Two of the most reputable teams in collegiate football are set to face off on Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship game. The matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0) and Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0) not only features two perennial powerhouse teams vying for the national title, but also a number of young players who are likely at the top of teams' draft boards heading into April.
Several contributors in college football's finale are eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft. Both Ohio State and Alabama have produced plenteous first-round talent over the years, including San Francisco 49ers reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa (Ohio State) and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) to name a few.
In preparation for the championship game, here are six potential draft prospects 49ers fans should watch for on Monday night:
1. QB Justin Fields – Ohio State
Fields has been recognized as one of the most coveted quarterbacks in this year's draft given his athleticism and talent. The Buckeyes QB has completed 73.4 percent of his passes for 1,906 passing yards, 21 touchdowns to six interceptions in seven games. He's also added 274 yards on the ground this season to add to five rushing touchdowns.
Expected to land in the Top 5, mock drafts have the 49ers zero'ing in on the quarterback if the team should move up in the draft.
2. CB Patrick Surtain II – Alabama
Surtain II has been favored to be one of the first cornerbacks off the board in April. A three-year starter with the Crimson Tide, Surtain II amassed 34 total tackles (20 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception, one defensive touchdown and eight passes defended in 12 games this season at Alabama.
Surtain II still has another year of eligibility, but should he declare, San Francisco could look to the cornerback position. The 49ers have a long list of impending free agent cornerbacks, including Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett and Ahkello Witherspoon.
The junior corner is the son of former All-Pro cornerback Patrick Surtain Sr., who spent 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.
3. OL Wyatt Davis – Ohio State
The Ohio State guard is projected to be one of the first interior offensive linemen to come off the board in April as an immediate Day 1 starter. Davis was also voted as unanimous All-American and earned the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year Award for the Big Ten conference this season.
4. QB Mac Jones – Alabama
Jones served as Tagovailoa's backup over two seasons but replaced the quarterback in 2019 due to injuries. The quarterback has started just 16 games for the Crimson Tide throughout his career, however, has completed 77% percent of his passes for 4,036 yards and 36 touchdowns to four interceptions. It's worth noting Jones has registered four games with 400-plus passing yards and six games with at least four passing touchdowns in 2020.
Given his small sample size, it's possible Jones could return to the Crimson Tide for another season.
5. CB Shaun Wade – Ohio State
Regarded as one of the top corner prospects in the 2021 draft behind Surtain II, Wade registered 29 total tackles (21 solo), two interceptions, one defensive touchdown and three passes defended in seven games this season. He was recently named the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year in the Big Ten.
Over his time with the Buckeyes, Wade has notched six interceptions, 17 passes defended and three forced fumbles in 30 games.
6. RB Najee Harris – Alabama
A Bay Area product hailing from Antioch, Calif., Harris is projected as a Top 3 running back heading into this year's draft with the opportunity to improve his stock on Monday night. In 12 games this season, Harris registered 229 carries for 1,387 yards (6.1 average) and 24 touchdowns. Harris' 24 rushing scores led the NCAA this season. He's also a contributor in the passing game, hauling in 36 catches for 346 receiving yards and another three touchdowns. During his 2020 campaign, Harris put his name in the Heisman debate, finishing fifth in voting.