Posted on January 11, 2021
The shortened season hasn’t given NFL prospects as much of a chance to show off as they maybe have in past years, especially since most of the top prospects opted out.
Still, there was some shuffling and some players like Alijah Vera-Tucker, Talanoa Hufanga and Jermar Jefferson did some great work to boost their NFL stock.
Here’s who I think the top Draft-eligible Pac-12 players are as we start to head into the 2021 NFL Draft season.
Penei Sewell, junior tackle, Oregon
Sewell was one of the most-obvious opt outs in the nation, and it will be a surprise if he’s not the first offensive lineman off the board, and he has a great chance to be the first non-QB off the board. Time off to train might actually be perfect for Sewell too, as he already proved everything he could on the field. The only slight questions about him may be how he will test at the Combine.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, junior tackle, USC
AVT might have done more to raise his NFL stock than any other college football player who played in 2020. He moved to left tackle this year and really excelled for the Trojans. He could play either guard or tackle at the next level, but may shift back to guard, given that he’s only listed at 6-foot-4.
Jevon Holland, junior safety, Oregon
Holland opted out and it makes sense given that he pops up in the First Round of some mock drafts. His ability and potential to play corner as well at the next level gives his stock some extra spark, and could sneak him into the First Round after being a two-year starter at Oregon, racking up interceptions throughout his playing days.
Paulson Adebo, junior cornerback, Stanford
Adebo was falling down draft boards before he opted out due to an underwhelming 2019 season. He’s still a long, athletic prospect who proved he can knock down passes thrown his way, especially early in his career, and he seems like a Second Round pick at worse to me.
Jay Tufele, junior defensive tackle, USC
Tufele seems like a guy who could have played like AVT did and bumped up his stock. As of now, he’s still fine, regularly pegged as the second or third prospect in the Draft so I can’t blame him for opting out, especially in a weak year for DTs coming out.
Levi Onwuzurike, junior defensive tackle, Washington
A different kind of DT than Tufele, Onwuzurike is one of the top defensive linemen in the Draft who can play all over the line. He doesn’t seem big or athletically elite enough to get into the First Round, but he showed a ton in his three years at Washington, and is great at attacking and getting into the backfield.
Joe Tryon, junior defensive end, Washington
One of the more interesting opt outs, I feel like Tryon should have come back and had a big season the way his replacement, Zion Tupuola-Fetui, did and turned himself into one of the Top defensive ends in the Draft, if not the. He opted out, though, and possibly because he is a player that should test well at the Combine. He could sneak into the back of the First Round.
Walker Little, senior tackle, Stanford
Little is a huge risk. He’s barely played since 2017, when he looked like a future NFL-franchise left tackle as a true freshman, due to injuries. Yet, that potential remains, and someone will probably take that risk in the Second or Third Round.
Elijah Molden, senior safety, Washington
Molden was one of the best nickel/cornerback-safety hybrid type players in the nation, and showed well in not opting out for 2020, though many thought he would, and having a good season. He should be one of the top players on the board at his spot, and it’s just his limited size, and the limited value of his position, that limits him to probably being a Second or Third Round pick.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, junior wide receiver, USC
Brown never quite put it all together, despite flashing and playing quite well at times. Testing will be big for ARSB as he didn’t put up huge numbers. As long as he runs well, he will probably go in the Second or Third.
Talanoa Hufanga, junior safety, USC
Hufanga is one of those guys who is a flat-out incredible football player, and the best player in the Pac-12 at any position in 2020, in my opinion. He just doesn’t have huge NFL measurables. There’s no way he’s not one of the first safeties off the board, though, and he shouldn’t fall too far, even though he is a guy who is probably a Top 10 pick in an era not too long ago.
Davis Mills, senior quarterback, Stanford
I’m sneaking Mills in here because I think he has major quiet NFL potential, and it’s why he was a five-star coming out of high school, and the Pac-12’s top-rated QB in 2020. He’s big, accurate and has a little bit of mobility and that should make him one of the top QBs after the elite prospects are off the board.
Other top prospects
Simi Fehoko, junior wide receiver, Stanford
Hamilcar Rashed Jr., senior linebacker, Oregon State
Jermar Jefferson, junior running back, Oregon State
Abraham Lucas, junior tackle, Washington State
Tyler Vaughns, senior wide receiver, USC
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