8 players Jets and Giants should've been watching in College Football Playoff National Championship

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Scott Thompson
·5 min read
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DeVonta Smith/Justin Fields
DeVonta Smith/Justin Fields

The College Football Playoff National Championship took place Monday night between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes. And there were many future NFL rookies teams were sure to watch.

Here are some who should've been on the Jets’ and Giants’ radar:

Ohio State QB Justin Fields

Well, obviously.

A solid performance could cement Fields’ position as the second overall pick of the draft going to the Jets. Fields recently had his best game of the season against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, completing 22 of his 28 passes for 385 yards for six touchdowns and a pick. He also had eight carries for 42 yards.

Fields is a step below Trevor Lawrence, and it seems like no matter what he does on Monday in the College Football Championship, he can’t surpass him. But with the Jets’ quarterback situation currently in limbo as Sam Darnold enters his fourth season, surely the Jets will have their eye on, maybe, their next quarterback.

Also worth noting is Fields’ rib injury after the big hit he took in the Sugar Bowl. Whether or not he’s fully healed will be a main story line in this one.

Alabama WR DeVonta Smith

This year’s Heisman Trophy winner will be on full display Monday night, as he lit up the College Football Playoff against Notre Dame with three touchdowns and well over 100 yards receiving. Mac Jones loves looking Smith’s way, and for good reason because the usual result is a completion.

Smith has accumulated 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns on 105 receptions over 12 games this season. That’s just insane production and almost every NFL team will have their eyes locked on No. 6 all night. He could very well solidify a Top 5 spot in the draft depending on his performance. Some mocks, though, had Smith falling to the Giants at No. 11 due to other teams filling different needs.

If the Jets trade back, Smith could be a top option depending on where they land.

Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II

Arguably the top cornerback in this year’s draft class, Surtain is as lockdown as they come. At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, he is physical at the line of scrimmage, but possesses the speed to keep up with the fastest receivers in college.

The son of a successful NFL corner, Patrick Surtain, many mock drafts have him going Top 5. He has just one interception on the season with eight passes defended and 34 total tackles.

Alabama RB Najee Harris

Harris could’ve easily left college last season after totaling 1,224 yards on the ground for Alabama, but he wanted his senior season to show he can do more. Mission accomplished.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound back had 1,387 rushing yards with 24 touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns. Harris uses his big frame to run north to south like many other Alabama backs before him – think Derrick Henry and Bo Scarborough for height-weight comparison.

With the Jets also choosing at No. 20 overall, they could very well be looking for a player like Harris to be their featured back in 2021. They need to figure that position out.

Ohio State RB Trey Sermon

The Jets have a bunch of young running backs, including LaMical Perine and Ty Johnson. As noted, the Jets could also easily have their eyes on Alabama’s Harris. But the Giants could potentially lose Wayne Gallman in free agency and would certainly need a backup when Saquon Barkley returns next season.

Sermon has been more involved in the Buckeyes’ offense of late, given Master Teague III’s injury. In his last two games, he has 60 carries for 524 yards and three scores.

Before the Big 10 Championship game, there was a chance that Sermon would have gone undrafted. But with a stellar last two games, it’s hard to imagine him not being on the Giants’ radar some time in Day 3. He might even propel his stock to Day 2.

Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood

The Jets and Giants still need work on their offensive lines, and Leatherwood has a first-round grade by many experts who have watched him play both guard and offensive tackle during his time with the Crimson Tide.

At 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, Leatherwood is strong in the run game, specifically with solid pass blocking skills. While he’ll be on the outside in this contest (look for No. 70), Leatherwood projects in the NFL as more of a guard because he’s had some trouble with quicker, craftier edge rushers.

Ohio State DE Tyreke Smith

The 6-foot-4, 267-pound defensive end could go back to school for his senior season to improve his draft stock, but if he does enter the draft, he could be around on Day 2.

The Jets need an edge rusher to go along with Quinnen Williams, who certainly took a step forward in his sophomore season. John Franklin-Myers, Henry Anderson, Nathan Shepherd, and Bryce Huff combined for eight sacks, while Williams had 7.0 himself.

The Giants will be worried about losing their sack leader, Leonard Williams, in free agency, but they could use another edge rusher anyway. Smith only has two sacks this year, but he’d arguably be either team’s second-best edge rusher right now.

Ohio State WR Chris Olave

As we’ve mentioned, both the Jets and Giants desperately need some sort of playmaker out wide. Their offenses ranked 31st and 32nd, respectively, this season.

Olave is no Smith, Jaylen Waddle, or Ja’Marr Chase, but he has been Fields’ favorite target this year and has played himself into early Day 2 conversation. He’s averaging 8.4 catches for 132 yards per contest, while scoring seven touchdowns in his five games this season.

Had he played a full season, he’d be blowing his numbers from last season out of the water.

Honorable Mention: Alabama QB Mac Jones, Alabama DT Christian Barmore