Draft prospects to know in tonight’s Alabama-Georgia college football championship

Posted Jan 8, 2018

Both teams are poised to produce first-round picks

Plenty of players on both sides of the field of tonight’s College Football Playoff national championship will step between the white lines for the last time as a college athlete.

Their playing days, though, are far from over. The NFL awaits for a number of Alabama’s and Georgia’s top prospects, and the league will be watching as they go through their final, on-field audition.

Here are some of the names you’ll be hearing tonight and all throughout the next few months as draft preparations ramp up in Berea and around the rest of the NFL.

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) - A starter from the moment he arrived in Tuscaloosa, Fitzpatrick does it all in the back end of the Crimson Tide’s defense. Projected as a potential top-5 pick, Fitzpatrick could be one of the best defensive backs to come out of Alabama under Nick Saban’s watch -- and there have been a lot.

LB Roquan Smith (Georgia) - He’s the field general for the Bulldogs’ defense. One of the top-projected linebacker prospects in this year’s draft, Smith has posted at least nine tackles in the last six games, including 13 in the SEC Championship and 11 against Oklahoma in the CFP semifinals.

WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama) - With 59 catches for 935 yards, Ridley has three times as many receptions as the next-best Crimson Tide pass-catcher and four times the yards. He’s caught 220 passes over three seasons and is projected by many as the top receiver in this year’s draft.

LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama) - Evans waited his turn to make a mark with the Crimson Tide, and he left a big one during his senior season. He’s a likely first-round pick and slotted behind Smith in most pre-draft rankings.

S Ronnie Harrison (Alabama) - At 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds, Harrison is a thumper at the back end of Alabama’s defense, providing a nice one-two punch alongside Fitzpatrick. He could be the third safety off the board behind Fitzpatrick and Florida State’a Derwin James.

RB Damien Harris (Alabama) - The Crimson Tide has a lot of potent running backs, and Harris appears to be the most NFL-ready. He leads the team with 983 yards and 11 touchdowns.

RB Sony Michel (Georgia) - The senior saved his best performance of the season when Georgia needed it most, rushing for 181 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Sooners. He’s in the midst of his best collegiate season, as he enters tonight’s game with 1,129 yards and 16 touchdowns.

RB Nick Chubb (Georgia) - The senior has bounced back from a torn ACL that wrecked what could have been a special sophomore season (747 yards in five games). Chubb leads the Bulldogs with 1,320 yards and 15 scores.

LB Lorenzo Carter (Georgia) - He has eye-popping athleticism (6-foot-6, 242 pounds) but it hasn’t always translated into elite production. Still, he’s among the top-ranked pass rushers in this year’s class and enters tonight’s game with 4.5 sacks.

DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama) - He made headlines in last week’s game against Clemson for his receiving skills, catching a touchdown in the second half of Alabama’s dominant victory. The nimble, 6-foot-2, 308-pounder is one of the biggest reasons why Alabama’s run defense has been so stout.

DE Da’Shawn Hand (Alabama) - The former top-ranked high school recruit took a while to blossom with the Crimson Tide, but he’ll end his career as a major contributor and a likely Day 2 selection. He’s picked up a sack in his last two games.

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