Scouting the Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs Clemson

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Colin Littlefield

Draft Analyst Writer

Ohio State (11-1) was able to earn the playoff committee’s #3 spot after beating Michigan 30-27 in double overtime. The first team to win the National Championship in the playoff era is going into the Fiesta Bowl looking for their third bowl victory of Urban Meyer’s tenure. Clemson (12-1) is the 2nd-ranked team in the playoffs and the Tigers are fresh after an ACC Championship victory over Virginia Tech 42-35. Clemson looks to improve the bowl record under Dabo Swinney from 5-4 and also bounce back from the 45-40 loss in last year’s National Championship to Alabama. This game is filled with draft talent on both sides of the ball, for each team.

Fiesta Bowl Prospects

Rnd

Grade

School

Full Name

Pos

Number

Year

1st

4.02

Clemson

Deshaun Watson

QB

4

3Jr

1st

3.99M

Clemson

Mike Williams

WR

7

4Jr

1-2

3.96

Clemson

Cordrea Tankersley

CB

25

4Sr

2nd

3.88

Ohio State

Gareon Conley

CB

8

4Jr

2nd

3.86

Ohio State

Sam Hubbard

DE

6

3So

2nd

3.85

Ohio State

Malik Hooker

S

24

3So

2-3

3.79

Clemson

Jordan Leggett

TE

16

4Sr

2-3

3.78

Ohio State

Raekwon McMillan

ILB

5

3Jr

2-3

3.72

Ohio State

Billy Price

G

54

4Jr

3rd

3.68

Ohio State

Tyquan Lewis

DE

59

4Jr

3rd

3.64

Ohio State

Pat Elflein

G

65

5Sr

3rd

3.63

Ohio State

Marshon Lattimore

CB

2

3So

3rd

3.63

Clemson

Wayne Gallman

RB

9

4Jr

3-4

3.57

Ohio State

Curtis Samuel

RB

4

3Jr

4-5

3.49

Clemson

Tyrone Crowder

G

55

4Jr

4-5

3.48

Clemson

Artavis Scott

WR

3

3Jr

5-6

3.39

Clemson

Carlos Watkins

DT

94

5Sr

6th

3.35

Ohio State

Dontre Wilson

WR

2

4Sr

6th

3.35

Ohio State

Dante Booker

OLB

33

3Jr

6th

3.34

Clemson

Ben Boulware

ILB

10

4Sr

7th

3.29

Clemson

Korrin Wiggins

S

15

4Jr

FA

3.21

Ohio State

Corey Smith

WR

84

5Sr

FA

3.20

Clemson

Jay Guillermo

C

57

5Sr

FA

3.20

Ohio State

J.T. Barrett

QB

16

4Jr

FA

3.07

Clemson

Jadar Johnson

S

18

4Sr

FA

2.70

Ohio State

Bri'Onte Dunn

RB

25

5Sr

To begin, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is our top-ranked player taking the field. The 6’2” 215 lb junior is entering the game leading the 11th-ranked offense in the nation, 2nd in the ACC, behind only Louisville. Watson has made 487 passing attempts, completing 329 of them for 3,914 yards which is 301.1 yards per game and he has a completion percentage of 67.6%. 37 of his passes have connected for touchdowns and he’s thrown 15 interceptions. On the ground, Watson has rushed for 526 yards and 6 touchdowns on 130 carries. All of this has been enough for Watson to have been a Heisman Trophy finalist, a 2016 Second Team All-ACC selection, and lastly, this year’s Davey O’Brien Award winner. Watson ranks third in our QB rankings, which are very tight at the top with Kizer, Trubisky (if he declares), and Watson all fighting for the top spot. His downfield accuracy and pass placement out on the flanks is a concern but when all is said and done we expect Deshaun Watson to be a first round draft choice. Next in our rankings is Clemson wide receiver and Watson’s favorite target, Mike Williams. The redshirt junior is putting up great numbers after missing all of last season with a neck injury. He enters the game with 84 receptions for 1,171 yards and 10 touchdowns, all of which, lead the team. At 6’3” 225 lbs, Williams is a good sized wide receiver that can beat defenders on deep balls with his above average ball skills. On film he grades as the best receiver in the draft but red-flags surround the neck injury he suffered last season, hence the “M” next to his grade.  Williams must improve his route-running and his ability to separate from press coverage. Our 3rd-ranked prospect in the Fiesta Bowl is Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley. He stands at 6’1” and 200 lbs and is entering the game with 55 tackles and three interceptions. His size and athletic ability should translate very well to the next level, but Tankersley just needs a few minor tweaks to the technical side of his game to really develop into a star player. In a very deep cornerback class, Tankersley is our 5th-ranked player at the position.

The operative word from Columbus when looking at the Buckeyes next level prospect, is defense.  Our first Ohio State prospect comes in cornerback Gareon Conley. Conley, a redshirt junior, earned a spot on the Second Team All-Big Ten list, this season. He’s totaled 20 tackles and three interceptions, so far, this season. At 6’0” and 195lbs his size is beneficial but doesn’t blow you away. However when that size is combined with his instincts and athletic ability, which teams love as reported by Tony Pauline, it shows that Conley has all of the tools to survive at the next level. As reported in December 20th’s Underclassmen Tracker, Conley is leaning towards entering the draft and we have given him a 2nd round projection. Sam Hubbard looks like the next great defensive line prospect from the Ohio State program and in many ways reminds people of Noah Spence during his early days with the Buckeyes.  Hubbard is expected to return to Ohio State next season.  Safety Malik Hooker displays some inconsistency in his game but offers big time potential and at his best is a dominant run defender with terrific ball skills.  As reported numerous times most feel Hooker will enter the draft.