ReviewJanuary 8, 2013


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NFL Draft Prospects in the BCS Championship Game

By Brett Koenig

The National Championship game was a dominant showing by the Crimson Tide and really put into perspective how impressive that team and the conference it plays in really are. The matchup included several high-profile players that are likely to be drafted on the first day of the NFL Draft. The objective of this article is to review and evaluate how some potential early picks in the 2013 NFL Draft performed in the BCS Championship Game and how that may translate on draft day. Keep an eye out for my full mock NFL Draft as well as my big board coming in the following months.

Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

The story of the night was Alabama’s offensive line. It was almost annoying how much the announcers were talking about it, but they had good reason. Alabama was phenomenal in both run blocking and pass protection, and consistently got blockers to the second level in the run game. Warmack was no exception. He solidified his stock in the middle of the first round with a very strong performance, and Eddie Lacy ran behind him all night. He regularly took on Manti Te’o one-on-one and dominated him. In fact, mid-way through the first quarter, Warmack pushed Te’o around like a ragdoll to set up a big Lacy run that resulted in a touchdown a play later. Warmack looks like a safe pick that can contribute immediately in the NFL.

Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

There’s not a whole lot of good that came from this one for Manti Te’o. If you watch his tape from previous games this year you see an incredibly instinctive, great tackler who’s constantly around the ball and creating turnovers. There was virtually none of that Monday night. As mentioned, the whole ‘Bama offensive line was unbelievable, and Notre Dame was obviously unprepared for that kind of squad up front. The entirety of that offensive line will be playing in the NFL sooner rather than later, and they made the Irish look overwhelmed.

Certainly part of the reason Te’o was unable to make plays against the run because there was usually a guard in his face before he could make a read on the runner. Notre Dame’s defensive line didn’t give him much help; Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix went toe-to-toe with Alabama center Barrett Jones, and Jones did alright despite a few impressive plays from Nix. When given opportunities however, the star linebacker stumbled. On a third and short late in the first half, Te’o had a great opportunity to tackle running back T.J. Yeldon in the backfield and simply missed it. Alabama scored just a few plays later.

For the time being I’m going to give Te’o the benefit of the doubt as there are some unusual circumstances surrounding this sort of game that may have affected his performance. I had him steadily climbing up my big board, and the title game not only put a damper on that climb, he’s going to slide down several spots.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Demarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama

Through the majority of the first half, Eifert was matched up one-on-one with Demarcus “Dee” Milliner and it really showed. At the end of the first half, Eifert had four catches for a mere 32 yards. Eifert’s performance is tough to really measure considering all the other struggles the Notre Dame offense had. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson was pretty consistently under pressure, and Alabama could sell out to stop the pass once they had secured a huge lead. Throw in the fact that Dee Milliner is probably the best cornerback in the upcoming draft (if he declares) and Eifert had an uphill battle.

He did show what he is capable of early in the game on a pass down the sideline. Eifert went up over Milliner, secured the ball at its highest point and somehow managed to get a foot in bounds, displaying elite ball skills throughout. Unfortunately it was ruled that he juggled the ball slightly as he came to the ground and therefore it was not a catch. It was, however, close enough that coach Brian Kelly decided to burn a timeout early in order to give the review officials more time to look at the play.

Eifert finished with six catches for 61 yards, and his stock will remain basically unchanged on my big board. I grade Milliner’s performance in virtually the same fashion. His performance and the circumstances of the game didn’t give me any reason to adjust his position on my board as a top-10 player in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Barrett Jones, OC, Alabama

This evaluation could probably be thrown right in with the evaluation of the entire Alabama line, but considering Jones was up against nose tackle Louis Nix I thought it needed a separate look. Nix is widely considered one of the best nose tackles in college football and Jones played relatively well against him. He didn’t necessarily dominate like Warmack did, and Nix made a handful of plays, but this is Barrett Jones’s third National Championship at three different positions on the offensive line, and his ability to not only be so versatile but to hold up against one of the best in the game at this level is very impressive. This effective versatility is sure to entice some teams on draft day and could see him chosen a bit higher than expected. He seems like a sure thing, perhaps lacking extreme upside but making up for it with consistency and experience.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

I have to assume that after this performance we’ll see Eddie Lacy declare for the NFL Draft pretty soon. It’s hard to not attribute some of his success to Bama’s offensive line and the organization’s knack for churning out talented runners. But Lacy looked quick, powerful and even quite shifty at times for a 220-pound back. Lacy finished with just short of 160 total yards and two touchdowns, one rushing the other receiving. Running back T.J. Yeldon looked pretty good himself, but Lacy absolutely trounced the Irish defense to the tune of seven yards a carry. Monday night’s performance has certainly grabbed the attention of some NFL teams. I don’t think it’s moved him into the first round yet, but if he declares he could certainly hear his name called early on day two.

 
Brett Koenig is a fantasy football enthusiast that has been involved in the game for almost a decade now. You can find him perusing the cafe as "Guru13."
 
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