13 College Football Offensive Players To Keep An Eye Out for Early Entry to the 2021 NFL Draft
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The 2019-2020 College Football Season has concluded with the LSU Tigers reigning supreme over the defending champion Clemson Tigers, so let's look forward to what the 2020-2021 season brings. We've seen generational talents like Clemson's Trevor Lawrence in recent years, and Adrian Peterson from over 10 years ago. Additional athletes like Derrick Henry and Cam Newton have also taken college football by storm during their times. That said, look for the following 13 college football offensive players to consider leaving early for the NFL draft for the 2020-2021 season.

I won't mention Trevor Lawrence in the list below here since there is no expected drop off in his production and a lot of teams are already salivating over him. Some people have even said that he was pro-ready even after his freshman year of college. Without further ado...

1. Mac Jones

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School: Alabama

Position: Quarterback

Mac Jones filled in admirably for the incumbent starter Tua Tagovailoa, and will be a redshirt junior in the 2020 season. He's taken command of the offense and has a good enough arm to put it up for any NFL receiver to "Moss" its defender. Mac Jones isn't a Lawrence or Justin Fields, or even Tua, for that matter, but he's certainly good enough to make it in the NFL.

2. Justin Fields

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School: Ohio State

Position: Quarterback

Justin Fields was in the same recruiting class as Trevor Lawrence, and Lawrence and Fields were the top 2 recruits respectively out of high school. Fields has proven since he's been at Ohio State that he is every bit as good, even though he had a year of eligibility somewhat wasted while at Georgia before transferring. Ryan Day has done wonders for his ability and development, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him up there with Trevor Lawrence as top picks in the 2021 NFL draft.

3. Ja'Marr Chase

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School: LSU

Position: Wide Receiver

Just a sophomore in 2019, Chase emerged as the no.1 receiver for Joe Burrow, and has certainly benefitted from a wide-open passing offense that evolved from the NFL. He's a perfect fit for an NFL scheme. Not only that, he knows how to compete against big-time competition, as he had a touchdown reception against Alabama as well as two touchdowns against Clemson in the national championship game.

4. Justyn Ross

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School: Clemson

Position: Wide Receiver

Just like Ja'Marr Chase, Justyn Ross was also a sophomore in 2019, and Ross burst onto the scene as a freshman in the national championship game with a 74-yard catch and run against the Alabama Crimson Tide. He's gotten stronger since then and at 6'4", is even bigger than Ja'Marr Chase, who is 6'1", so he has the frame to contribute early on for an NFL team.

5. CJ Verdell

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School: Oregon

Position: Running Back

Verdell was limited in Oregon's classic Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin, but he has gamebreaking ability. In the Pac-12 championship game against Utah, Verdell averaged over 11 yards per carry, highlighted by a 70-yard touchdown run that sealed the Ducks' spot in the Rose Bowl. He isn't too different from Jonathan Taylor aside from strength and power, and Jonathan Taylor is one of the top running backs in this year's draft. It wouldn't be surprising for Verdell to grow into that kind of runner that Jonathan Taylor was at Wisconsin.

6. Ronnie Bell

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School: Michigan

Position: Wide Receiver

It's less likely that Ronnie Bell actually enters the draft, since he's just 6'0", but he's a reliable target with good hands, and he plays hard. It's not difficult for people to take notice. Obviously he can't do anything about his height, but he's shown through two years of college football that he can make tough catches, and will fight for every ball that comes his way.

7. J.T. Daniels

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School: University of Southern California

Position: Quarterback

JT Daniels is coming off of an ACL tear early in the 2019 season, so health will be a big point of emphasis for scouts as well as whether or not he declares. He's got as good of ability as anybody in college football, and is still maturing into the prototype NFL quarterback since he started college a year before everybody else his age. If he can show the ability to stay healthy and be productive, he'll certainly have a decision to think about. He still has three years of eligibility left, so he would still be an early draft entrant if he waited until the 2022 draft to come out early.

8. Brock Purdy

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School: Iowa State

Position: Quarterback

Purdy will be a junior in 2020, and was able to step in as a true freshman back in 2018 and contribute immediately. The 2021 quarterback class is loaded, but he plays in a pass-happy conference that has produced quarterbacks that have gone on to be first-round picks, like Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes, and Vince Young. Purdy may not be the next one, but he's certainly good enough to warrant consideration to declare early.

9. Penei Sewell

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School: Oregon

Position: Offensive Tackle

Let's give the linemen some love, shall we? Sewell won the Outland trophy as the country's best offensive lineman in 2019 as a true sophomore, and has the body to play left tackle in the NFL. The importance of that is due to most NFL quarterbacks being right handed so they aren't looking to the left, and Sewell did a great job of that protecting outgoing quarterback Justin Herbert for the past two seasons.

10. Kennedy Brooks

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School: Oklahoma

Position: Running Back

Brooks will be a redshirt junior, but he'll be the lead running back of the Sooners' offense. With Jalen Hurts out of the fold and Spencer Rattler taking over as a redshirt freshman, the running game is important to relieve some of the pressure off the young quarterback. If Brooks can have a productive and healthy season, it would be difficult to envision him staying another year.

11. Jaylen Waddle

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School: Alabama

Position: Wide Receiver

Waddle took a back seat after a freshman season that burst him onto the scene of college football, but he will get the chance to be the top receiver in the offense after Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy declared for the 2020 NFL draft as juniors. Waddle has obviously been accustomed to receiving a lot of touches, so I'd expect for him to be productive as a junior like his predecessors, and for that to be a spring board for Waddle to declare early for the 2021 NFL draft.

12. Chris Olave

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School: Ohio State

Position: Wide Receiver

Just like Ronnie Bell, Olave isn't as big as a receiver like Julio Jones or Justyn Ross (who are respectively 6'3" and 6'4"), but he certainly plays hard and has great run after catch ability. His ability to get separation is important for success in the NFL, and he's shown it in spades since he's been in college.

13. Jake Ferguson

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School: Wisconsin

Position: Tight End

Blocking is just as important as getting the ball out to playmakers, and Ferguson can do both. As the grandson of athletic director Barry Alvarez, he knows how to be coachable and has the athletic ability to make plays in the passing game.

In past years, there have been usually 100-120 early draft entrants each year to the NFL draft, and approximately 65% of them get drafted. Needless to say, not all of them get drafted, and while it's possible for everyone here on this list to get drafted should they leave early, it isn't always the most advisable decision, even though it's an important one to think about. For each of the 13 players listed here, based on the fact that there are ~250 picks each year in the NFL draft (32 teams * 7 rounds + compensatory picks), based on the ratio of early entrants being picked to the number of available picks, I'd expect that only 5 of these players to be drafted upon early entry (Chase, Ross, Fields, Sewell, Ferguson). These 13 players are certainly good enough to get their shot at the NFL whenever they come out to the professional ranks.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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