January 19, 2021


A Bears fan’s guide to Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship game

Here are the prospects to watch during the Ohio State-Alabama matchup

The NFL wrapped up Wild Card weekend on Sunday, including the end to the Bears’ 2020 season. The first-ever six-game edition of Wild Card weekend, with two additional games thanks to an expanded playoff field, seems to have been a success.

The weekend’s football extravaganza extends for one more day, though. On Monday night, Alabama and Ohio State will square off in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. From a Bears fan’s perspective, there will be plenty of draft prospects to watch.

The Bears will pick 20th overall in the 2021 draft. It will be their first selection in the first round since they took linebacker Roquan Smith at No. 8 overall in 2018. They traded away their top picks in 2019 and 2020 in exchange for outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

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A few of the top prospects playing Monday are probably out of reach for the Bears at No. 20. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields should be long gone. But there are still plenty of players worth watching.

Alabama center Landon Dickerson, who won’t be playing Monday after suffering a knee injury in the SEC Championship Game, deserves a shoutout. He could be a potential second-round target.

This list takes into account the Bears’ most immediate needs in the early rounds – quarterbacks, offensive linemen and wide receivers. Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore and cornerback Patrick Surtain II are likely to go in the first round, but those aren’t positions of need for the Bears.

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Here are a few players keep tabs on (with their jersey numbers) Monday night:

DeVonta Smith, Alabama, WR, No. 6

Like Fields, Smith is a long shot. Winning the Heisman Trophy has garnered him a ton of attention. He became the first receiver to win the award since Desmond Howard in 1991.

That will likely vault Smith out of the Bears’ draft range. Smith has caught 105 passes for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns so far this season. His size (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) might give NFL teams pause, though.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has him going as high as No. 3 overall, while NBC Sports projects he’ll still be around at No. 27.

Jaylen Waddle, Alabama, WR, No. 17

If Smith’s not on the board at No. 20, his teammate Jaylen Waddle could be. Waddle, a junior, has been out with an ankle injury since Oct. Oct. 24, but reports indicate he might return Monday.

Even though he missed a good portion of the season, Waddle is likely a first-round pick this spring. At 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, he’s not exactly a big receiver either.

NBC Sports projects him to go 29th overall, while CBS has him going as high as seventh.

Mac Jones, Alabama, QB, No. 10

If the Crimson Tide receivers are a stretch at No. 20, their quarterback is a very real possibility. The 6-foot-3 redshirt junior finished third in Heisman voting behind his teammate and top target Smith. Jones completed 77% of his passes for 4,036 yards with 36 touchdowns and four interceptions.

More importantly, draft pundits seem to think he will drop into the late first round or second round, given the glut of quarterback talent ahead of him in the draft.

Alex Leatherwood, Alabama, OT, No. 70

At 6-foot-6, 312 pounds, Leatherwood has the physical tools to excel in the NFL. A lineman seems like a likely pick for the Bears in the first round, especially if they re-sign Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.

Leatherwood figures to be a late first-round pick or a second round pick. He won the Outland Trophy for college football’s best interior lineman. CBS’s latest mock draft actually predicts the Bears to select Leatherwood at No. 20.

Wyatt Davis, Ohio State, G, No. 52

A unanimous AP first-team All-American, Davis checks in at 6-foot-4, 315 pounds and has a ton of experience after starting for the Buckeyes in each of the past two seasons.

Davis should be available late in the first round, or even in the second round. The redshirt junior could still return for one more year at Ohio State.

Chris Olave, Ohio State, WR, No. 2

Justin Fields’ favorite receiver put on a show in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal game, catching six passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Olave, a junior, had 100 receiving yards or more in five of Ohio State’s six games this season.

ESPN has him projected to go 25th overall, while CBS, Yahoo Sports and NBC Sports all have him lasting into the second round.

Josh Myers, Ohio State, C, No. 71

Most mock drafts have Myers, another junior, dropping into the second round, although The Athletic has him going eighth overall. As with any mock drafts, it’s anybody’s guess.

But it’s not guesswork to say that Myers is one of the nation’s best linemen. He was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to college football’s best center (he lost out to Dickerson). How he plays against Alabama on Monday could play a big factor in how high he jumps on draft boards.


Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.