National Championship Preview: A look at the key NFL Draft matchups

2021 NFL Draft prospect DeVonta Smith #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
2021 NFL Draft prospect DeVonta Smith #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) /

A look at the top NFL Draft matchups in the National Championship game between Ohio State and Alabama.

This year’s College Football Playoff National Championship game will be a rematch of the 2015 Sugar Bowl, where Ohio State beat Alabama 42-35. That matchup included several players who went on to have strong NFL careers in Derrick Henry, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Thomas. Like that game, this matchup offers several interesting NFL Draft prospects to watch. Three key matchups between these NFL Draft prospects will likely determine who wins this game.

One of the biggest matchups in this game will be between Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade and Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith. If Wade can help contain Smith, this will be a tremendous accomplishment for the Buckeyes.

No one that has faced Smith this year has been able to contain him as he has posted over 125 yards receiving in eight of the Tide’s games this year. Wade has also had his share of struggles this year, so this matchup should definitely favor Alabama.

Interesting 2021 NFL Draft matchups when Ohio State has the ball

Another passing game matchup to watch when Ohio State has the ball is Buckeye receiver Chris Olave against Crimson Tide cornerback Patrick Surtain II. This matchup will probably be a more even battle between these two 2021 NFL Draft prospects.

Olave has been one of the best receivers in the Big Ten this year and has been a big-play threat all season. On the other hand, Surtain is regarded as one of the best corners in the 2021 NFL Draft, and most teams are smart enough to throw away from him.

A battle in the trenches to keep a close eye on is between Ohio State offensive guard Wyatt Davis and Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore. Both of these prospects are regarded as potential late first-round picks, and this game should help determine where they go in the 2021 NFL Draft. In order for Alabama to have any chance of shutting down Ohio State’s running game, Barmore has to win this battle and make his share of plays in Buckeye’s backfield.

dark. Next. Inside the War Room: Defensive prospect review

Overall, I look for Alabama to pull out a close win for a couple of reasons. The first one being that they have more explosive playmakers on offense. I also favor the Tide in this game as Nick Saban has plenty of big-game experience, while Ryan Day will be coaching in his first National Championship. With that being said, if Ohio State can control the line of scrimmage, there is certainly a route to them pulling off the upset.