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Six From Saturday: NFL Draft Prospects Shine During College Football Playoff Semifinals

Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl were ripe with NFL-level talent from all four teams. Who stood out and who helped their draft stock?

Six things to note from the College Football Playoff semifinals...

1. Everyone know where I went to school, so here are my two thoughts on the Fiesta Bowl officiating. One, overturning Jordan Fuller’s scoop-and-score was crazy, and is evidence that the same problem that’s crept into the NFL is alive in the college game. The quality of replay has gotten so good, and officials have grown such rabbit ears as a result that we’re now seeing plenty of close calls overturned. Jeff Okudah jarring the ball loose from Justyn Ross was, at best, a 51-49 call, so I believe the call on the field should have stood. Two, the targeting call on DB Shaun Wade was correct. But man, is it a shame to take a first-round talent off the field on a play that was far from malicious.

Jeffrey Okudah, Tee Higgins

2. The NFL talent on that field was off the charts. Clemson’s top three receivers and Ohio State’s top three corners are better than what some NFL teams have at those positions. Okudah will be the top corner drafted this year, and Tee Higgins is right there with Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb—who formally announced his departure for the NFL draft—and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy to be the first receivers. Ross and Wade are also first-rounders. And Damon Arnette and Amari Rodgers are pros, too.

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3. As for LSU, I wouldn’t say Joe Burrow was the player who helped himself most draft-wise on their roster Saturday, mostly because you can’t go higher than first overall—and he was No. 1 heading into the game. So give me Tiger junior receiver Justin Jefferson, who had 14 catches for 227 yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma. One college scouting director said on Sunday, “I think Jefferson was probably a solid third round player before the game, but he made himself a ton of cash [on Saturday]. Probably a top 40-50 player now in a loaded WR class.”

4. Just so it’s properly appreciated, Burrow’s stat line at the half: 21-of-27, 403 yards, seven TDs, zero INTs. And it sure felt like he mathematically eliminated his competition to be the first quarterback taken in April. The craziest part? He’ll be the second best NFL prospect at his own position in the title game.

5. This would be a good spot to call for an NFL team to at least inquire about LSU pass-game coordinator Joe Brady. I’ve told this story before—the Tigers found out about Brady because the then-Saints offensive assistant stood in as a speaker at their camp in 2018, after OC Pete Carmichael and QBs coach Joe Lombardi said they couldn’t make it. Brady wowed them, and they hired him the next year, at 29 years old. He’s 30 now. And he should be piquing the interest of NFL teams, based on his Saints pedigree and LSU production.

6. One thing to look forward to this week: Alabama and Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. Five of the receivers in this game—Jeudy, Devonta Smith and Henry Ruggs from Bama, and Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins from Michigan—could be top 100 picks.

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