The 2022 CFP National Championship took place on Monday night. The Georgia Bulldogs finally got over the hump, knocking off the Alabama Crimson Tide, 33-18.
Both I and Shane P Hallam watched this game intently with an eye on the over two dozen 2022 NFL Draft prospects that saw game action. You can read Shane’s column on the defensive players HERE.
I drew the offensive players for this one. There will not be as many of those selected in the Top 100 as the defensive prospects from this game but the talent was on display.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Unfortunately, we can’t go any further in this column without talking about the injury to junior WR Jameson Williams. The transfer from Ohio State has been the best offensive weapon for the Tide all season. While trying to cut away from a Georgia defender in the second quarter, Williams’ knee buckled, and he fell to the turf. It was the best offensive play for Alabama (up to that point) and their offense was mostly out of sync the rest of the game. It is feared that Williams tore his ACL although that hasn’t been confirmed yet. He caught four passes for 65 yards.
This also throws a wrench into his draft plans. It was widely assumed Jameson Williams would enter the 2022 NFL Draft since he would have been selected in the early-to-mid first round. Now, if facing knee surgery and rehab, his draft stock could fall into the late day two-early day three area. Williams could also return to Alabama and get another season in with Heisman Trophy winning QB Bryce Young (2023 eligible) and potentially pair again with WR John Metchie (who is also injured).
Senior RB Brian Robinson didn’t have near the success running the football against the stout Georgia front as he did against Cincinnati. Robinson had 26 offensive touches for 96 total yards. What he did show in this game was a tremendous pass blocking skill set. That alone is enough to get you on a roster. Robinson will continue his draft journey in three weeks at the Senior Bowl.
Alabama has two tight ends on their roster that have taken opposite draft trajectories throughout the season. Junior Jahleel Billingsley came into the season with all the hype as a potential Top-50 player. Unfortunately, his play (and attitude) have killed that hype. Against Georgia, Billingsley saw four targets and caught zero passes. On Tuesday, Billingsley entered the transfer portal.
On the flipside, junior Cameron Latu has emerged as a mid-round talent. The 6’4” 250-pound TE has a nice all-around skillset. Latu was the leading receiver for the Crimson Tide on Monday with five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. Latu had a catch and run for 60 yards. He is a solid blocker, but he probably isn’t a top-tier athlete. At this point, I doubt Latu enters the 2022 NFL Draft.
The top prospect for Alabama is offensive tackle, Evan Neal. The potential #1 overall pick did nothing on Monday to dissuade anything about his game whatsoever.
Senior offensive lineman Chris Owens has shown off his versatility over the last month after taking over at right tackle midway through the Auburn game. The position was in flux and seems to have stabilized after he was inserted there. Owens is a center by trade but will probably play some guard with the ability to kick outside in a pinch. That kind of Swiss army knife role will get you on a roster.
It was all about the running backs on offense for Georgia on Monday. Starting with the offensive weapon James Cook. The younger brother of Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin, James is a versatile tool for coordinators. He is just as valuable in the passing game as he is between the tackles. Cook has excellent burst. He ripped off a 67-yard run in the second half that had Georgia fans nearly blowing the roof off Lucas Oil Field. Cook finished the game with 8 touches for 92 yards. He will also be at the Senior Bowl where he will get reps as both a RB and as a wide receiver.
His backfield mate, Zamir White showed off power between the hashes and bulled his way into the endzone for a score. Zeus carried it 13 times for 84 yards and a TD. Kenny McIntosh made a juggling catch at one point during the game. He is the forgotten man of the Georgia RB triumvirate. His stats weren’t gaudy, but he was a solid contributor.
After recovering early from an Achilles injury, George Pickens has slowly started to get worked back into the offense. He entered this draft process as a potential top-10 WR but that is likely not the case anymore. Pickens did have one big catch (his only catch) for 52 yards. I feel like he will return to Athens for the 2022 season. If he does declare, Pickens may fall into the late portion of day two.
The second-best offensive prospect for me on the Georgia roster is offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer. Salyer has been the left tackle almost all season but kicked inside to guard after an injury to Warren Ericson forced some reshuffling upfront. He projects to guard in the NFL, so it was nice to see him get reps there. He and Justin Shaffer will both be manning the interior during Senior Bowl practices.