The first ever College Football Playoff is showing why one is needed. They also give Draft Prospects an opportunity to showcase their skills. And the playoffs just make things more interesting. Next week’s Championship game is going to be amazing, and I for one can not wait to see how a few folks in my Top 64 fare in the spotlight. Along with loving College Football, I also have a passion for how these kids fit into the NFL Draft. Below are five players to watch (Four of which are in my Top 64):
1). Marcus Mariota- Oregon QB 6'4/220 lbs.
"Super Mariota" is my second ranked prospect and is the clear number one QB in the draft. His mobility and size make him intriguing to say the least. My only concern with him is he has to learn to take snaps under center and that is no easy transition. And he will have to read the entire field instead of the quick reads that he is used to. He will be very good, just probably not right away. I bet he goes to Tampa with the first overall pick. Lovie would be wise to start with McCown for the first half of the Season and bring Mariota along slowly. He’d also be wise to bring in an Offensive Coordinator that can maximize his skills. Where’s Rod Chudzinski these days?
2). Michael Bennett- Ohio State DT 6’2/288 lbs.
Coming in at #28, here’s a guy that could have turned Pro a year ago but returned and improved his stock. He collapses pockets and disrupts plays. Had 12.5 tackles for loss this season. Reminds me of a smaller Kawaan Short and has room to grow physically. A year or two from now, he will be a very good player. I don’t anticipate him as a prime target in Carolina, but if he falls to the second round, he would be too good to pass up and he is the type of player that is needed in the NFL, as he pushes the pocket to make the QB uncomfortable.
3). Doran Grant- Ohio State CB 5’11/193lbs
Coming in at #41 on my Top 64 list, Doran Grant has good but not great size for a CB. Adequate speed and above average ball skills. Played second fiddle to Roby last year and showing he has upside in 2014. Ended 2014 with five INTs and is ready to take the next step. Plays off-man coverage and needs to work on press technique or will get pushed around by bigger Wide Receivers. May be best as a Nickle Back at the next level and needs to go to the right system. I'm not convinced that Carolina is the place for him. How will he do against the fast paced Duck attack? Can't wait to find out.
4). Arik Armstead- Oregon DE 6’8/291
Coming in at #52 is a Hog-Molly on the defensive side of the ball. He played very well this season and in the Rose Bowl. Showed that he sets the edge well with four tackles in the game. However 2.5 sacks on the season brings to question his explosiveness. You can't teach his size and he is an athlete (as he also played basketball at Oregon but chose to focus on Football) The Combine will be key for him. Dave Gettleman is always looking for a freak DE though, so he could be a target in Carolina for the 2nd or 3rd Round.
5). Jake Fisher- Oregon LOT 6’6/299
Jake did not make my Top 64 but is very close. Fisher s a very talented and intriguing prospect to keep your eye on. I want to see how he handles the OSU defensive front four. He has good feet, and long arms. He is the athletic type of LT the Panthers like, so if the right one is not there in Rounds 1-2, and IF Fisher is there in Round 3, he could be on his way to Carolina. Would start on the right side of the line but could make the transition to left in my opinion. He also plays with the type of passion that every NFL fan loves.
Sit back and enjoy the National Championship game and keep an eye out for these five NFL prospects and know that they will either be targets of Carolina or in Super Mariota’s case, an opponent of Carolina. Happy New Year, and Keep Pounding.