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Scouting the scouts: Rams among seven clubs at title game

Scouts from seven NFL clubs won a lottery for credentials to scout the College Football Playoff national championship game: the New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. No fewer than three general managers -- the Vikings' Rick Spielman, the Rams' Les Snead and the Texans' Rick Smith -- are expected to represent their respective clubs at the game. It will be an opportunity to see some of the top NFL prospects on the biggest stage in college football history. So who might they have an eye on? Here is a quick look at five top players from each team who will be, or might be, available in the 2015 NFL Draft:


1. Marcus Mariota

Pos: QB
Size: 6-foot-4, 219 pounds
Class: Fourth-year Junior (undeclared)
Numbers: Mariota's most impressive statistical accomplishment this season? A staggering TD-INT ratio of 40-3.
Semifinal performance: Mariota completed 26 of 36 passes in a 59-20 win over FSU for 338 yards and a pair of touchdowns, plus another 62 yards on the ground.
Noteworthy: Mariota, who has earned his undergraduate degree, cleaned up on the December awards circuit. Along with the Heisman Trophy, he won the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien Award and the Walter Camp Award.
Mariota's game: Mariota operates Oregon's fast-paced, spread offense to near perfection, and is a dangerous tuck-and-run threat in the rare moments that he can't find an open man.

2. Arik Armstead

Pos: DL
Size: 6-8, 290
Class: Junior (undeclared)
Numbers: Armstead's production this season has been on the light side for 14 games: 37 tackles and only 2.5 sacks.
Semifinal performance: Armstead made four tackles against the Seminoles.
Noteworthy: Armstead was a two-sport athlete for the Ducks at one time, playing briefly with the men's basketball team.
Armstead's game: Although Armstead hasn't had a big season statistically, his athleticism has jumped off the film in the NFL scouting community.

3. Jake Fisher

Pos: OL
Size: 6-6, 300
Class: Senior
Numbers: Over the last three years, Fisher has made 11 starts at left tackle (this season) and another 23 at right tackle.
Semifinal performance: College Football 24/7's Bryan Fischer saw Fisher's performance against FSU as a significant boost to his draft status.
Noteworthy: Fisher made an unexpected transition from right tackle to left tackle in the preseason, brought about by injury, and effectively anchored the Ducks' front. He missed two games with a knee injury.
Fisher's game: Although he might be more suited for a return to right tackle at the NFL level, Fisher showed impressive pass-protection skills on the left side this season against some of the game's elite pass rushers.

4. Hroniss Grasu

Pos: C
Size: 6-3, 297
Class: Senior
Numbers: Had a streak of 50 consecutive career starts snapped in November by a leg injury.
Semifinal performance: Grasu led an Oregon offensive front that dominated FSU's touted defensive line with 639 yards of total offense.
Noteworthy: Grasu was one of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top center each year. ... He is overcoming an injury that cost him several games, but he came back to play against the Seminoles.
Grasu's game: If running the Ducks' fast-paced attack from play to play is harder on anyone than it is on Mariota, it's the 300-pound man who has to chase the spot, make quick line calls and be ready to snap at a moment's notice. Grasu has both the mental handle on the game and the physical stamina that the Ducks' pace of play demands.

5. Tony Washington

Pos: LB
Size: 6-3, 250
Class: Fifth-year Senior
Numbers: Delivered big-play moments for the Ducks on a consistent basis in making 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Semifinal performance: Jameis Winston's bizarre third-quarter fumble on a fourth-down scramble was in many ways the final nail in the coffin for Florida State, as Washington scooped up the ball up and returned it 58 yards for a score.
Noteworthy: Was criticized earlier this year for a crucial personal foul late in the Ducks' only loss, against Arizona. He celebrated a third-and-1 sack to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, giving the Wildcats a first down on the eventual game-winning drive.
Washington's game: Shows outstanding athleticism for a 250-pounder and has pass-rush skills that will help his scouting evaluation.

Ohio State

1. Michael Bennett

Pos: DL
Size: 6-2, 288
Class: Senior
Numbers: Delivered 14 tackles for loss this season, a huge total for a player who spent all his time at an interior tackle position.
Semifinal performance: Bennett made a sack and was credited for 1.5 tackles for loss in a 42-35 win over Alabama.
Noteworthy: Bennett is wearing No. 53 in honor of late teammate Kosta Karageorge, who was found dead last month of an apparent suicide.
Bennett's game: Bennett returned to OSU for his senior season and improved in virtually every aspect of his game. His quickness and strength get him into the offensive backfield consistently and he is a major reason why the OSU defensive line is among the nation's best.

2. Taylor Decker

Pos: OL
Size: 6-7, 315
Class: Junior (will return in 2015)
Numbers: Decker will play in his 41th consecutive game in the national title game.
Semifinal performance: Decker protected Cardale Jones' blind side effectively and sprung some of Ezekiel Elliott's key runs over the left side.
Noteworthy: Decker has tattoos illustrating the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy on each arm, honoring two of his brothers who served in those military branches.
Decker's game: Decker has great length and athleticism in pass protection. He is by far the Buckeyes' most experienced lineman and helped the younger members of the front through early-season struggles with his leadership.

3. Jeff Heuerman

Pos: TE
Size: 6-5, 255
Class: Senior
Numbers: Has made 17 catches for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns this year.
Semifinal performance: Heuerman did not make a catch against Alabama.
Noteworthy: Here's an NFL combine preview -- Heuerman can do 33 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, tops on the OSU team.
Heuerman's game: Heuerman is a classic, old-school tight end who plays his best on early downs as a blocker. Asked before the Sugar Bowl if he would be called on for more blocking than usual against Alabama, he said: "How much is more? Any more I might as well put on a 70 number."

4. Devin Smith

Pos: WR
Size: 6-1, 200
Class: Senior
Numbers: Smith averaged 27.7 yards per catch this season, by far the highest total on the Buckeyes team.
Semifinal performance: Smith caught two passes for 87 yards and a touchdown against the Crimson Tide.
Noteworthy: Smith has appeared in every Ohio State game since his freshman year, 53 in a row.
Smith's game: Smith has a similar style to LSU's Travin Dural as a speedy, downfield threat who gains yardage in big chunks. Although he's averaged barely more than two catches per game, he's made the most of them with 12 touchdowns.

5. Doran Grant

Pos: CB
Size: 5-11, 193
Class: Senior
Numbers: The Buckeyes' undisputed playmaker in the secondary picked off a team-high five passes and broke up a team-high nine.
Semifinal performance: Grant played a solid game against Alabama's Amari Cooper, allowing several catches but keeping the Tide's deep threat in front of him. Grant made seven stops.
Noteworthy: Grant is one of the Buckeyes' fastest players with a 40-yard dash time reportedly in the 4.3s.
Grant's game: Grant's straight-line speed is outstanding, although there are scouting concerns about his size and length. Projected as a mid- to late-round pick, Grant replaced Bradley Roby OSU's top cover man this season.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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