As part of a CFB 24/7 series, we're taking power rankings from macro to micro. Instead of looking at the best teams that are dominating the college football landscape, we're focusing on something more specific in this series.
This week, we're looking at every position on the field from quarterback to wide receiver to linebacker to look at the top 10 players to watch in the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game. From athleticism to burning speed to big-time blockers, here are the players scouts will have their eyes on for the upcoming draft and the ones in years to come.
Without further ado, here are the rankings:
1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Heisman Trophy winner has not announced his intention to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft, but many suspect Monday's CFB championship will be the quarterback's final game in a Duck uniform. There are plenty of questions surrounding his ability to transition from the spread offense Oregon runs to the NFL whenever he does decide to make the jump, but nearly everybody is in agreement that he's a special talent who brings unparalleled athleticism to the position few have seen.
2. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Bosa is only a sophomore, but he has already drawn considerable interest from scouts who flip on the Buckeyes' film and recognize right away where he's lined up at and what he's doing. He brings solid size for a defensive end, and has both the speed to come off the edge and the power to bull rush opposing tackles. It probably doesn't hurt that he's turned in a terrific season against a number of future draft picks either.
3. Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
It's probably safe to say that the Ducks' defense has been playing as well as it has in the past few years thanks in part to the tremendous effort of the mammoth junior. He's hasn't declared for the 2015 NFL Draft and doesn't have the kind of numbers that others possess at his spot. However, it's hard to find guys with his blend of size (6-foot-8, 290-plus pounds) and quickness, and his recent play has done nothing but elevate Armstead's reputation.
4. Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon
Fisher's absence in the lineup was a big reason Oregon suffered its only loss of the season earlier in the year, but his return -- not surprisingly -- has coincided with the Ducks playing their best offensively the past two months. He's stonewalled a number of talented pass rushers (Utah's Nate Orchard and Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha among them) and protected Mariota about as well as can be. Don't be surprised if, like former teammate Kyle Long, he ends up going higher in the draft than most expected.
5. Michael Bennett, DL, Ohio State
The rock in the middle of the Buckeyes' defense, Bennett is a great example of what an extra year of seasoning in college can do for somebody's draft stock. He's big, quick, strong and able to force teams to run away from him based on his ability to control his gap. For teams looking for an interior presence in a 4-3 base defense or maybe even a guy on the end in a 3-4 defense, Bennett could be an interesting option.
6. Taylor Decker, OL, Ohio State
Decker, a junior who already announced he would return to the team in 2015, checks off just about every box you want in a tackle in today's game. He's got prototypical left tackle size (6-7, 315), is well-conditioned, has good hand placement, tons of experience and understands how to play in space.
7. Tony Washington, LB, Oregon
Linebackers who can be on the field every down and tackle in space are critical in the game today, and the Ducks senior has shown he can do just about anything that is asked of him during his time in Eugene. He's got a good frame at 6-foot-3, and showed off his speed in the team's semifinal game when he raced away from Florida State players on a fumble recovery for a score. He might not be selected on the first day of the NFL draft, but some team will find a home for the talented linebacker.
8. Jeff Heuerman, TE, Ohio State
It might seem as if tight ends who can block well are a dime a dozen, but Heuerman is one who really can put his hand in the ground and fire off. He's a valuable weapon in the passing game, too. Heuerman will surely draw some comparisons to others who have a tall frame that are able to occasionally flex out when needed. In a draft lacking for depth at the position, Heuerman has a chance to go higher than he normally would.
9. Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon
Centers don't typically go all that high in the NFL draft, but if there's one worthy of spending an early pick on, it might be Grasu. Smart and instinctive, he controlled Florida State's All-American Eddie Goldman like he was a nobody and was a key part in changing protections at the line to prevent sacks on Mariota. He's got solid size for the position, and could be the first off the board ahead of some bigger names.
10. DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
His teammate Armstead gets most of the press, but the buzz is starting to build on a player some say is the heart and soul of the Ducks' defense. He's an all-around guy who can play in a number of schemes, and is equally adept at setting the edge as he is rushing the passer. As one personnel guy told CFB 24/7, he's "big time."