• Max Duggan, Stetson Bennett set to duke it out: While neither quarterback is a blue-chip prospect, both are worth watching as later-round draft picks.
• Keep an eye on Kelee Ringo versus Quentin Johnston: It's a matchup of heavyweights, between Georgia's star cornerback and TCU's star wide receiver. Both are top-15 prospects on PFF's big board.
Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins
On Monday, the Georgia Bulldogs and the TCU Horned Frogs are set to do battle for the College Football Playoff National Championship. It would be TCU's first national championship since 1938, whereas a win for Georgia would give the program its second straight national championship.
With it being the two final teams alive in the 2022-23 college football season, this contest comes complete with plenty of NFL draft stars to watch.
These are PFF’s top prospects in the national championship.
Speaking of back-to-back incredible seasons, Carter is set to finish 2022-23 with his second elite pass-rushing grade in two seasons. Going into the game, he has a 90.1 pass-rush grade and a 91.1 run-defense grade on the season. At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, Carter is one of the fastest yet strongest interior players in college football. He was No. 5 on PFF’s December big board and could be in line to be a top-three overall selection in April.
Ringo was No. 15 on PFF’s December big board as CB2. He's 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, which is certainly big for a cornerback, yet he runs an impressive 4.3-4.4 in the 40-yard dash. When defending vertical routes, few cornerbacks are able to stay on the hip of receivers like Ringo. He’ll have a great test against TCU’s top passing weapon, Quentin Johnston. He has a 76.3 coverage grade on the season with 11 forced incompletions and has allowed just 53.3% of passes his way to be caught.
Johnston comes in at WR1 on the December PFF big board. His athletic ability at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds is something every team in the league will covet. His calling card is how he can attack down the field vertically as a jump-ball wide receiver, but he’s explosive in and out of his cuts, too. He has a 79.3 receiving grade on the season with over 1,000 receiving yards and 23 explosive plays of 15 yards or more.
Miller is questionable to play with a knee injury, but if he does, he’s going to be a major difference-maker. At 6-foot and 220 pounds, he looks and plays like a pro-level back. He’s tough to bring down, as is evident by his 70 missed tackles forced on the season. His 88.9 rushing grade is the best of any back in this game, and he's racked up almost 1,400 rushing yards and over 800 yards after contact on the season. He’ll be a fan favorite during draft season.
McIntosh has been a late bloomer in the Bulldogs’ running back room as a senior this season, but he’s been at his best this year to show it was just a matter of time. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, McIntosh has the frame to be an NFL back. He also has soft hands in the passing game. Along with his 83.1 rushing grade, he has an 88.3 receiving grade this year with over 510 receiving yards on 41 receptions. Look for him to be one of the top third-down backs in the class.
Smith is another senior prospect on Georgia’s roster, and he’s having such a good season that you wonder how he is still at the college level going into his upperclassman year. The strong safety is having an all-around strong season with an 84.0 run-defense grade, a 75.7 pass-rush grade and a 73.1 coverage grade. He packs a punch at contact at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, and should be a major part of Georgia's run defense.
Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is the highest-graded player on TCU's defense. He has an 87.5 overall grade with a 90.5 pass-rush grade and a 90.2 coverage grade. He’s shorter in stature at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, but he’s a multi-All-Conference and All-American player who has allowed only one touchdown all season with 18 forced incompletions.
We had to cap this off with the two Heisman finalists. The first is TCU’s Max Duggan, who finished the season with an 82.3 passing grade and a 77.3 rushing grade. The dual-threat 6-foot-2, 210-pound signal-caller has been one of the top playmakers in college football this season. This has been his best year by far, and he’ll also have the Senior Bowl coming up at the end of January to show that his accuracy and big-time throws aren’t just a product of the TCU system.
Bennett has gone from a walk-on quarterback to a Heisman Trophy finalist and the reigning national champion in search of his second straight title. At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he doesn’t measure up physically (literally) with his prospect counterparts, but he’s a big-game player who just seems to have a knack for making the clutch throws and securing first downs with his legs. He finished the season with an 87.5 passing grade, 24 big-time throws to just 12 turnover-worthy plays and 17 first downs on the ground.