Six things to note from college football championship weekend and the significance to the pro game.
1. No prospect this side of Joe Burrow has helped himself more this year than Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb. The junior came into the season as a solid Day 2 prospect and is coming out of it on fire. Some of the questions, like one concerning his straight-line speed, remain. “It’s still somewhat of a question,” said one AFC college scouting director. “And route-running is always going to be an issue for guys coming out of that system.” So how’s he helped himself? Check this out.
2. As for Burrow, scouts have noted his Tom Brady-type of pocket feel. This isn’t so much about athleticism—although Burrow’s a damn good athlete—as it is how a quarterback anticipates the rush and moves like a boxer to buy time to throw. The LSU fifth-year senior showed it again against a stout Georgia defense.
3. Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor acquitted himself well, and made a case to go in the first round with his 148-yard effort against Ohio State’s top-ranked defense on Saturday night (even if only 13 of those yards came after halftime). Afterwards the junior announced that he won’t skip the Badgers’ bowl game, as has been the trend for non-playoff-bound prospects.
“I played with these guys this season to earn the right to have a bowl game,” Taylor said. “Especially after today, I want to help these guys finish it out right.”
No one would have held it against him if he went the other way. But I bet you’ll hear plenty on how teams love his competitiveness for doing it the next few months. Now let’s hope he stays healthy.
4. Chase Young remains the best player in college football and the 2020 NFL draft, and his statistically light Saturday changes none of that. He was double- and triple-teamed by Wisconsin much of the evening (good move by the Badgers after his four-sack effort against them in October), and yet he still got to the quarterback a bit. He made another ridiculously athletic play in stopping Taylor on a fourth down late in the fourth quarter to lock up the Buckeyes’ third-straight Big 10 title.
5. Three quarterback decisions to watch: Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Washington’s Jacob Eason and Utah State’s Jordan Love (Eason was inconsistent this year, and Fromm and Love had bad seasons). All those guys are behind LSU’s Joe Burrow, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and, barring a medical disaster, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. And I’m not sure they can pass them. The problem? Waiting means being part of what’ll probably be seen as a stronger class of quarterbacks in 2021, with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields taking the lead.
6. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell just signed a new five-year deal, but I still think NFL teams should give him a call, based on what people who I know and trust—who are out of the scouting trail constantly—say about him. The Jets wanted to take a look at him last year, and the Browns kicked the tires too.
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