Many may not appreciate the replay of teams in the title game, but as for scouts, it’s heaven again. Alabama returned plenty of talent from last year’s championship squad as they have, of course, added more first round talent this season. Clemson’s offense is a seasoned group that has the nation’s best quarterback and, overall, the best set of skill players around him. A game with plenty of talent to go around, here are the top players in the 2017 National Championship.
No. 1 Alabama
*list from Brandon Fox’s preview of the Peach Bowl
#93 Jonathan Allen, DL
(6’3” 285, Sr.)
#56 Tim Williams, Edge
(6’4” 240, Sr.)
#10 Reuben Foster, LB
(6’1” 240, Sr.)
Foster was a five star recruit and widely regarded as the top linebacker recruit in the nation coming out of high school. He became known for committing to Auburn early in the process and going as far as to have the Auburn logo tattooed onto his forearm. But when Gene Chizik and an assistant who he developed a close relationship with were let go, Foster reopened his recruiting and eventually choose Alabama on signing day. After sitting behind CJ Mosley and Reggie Ragland, he was the main guy this year and could end up being the best of them all. Foster is a missile to the ball and makes plays sideline to sideline. He’s very good at getting off blocks and makes a good amount of tackles for loss. His question will be coverage ability, which seems to be his weakest area. Foster is going to be a high first round pick.
#25 Marlon Humphrey, DB
(6’1” 200, RS So.)
Humphrey is a big, physical corner that loves coming up and making plays on short passes and runs. When he’s making plays in front of him, he looks like a safety. He’s an above average tackler with good form. In coverage he has good hips and feet, and has balls skills to bat passes in intercept the ball.
#4 Eddie Jackson, DB
(6’0” 195, Sr)
Jackson plays in a role that asks him to be a lot of single high and two high safety looks covering deep zones and he’s used mostly in coverage. So much so that many times he’s not even on the screen from the TV camera view. He’s got solid coverage ability with ball skills to knock down passes. He will come up to support the run at times, but often takes bad angles.
#74 Cam Robinson, OT
(6’6” 326, Jr.)
Robinson was a big time recruit that impressed the nation with his potential starting as a true freshman. He’s a big, physical tackle who’s a good pass blocker and a solid run blocker. He’s long and strong, and can lock on to anyone when he gets his hands on them. He’s athletic for his size and has good change of direction (at low speeds). His biggest issue appears to be waist bending in both the run and pass. It doesn’t happen every time but is something to clean up for the next level.
#22 Ryan Anderson, DE/Edge
(6’2” 255, RS Sr.)
Anderson is a strong and quick player who gets good extension. He’s good at getting separation using his quickness and hands. He’s shown good effort in the run game and is able to easily defeat players like tight ends and running backs that attempt to block him. Anderson is much better when he’s moving forward and will most likely not be used in pass coverage at the next level. As far as pass rushing, he doesn’t seem to have too many moves and doesn’t seem to have the speed to consistently turn the corner on tackles. Despite this, Anderson is a complete player in regards to playing all facets of playing defensive line, and should be an early to mid round pick at the latest.
#88 OJ Howard, TE
(6’6” 242, Sr.)
Howard has ideal size and excellent athleticism. He’s more of a flex tight end who’s skill set make him mostly a pass catcher. Howard has exceptional speed for the position and can stretch a defense all over the field. His biggest knock is and will be blocking, which could be something that hurts his chances of getting on the field early at the next level. Regardless, he will still most likely be a high round pick based on the athleticism he brings.
Other Players to watch:
#9 Da’Shawn Hand – DL
#54 Dalvin Tomlinson – DL
No. 2 Clemson
*list from Zac Blackerby’s preview of the Fiesta Bowl
#4 Deshaun Watson, QB
(6’3 – 215 – Jr.)
The quarterback for the Tigers has been overlooked from a draft perspective all season. He will have a great chance to reverse that over the span of the next two potential games. Watson plays best on a big stage. Keep an eye on his throwing mechanics and see if he drives of his legs. He’s worst tendency is to throw off his back foot.
#9 Wayne Gallman, RB
(6’0 – 210 – Jr.)
Gallman is an overlooked running back in a loaded running back class. Gallman has been nothing but consistent for the Tigers. He can earn even more of his stripes as he pounds the ball up the middle against the Crimson Tide’s defense.
#94 Carlos Watkins, DT
(6’3 – 305 – Sr.)
Watkins is a presence on the middle of the defensive front. His eight sacks shows his ability to rush the passer from the three technique. We’ve seen defensive tackles fall in the draft due to inability to rush the passer. Expect Watkins to rise up the boards due to his ability to burst off the ball and generate a rush against the Alabama interior offensive line.
Other players to watch:
#7 Mike Williams, WR (6’3 – 225 – Jr.)
#3 Artavis Scott, WR (5’10 – 190 – Jr.)
#16 Jordan Leggett, TE (6’5 – 260 – Sr.)
#57 Jay Guillermo, C (6’3 – 310 – Sr.)
#25 Cordrea Tankersley, CB (6’1 – 200 – Sr.)