Last year’s BCS National Championship game had some of the lowest ratings in its history, pulling a measly 24+ million viewers. This year’s game should pull even better ratings. Some that tune in don’t watch many games each year. Some just watch their alma mater’s games. Some love college football, but not the pro game. More than anything else, I watch games to see NFL prospects and evaluate them. And when the 2 best teams in the nation meet up, you’re likely to have some good players involved. These are the 5 guys I’ll be watching.
#28 Dee Milliner, CB
Milliner is an absolute playmaker, and his 18 pass deflections this season back that up. The highlight of his technique is his fluid hips. He’s very aggressive against the run, which generally works in his favor but can occasionally lead to overpursuit. He’s also very good at press coverage because of the shuffle technique Nick Saban is known for teaching. But like last year’s first-round Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, teams may demand that Milliner learn to backpedal. Unless he runs a poor 40 time, he should be a Top 10 pick.
#65 Chance Warmack, G
Warmack will almost certainly be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft even as a guard. When that’s the case, you know you’re talking about a special player. He’s only 6’2″, so he won’t be able to play tackle in the NFL, but the wide-bodied Warmack is very strong and plays with elite leverage. Once he locks onto his man, it’s over. The only part of his game that isn’t excellent is his pass protection, but he’s certainly no slouch there.
#54 Jesse Williams, DL
Williams is frequently compared to Vince Wilfork. He’s very good at occupying blockers, bull rushing, and diagnosing plays. He’s also athletic, and has seen some snaps at fullback, in addition to a handful of spots on the defensive line. I’m not particularly high on Williams, though. He is not a pass rusher and also needs to get his pad level lower, as he often gets cut and ends up on the ground. As a result, he’s a borderline first-rounder.
#5 Manti Te’o, ILB
Te’o seems to be a guy every fan wants on their team, and they should. He’s always reminded me of Ray Lewis. Both are very big inside linebackers that are never going to win anybody over based on their speed. But Te’o has excellent lateral agility and is a playmaker through and through. He has off-the-charts intangibles, but will occasionally trust them too much on the field. Inside linebacker is another position that’s going out of style, but the Heisman finalist should be a Top 10 pick.
#80 Tyler Eifert, TE
Eifert is probably the rangiest prospect I’ve covered. I expect him to go at the end of the first-round, but if disaster strikes, he could fall to the third. He’ll benefit from a weak class, but regardless he moves extremely well for a tight end with such great size. Eifert excels at adjusting to passes. He has become a better blocker but still needs work.