NFL Draft Watch Sugar Bowl

2021 NFL Draft Watch: Allstate Sugar Bowl

As a part of Expand The Boxscore’s NFL Draft coverage, we will be highlighting the draft prospects from each school for every bowl game. The players featured below will also be included in our NFL Draft Guide, which is set to release shortly after the combine. In today’s column, we will be taking a look at the Allstate Sugar Bowl featuring the Clemson Tigers and Ohio State Buckeyes.

Since at least one of these teams will be playing again and for the sake of brevity, I will give descriptions for five players from each squad and just list the other prospects with their draft projection. Each player’s name is hyperlinked to a full scouting report as well.

Next week, I will go more in-depth on five others to keep it fresh. This way, you are not overwhelmed with information today, and the column for the Championship game has more value.

#2 Clemson vs. #3 Ohio State

A playoff rematch with some extra flair to it with Dabo Sweeny keeping the Buckeyes out of the top 10 in his coaches poll. Plus, this is nearly an NFL game with how many future pros will be on the field.

We will start things off with Clemson running back Travis Etienne, who will likely be the first player at the position off the board. Etienne is a dynamic back who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball with his vision, speed, and elusiveness. He has the talent to be a first-round pick, but the diminishing value of the position as a whole might push Etienne into the second round.

In the slot, there is Amari Rodgers who is a stocky receiver who possesses natural hands and running-back-like agility. However, he does need to improve his play strength to hold up against physical defenders at the line of scrimmage. Rodgers will likely be a Day 3 guy.

Jackson Carman lines up at offensive tackle for the Tigers. He is a large lineman – 6’5” and 328 pounds – with an excellent burst, strength, and athleticism but lacks instincts, nimbleness, and has bad timing with his punch in pass protection. Carman has Day 2 potential, but his flaws as a pass blocker could cause him to slide on draft day.

On the other side of the trenches is Nyles Pinckney, a potential sixth- or seventh-rounder. Pinckney is best when playing a three-technique and is a good run defender due to his impressive hand usage and block-shedding. However, he needs to improve as a pass rusher.

While Nolan Turner will have to sit out in the first half of this game, he is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the second. The safety can take away the underneath areas in zone coverage, or take on running backs and tight ends in man. But he should not be trusted with deep zones due to his lack of awareness and speed, making Turner a priority free agent.

Ohio State is loaded with talent as well, as they have 16 players who will be featured in our NFL Draft guide.

Quarterback and potential second pick overall Justin Fields is the most important name to watch. Fields is an accurate thrower who has a quick release and high-end mobility and shows up in big games. He does tend to be conservative and could take more chances down the field, but he is also very safe with the ball so there is some give and take there.

Next to Fields is Trey Sermon, who is a balanced runner with elite contact balance and slippery elusiveness. However, his draft stock took a hit after losing the starting spot in Oklahoma and missing the final four games of 2019 with a knee injury. Sermon has played his way back into the third round discussion, but that is certainly a fall from where he projected after 2018.

Out wide for the Buckeyes is a deep threat in Chris Olave. As a speedy receiver with good value as a number two option, Olave projects as a late second- or early third-rounder. Part of that is due to another deep receiver class, and he needs to work on his line of scrimmage skills to beat press coverage if he is going to break free in the NFL.

Holding things down upfront is Wyatt Davis, a likely Day 2 NFL Draft pick. Davis is a powerful guard who excels with his upper body strength and highlight-reel plays but is raw in pass protection. Any team that uses a gap-heavy rushing attack and is in the market for a starting interior offensive lineman will certainly be taking a look at him.

Defensively, cornerback Shaun Wade is the guy to watch. He has the versatility to play as a nickel corner or on the outside, having covered the slot in 2019, and he got experience playing on the perimeter this season with Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette in the NFL.

Wade does tend to play flat-footed and get caught with his eyes in the backfield when playing zone coverage, but his man skills are good enough to where he will likely be a first round guy.

Other Clemson Draft Prospects

Trevor Lawrence – QB

Draft Projection: It’s Trevor Lawrence

Justyn Ross – WR (injured)

Draft Projection: Fourth or Fifth Round

Cornell Powell – WR

Draft Projection: Priority Free Agent

Justin Foster – EDGE (injured)

Draft Projection: Sixth or Seventh Round

Derion Kendrick – CB

Draft Projection: Second to Third Round

Other Ohio State Draft Prospects

Master Teague III – RB

Draft Projection: Fifth or Sixth Round

Jeremy Ruckert – TE

Draft Projection: Fourth or Fifth Round

Luke Farrell – TE

Draft Projection: Fifth or Sixth Round

Thayer Munford – OT

Draft Projection: Priority Free Agent

Josh Myers – OC

Draft Projection: Second or Third Round 

Tommy Togiai – DL

Draft Projection: Priority Free Agent

Haskell Garrett – DL 

Draft Projection: Second or Third Round

Jonathan Cooper – EDGE

Draft Projection: Priority Free Agent

Tuf Borland – LB

Draft Projection: Seventh Round or Priority Free Agent

Pete Werner – LB

Draft Projection: Third or Fourth Round

Baron Browning – LB

Draft Projection: Fifth or Sixth Round