Who are the top 2013 NFL Draft prospects to watch in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 between the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish and No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide?
This is the final game of the 2012-2013 bowl season. We won’t see any real game action in college football until fall, so be sure to savor this marquee matchup between the top two teams in the nation.
Our attention will shift shortly to the upcoming main event that takes place in late April place in Radio City Music Hall.
Without further adieu, here are the top prospects to watch in the national title.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ILB Manti Te’o
A Heisman Trophy finalist, Manti Te’o will arguably be the most gifted player on the football field Monday evening. His intangibles and physical ability all but guarantee him getting chosen in the Top 10 of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Te’o is by far the best player in the nation at his position (excludes star pass-rushers at OLB) and he has the tremendous frame to play in nearly any system at the next level. Though Te’o doesn’t display blazing speed, he’s powerful and possesses very good instincts. There’s little not to like about this talented prospect and his style of play.
Moreover, Te’o exemplifies excellent leadership, focus and the ability to play as a three-down LB from Day One in the NFL.
TE Tyler Eifert
Tyler Eifert will be the first tight end selected in April and has the prototypical frame for a tight end at the next level. Eifert, a large target, has terrific hands and plays very tough as a run-blocker.
A highly-productive receiver in his collegiate career, Eifert became a key part of the Irish offense this season, leading the team in catches (44), receiving yards (624) and receiving scores (four). He’ll be a top target for Golson against Alabama.
He excels when in-line blocking providing a good jump off the line and has shown the ability to hang with the larger defensive-ends., forcing pass rushers to take unproductive wide angles. He also possesses excellent hands in run blocking situations as well and isn’t afraid to take care of the defenders in his way. Eifert projects as a late second round selection as the top tight end in this class.
C Braxston Cave
Braxston Cave is currently projected as a fourth-round prospect but he can increase his stock with a strong showing in this game. Cave was a starter for three years for Notre Dame and possesses a nice combination of strength and mobility.
FS Zeke Motta
Zeke Motta has been a concrete player for the Irish. Near the line of scrimmage, he excels in run support. This season Motta had 61 tackles and broke up two passes, though he made no interceptions. In his junior year in 2011, he had 40 tackles with an interception and a forced fumble. He’s expected to go late in the fifth round right now.
Other Prospects Projected To Later Rounds Or Free Agents:
DT Kapron Lewis-Moore
RB Theo Riddick
LS Jordan Cowart
SS Jamoris Slaughter
K Nick Tausch
Alabama Crimson Tide
CB Dee Milliner
Milliner is almost guaranteed to be the first defensive back selected in the NFL draft. He has excellent size and above-average speed for the position, and his play-making skills are nearly elite.
Opposing QBs didn’t look his way often this season, and for good reason. Milliner has made headway this season in both coverage and run support. He is by far the best zone defender in the country with his excellent instincts and willingness to make a play in run defense, which makes him a perfect fit for an NFL team that uses a heavy zone scheme.
Every play Milliner goes out there with a chip on his shoulder, doesn’t shy away from contact and plays with a concentration and passion to ensure his man does not come down with the football.
With some solid offseason workouts and a strong showing this evening, Milliner should get selected in the Top 10.
G Chance Warmack
Chance Warmack may be the most talented offensive lineman to play in tonight’s game. His frame is built to push defenders around, but he is also very light on his feet and is a solid kick out blocker. He has the skills set to play in nearly any scheme, but he will be more valuable on an NFL team that runs more angle blocking than zone blocking.
He’s physically and mentally pro-ready, he has special talent that provides him both strength and tenacity as blocker. He is a natural run blocker that is not only strong but a student of the game with a gifted technique with good awareness and picks up rushers without over-committing to one task.
Warmack also does well in pass protection. He operates an intense punch and as his arm extends to keep defenders away from his body. With his superb footwork it assists him from getting eaten up by bull rushers.
He should end up getting picked up in the first 20 picks of the 2013 NFL Draft.
NT Jesse Williams
Jesse Williams can contribute both against the run and pass. He’s a very ample prospect with a well-balanced game. He has the ability to find himself in the mix and fights for position until the whistle blows.
Not physically dominant, but he can impose his will on guys if he can get good hand placement.
Williams also is quick in short spaces and really gets after the action. He’s projected as a late first rounder. Look for him to be the top bench presser in his class, as it’s well known that he can bench 600 pounds.
C Barrett Jones
Barrett Jones is a versatile lineman who has played tackle, guard, and center. He has been the anchor of what has been a stellar offensive line at Alabama in 2011. The Crimson Tide’s defense gets most of the headlines, but ‘Bama’s O-line is a pretty scary bunch. Alabama is No. 1 in the SEC in rushing, fourth in passing, and second overall in total offense after the regular season. Jones is expected to get selected somewhere between the second and early part of the third round.
OT D.J. Fluker
Front five on offense is a scary bunch, and Fluker is a pivotal part of the outstanding gang of blockers who protect ‘Bama’s ball carriers. Fluker, like Jones, is also projected as a second to early third round selection come draft day.
RB Eddie Lacy
As the power runner for the Crimson Tide, Lacy has totaled 1,182 yards (6.4 average) and 16 TDs on only 184 carries. He will become yet another valuable powerful back at the next level to come from the confides of Alabama selected around the third round.
Mid-Late Round Prospects:
SS Robert Lester
ILB Nico Johnson
Other Prospects Projected To Later Rounds Or Free Agents:
TE Michael Williams
DE Quinton Dial
LS Carson Tinker
FB Kelly Johnson
DE Damion Square
K Jeremy Shelley