#13 Alabama at #8 Georgia - 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
DT A'Shawn Robinson, 6-foot-4, 312 pounds (#86, Junior)
Robinson is a giant of a man and was often even called a "man child" by his mother when he was growing up. In fact, during youth leagues, referees refused to let him on the field until they were shown a birth certificate. He just looks like the type of guy that you would never want to line up across from when you step on the football field.
When it comes to playing football, Robinson is one of the best defensive linemen in the country and is projected to be a first-round pick in next year's draft, should he declare early. When opposing teams look at the tape and start game planning against Alabama, it's Robinson that you have to turn your attention to on game day. He's double-teamed on almost every snap and is an immovable object off the line of scrimmage.
Robinson has been lined up all over the defensive line from 5-tech to 0-tech, but in the NFL I'd expect him to be used primarily in the 0 or 1-technique, depending on the scheme. He is a much better run stuffer than he is a pass rusher at this point. In fact, his presence and effectiveness as a pass rusher is almost non-existent. Robinson rarely gets a good jump off the snap and is not a very explosive athlete. His pass rushing moves right now consist of standing around for a while, hope nobody notices 6-foot-4 and 312 pounds of mass, and then maybe trying to stunt around the offensive line. It doesn't work.
Robinson is basically Eddie Goldman from last year, except he shows up on film. Seriously, how did anyone think that Goldman was a first round talent? Good luck, Bears.
With the Detroit Lions, Robinson could serve as a run defense specialist, primarily playing in the 1-technique and become their Haloti Ngata backup and/or replacement. Should the Lions ever run some 3-4 looks in the future, Robinson would also fill in as a perfect nose tackle that can occupy space and free up his teammates on the outside.
LB Reggie Ragland, 6-foot-2, 252 pounds (#19, Senior)
Reggie Ragland is a guy I want on my team if I'm an NFL coach. Alabama's defense uncharacteristically gave up 43 points to Ole Miss earlier in the year, and the senior linebacker had had enough. An emotional Ragland's response to his teammates was: "No one's scoring on us."
The very next week, Alabama shut out Louisiana-Monroe by a score of 34-0. It's not the toughest of competition, but it's the principal that matters. Ragland was asked to step in for CJ Mosley in 2014 and has already become the leader of the Crimson Tide's defense.
Ragland is a premier run defender. He does a fantastic job of spotting the ball carrier and making plays in the backfield. He already has the prototypical size and strength of an NFL linebacker, which gives him the ability to stack and shed blockers with ease.
Here is a picture perfect example of Ragland weaving his way through the offensive line, stuffing the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage for a loss and forcing a punt. Doesn't get any prettier than that, folks.
What Ragland needs to prove to NFL teams is whether or not he'll be able to be a three-down linebacker at the next level. Last year, Alabama used Ragland either as a 4-3 defensive end on obvious passing downs, or just took him off the field entirely. He's next to useless with his hand in the dirt, so I'm glad that Bama decided to give him more coverage looks this year (so far). If he can figure out how to keep himself on the field as a coverage LB, he could prove to be an invaluable piece and could potentially cover TEs with his desired frame.
Ragland hasn't exactly proven himself as a coverage LB yet, but here's a play that's always fun to watch:
Other players to watch:
DT Jarran Reed, 6-foot-4, 313 pounds (#90, Senior)
CB Cyrus Jones, 5-foot-10, 196 pounds (#5, Senior)
RB Derrick Henry, 6-foot-3, 242 pounds (#2, Junior)
TE O.J. Howard, 6-foot-6, 242 pounds (#88, Junior)
DE Jonathan Allen, 6-foot-3, 283 pounds (#93, Junior) - status uncertain
C Ryan Kelly, 6-foot-5, 297 pounds (#70, Senior)
LB Ryan Anderson, 6-foot-2, 249 pounds (#22, Junior)
RB Kenyan Drake, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds (#17, Senior)
LB Leonard Floyd, 6-foot-4, 231 pounds (#84, Junior)
Since we're on the topic of this game, Leonard Floyd is basically the polar opposite of Reggie Ragland. Both players line up all over the place as linebackers. Floyd has a much tougher time dissecting the run game as an inside linebacker, but is a force when rushing off of the edge as a pass rusher.
Floyd is explosive off the snap and shows good bend around the edge, as well as a deadly quick inside move that gave Vanderbilt's RT fits all game long just a few weeks ago. Some draftniks are already labeling Floyd as a top-10 pick in next year's draft, and while I'm a little more skeptical than others, he's definitely a guy you need to pay attention to in this one. I'm very interested in seeing how Floyd adapts to his expanded role this year and this game is definitely his toughest test to date.
Other players to watch:
LB Jordan Jenkins, 6-foot-3, 253 pounds (#59, Senior)
OT John Theus, 6-foot-6, 303 pounds (#71, Senior)
OG Greg Pyke, 6-foot-6, 313 pounds (#73, Junior)
S Quincey Mauger, 6-foot-0, 200 pounds (#20, Junior)
DE Josh Dawson, 6-foot-4, 273 pounds (#91, Senior)
DT Sterling Bailey, 6-foot-3, 282 pounds (#58, Senior)
#1 Ohio State at Indiana
Indiana OT Jason Spriggs vs. OSU's deadly pass rush
Spriggs is a very solid OT prospect, but he's going to have his hands full against DE Joey Bosa and DT Adolphus Washington, two outstanding defensive linemen that help makeup the top front-seven in the country. That will be a fun trench battle to keep an eye on.
Also, if you have access to ESPN3, I suggest that you catch some of the Pittsburgh vs. Virginia Tech game at 12 p.m. ET. Tune in to catch Pitt WR Tyler Boyd and VT CB Kendall Fuller go at it. Boyd is my No. 1 receiver right now, and he currently has over 50 percent of Pitt's receiving yards this year. It's an even more spectacular feat when you consider that he was suspended for a game earlier this year.