We’ve reached the end of the college football bowl season with tonight’s inaugural national championship game. I’ve broke down the potential NFL players below from each team.
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College Football National Championship: Oregon vs Ohio St
When: Jan 12th, 8:30 PM (EST)
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
QB Marcus Mariota, JR #8 (6’4 | 215 | 4.52)
Scouting report – A lot has been written about Mariota by much better writers than me, so I will keep it brief. In my opinion, Mariota is Colin Kaepernick with a brain and humility. He has the potential to be a top-tier NFL QB, but the transition from Oregon’s spread offense to a traditional NFL scheme could cause growing pains and a few years delay before Mariota is a top-10 NFL QB.
Projection: Top 5 pick
DE/DT Erik Armstead, JR #9 (6’7 | 296 | 4.97)
Scouting report – Massive human who hasn’t played up to his immense physical potential and should probably go back to school for his senior season. A former 2-sport star at Oregon, Armstead quit basketball this season to focus on football and improved significantly this season. He is hard to move off the line of scrimmage and has the potential to be a force against the run at the next level as a 3-4 DE or 4-3 DT. Despite not putting up big tackle or sack numbers, Armstead’s combination of size, athleticism, power, and ridiculous wingspan should get him drafted sometime on day 2.
Projection: 2nd-3rd round
DE/DT DeForest Buckner, JR #44 (6’6 | 286 | 4.89)
Scouting report – Not quite as big as Armstead, but still has ideal length for a 3-4 DE. Buckner hasn’t been talked about as much as his line-mate Armstead, but almost doubled his production this season with 71 tackles, 13 TFLs, 4 sacks and 4 deflected passes. He has a much quicker first step and better football instincts though he doesn’t hold the point of attack as well as Armstead. They are both solid day 2 prospects who are best suited as DEs in a 3-4 scheme, but could slide inside in a 4-3.
Projection: 2nd-3rd round
OT Jake Fisher, SR #75 (6’6 | 299 | 5.22)
Scouting report – One of my favorite mid-round offensive lineman. Fisher doesn’t stand out athletically, but he does on the field. Oregon’s offense was noticeably better once Fisher returned from injury this year. He is a cerebral player who understands the finer points of the RT position while having enough size and mobility to excel in both run and pass blocking. He’s an underrated asset right now and will be a steal if he falls to the 3rd or 4th round as projected. If he can stay healthy I see him having a long career as a starting NFL right tackle.
Projection: 3rd round
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C Hroniss Grasu, SR #55 (6’3 | 297 | 5.12)
Scouting report – Great mobility with the ability to get to the second level quickly and block effectively once he gets there. Grasu has the intelligence to make the calls at the line scrimmage and understands angles and leverage well enough to make up for a lack of power. He’s not a mauler in the run game, but is an excellent pass blocker. Grasu was a 4-year starter at Oregon and I think he can start as a rookie in the NFL if he ends up in a zone blocking scheme. He’s my #1 center this year and a good value pick anywhere from the 3rd round on.
Projection: 3rd round
DE/OLB Tony Washington, SR #91 (6’4 | 250 | 4.73)
Scouting report – Under-rated pass rusher who had a dominant game in the Rose Bowl with a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, touchdown and a stop on Jameis Winston on 4th & goal. Washington had an inconsistent season after 7.5 sacks his junior year, but has come on strong lately and finished with 6 sacks, 11 TFLs, and a team leading 3 forced fumbles. He’s primarily a pass rusher, but is fluid enough in coverage to be a 3-4 OLB at the next level. Washington also has the frame to add weight and possibly play DE in a 4-3. He has the quickness to beat tackles off the edge, the ability to dodge blockers in traffic and the strength to bull rush if needed as he proved in the Rose Bowl, driving FSU guard Tre Jackson into the backfield despite being outweighed by almost 100 pounds. Washington in one of my favorite day 3 prospects and I think he will be an effective pass rusher in the NFL.
Projection: 4th-5th round
WR Byron Marshall, JR #9 (5’10 | 204 | 4.47)
Scouting report – After gaining over 1,000 rushing yards and scoring 14 TDs as a sophomore, Marshall switched to a slot receiver as a junior due to a logjam at the RB position. In his first season as a receiver he led the team in catches (66) and receiving yards (834). Marshall adapted to the position very quickly and has the quickness and hands to be a dangerous slot receiver at the next level. His ability to both make people miss and break tackles after the catch could make him a weapon on underneath routes. If he can refine his route running, Marshall could be a steal in the later rounds.
Projection: 4th-6th round
S Erick Dargan, SR #4 (5’11 | 212 | 4.62)
Scouting report – Wasn’t much of a prospect coming into the season, but Dargan led the Ducks in tackles and with 7 interceptions this season. He has great instincts, takes accurate angles, and is always around the ball. Dargan has played very well lately including forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass in the Ducks Rose Bowl win. His instincts and ball skills should cancel out his lack of athleticism and Dargan should at least be a solid NFL backup and special teams contributor.
Projection: 6th-7th round
* CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will miss the game with a knee injury, but is projected to be a 2nd-3rd round pick.