Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
The national title game is also a big showcase for potential NFL draft prospects. We take a look at some players who hoped to shine on the biggest stage Monday night.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish got blown out of the water by the Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday night in the BCS Championship Game. There was plenty of intrigue, pomp and circumstance surrounding this game already, but it was also a chance for draft junkies to get a good look at the next generation of NFL stars, and there were plenty of big names on display.
Let's take a look at the players on Notre Dame's side who had a chance to shine and impress scouts on college football's biggest stage.
Manti Te'o - Inside Linebacker
Naturally, the Heisman finalist was the biggest name in Monday's game, and all eyes were on him. The Maxwell Award winner racked up 103 tackles, 1.5 sacks and seven interceptions this season. He still has some questions to answer about his physical ability, but he's improved his coverage skills this season and little doubt about his instincts. His performance against Alabama's O-line may go a long way toward projecting his NFL future.
Projected Draft Spot: Top 10-15
Compares to: DeMeco Ryans
Draft Stock Status: Down
Manti Te'o was exposed by an outstanding Alabama running game. He was washed out on far too many running plays and missed some key tackles on Eddie Lacy. He isn't the top 10 prospect many thought he was, but Te'o should still be a first-rounder.
Tyler Eifert - Tight End
At 6'5, 249 pounds, Eifert is a lethal combination of size, speed and agility. He typically lines up on the outside in Brian Kelly's offense and is well suited to step into an Aaron Hernandez-type role in the NFL. There are still concerns about his blocking skills, but he has room to grow and is a threat wherever he lines up on the field. By all rights, Eifert should be the first tight end off the board in April.
Projected Draft Spot: First Round
Compares to: Greg Olsen
Draft Stock Status: Up
Despite the throttling the Irish took on Monday, Eifert had another fine showing for the blue and gold. He has rock-solid hands and great body control to go up and make tough catches. He's more than just a size-and-athleticism combo. Eifert has an impressive set of skills.
Theo Riddick - Running Back/Wide Receiver
Riddick was mostly a receiver in his sophomore and junior years, but transitioned to a more hybrid back role in 2012. The 5'11, 198-pound senior is an open-field force out of the slot position and offers some versatility from the backfield. He may not have the size to be an every-down player, but as a change-of-pace back, there's a lot to like here. He stood to gain the most from a solid performance against the Tide.
Projected Draft Spot: Second round
Compares to: Joique Bell
Draft Stock Status: Stable
Theo Riddick showed his balance Monday night, which he has done all season long. However, he wan't given a huge chance to carry the rock with Notre Dame playing from behind for most of the game.
Cierre Wood - Running Back (Junior)
Wood still hasn't decided whether he will declare, but he seems to be leaning that way. We'll know for sure in the next few days. Wood has been part of a timeshare with Theo Riddick, getting only 110 carries to Riddick's 180, but he turned that into a very productive 740 yards and four touchdowns. Wood had tough sledding against the Bama run defense, but could have improved his stock with a big game.
Projected Draft Spot: Seoncd or third round
Compares to: Justin Forsett
Draft Stock Status: Down
Cierre Wood wasn't given a chance to showcase his ability with Notre Dame falling behind early. He carried the ball four times for 2 yards in the game.
Other players to watch
Mike Golic, Jr.--offensive guard
Kapron Lewis-Moore--defensive end