Scouting the Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Clemson

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

A repeat matchup of the past two national title games pits Alabama against Clemson, though this time it’s the semifinal contest. We count 28 draftable players in this game, including as many as seven who will be picked in the first round.

Alabama has a very good defensive line but Clemson has a great one, and it need to be on its game against the Tide.

Christian Wilkins is presently graded as the No. 2 player on our big board, much higher than most others have him ranked, but well worth the placing.

Wilkins is a big man and a three-down player who stuffs the run, rushes the passer or occupies gaps. He’s incredibly athletic, shows the ability to chase the action laterally and makes plays outside the box. Wilkins, who was rated as the No. 1 NFL prospect in the nation by several scouts before the season, plays with a nonstop motor, something that really stands out on film.

Wilkins' teammate Clelin Ferrell is the sixth-rated prospect on our big board. He’s a terrific athlete that gets a lot of pressure up the field and can rush the passer out of a three-point stance or standing over tackle. Ferrell is quick and explosive and comes with a huge upside.

Expect both Wilkins and Ferrell to announce they intend on entering the draft once Clemson's season is completed.

Da’Ron Payne grades fourth on our big board, and though he's not the playmaker of the two Clemson Tigers, he takes up a lot more room and can be impossible to handle.

The Tide have a decided advantage in the secondary, starting with versatile Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The sometimes safety, sometimes cornerback plays physical football and combines next-level size, speed and athleticism. He struggles making plays with his back to the ball, which is a major red flag for me, but comes with a large upside.

Though not the athlete of his teammate, I firmly believe Ronnie Harrison is a better football player and more NFL-ready. He’s a terrific safety in the Landon Collins mold and a tough run defender who can also line up over the slot receiver and get the job done.

Calvin Ridley, who I fully expect will enter the draft, is the next first-round receiver prospect from the Alabama program. He’s not as impactful compared to former first round 'Bama wideouts Amari Cooper and Julio Jones, yet he has potential as a No. 1 receiver in a vertical offense.

Sugar Bowl Prospects

Grade

Round

Full Name

School

Pos

Num

Yr

4.34

1st

Christian Wilkins

Clemson

DT

42

3Jr

4.28

1st

Da'Ron Payne

Alabama

DT

94

3Jr

4.25

1st

Clelin Ferrell

Clemson

DE

99

3So

4.22

1st

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Alabama

CB

29

3Jr

4.18

1st

Ronnie Harrison

Alabama

S

15

3Jr

4.17

1st

Calvin Ridley

Alabama

WR

3

3Jr

4.14

1st

Austin Bryant

Clemson

DE

91

3Jr

3.88

2nd

Da'shawn Hand

Alabama

DE

9

4Sr

3.85

2nd

Damien Harris

Alabama

RB

34

3Jr

3.83

2nd

Deon Cain

Clemson

WR

8

3Jr

3.79

2-3

Mitch Hyatt

Clemson

T

75

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

FA

Christian Miller

Alabama

OLB

47

4Jr

3.57

4th

Rashaan Evans

Alabama

OLB

32

4Sr

3.50

4th

Kelly Bryant

Clemson

QB

2

3Jr

3.45

5th

Dorian O'Daniel

Clemson

OLB

6

5Sr

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

3.42

5th

Trevion Thompson

Clemson

WR

1

4Jr

3.39

5-6

Bo Scarbrough

Alabama

RB

9

4Jr

3.36

6th

Taylor Hearn

Clemson

G

51

4Jr

3.33

6th

Mark Fields

Clemson

CB

2

3Jr

3.32

6-7

Hootie Jones

Alabama

S

6

4Sr

3.28

7th

Van Smith

Clemson

S

23

3Jr

3.27

7th

Tyrone Crowder

Clemson

G

55

5Sr

3.16

FA

Levi Wallace

Alabama

CB

39

4Sr

3.15

FA

Hale Hentges

Alabama

TE

84

3Jr

3.14

FA

Ray-Ray McCloud

Clemson

WR

34

3Jr

3.09

FA

Kendall Joseph

Clemson

ILB

34

4Jr

2.99

FA

Bradley Bozeman

Alabama

C

75

5Sr

2.99

FA

Ryan Carter

Clemson

CB

31

5Sr

2.99

FA

Isaiah Buggs

Alabama

DE

49

3Jr

2.97

FA

Hunter Renfrow

Clemson

WR

13

4Jr

2.75

FA

Marcus Edmond

Clemson

CB

29

5Sr

2.73

FA

Joshua Frazier

Alabama

DT

69

4Sr