One of the best days of college football is here, as we have four games on the slate for New Year’s Day, including the first round of the college football playoff.
We won’t have a great idea where the Kansas City Chiefs will be looking in the 2021 NFL Draft until we get closer, but we can make some guesses. We have seen thin parts of the roster: offensive line, defensive end and linebacker — and we can look ahead to some positions with major impending free agents: wide receiver and safety.
With the Chiefs in mind, I’m sharing some of my favorite prospects in this New Year’s Day slate of games.
Cincinnati vs. Georgia (11 a.m. Arrowhead Time)
Myjai Sanders | DE | 6’5” | 258lbs
Sanders is a lengthy, explosive EDGE prospect who has taken great leaps in this play from 2019 to 2020. Playing in the Bearcats 3-3-5 defense, Sanders doesn’t always get a chance to pin his ears back from a wide rush angle and really utilize his speed, but it’s evident when he does. Prospects with his length and ability to bend the corner usually catch the NFL’s eye, and Sanders will be no different. If he can put on good tape vs. Power 5 offensive tackles and test well (as we expect), Sanders could easily go in round one.
Other Bearcats to watch: CB Coby Bryant, S James Wiggins, WR Alec Pierce, S Darrick Forrest, LB Darrian Beavers
Azeez Ojulari | DE | 6’3” | 240lbs
Ojulari has been one of the biggest risers in this draft season, transitioning from a pass-rush specialist in 2019 to a full time, dominant EDGE player in 2020. He still makes his most significant impact as a pass rusher and not a run defender, but he’s capable of being a three-down player. In this draft cycle, teams will be looking for the guy that shows the blend of flexibility, explosion and hand technique — and Ojulari is probably the best blend of the three.
Other Bulldogs to watch: DB DJ Daniel, LB Monty Rice, DT Jordan Davis
Northwestern vs. Auburn (Noon Arrowhead Time)
Seth Williams | WR | 6’3” 211lbs
Williams has made a name for himself in Auburn's run-heavy offense by being a catch-point monster. At 6 feet 3 and constantly playing above the rim, he’s made a career by dominating the red zone and smaller defensive backs. There are some games in which Williams looks dominant against quality competition and others where he disappears into the background. This will be a big test against a feisty secondary to allow him to go out on a higher note.
Best part about Williams' game:— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) July 24, 2020
Physical dominance at the catch point. Whether boxing out on the SL, going up in the air for the ball, or absorbing big hits MoF, Williams owns the ball.
He beat up a who's who of high profile, draftable prospects last year at the catch point pic.twitter.com/3cQF9T1Z3U
Other Tigers to watch: S Jermain Sherwood, S Christian Tutt, CB Roger McCreary
Alabama vs. Notre Dame (3 p.m. Arrowhead Time)
Deonte Brown | OG | 6’4” | 350lbs
With Landon Dickerson injured for the college football playoff, Brown becomes the powerhouse in the middle of the Alabama defensive line. He’s a mauler of a run blocker that still has technical improvement to make as a pass protector, but he may be the best person mover in the entire draft class. He’s not limited to working linearly but will consistently be the spear for the Alabama rushing attack.
Other Crimson Tide to watch: WR DeVonta Smith, OT Alex Leatherwood, RB Najee Harris, LB Dylan Moses, CB Josh Jobe, DT Christian Barmore, DE LeBryan Ray
Daelin Hayes | DE | 6’3” 266lbs
Hayes is a well-built edge rusher that has a little burst, a little bend and a quality set of counter moves. He isn’t going to the biggest, longest or fastest rusher, but he has enough tools to get it done against good competition and has an advanced rush plan. His matchup with Alex Leatherwood of Alabama may be one of the best direct one-on-one competitions of the day.
Many monster pass rush performances this week in CFB... my Game Ball on Journey to the Draft goes to @NDFootball DE Daelin Hayes— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) November 1, 2020
Captain. Senior. Rebounding after missing '19 w/ shoulder injury. Variety of rush moves (...spins!), can slide into 3T on sub rush downs - @seniorbowl pic.twitter.com/f5VStk62Lh
Other Fighting Irish to watch: WR Ben Skowronek, OT Robert Hainsey, OG Tommy Kraemer, OG Aaron Banks, DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Karamoah
Ohio State vs. Clemson (7 p.m. Arrowhead Time)
Chris Olave | WR | 6’1” | 190lbs
Olave missed Ohio State’s last game, and it was no coincidence that the offense struggled. Olave’s ability as a route runner and vertical threat change the game for Ohio State and should give us a great matchup with Clemson’s Derion Kendrick. Olave is simply one of the most dynamic receivers in the country in his ability to work all three levels of the field. This year for Ohio State, he’s been utilized much more on intermediate and shallow routes, and while it’s caused a slight dip in his efficiency, he has put a lot more “good” on tape from a traits’ perspective. A big game could really cement his ranking among the top receivers in this draft class.
20221 Draft: Chris Olave WR— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) May 20, 2020
+ Smooth route runner
+ Great body control/high point ability
+ Good chops and chicken wing hand usage
+ Understands leverage and how to attack it
- Long strider/legs can limit change of direction
- Needs to add some size/strength to frame pic.twitter.com/BQ499Yjfop
Other Buckeyes to watch: OC Josh Myers, OG Wyatt Davis, RB Trey Sermon, DL Jonathan Cooper, DT Garrett Haskell, LB Baron Browning, CB Shaun Wade
Cornell Powell | WR | 6’1” | 210lbs
Powell is a fifth-year senior wide receiver who had less than 30 career catches entering 2020. He finally earned his opportunity midway through this season and hasn’t looked back. He showcased fantastic ball skills through contact, the knowledge on how to stack defenders vertically and how to play like a big receiver — both after the catch at in the air. It should be a fun matchup with him against a big cornerback from Ohio State such as Shaun Wade (who has had a very rough year). I expect it to help him pump up his draft stock even more.
Other Tigers to watch: OT Jackson Carman, WR Amari Rodgers, CB Derion Kendrick