a lethal do it all HB duo with thunder and lightning capabilities. Both teams will devote to the run it will come down to who plays harder football, and if one team can force a turnover. 

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