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5 top NFL draft prospects to watch in CFB Championship between TCU-Georgia

CFB Championship
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Every year during the College Football National Championship game, football scouts from every NFL organization pay special attention to the biggest game of the season. They all want to see which NFL draft prospects take their game to the next level by playing against the best of the best in the CFB Championship.

This year, with the TCU Horned Frogs battling the Georgia Bulldogs, we have multiple first-round prospects in action who are likely to be top selections in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Many of the usual suspects from last season’s Bulldogs win return for another chance to repeat as champions, but TCU wasn’t on this stage a year ago, introducing several new athletes to pay attention to on both sidelines.

Here are the 2023 NFL Draft prospects you should have an eye on during Monday’s matchup.

Related: College football games today: College Football National Championship features TCU vs Georgia

Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

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One of the top tight end prospects in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft, Darnell Washington isn’t a lock to play on Monday night. He’s been working to overcome an ankle injury he suffered during the Peach Bowl, but coach Kirby Smart remains hopeful that his 6-foot-7 blocking specialist can take the field.

He’s obviously a very large athlete, and Georgia uses his frame to their advantage, where Washington doubles as an extra offensive lineman. This unique usage of their second tight end provides additional protection for the passing game while also opening up holes for Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards, and Kendall Milton in the rushing attack as well.

Washington isn’t their top pass catcher. That’s future first-round pick Brock Bowers’ job, but Washington fills his role nicely and could be a big factor in the red zone, either by blocking or being just too big to cover.

Related: College Football Playoff 2022-’23: CFP National Championship Game set

Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

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While Washington may not become a first-round pick, chances are Broderick Jones and everyone below him on this list will hear their names called on the first day of the 2023 NFL player selection process.

Jones is an offensive lineman, so he doesn’t exactly make the highlight reel, but those looking to continue building in the trenches will have their eyes tuned into Georgia’s left tackle. The 6-foot-4 future NFL pro hasn’t allowed a sack all season and has let up just seven QB hurries in 14 games for the Bulldogs in 2022.

Like most offensive linemen, Jones hopes not to hear his name called during the college football broadcast. Usually, that only happens when the big guys do something wrong. But Jones can continue boosting his player stock in the eyes of NFL evaluators, securing a place for him somewhere in the first round.

Related: 2023 NFL mock draft: 3 QBs in top 10, latest NFL Draft projection

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

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Long hyped up as a top cornerback prospect, Kelee Ringo has been on the map of NFL scouts ever since he stepped onto Georgia’s campus. He already has the NFL size, at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, and his long frame profiles Ringo as an outside corner at the next level.

But Ringo isn’t just hyped up because he has the ideal size pro football teams drool over. He also has incredible coverage skills. According to Pro Football Focus, Ringo has allowed just one touchdown in coverage all season, and no receiver has topped 100 yards against Georgia’s lockdown corner. In fact, no pass-catcher has gone over 72 yards when lined up against the future first-round pick all season.

Despite his big frame, Ringo moves fluidly, and many expect him to run the 40-yard dash as quickly as 4.3 seconds when it comes to the NFL Draft Combine. For now, we’ll see how he handles himself against another projected first-round pick who plays for TCU.

Related: 4 best college football teams of all time

Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

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As you can see, Georgia has several top draft prospects worth keeping a close eye on. By far the best player on TCU’s sideline isn’t quarterback Max Duggan, who was the Heisman runner-up, instead, it’s 6-foot-4 wide receiver Quentin Johnston.

He’s a size-speed freak who has 4.4 speed, if not faster. Expect to see Duggan get the ball to No. 1 in any way possible, whether it’s screens, dump-offs, or sending him across the middle of the field. No matter what, Johnston will be a large part of the game plan, where his ability to rack up YAC can help break open a game.

  • Quentin Johnston stats in 2022: 59 receptions, 1,066 yards, 6 TD catches

Johnston is widely regarded as a top wide receiver prospect, slated to go in the first round. He may even be the best first-round receiver available. With how strong of a focus we’ve seen NFL teams place on identifying playmaking receivers, Johnston could become a hot commodity come draft time.

Related: Comparing TCU’s Max Duggan to Georgia’s Stetson Bennett ahead of CFP National Championship

Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia tops CFB Championship prospects

NCAA Football: SEC Football Championship-Louisiana State vs Georgia
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We finally get to the goods. Jalen Carter is by far the best prospect set to play in Monday night’s championship game. This trench warrior appears poised to be a top-five pick and is a game-wrecker in the mold of Aaron Donald at the defensive tackle position.

Carter’s biggest feature is his otherworldly strength. In college, he’s a man amongst boys, or at least that’s what he makes it seem like when you flip on the tape. Carter may not have the raw sack numbers that fans love (just three sacks in 2022), but the advanced stats tell a different story.

In the Peach Bowl, we saw Carter generate five hurries alone. It was his best performance, in that aspect, of the season. In all, PFF has charted Carter with 22 hurries this year. According to PFF, Carter has been equally as good in run defense as he as when rushing the passer.

Basically, it doesn’t matter what No. 88 is asked to do. He simply dominates in every aspect on the defensive line. Don’t be surprised if we routinely see Carter push the pocket and disrupt what the TCU offense is trying to establish.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft QB rankings: Bryce Young leads best quarterback prospects in NFL Draft