Here's how the top NFL Draft prospects graded out in the CFP title game
Deshaun Watson gets an 'A-' while Bama edge rusher Tim Williams fails to show up
Clemson Tigers 's 35-31 victory over Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship was not just wildly entertaining and the perfect capper to this year's college football season, it also provided pro scouts with a dream showcase of top NFL talent. Monday night's game was virtual smorgasbord of top NFL prospects, with 10 of the biggest stars currently ranking among the top 35 on NFLDraftScout.com's draft Big Board, including seven among the top 17 overall.
So, who performed the best and whose play will actually boost (or lower) their NFL draft stock the most? The answers might surprise you.
From an A to F scale, here is a breakdown of how the top NFL prospects from both teams fared.
Players are listed by school, position, name, class, height, weight, 40-yard dash time and current projected round.
Clemson WR Mike Williams , Junior, 6-3, 225, 4.50, 1st Round
Demonstrating the body control, timing and strength to project as a No. 1 target in the NFL, Williams was the most impressive NFL prospect in the title game, hauling in eight passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. To crack the top 10 this spring Williams will have to run well but his size and ability to win on contested passes projects very well to the next level.
Alabama OLB/DE Ryan Anderson , Redshirt Senior, 6-2, 253, 4.77, 2nd Round
Overshadowed by the bigger and flashier athletes along Alabama's front seven for most of his career, Anderson deserved legitimate MVP consideration in this contest, even in a losing effort. While perhaps not truly explosive off the snap, Anderson timed his rush very well, showing acceleration and core strength to power his way to seven tackles, including two for loss, a sack and two fumble recoveries.
Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow , Redshirt Sophomore, 5-10, 180, 4.54, 6th Round
The personification of Clemson's grit and underrated athleticism, Renfrow caught a game-high 10 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns and also saved an Alabama touchdown when he tripped up Anderson, who appeared to be on his way to another defensive score for the Tide. Renfrow lacks ideal size and speed but he is quick, savvy and is a reliable route-runner and pass-catcher.
Alabama ILB Reuben Foster , Senior, 6-1, 236, 4.72, 1st Round
Simply the most explosive player on the field, Foster was a train wreck waiting to happen, creating several bone-crunching collisions to record a game-high 12 tackles, including a sack. Foster's heavy hits and sideline-to-sideline speed could earn him a top 10 pick -- a rarity for inside linebacker -- this spring.
Alabama TE O.J. Howard , Senior, 6-6, 251, 4.57, 1st Round
Ignored for much of the season in the passing game, Howard proved to be Alabama's top target in the title game again, leading all pass-catchers with 106 yards (on four grabs), including a touchdown. Howard was just as effective an in-line blocker as he was in creating mismatches downfield as a receiver. Barring injury, Howard will post better numbers in the NFL than he ever did at Alabama.
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson , Junior, 6-2, 220, 4.64, 1st Round
Watson was the easy MVP in this contest given his eye-popping production (420 passing yards and three TDs against zero INTs and another 73 yards and a score on the ground) and composure down the stretch, including throwing the game-winning score with literally one second remaining. He spread the ball throughout the field, with four different Clemson pass-catchers hauling in five or more passes for at least 92 yards and made a variety of NFL-caliber throws, including a couple of beauties to the corner and down the seam.
Further, Watson dazzled with his ability to extend the play with his legs and the sheer competitiveness that he showed, building upon his already well-deserved reputation for playing well under the bright lights. Even in the win, however, Watson likely did not convert his critics who will point out that he rarely switched from his primary read and was more inaccurate than his stats suggest, consistently forcing receivers to adjust to his passes.
Clemson DT Carlos Watkins , Senior, 6-3, 305, 5.06, 2nd Round
The elder statesman on a Clemson defensive line loaded with future early NFL draft picks, Watkin's quickness gave Alabama problems throughout the night, perhaps boosting his stock as much as anyone in the victory with six solo tackles. No one on either side recorded more.
Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley , Senior, 6-0, 200, 4.48, 2nd Round
Tankersley was not challenged often in this contest but his combination of length, agility and quickness to close stood out in coverage for those paying attention.
Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough , Redshirt Sophomore, 6-1, 228, 4.58, Second Round
Early on Scarbrough looked like the second coming of Derrick Henry but a leg injury sidelined him for much of the second half, grounding the semi with sports car speed.
Clemson ILB Ben Boulware , Senior, 6-0, 235, 4.84, 7th Round-UFA
Boulware lacks the size and speed scouts are looking for but his instincts and physicality made him a difference-maker in this contest. On several occasions he pointed to where the ball was heading, alerting teammates in much the same way that another too-small, too slow Lofa Tatupu did for Southern California Trojans years ago. Boulware recorded six tackles against the Tide, including two for loss and a pass broken up.
Clemson TE Jordan Leggett , Senior, 6-5, 258, 4.73, 2nd-3rd Round
With all respect to the MVP Watson, as well as Williams and Renfro, Leggett's remarkable catch in the closing seconds to put Clemson in scoring position was arguably its biggest play of the night. Leggett has terrific hands but is not as physical as a blocker as his size suggests. Scouts question his straight-line speed, as well.
Alabama DT Dalvin Tomlinson , Redshirt Senior, 6-2, 305, 5.14, 2nd-3rd Round
Tomlinson held up well in run support, showing grown-man strength and use of leverage to collapse running lanes. He also showed premium effort in pursuit, including downfield, recording four tackles, including one for loss.
Alabama DL Jonathan Allen , Senior, 6-3, 291, 4.85, 1st Round
Allen, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect, failed to come up with the splashy play he had all season, a testament to Clemson sophomore left tackle Mitch Hyatt (who, if draft-eligible, would have earned an "A" in this review). Allen was nonetheless quietly effective, recording seven tackles, including one for loss in this contest.
Alabama OT Cam Robinson , Junior, 6-6, 310, 5.28, 1st Round
The reigning Outland Trophy winner delivered some key blocks to help spring Scarbrough on some of his long runs early but the same inconsistencies in pass protection (including false starts) that have long bothered scouts also showed up against Clemson. Robinson's sheer talent will likely earn him a first-round pick should he decide to head early to the NFL as most anticipate but his mental mistakes on and off the field is disconcerting.
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey , Redshirt Sophomore, 6-1, 196, 4.49, 1st Round
Humphrey's length and speed intrigue scouts but he was one of several Alabama defensive backs to get caught up in pick plays throughout this game, surrendering big catches to Williams and Renfro, alike, including the game-winner, while recording just three tackles (one solo).
Clemson RB Wayne Gallman , Redshirt Junior, 6-0 215, 4.52, 3rd-4th Round
Between his 56 rushing yards (and a touchdown), Gallman helped Watson make Alabama respect the Tigers' running game. He is a hard-nosed runner with a slashing style and good hands out of the backfield but questions about his somewhat lanky frame and ball security were not helped with a costly fumble (his fifth of the year) in which the ball was simply ripped away from him.
Alabama DE/OLB Tim Williams , Senior, 6-3, 252, 4.76, 1st Round
The knock on Williams has always been that for all of his highlight reel plays there are far too many games in which he simply disappears. Unfortunately for Williams and the Tide, the latter was the case virtually all night against Clemson with the twitchy edge rusher recording just two tackles (one solo). To be fair, pass rushers like Williams can be mitigated somewhat against mobile quarterbacks like Watson, as they cannot simply pin their ears back and rush and instead must focus on keeping the dual-threat passers contained in the pocket. Williams failed in both respects, however, only enflaming scouts concerns about his overall awareness.
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