NFL Matchups in The Title Game

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

It’s an SEC matchup for all the marbles in the national title game and a contest many thought we would see for conference supremacy. The next-level talent tilts towards Alabama and definitely favors the defense. Since we highlighted many of these prospects during the semifinal game, we’ll instead take a look at some of the better head-to-head matchups in this contest.

The Alabama secondary vs. Javon Wims

Javon Wims, a transfer from Hinds Community College, was ignored by scouts before the season but presently grades as a mid-Day 3 prospect, and he could go earlier if he runs well before the draft. He’s a big-bodied, game-controlling pass catcher who consistently wins out for contested passes. Wims has a long wingspan, has been a terrific red-zone threat this season and possesses a surprisingly high yards-per-catch average (16 yards per catch on 44 receptions).

He’ll have his hands full against the Tide secondary, which boasts three players who will be drafted this April, including two in the first round.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is a versatile defensive back who can play man coverage at corner or line up inside as a zone safety. Fitzpatrick, who will be playing despite a bruised kidney, struggles making plays with his back to the ball and is at a size disadvantage against Wims.

Ronnie Harrison also has a slight size disadvantage but is a fierce hitter who will try to deliver punishing blows in order to intimidate Wims.

I expect both Fitzpatrick and Harrison to enter the draft soon after this game is completed.

Anthony Averett is often the forgotten man on the back end for Alabama, but he can line up over the slot receiver or play backed off the line of scrimmage.

Roquan Smith vs. Damien Harris

Roquan Smith took his game to another level in 2017. So did Damien Harris.

Smith is an explosive run-and-chase linebacker with great range and pursuit speed. He quickly diagnoses the action, finds the ball handler and shows terrific speed moving in every direction. While I presently grade the junior as a second-round prospect, he could easily move into the first frame after he declares for the draft -- something I’m told is a done deal.

Harris stepped out of the shadows of Bo Scarbrough and cemented himself as the Tide’s featured back this season as well as a top-level NFL running back prospect. Harris shows a great deal of shiftiness and creativity carrying the ball which complements his burst and ability to break long runs from the line of scrimmage. As of this posting, I’m told Harris is still unsure where he’ll be playing football next fall.

Will Smith be able to use his great pursuit speed to contain Harris, or will Harris be able to shake Smith for long runs?

Da’Shawn Hand vs. Isaiah Wynn

Entering the season, Isaiah Wynn was graded by scouts as a prospect who wouldn’t be drafted or even signed as a free agent after the draft. That’s how poorly the senior was ranked, which is sad considering Wynn has started all but one game for Georgia the past three years. He’s a quality blocker who played left tackle in 2017 after lining up at guard -- the position he’ll play at the next level -- the prior two seasons. Wynn is strong and fundamentally sound and gets the most from his ability. I don’t think he’ll be very effective as a zone blocker, but he could start in a system which reduces his area responsibilities.

Hand is a guy who flashes brilliance but also shows a lot of inconsistency in his game. He offers terrific size and speed numbers (6-foot-4, 295 pounds, under 5.0s in the 40) and can bend the edge then rush the passer or stop the run. Hand offers potential as a two-gap end in a three-man front and will receive consideration inside at tackle.

This is a big test for Wynn and an even bigger opportunity for Hand.

Ross Pierschbacher vs. Trenton Thompson

A pair of large, often-dominant juniors face off.

Ross Pierschbacher is a big, strong lineman who annihilates the opposition once he gets his hands on them. He’s smart and tough and has starting potential at the next level.

Trenton Thompson isn’t as big as Pierschbacher but is quicker, looser and can beat the ‘Bama guard off the snap. 

Thompson must get the first step on Pierschbacher, while the Tide lineman must quickly get his hands on Thompson.

Word has Pierschbacher considering the draft, while Thompson is expected to enter.

National Title Game Prospects

Grade

Round

Full Name

School

Pos

Num

Yr

4.28

1st

Da'Ron Payne

Alabama

DT

94

3Jr

4.22

1st

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Alabama

CB

29

3Jr

4.20

1st

Nick Chubb

Georgia

RB

27

4Sr

4.18

1st

Ronnie Harrison

Alabama

S

15

3Jr

4.17

1st

Calvin Ridley

Alabama

WR

3

3Jr

3.99

1-2

Lorenzo Carter

Georgia

OLB

7

4Sr

3.95

2nd

Roquan Smith

Georgia

OLB

3

3Jr

3.88

2nd

Da'Shawn Hand

Alabama

DE

9

4Sr

3.85

2nd

Damien Harris

Alabama

RB

34

3Jr

3.84

2nd

Sony Michel

Georgia

RB

1

4Sr

3.82

2nd

Trenton Thompson

Georgia

DT

78

3Jr

3.69

3rd

Ross Pierschbacher

Alabama

G

71

4Jr

3.66

3rd

Anthony Averett

Alabama

CB

28

5Sr

3.64

3rd

Tony Brown

Alabama

CB

2

4Sr

3.61

3rd

Christian Miller

Alabama

OLB

47

4Jr

3.59

3-4

Isaiah Wynn

Georgia

G

77

4Sr

3.57

4th

Rashaan Evans

Alabama

OLB

32

4Sr

3.45

5th

JK Scott

Alabama

P

15

4Sr

3.44

5th

Robert Foster

Alabama

WR

1

5Sr

3.44

5th

Shaun Hamilton

Alabama

ILB

20

4Sr

3.39

5-6

Bo Scarbrough

Alabama

RB

9

4Jr

3.38

5-6

Javon Wims

Georgia

WR

6

4Sr

3.37

6th

Davin Bellamy

Georgia

OLB

17

5Sr

3.32

6-7

Hootie Jones

Alabama

S

6

4Sr

3.28

7th

Dominick Sanders

Georgia

S

24

4Sr

3.25

FA

Christian Payne

Georgia

FB

47

4Sr

3.25

FA

Natrez Patrick

Georgia

ILB

6

3Jr

3.24

FA

Jeb Blazevich

Georgia

TE

83

4Sr

3.24

FA

J.R. Reed

Georgia

S

20

3Jr

3.21

FA

David Marvin

Georgia

K

14

5Sr

3.16

FA

Levi Wallace

Alabama

CB

39

4Sr

3.15

FA

Hale Hentges

Alabama

TE

84

3Jr

3.02

FA

Dyshon Sims

Georgia

G

55

4Sr

3.00

FA

Malkom Parrish

Georgia

CB

14

4Sr

2.99

FA

Bradley Bozeman

Alabama

C

75

5Sr

2.99

FA

Isaiah Buggs

Alabama

DE

49

3Jr

2.92

FA

Aaron Davis

Georgia

S

35

5Sr

2.88

FA

Terry Godwin

Georgia

WR

5

3Jr

2.81

FA

Johnathan Atkins

Georgia

DT

97

5Sr

2.73

FA

Joshua Frazier

Alabama

DT

69

4Sr

2.69

FA

John Ledbetter

Georgia

DE

13

3Jr