Kentucky wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson could be a potential first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he provided NFL evaluators another tape that shows off his excellent speed and playmaking ability. In the second quarter on a third-and-26, Robinson ran a vertical route out of the slot and got open for a 34-yard gain with an over-the-shoulder catch. In the fourth quarter on a third-and-long, Robinson drew a pass interference from Riley Moss as the All-American corner was holding and draped all over Robinson. Late in the fourth quarter, Robinson caught a slant on a third-and-10 for a 17-yard gain, and Robinson took a massive shot while holding onto the ball.
With two minutes remaining around mid-field and down by four, Robinson made the play of the game. Coming from the slot, he ran a corner post and caught the ball around the 30. He made a superb juke move on a tackler at the 20, dodged another at the five, and was tackled at the one-yard line. It was a 52-yard gain on what could have been Robinson's last reception in his Kentucky career. He caught 10 passes for 170 yards in the Citrus Bowl.
For the NFL, Robinson is a Tyreek Hill-style wide receiver. He is not as fast as Hill, but he is super shifty as a route runner, like Hill, and is phenomenal at using his agility to quickly get open. On top of his speed to get open, Robinson showed his excellent run-after-the-catch skills, as he is dangerous in space with shiftiness that makes him tough to tackle. Even though Robinson is not a big receiver, he showed real toughness versus Iowa, taking some big hits and staying in the game. This tape will help Robinson to be a first-rounder if he enters the 2022 NFL Draft.
Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum is the consensus top center prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft, and he gave further proof of why with an excellent performance against a good Kentucky defense. While Iowa's offense struggled to maintain consistency, Linderbaum was phenomenal on the inside. Midway through the fourth quarter, a defensive lineman looked like he stepped on Linderbaum's left foot, which led to Linderbaum gingerly walking into the locker room.
The first thing that stands out about Linderbaum is how fast he plays. He is good ball handler who delivers quick and firm snaps to his quarterback. After the snap, Linderbaum is a lightning bolt out of his stance, quickly firing to his block. Not only is Linderbaum immediately getting into the chest of a lineman, he has rare acceleration to the linebackers and gets to them much faster than expected. Linderbaum is very athletic and fluid in space. He showed phenomenal speed in this contest, getting downfield on a screen and rocking a defender to spring his back for a good gain.
As a run blocker, Linderbaum is not overwhelmingly powerful, but he has good strength. Linderbaum will tie up, turn, and manipulate defenders to move them away from his back. With his speed, Linderbaum is a real weapon to pull or spring backs for gains with a key block at the second level. Iowa has been an offensive line factory for the NFL, and that can be seen in Linderbaum's development because he is a technician with intelligence and toughness.
Linderbaum is rock solid in pass protection. He bends at the knee and has excellent body lean. With his quickness and loose ankles, Linderbaum can glide and slide to keep himself between speed rushers and the quarterback. Thanks to a strong lower body, Linderbaum can sink his hips to stonewall bull rushers. With guard-tandem blocks, Linderbaum packs a punch and eats up tackles. He will be an asset in the NFL to help maintain a clean pocket and provide his quarterback room to step up.
Linderbaum looks like a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He could be a plug-and-play starter with the potential to be a Pro Bowler before the end of his rookie contract.
Kentucky right tackle Darian Kinnard has enjoyed a superb senior year. While this was not his best performance, Kinnard was in a tough spot because the Wildcats were without their starting left tackle and had some blocking issues at guard, having to move players around. That led to a lot of pressure on Will Levis and him rolling to his right often, which made things easier for Kinnard's defender with the quarterback consistently scrambling his direction.
In the first quarter, Levis was being sacked after the left tackle got burned, but Iowa defensive end Joe Evans was able to chip in after Levis took some steps his direction. Kinnard didn't give up a sack, but allowed a hit. In the ground game, Kinnard was packing a punch and generating movement consistently, but the breakdowns elsewhere in the line kept the Kentucky offense from maintaining drives.
Overall, Kinnard had a good showing against the Hawkeyes. He was tough in the ground game and did a steady job in pass protection. Kinnard does not have the feet and agility of a left tackle in the NFL, but he could be a quality starting right tackle or a very good guard.
One of the stars of this game was Iowa senior defensive end Zach VanValkenburg. All game, he was used his speed to run around the backup left tackle, and he produced multiple sacks of quarterback Will Levis. The 6-foot-4, 267-pounder showed speed to run around the corner with active hands to slap blockers away while continuing to work upfield. While VanValkenburg did not produce a prolific senior year of production, this tape will help him to be a mid-round or third-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Buckeyes have trio of potential first-round picks in wide receiver Garrett Wilson, wide receiver Chris Olave, and left tackle Nicolas Petit-Frere. All three decided to sit this game out, but fortunately Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd was on the field to give pro evaluators one more tape on him. Ohio State features a prolific passing attack led by sophomore quarterback C.J. Stroud, so Lloyd was seeing a tough test, and going into the passing-driven NFL, this was a valuable game for evaluation purposes.
With Ohio State attacking the Utes downfield, Lloyd did not put up the tackle production he did in most games. At the end of the first quarter, Lloyd flowed to the line and made a tackle at the line of scrimmage. Midway through the third quarter, Lloyd made a phenomenal play in run defense, staying patient to flow with the play and then waiting for an opening to dart downfield to make a tackle at the line of scrimmage. In the fourth quarter, Lloyd made a clutch open-field tackle to prevent a long run, as the Buckeyes had blockers set up perfectly to spring a big gain.
Against the pass, Lloyd did a solid job in zone coverage. However in the third quarter, Lloyd allowed a big coverage bust when he did not achieve depth while playing Cover 2 defense. Lloyd was supposed to recede down the seam, but he did not run as fast as he should have, and that allowed an opening for an Ohio State receiver to get a long reception just past Lloyd. Lloyd came back to make some tackles coming over in zone coverage.
