As you would expect with a national championship game, the battle between Alabama and Notre Dame that will take place on Monday night is loaded with potential NFL draft picks. On Alabama, they feature an incredible offensive and defensive line that includes three potential first round draft picks in Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and Jesse Williams. For Notre Dame, they feature a potential top five draft pick in Manti Te'o, but also include three talented offensive players in Tyler Eiffert, and a pair of running backs, Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood.
Nico Johnson, inside linebacker, Alabama - No. 35 - Johnson has been an incredibly productive two year starter for Alabama. He has manned the middle of their 3-4 defense and has shown that he has all the tools to be a quality inside linebacker for an NFL team. At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, he has the build of a solid, run-stopping inside linebacker. He has decent speed and great instincts. He projects as a third or fourth round pick.
Barrett Jones, center, offensive guard, Alabama - No. 75 - Jones has started at left tackle, right guard, and center in his four year career at Alabama but seems best fit at center from what I have seen. This year, his first at center, was probably his best season of his career and he showed the ability to handle all different types of defensive tackles. While Sheldon Richardson of Missouri did give him some trouble, he was able to dominate defensive tackles for the most part. At 6-foot-5, 302 pounds, he has the size and frame of an NFL center and he projects to go in the top 50 picks of this year's draft.
Robert Lester, safety, Alabama - No. 37 - Lester, standing 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, came into the year as a potential first round pick but he has struggled mightily this year. At times he looked indecisive and he made a lot of mistakes on taking proper angles. However, he still has a bunch of natural gifts and he appears to be a very hard worker. He is now projected to go anywhere from the second to fourth round with hopes that he can get back on track once he gets to the NFL.
Damion Square, 3-4 defensive end, Alabama - No. 92 - Square, in his first year as a starter for Alabama, really impressed me when I saw him on film. At 6-foot-3, 286 pounds, he has the build of a 3-4 defensive end but he is even stronger than his size suggests. He was excellent in the running game and at times showed the ability to get after the quarterback. He is projected as a Day Three pick and could be an excellent selection for the Steelers, who are in need of depth on the defensive line.
Chance Warmack, offensive guard, Alabama - No. 65 - Warmack, a two year starter at Alabama, is 6-foot-3, 320 pounds. He is unbelievably powerful and just dominates defensive linemen at all times. I have seen him block up to three people on one play and while he is great in run blocking, he is also an excellent pass blocker. He seems to have all the traits of a dominant offensive guard and that is why he is projected as a top 20 pick, similar to last year when David DeCastro was in the draft.
Jesse Williams, 3-4 defensive end, 3-4 nose tackle, 4-3 nose tackle, Alabama - No. 54 - Williams, standing 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, can play almost every position on the defensive line. At 320 pounds, he has the size and strength to play nose tackle in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. However, I believe he is best fit as a 3-4 defensive end. He has exceptional quickness for a man his size and excelled this year when placed at defensive end. He has the potential to be a top ten pick but I see him falling in the 15 to 25 range, and I would love it if the Steelers took him at 17.
Michael Williams, tight end, Alabama - No. 89 - Williams, at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, is a blocking tight end in its purest form. When watching him on film, you can actually mistake him for a right tackle because he is that dominant as a run blocker. However, in the past year and a half, he has actually began to show something as a receiver, especially in the red zone. This year, he caught 21 passes for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns and last year he caught 16 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. He is projected as a fourth or fifth round pick and with Heath Miller possibly out at the beginning of the year and not much depth behind him, the Steelers might be wise spending a pick on Williams.
Braxston Cave, center, Notre Dame - No. 52 - Cave, standing 6-foot-3, 304 pounds, has had a great season for Notre Dame. He has shown the ability to be both a dominant run blocker and a good pass blocker. With an incredible season, his stock has soared from being a relative unknown to being projected as a third or fourth round pick. Take note of the battle in this game between Cave and Alabama defensive linemen Jesse Williams, who does lineup at nose tackle on about 40 percent of Alabama's plays.
Tyler Eifert, tight end, Notre Dame - No. 80 - Eiffert is a massive tight end at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds but he also has incredible athleticism. He has the rare traits that a tight end needs to dominate a game and that is why he is projected as a first round pick in this year's draft. He reminds me very much of Heath Miller in that he really can do everything. Like Miller, he has shown the ability to be a great blocker in both the run game and as a pass protector. He has also shown the ability to make the clutch catch and really just be a very consistent receiver. He will likely be covered by Alabama junior linebacker C.J. Mosley, who could have been a first round pick this year if he declared, so watch that matchup during the game.
Theo Riddick, running back, Notre Dame - No. 6 - Riddick is part of a talented duo of running backs that Notre Dame possesses. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Riddick possesses a solid build and great quickness. He has a violent stiff arm that I love to watch and he has shown the ability to be an exceptional pass catcher as well. In the past three years, he has caught no less than 35 passes. Up until this year, he was used solely as a receiver but this year, he actually got 180 carries for 880 yards. He is projected as a fourth or fifth round pick.
Manti Te'o, inside linebacker, Notre Dame - No. 5 - Te'o has an unbelievable story but he also has unbelievable talent to go along with that story. Over the past two years, he has been one of the most productive players in the country and this year he nearly won the Heisman Trophy. He has unbelievable instincts, is a great hitter, and has shown the ability to play zone coverage, intercepting seven passes this year. He is projected as at top 15 pick and could go as high as the top five.
Cierre Wood, running back, Notre Dame - No. 20 - Wood is the second part of the Notre Dame backfield. Like Riddick, Wood has shown the ability to be a great receiver out of the backfield, catching 20 and 27 passes respectively in his sophomore and junior seasons. However, this year, he battled injuries throughout the season despite playing in ten games. He is projected as a Day Three pick and like Riddick, he could become a very good running back for a team that likes to use a committee.