2019 NFL Draft Prospect Matchup Preview – National Championship

Want to get to know the draft prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft? This weekly column breaks down the best matchups to watch each week in college football.

By Charlie Campbell.
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Clemson vs. Alabama; Saturday, Jan. 7, 8:00 PM ET ESPN

The defensive line talent in this game is absolutely insane. Both teams feature lines that are comprised of future NFL starters, with five potential first-round picks for the 2019 NFL Draft.

The top prospect on either team is Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. WalterFootball.com was first to report that NFL teams were viewing Williams as a high first-round talent, and he has been dominant this season. Williams enters the offseason as one of the top candidates to go No. 1 overall next April.

Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis is a top-20 talent, while Alabama’s third tackle, Isaiah Buggs, could go in the early rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft. All three Crimson Tide defensive lineman will be huge tests for the Clemson offensive line. Tigers left tackle Mitch Hyatt is a potential mid-round or third-day prospect who will be challenged by Alabama.

Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins are all likely first-round picks next April. Fellow end Austin Bryant could be a second-day pick. Lawrence was suspended for the Tigers’ win over Notre Dame due to a failed PED test. Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams gets a lot of media hype with high first-round projections, but team sources have not been as high on him and have him more in the back half of the first round. It will be interesting to see how Williams handles the Tigers’ defensive line.

Clemson linebackers Tre Lamar and Isaiah Simmons are also both early-round prospects, and the Clemson front seven is going to be challenged by Alabama’s offensive juggernaut. The Crimson Tide running back tandem of Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs contains two first-round talents who could be late first-round or early second-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Crimson Tide tight end Irv Smith Jr. also could be a first-round pick if he decides to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.

Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen is a mid-round prospect who will see dangerous receivers who could be first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, led by star sophomore Jerry Jeudy.

Behind the Crimson Tide’s star-studded line are early-round prospects at linebacker in Mack Wilson and Anfernee Jennings. However, both of them may return to Alabama rather than enter the 2019 NFL Draft. The same goes for Alabama safety Deionte Thompson. He had a great start to the year but really struggled down the stretch, including ugly games against Georgia and Oklahoma. Thompson is going to be targeted by Clemson star freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and Thompson needs to play better to help his draft grade.

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