This is a picture of Nick Saban grinning ear to ear. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
#14 Clemson v. Auburn* (7 p.m., ESPN) - MTD Watch Notes
* To be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.
Solid matchup here kicks off the night schedule. I've got the breakdown of the Clemson prospects over at my MTD preview. Bear in mind, Sammy Watkins is suspended for this one, so QB Tajh Boyd will be without his top prospect. Still, DeAndre Hopkins is a great option in the passing game to complement RB Andre Ellington. Clemson's interior line is worth your focus as well. The defense is arguably more impressive, with a host of linebackers who will head to the NFL at some point.
Auburn TE Philip Lutzenkirchen is the most overrated player in the history of football. Not college football. The sport of football. (This is entirely not true, but intended for a certain Rams fan. He's actually a very good prospect.) Corey Lemonier is an impressive edge rusher, but is probably looking at a 3-4 OLB spot. RB Ontario McCalebb can fly. Rams fans need to get a look at Daren Bates. He's starting at OLB, but may have to shift to safety at the NFL level.
#8 Michigan v. #2 Alabama* (8 p.m., ABC) - MTD Watch Notes
* To be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tx.
Michigan offers a few solid NFL prospects, headlined by OT Taylor Lewan. And get the idea that Denard Robinson could play QB at the NFL level out of your head. It's not happening. That doesn't mean he won't go before day 3. He's incredibly athletic. Rams fans will want to watch the safety pairing at the back of the Wolverines' defense: SS Jordan Kovacs and FS Thomas Gordon.
As for Alabama...well, damn. This team is stacked. On defense, there's just a ton of turnover, so it's tough to know how some of those guys will step up as early as tonight. ILB Nico Johnson, OLB C.J. Mosley and FS Robert Lester, though, showed last year that they're top tier. In short, Rams fans need to watch this offensive line. RT D.J. Fluker, G Chance Warmack and OLEVERYTHING Barrett Jones all look special. It's going to be hard to isolate their skills from one another when it's time to start setting up draft boards.
Other prospects worth checking out for Rams fans:
Oregon FS John Boyett (v. Arkansas St. - 10:30 p.m., ESPN) - Insane 17-tackle game to finish off 2011 in the Ducks' Rose Bowl victory. Similar to Reid, without Cliff Harris at CB, will the secondary rely on him more than last year?