Picking between Chubb and Mata’afa was near-impossible, so we went with Mata’afa for this one despite having Chubb for the Bednarik Award. Mata’afa is an absurd talent. Just look at his game on Saturday against Utah: eight tackles, five tackles for a loss, and three sacks. That’s likely the best game any defensive player has had this season. Mata’afa doesn’t do that every week, but he wreaks havoc with regularity. Expect him to take home a defensive trophy this year whether it’s the Lombardi Award or not.
John Mackey Award: Mark Andrews, tight end, Oklahoma
Andrews’ numbers make him a near-lock for this one. He isn’t just leading all tight ends in receiving yards, he’s doing it by a huge margin. Andrews has 745 yards on the year. Second-place Adam Breneman is the only other tight end in the same area code, with 685. After that, third-place Jaylen Samuels is nearly 250 yards behind Andrews with 502. It’s only fitting that the Big 12 take home every trophy having to do with the passing game, and Andrews should win this one with some ease.
Outland Trophy: Mike McGlinchey, tackle, Notre Dame
McGlinchey, a senior tackle, has been the linchpin of one of the best offensive lines in football. Notre Dame ranked fourth in adjusted line yards before Miami beat the Irish down on Saturday. That number will take a hit, however, the Irish still boast one of the best lines in football and McGlinchey is the biggest reason. He’s adept when it comes to both run blocking and pass protection. In addition to being the Outland Trophy favorite, he’ll likely be the first tackle taken in the 2018 draft.
Dave Rimington Trophy: Billy Price, center, Ohio State
The Buckeyes’ line has been nothing special this year, but Price has put in a Herculean effort. The senior has been a perfect replacement for Pat Elflein in the middle of Ohio State’s line. Like Elflein, Price will likely be one of the first centers off the board in the draft as well. He’s squarely in the lead for this award.
Jim Thorpe Award: Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive back, Alabama
Fitzpatrick has a great argument for the Bednarik Award, but even if he doesn’t win that, as we predict, the Thorpe Award should be a lock. The junior has locked down every receiver he’s faced this year. There’s no better defensive back in the country. Assuming Fitzpatrick decides to come out for the draft this season, there’s a good case for him being the first defensive player picked. He can play all six defensive back positions well. This award will only be the start for him.
Doak Walker Award: Saquon Barkley, running back, Penn State