Six Players Bengals Fans Should Watch For in the College Football National Championship Game

Here are a few players to watch for on Monday night!

One of the best football weekends of the year wraps up on Monday with plenty of future NFL players battling it out in the College Football National Championship Game.

Alabama and Ohio State aren't strangers to churning out top tier NFL talent. The programs have a combined nine former players on Pro Bowl rosters this season. There's a chance that at least nine players get drafted in the first round from these two teams. 

Here are some prospects to watch on Monday night that Cincinnati could target in April.

Round One: Pick Five

DeVonta Smith - Wide Receiver - Alabama

Smith is the first receiver to win the Heisman Trophy award since Desmond Howard in 1991. He joins a stellar group of Alabama receiving royalty. Smith followed in the footsteps of Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Calvin Ridley to carry the Alabama receiving torch. Smith leads the nation in catches (106), receiving yards (1,641), and receiving touchdowns (20). The Tide's most prolific outside weapon has turned it on even more with the pressure rising for the Crimson Tide.

Smith finished with 22 catches for 214 yards and five touchdowns in the SEC Championship and the Rose Bowl.

He is slight at 175-pounds but has shown durability playing 12-plus games each of the past three years. Smith has all the receiving skills on the field while being lauded off it. The Heisman winner built up a great chance to hear his name in the top five on draft night.

Patrick Surtain II - Cornerback - Alabama

Something about those athletes on the outside in Tuscaloosa. Patrick Surtain II would be a bit of a stretch for Cincinnati at pick five. Cornerback isn't a pressing need, but it could become one if Mackensie Alexander and William Jackson III depart in free agency. Surtain could stem the bleeding in that scenario. His father put together 37 interceptions across 11 NFL seasons, and so far, Surtain II has been a chip off the old block.

Surtain is like a robot in coverage—stifling and disciplined. He never allowed more than 60 yards in a game this season, while finishing third in the country in passes defended. Surtain hasn't been called for a single penalty this season. Roll all that together, and it produces Pro Football Focus' highest-graded cornerback in the nation this season (89.7 Overall).

Round Two: Pick 37

Wyatt Davis, Guard, Ohio State

Wyatt Davis projects as a day-one NFL starter, and he's played nearly flawless football leading up to the draft season. Nasty blocking in the run game is translating to pass sets. Davis has allowed two sacks across 666 pass-blocking snaps over the past two seasons. He didn't give up a QB hit or sack in 2019.

At 315-pounds, the redshirt junior could immediately step into the Bengals' right guard spot and contend for a starting role. Cincinnati never figured out either spot next to Trey Hopkins.

Interior pressure is the most effective way to ruin an opposing passing game. The Bengals felt that firsthand in 2020. Davis could be a huge upgrade next season.

Christian Barmore, Defensive Tackle, Alabama

Barmore could add his name to the ring of the NFL's burgeoning interior pass rushers should he decide to go pro. The redshirt sophomore has shown flashes of a starting 3-technique, but his understanding of shedding double teams needs polishing. The shine has glistened more over the past two months. Barmore has boosted his stock with five sacks in five games.

The standout performance came against Notre Dame when he had five tackles, one sack, and seven pressures. The Philadelphia-native has gone from a day-two pick to some projections having him at the backend of the first round. Barmore could infuse young talent to a defensive line that aged quickly in 2020. Depending on what happens with the Geno Atkins' contract, Barmore could enter a desirable situation to develop with the Bengals.

Chris Olave, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

The Bengals need a deep threat on offense and that's exactly what Olave brings to the field. 

He has 42 receptions for 660 yards and seven touchdowns this season and is averaging 15.7 yards-per-catch. 

Listed a 6-1, 188, Olave isn't the biggest receiver, but he could be a great complement to Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. 

Olave has a chance to be a first round pick depending on how he fares at the NFL combine. Much like Smith, he seems to rise to the occasion in big games. He had six receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson.

Third Round: Pick 69

Dylan Moses, Linebacker, Alabama

The 2020 season was a bit of a slog for Dylan Moses. He was working his way back from a torn ACL that robbed his entire 2019 campaign. The senior was PFF’s lowest-graded starting linebacker among playoff teams heading into the semifinal. Moses' slow start to the season knocked him out of first-round consideration, but his best football has come over the past five games.

Moses has been finding himself near the pigskin more than ever. Since the Iron Bowl, he's defended three passes after defending one pass in his career up to that point. Toss in six tackles across three of those five games, and Moses is looking more like the player he was before his injury.

The Bengals took steps to upgrade at linebacker in last year's draft but the results haven't panned out quite yet. Out of the 80 linebackers who played all 16 games in 2020, veteran Josh Bynes ranked the highest among Bengals in points saved at 47th overall according to Sports Info Solutions. 

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