Rose Bowl — Iowa (12-1) vs. Stanford (11-2), 5 p.m., ESPN
In the Granddaddy of them all, look no further than the trenches for the star of this game.
It all starts and ends with Stanford offensive guard, Joshua Garnett. The 6’5”, 325-pound interior lineman is an absolute beast.
He was a first team All-American, won the Outland Trophy as the top lineman in the country and played a large role in Christian McCaffrey’s success. Garnett is an agile, athletic guard who can overpower his defender at the point of attack, but he is susceptible to getting beat on obvious passing downs as he’s much better at going forward instead of backwards in pass protection.
Garnett is tasked with protecting senior quarterback Kevin Hogan, who has worked his way into a middle round draft pick based off of his play the last two years at Stanford.
He’s not a quarterback who is going to carve you up through the air, but with a strong running game behind him he can make all the necessary throws and won’t make mistake while leading his team to victory.
Redshirt senior wide receiver Devon Cajuste is a classic ‘tweener at receiver for the Cardinal. He’s big enough to be a tight end (6’4”, 229) but agile enough to be a receiver. Cajuste is an above-average route runner but runs like a tight end. It would not surprise me if a team views him as their next move tight end.
Defensively for Stanford, I really like Blake Martinez. He’s a big-bodied linebacker who is consistently around the football to make big tackles. However, Martinez isn’t a rangy sideline-to-sideline guy. With that said, he’s a physical linebacker that will hold down the tackle-to-tackle box against run-heavy offenses.
For the Hawkeyes, keep an eye on stud cornerback Desmond King. Although he hasn’t had to face top-flight receivers this year, King won the Jim Thorpe Award for the defensive back in college.
King is versatile enough to play inside or outside, as well as in man, press or zone. He’s waiting on the evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, but it looks like he’ll be an early Day Two selection.
Although he won’t play due to a torn ACL, Iowa senior defensive end Drew Ott is an absolute monster that gets overlooked. Due to his knee injury, Ott is applying for a medical hardship waiver to gain another year of eligibility.
If he can come back healthy next year and pick up where he left off he should be an early Day Two pick.
Sugar Bowl — Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Ole Miss (9-3), 8:30 p.m., ESPN
There should be plenty of points in this game as both teams have explosive offenses despite not having a high number of NFL prospects.
Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell will be the first receiver to hear his name called in the 2016 NFL Draft, and rightfully so. He’s a physical specimen outside who wins one-on-one battles quite often, high points the football regularly, loves to throw his weight around as a blocker and runs solid routes.
However, the one negative about him is his 10.5 percent drop rate.
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil is my No. 2 prospect in the class and will likely be the No. 1 overall pick for the Tennessee Titans as they look to protect Marcus Mariota.
Tunsil suffered a gruesome leg injury one year ago against TCU in the Peach Bowl, but he’s rebounded in a big way and has shown the agility, strength and lateral quickness to be a high-level starting left tackle in the NFL.
Although I haven’t had a chance to watch tape on Fahn Cooper, he’s another offensive lineman to keep an eye on in this game for Ole Miss.
Defensively for the Rebels, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is a player I have really soured on over the last two years. He’s a monster in pads, but he leaves so much to be desired when you watch tape. Add into the mix his serious off-the-field issues and he could tumble out of the first round.
For the Cowboys of Oklahoma State, it’s all about defense as defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and cornerback Kevin Peterson lead them.
Ogbah is an explosive player off the edge who is wildly inconsistent, but when he’s locked in he’s a load to handle due to his size, speed and length.
Peterson has a tendency to lock down top receivers as he’s already shut down TCU’s Josh Doctson and Baylor’s Corey Coleman. Now he’ll get a shot against Treadwell.
Peterson is a fluid athlete who can run with any receiver while also being able to battle in the air for balls due to his physicality.
Other names to keep an eye on for Oklahoma State include defensive lineman Jimmy Bean and safety Jordan Sterns.
Bean is vastly underrated because he is overshadowed by Ogbah, but he’s a powerful player who can line up anywhere along the defensive line.
The 6’4”, 245-pound defensive lineman could make a move to a 3-4 OLB at the next level.