NFL Draft Prospects to Watch: Conference Championship Edition
Conference Championship weekend is here. It’s the best vs the best and for many draft prospects, it’s their last shot to impress before the end of the season.
Texas IDL Byron Murphy II
The Longhorns face the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Big XII Championship, an Oklahoma State defense that has allowed just 11 sacks all season with only three of them coming from the interior.
For Byron Murphy II, he’s picked up 6 sacks this year from that three-technique spot and a total of 36 pressures. In the run game, the Cowboys do a lot of their damage running between the tackles, making Murphy II all that more important on the interior.
Murphy II will have his hands full all game, and it wouldn’t be shocking if this were a game where he bounces inside to the nose, something we’ve seen him do throughout his career.
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Miami (OH) EDGE Brian Ugwu
In the MAC Championship, Brian Ugwu gets a second shot at his toughest matchup of the season against the Toledo Rockets. Ugwu lines up all across the defensive line for the Redhawks, but regardless of where he plays from, he’s going to have his hands full.
The Rockets run game has been electric and dynamic, with both Peny Boone and quarterback Dequan Finn being threats. Toledo’s offensive line has allowed just 8 sacks this whole season and was one of the few times that Ugwu didn’t register a sack or quarterback hit this year.
For Ugwu, not only is this a chance at redemption against Toledo’s line, but also one last shot this year to show NFL scouts what he can do against an elite offense.
Alabama OT JC Latham
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, the Georgia Bulldogs defensive line is REALLY good at football. Alabama has to face that in the SEC Championship where Georgia had been able to rest key starters last week, one of the reasons the Georgia Tech game was so close.
At right tackle, Latham faces an area that Georgia has been able to dominate consistently. Against Florida, Georgia had 6 pressures off the right side. Against Tennessee, Missouri, and Ole Miss? More of the same.
Georgia’s complexity in the back seven causes some hesitation for quarterbacks and allows their pass-rush to hit home. Jalen Milroe needs to be given time to operate against the Bulldogs and JC Latham will face his toughest battle of the season.
Latham’s allowed just one sack this year and nine pressures total. With Milroe’s mobility and Georgia’s defense, he’ll likely have to hold up on an island longer than ever before.