While it was Week 10 on the schedule, the Pac-12 enjoyed Week 1 of its 2020 season. We got a taste of some West Coast prospects we’ve unfortunately been missing out on for too long this season. However, it’s still the top prospects in the Big Ten who continue to steal the show, as the conference is loaded with talent in the 2021 NFL Draft this season.
1. C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
If you watched Linderbaum at all in 2019, you know he stuck out like a sore thumb on the Iowa offensive line. The then-redshirt freshman center was playing in the 270-pound range and looked like a tight end who was thrown in the middle of the offensive line.
Now, he’s bulked up to 289 pounds and has taken his game to the next level. Against Michigan State this past week, Linderbaum didn’t allow a single pressure on 30 pass-blocking snaps and earned an 89.2 overall grade. He’s yet to allow a single pressure all season and is already the third-highest graded center in the country.
2. Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan
There hasn’t been a more unblockable player in college football so far this season. We’re only three games into the Big Ten season, but there’s little doubt for anyone who has watched Paye that we’re seeing a different player altogether.
He showed off everything this past week against Indiana with a number of different pass-rushing moves to rack up six pressures. With how explosive the Michigan edge defender is, he looks like an easy choice for Edge1 at the moment.
I don’t say this lightly… Kwity Paye has been the most unblockable player in college football over last 3 weeks
He tore through these Indiana OTs pic.twitter.com/J34CtBKUuT
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) November 10, 2020
3. QB Zach Wilson, BYU
It was the stiffest test we’re going to see Wilson face until bowl season, and he passed with flying colors. He earned his fifth 90.0-plus passing grade in eight games so far this season, and he once again wasn’t missing throws.
Against Boise State, he had an 84.6% adjusted completion rate while going 21-of-27 for 359 yards with two scores. That accuracy combined with his usual highlight-reel dimes on the move will make him a top-10 pick.
You can’t stop Zach Wilson. You can only hope to contain him ????pic.twitter.com/bBEA1Hhu7x
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 7, 2020
4. Edge Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
The competition level wasn’t great against Kansas, but it was also the single most dominant performance we’ve seen from an edge-rusher this season. He racked up 11 pressures on only 29 pass-rushing snaps against the Jayhawks and earned a 98.4 overall grade.
Perkins is a slightly undersized edge at 247 pounds, but he has the juice and bend to win at the top of the pocket.
It's so nice to have Ronnie Perkins back. pic.twitter.com/R8iB5EgiON
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) November 7, 2020
5. WR Cornell Powell, Clemson
Against a Notre Dame defense that was allowing a little over 10 points per game heading into this past weekend, Powell went off with six catches on seven targets for 161 yards and a score. He also broke four tackles after the catch to mark his second straight 100-yard game.
At 6-foot, 210 pounds, Powell’s build more closely resembles a running back than a receiver, and he looked like that in space against Notre Dame.
Grown man play by Cornell Powell.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) November 8, 2020
Powell had been buried on Clemson’s depth chart for years, and his 122 yards in 2019 were a career-high. He was quite clearly D.J. Uiagalelei’s go-to guy, and it will be interesting to see if that continues when Trevor Lawrence returns.
6. CB Chase Lucas, Arizona State
After three years as a starter for the Sun Devils, Lucas made the difficult decision to return to school to try and raise his draft stock after a lackluster 2019 season.
Against a talented USC receiving corps this past weekend, Lucas already showed us more than he did in any game a year ago. He only allowed four catches on six targets for 27 yards with a pass breakup and a crucial forced fumble.
Chase Lucas just pulled off one helluva strip against USC. pic.twitter.com/hhlVH0ZksW
— Christopher Boan (@cgboan) November 7, 2020
He’s a tad on the slight side at only 180 pounds, but he plays far more physical than that listed weight on a consistent basis.
7. QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Yes, it was Rutgers, but Fields performance Saturday marks his third-straight 90.0-plus graded game to start the season. Throws like the one below are impressive no matter the competition.
Looking through QB Justin Fields performance vs. Rutgers. He was at his best.
Ohio St. is running a flood concept (vertical-deep out-flat) off of play-action. He fits the ball in a small window vs. soft Cov. 2.
One of the best TD throws of his career. pic.twitter.com/X6Rtlhu5NR
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) November 8, 2020
Fields has an adjusted completion percentage of 86.8% now for the entire season. His accuracy so far this season has been impeccable, making him well deserving of the No. 2 spot on PFF’s draft board.
8. Edge Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State
With undersized edge rushers becoming the norm in college football, Hubert is decidedly not that. The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder wins with his hands and with power. He did so three times this past weekend against Oklahoma State for sacks on the day.
Some of my favorite clips from the first half (now that I have reliable access to the internet).
— Mitchel Summers (@WIBWMitchel) November 7, 2020
The redshirt junior has evolved into one of the most consistent edge rushers in the country this season with 31 pressures in seven games and a 91.0 pass-rushing grade. He looks firmly in the late Day 2 mix if he were to declare after this season.
9. DI Marlon Tuipulotu, USC
Tuipulotu is the other USC defensive tackle. Jay Tufele got all the hype heading into this season before he opted out, but Tuipulotu looked like a difference-maker in his own right Saturday. When all was said and done, Tuipulotu’s stat sheet read two sacks and five run stops on the day.
He’s a slightly undersized nose tackle at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, but he doesn’t cede an inch in the run game one-on-one. He used leverage and quicks to rack up those numbers against Arizona State in what was easily the most impressive performance we’ve seen from him in his career.
10. Edge Patrick Johnson, Tulane
We had to show Johnson some love after how forcefully he thrashed East Carolina’s offensive line. He notched three sacks, one hit, two hurries and two forced fumbles on 30 pass-rushing snaps for a 94.8 pass-rushing grade. He was getting to the top of the pocket at will. Johnson now has 27 pressures in eight games and is playing his way into a Day 3 draft pick.
Patrick Johnson has had an awesome year for Tulane. Today with 6 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 hurries, 1 PBU. Here, he's giving us his best Cliff Avril impression. Awesome getoff. pic.twitter.com/xdyhe9xdXE
— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) November 8, 2020