Team sources like Lloyd, saying he is big, long and athletic. They feel he has good instincts, but is not overly twitchy. He is physical and has good length to play off blocks. This season, Lloyd made some impressive plays in coverage and as a rusher. He has a quality skill set and was very productive this year. He could be a high second-round pick and might get late first-round consideration during the 2022 NFL Draft.
The star 2022 NFL Draft prospect of this game was Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. From start to finish, Robinson ripped the Cincinnati defense, running downhill, powering through tackles, showing good vision and cutting ability to weave through the defense. He totaled 204 yards on 26 carries and set a school record for rushing yards in a bowl game.
Versus the Bearcats, Robinson showed his power to run through tackles and pick up yards after contact. He has quickness and burst to get to the second level while showing vision and feel. In the passing game, Robinson is very fluid as an outlet receiver for a big back, and Robinson was excellent as a blocker in blitz protection in 2022. This season, Robinson was a real riser with pro teams.
Sources have told WalterFootball.com there is a lot to like about Robinson. "He has low mileage," said a director of player personnel back in October. "He's athletic, instinctive, and has size and power. Right now, he's our top-rated back."
Robinson sat behind former Alabama backs like Najee Harris, Damien Harris, and Josh Jacobs before getting the opportunity this season to be the featured rusher for the Crimson Tide. He made the most of it, and right now he could be on track to be a high second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
There was a phenomenal draft matchup in this game with Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner taking on Alabama speed receiver Jameson Williams. Both could go in the top 25 of the 2022 NFL Draft, with Gardner having high first-round potential. Overall, Gardner had an excellent game, blanketing and shutting down the receivers who he went against.
In the first half, Gardner made some good form tackles, coming over to the flat and contributing in run defense. Early in the second quarter, Gardner read a swing pass to Williams and fired into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss. In the third quarter, Williams took a big hit on a kick return and went into the injury tent with a shoulder injury, but was able to come back and came through with a key third-down conversion after finding a soft spot in zone coverage. Williams totaled seven receptions for 62 yards versus Cincinnati.
Williams is a Will Fuller-type speed receiver who looks like a future first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. This tape won't hurt or help his draft grade significantly.
Overall, this game will only serve to help Gardner become a high first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He has excellent size, speed and athleticism to go along with ball skills and physicality. His style of play is similar to Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder could be a mid-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. ESPN's uninformed play-by-play talking head said Ridder was a future first-rounder at the beginning of the game, but multiple NFL team sources have told me they had given Ridder a backup grade and see him as a mid-rounder. Those pro opinions were backed up proof by how Ridder struggled against Alabama. He was telegraphing passes, and that led to a string of batted balls by the Crimson Tide defensive line. Ridder also held onto the ball too long and took some unnecessary sacks.
Ridder has a decent skill set with size, athleticism, and arm strength, but he looks like a NFL backup given his inconsistency and issues as a pocket passer.
In an embarrassing blowout for Michigan, star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was held in check and a non-factor. From the first quarter, Georgia ran the ball down the Wolverines throat and quickly produced a large lead that allowed the Bulldogs to run a balanced attack that kept Hutchinson from getting into any groove for rushing the passer.
At the end of the first quarter, Hutchinson got fooled by a clap and jumped offsides. On the very next play though, Hutchinson showed very good awareness to run to the flat after reading a screen, and Hutchinson finished the play with a hard tackle to produce a loss. In the third quarter, Hutchinson drew a holding penalty. Aside from those plays, it was an underwhelming game from Hutchinson.
Hutchinson was not much of a factor against the run. He fought to hold his ground, but he was not a force who was getting off blocks and making tackles. Meanwhile, Georgia was running all over the Michigan defense. The media and ESPN have been hyping Hutchinson relentlessly, but NFL teams feel his run defense is adequate, according to team sources, but they see some flaws in Hutchinson defending downhill runs coming straight at him. That view was given more evidence versus Georgia. That being said, this tape should not hurt Hutchinson significantly or keep him from being a high first-rounder in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Georgia defensive end Travon Walker was non-factor against Alabama in the SEC Championship, but he was the best defensive lineman on the field for either team in this game. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Walker showed phenomenal speed, athleticism, strength and versatility in this fabulous performance.
Walker had an excellent play in the first quarter, powering through a pulling center and then ripping down the back for no gain. On the very next play, Walker knifed to the inside and hit Cade McNamara just after the pass got out. Early in the third quarter, Walker worked off his blocks to take down McNamara for a sack after some Georgia teammates flushed him out of the pocket. Early in the fourth quarter, Walker lined up on the inside and burned the left guard with a speed rush. Walker had the quarterback in his grasp, but the tackle was broken to deny him a second sack.
Walker would be a great fit for the NFL in a 4-3 defense as a power left end to go across from a speed-rushing left end. He could also kick inside in the sub package to rush from tackle. With his versatile skill set, Walker is a well-balanced defender who is effective in both phases. He could be an early-round pick if he enters the 2022 NFL Draft.
Georgia nose tackle Jordan Davis is a freak-show athlete with massive size and shocking speed and athleticism for a monster of a man. The 6-foot-6, 360-pounder made an impact early to help lead Georgia to shut down the Michigan ground-based offense.
At the start of the first quarter, Davis bull rushed through the pocket to force a run from Cade McNamara. Early in the second quarter, Davis pushed through the left guard and then showed freakish speed to chase down the back for a tackle for a loss. Davis was a bull, eating up blocks and keep the middle locked down. This was a very good tape that will help Davis to be a top-20 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.