Best 5 NFL prospects in Georgia-Alabama national championship

Alabama and Georgia are loaded with NFL-caliber talent.

In two seasons, former Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has assembled a defense reminiscent of his old Alabama teams (although Oklahoma might disagree). Nick Saban’s group, as usual, is stocked with five stars and future first round picks.

The football world will be watching Jan. 8 when these teams meet for the national championship. Here are five names you’ll be hearing a lot on Sundays:

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, ALA: A true Swiss Army knife, Fitzpatrick is expected to be a top 10 draft choice. He compares similarly to former FSU star Jalen Ramsey, who’s since excelled with the Jaguars.

Fitzpatrick’s position is a debate. He’s listed as a strong safety, but has logged time at free safety, cornerback and even linebacker in some packages.

At 6-1, 203, Fitzpatrick has good size for a defensive back. He’s one of the most talented defenders to come from the program in recent years, which is the highest of compliments.

LB Roquan Smith, UGA: Smart’s Crimson Tide were known for great linebacker play. Smith might be the best one he’s had.

Smith is said to run a 4.4 40-yard dash. He’s quick, powerful and always seems aware of where the ball is. He’s the perfect linebacker for modern defenses given how much field he can cover.

A potential top 10 pick, Smith is sure to hear his name in the earlier half of round one if he declares.

WR Calvin Ridley, ALA: It’s surprising that Ridley didn’t cross the 1,000-yard mark, but perhaps it should be more a testament to how Alabama operates.

Ridley is arguably the draft’s best receiver. He’s a smooth route runner who should have little problem separating at the next level.

Georgia will employ a few tactics to take Ridley out of the game. While the Bulldogs have a good secondary, there isn’t a clear answer to Ridley. This could be a big game for him to boost his stock.

DL Da’Ron Payne, ALA: If you watched Alabama beat down Clemson, you learned who Payne is.

The 319-pounder intercepted Kelly Bryant then caught a touchdown on the ensuing drive. There will never be a better chain of events to explain how Alabama bullies people.

Payne is a true force in the middle whose power prowess should anchor an NFL defensive line. He’s not as skilled as some past Alabama linemen, but there will be fewer better options if a team needs a massive presence in the middle.

RB Sony Michel, RB Nick Chubb, UGA: Debate which one is better all you want. They’re both exceptional.

Two of the greatest backs in school history, Michel and Chubb took over the Oklahoma game. Just one of them wouldn’t have been enough.

They’ll go down similarly to Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown at Auburn; a rushing duo that proved near impossible to stop.

Chubb isn’t as explosive as he was before his gruesome injury two seasons ago, but this year has put him back on the right track in scouts’ eyes. He delivers hits, not absorbs them. Chubb could be a Brandon Jacobs-like player at the next level, and as he gets further away from his injury, may become a lot more.

It’s easy to understand why most NFL minds prefer Michel. He has less mileage and provides more in the passing game. He’s not as much of a downhill runner as his teammate, but is better in open space.

Michel projects as a second rounder after the Rose Bowl. A good combine could push him to the earlier parts of the round or even the late first.

Other players to watch on Alabama:

S Ronnie Harrison

RB Damien Harris

RB Bo Scarbrough

DE Da’Shawn Hand

WR Robert Foster

G Ross Pierschbacher

C Bradley Bozeman 

LB Rashaan Evans

LB Christian Miller

CB Anthony Averett

CB Troy Brown

Other players to watch on Georgia:

T/G Isaiah Wynn

LB Lorenzo Carter

LB Davin Bellamy

DB Aaron Davis

DB Deandre Baker

DT Trent Thompson

DB Dominick Sanders


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in UGA / DawgNation

Looking at how Georgia’s top recruits will impact the program
Looking at how Georgia’s top recruits will impact the program

The Bulldogs don’t plan to go away anytime soon. After years of underachieving and riding the treadmill, Georgia broke through in 2017, eventually falling just short of a national championship because of Alabama freshman heroics. But Kirby Smart’s crew will have its own youthful injection next season when it welcomes the country’s...
Georgia Bulldogs’ 2018 schedule
Georgia Bulldogs’ 2018 schedule

The Georgia Bulldogs are the defending SEC Champions entering the 2018 college football season. Georgia will open the season Sept. 1 against Austin Peay, the schools’ first meeting, and also will face Massachusetts on Nov. 17 as part of a football and basketball agreement.  The Bulldogs’ four true road games will be SEC contests at...
Georgia’s Roquan Smith declares for NFL Draft
Georgia’s Roquan Smith declares for NFL Draft

After the season he had, it’s not a surprise. Georgia junior linebacker Roquan Smith will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. “The decision to leave is not easy but I know it is the right one,” Smith said in a statement. “Georgia will always be my school and my home and I sincerely wish all the best to...
5 points/counterpoints for Georgia being 2018 championship favorites
5 points/counterpoints for Georgia being 2018 championship favorites

1. Favorable schedule: If you thought Georgia’s 2017 schedule was easy, take a look at 2018. The Bulldogs open against Austin Peay on Sept. 1, beginning what many will consider a soft home slate: Middle Tennessee, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Auburn, UMass, Georgia Tech. They travel to South Carolina, Missouri, LSU, Kentucky and Jacksonville for the...
Georgia’s Jake Fromm is early favorite to win 2018 Heisman Trophy
Georgia’s Jake Fromm is early favorite to win 2018 Heisman Trophy

Vegas oddsmakers like what they saw from Georgia’s freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. The Bulldogs’ signal caller opens with the best odds to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy. Fromm finished his first year with 2,615 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. Also among the leading contenders is Fromm teammate D’Andre Swift. The freshman rushed for...
More Stories