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Scouting the National Title Game prospects: Alabama vs. Clemson

The final game of the college football season — the 2019 National Title Game, Alabama vs. Clemson — is tonight at 8:00 P.M. EST and can be seen on a handful of ESPN channels, depending on viewing preference. The traditional broadcast can be seen on the standard ESPN channel but they also have a variety of other unique options.

Here’s a closer look at the prospects the Detroit Lions will most likely be scouting during the game.

Ahead of Alabama’s Playoff game in the Orange Bowl, I previewed their prospects and discussed their potential fit with the Lions. With the Lions officially holding the 8th pick, they are now likely out of range for defensive lineman Quinnen Willimas but safety Deionte Thompson should very much be in the discussion.

Additionally, after general manager Bob Quinn’s end of season comments about wanting to improve tight end position after not successfully replacing Ebron in 2018, Lions fans need to keep an eye on Alabama’s Irv Smith who should be in play on Day 2.

A balanced defensive end who has the size and talent profile that pairs perfectly with what the Lions are looking for in a down defensive end. His run defense will be very appealing to the Lions, while his ability to get after the passer is rooted more in technique than athleticism.

He is intelligent and attacks the ball with a plan but he will be limited to keeping his hand in the dirt at the next level which could reduce his suitors on draft day.

He is the only realistic Clemson option for the Lions in the first round and while he seems destined to get selected somewhere on Day 1, the real question for the Lions will be — will his lack of elite athleticism be enough to warrant a selection in the Top-8?

Christian Wilkins (DT, 6-3, 310) lacks the elite traits to be selected in the top-8 but is very much a first-round candidate as a potential 3-Technique. This projected range will likely take him off the board before the Lions are on the clock in Round 2.

Dexter Lawrence (NT, 6-3, 340, junior) is also a realistic option in the first round but he is not playing in this game due to a suspension for violating NCAA rules — which could push him back to school for another year. If he declares, interviews and explanations for the suspension will be important factors for if the Lions would consider him on Day 2 because he would fit in their interior defensive line rotation like a glove.

Trayvon Mullen (CB, 6-1, 195, junior) has the height and length to appeal to Lions coaches and his ability to play press-man could put him in play for the Lions on Day 2. He is still developing and needs to improve his hips and ball skills, as he had yet to intercept a pass in 2018, and has only three in his 31 games played.

This time last year, it was common for Austin Bryant (DE, 6-4, 265) to be mocked in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft — including to the Lions when they ran a 43 scheme — but his week-to-week inconsistencies and inability to set a strong edge will likely push him to Day 3 on the Lions board.

Clemson’s linebackers are all draftable but their best two — Kendall Joseph (WILL, 6-0, 225) and Isaiah Simmons (LB/S, 6-1, 230, redshirt sophomore) — are undersized and somewhat redundant to the Lions Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

Joseph’s ability to cover could make him an interesting depth upgrade for the Lions but unless they’re moving on from Reeves-Maybin, he won’t be prioritized. Tre Lamar (MIKE, 6-3, 255, junior) fits the size profile the Lions covet but lacks the athleticism to play alongside Jarrad Davis.

Hunter Renfrow (slot, 5-10, 185) is a former walk-on but he has been a contributor since he first stepped on the field. If the Lions hire an offensive coordinator who runs an attacking vertical scheme, Renfrow could be off their board due to lack of athleticism. Although, if the Lions run a scheme closer to what we have seen over the last five seasons, a technician in the slot, who wins with intelligence and sure hands makes sense. Renfrow could be the Zach Zenner of receivers.

Mitch Hyatt (LT, 6-5, 295) is a four-year starter at left tackle, but because of his lack of length and foot quickness, some teams may ask him to move inside at the next level. Rumors have swirled around him potentially making the switch to center in the NFL, a position he has the intelligence to succeed at, but will undoubtedly need time to transition to.

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