College News & Analysis

2021 NFL Draft: The top draft prospect on every team in the Pac-12

Santa Clara, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks linebacker Troy Dye (35) and Oregon cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (6) and Oregon safety Brady Breeze (25) react during the second half of the Pac-12 Conference championship game against the Utah Utes at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When Arizona State travels to 20th-ranked USC at noon eastern on Saturday, the Pac-12 will officially be back.

Out of all the Power Five conferences, it’s possible that the Pac-12 is sending out the smallest number of top draftable prospects this fall. Of course, it doesn’t help that some of the top prospects in the conference — such as Oregon tackle Penei Sewell or Stanford tackle Walker Little — have already opted out.

That said, here are the top prospects that you will be seeing from each school this Saturday.

Editor's note: PFF’s customizable NFL Mock Draft Simulator gives you the opportunity to be the GM for any team and is now updated with a select group of 2021 prospects. Try it today!

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Arizona — CB Lorenzo Burns

Burns has been starting at Arizona for three years now and has racked up nine picks and 21 pass breakups over that span. He’s had a penchant for getting a little “grabby” in the past, with 15 penalties his first two seasons, before dropping it down to only three in 2019. He lives up to his last name with his speed, but those penalties are no fluke. He gets overly grabby because he has to — at only 175 pounds, he’s well on the small side for the position.

Arizona State — WR Frank Darby

Some thought it would be Darby, and not now-first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk, who would sop up N’Keal Harry’s targets in 2019. Darby once again proved to be solely a downfield threat, as he hauled in 31 passes for 616 yards and eight scores last year. That’s who the 6-foot-1, 200-pound redshirt senior is at this point. He checked in at 38th on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List this year because of his elite deep speed. That will get him looks in the NFL, but we’ll need to see far more polish in his game before he’s anything other than a late-round flyer.

Cal — CB Camryn Bynum

You’re looking at the best corner you’ll see in the Pac-12 this season. He’s a three-year starter who’s earned quality grades every single season for the Golden Bears. Bynum played press on over half his snaps last season, but that’s not all he is. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, he has a versatile body type and skill set to excel in several different schemes. He’s very physical in run support, where he’s earned grades over 80.0 every single year, and he's reliable as a tackler, with 13 career misses on 189 attempts. He looks like a Day 2 pick at the moment.

Colorado — DI Mustafa Johnson

After a big 50-pressure performance in his first year on campus at Colorado after transferring from junior college in 2018, Johnson couldn’t quite replicate that success last season. Here’s hoping for a bounce-back for the 6-foot-2, 290-pound defensive tackle. He wins with leverage and with his hands but is nothing special athletically, despite being undersized. Undersized and unathletic means he’s going to have to produce in a big way to get NFL attention.

Oregon — CB Deommodore Lenoir

Lenoir is a physical corner at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds. He may end up at safety in the NFL because of that and because of his limited length/athleticism combination. In his entire Oregon career, he’s missed only eight tackles on 137 attempts. He’s also been one of the most accomplished cornerbacks in press coverage over the course of his career. He’s likely an early Day 3 guy at this point.

Oregon State — ED Hamilcar Rashed Jr.

Rashed is one of the most intriguing prospects we’ll get to see on the field in the Pac-12 this season. He had a breakout 15-sack campaign as a redshirt junior in 2019, but that wasn’t close to indicative of his consistency as a pass-rusher, as he notched only 35 total pressures. That’s an impossibly high sack conversion rate to sustain. Then there’s the whole issue of his size. He’s gone from being listed at 223 pounds in 2018 to 236 in 2019 to now 245 pounds this year. At 6-foot-4, that’s very much on the borderline to stick on the edge, and we need to know if he’s still got the quicks that made him such a threat in 2019. 

Stanford — DI Thomas Booker

Stanford’s two top prospects — offensive tackle Walker Little and cornerback Paulson Adebo — both opted out of the 2020 season. That leaves the rising true junior defensive tackle as the selection even though he doesn’t seem likely to declare in 2021. He’s got an NFL-caliber first step for the position and a versatile body type at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, so he lines up pretty much anywhere on the interior. After only 21 pressures and a 71.2 overall grade last season, expect a bit of a breakout campaign in six games this year. 

UCLA — DI Osa Odighizuwa

Odighizuwa is the king of jaw-dropping reps that come all too infrequently. He’s a major tweener at 6-foot-2, 279 pounds, which likely plays into that inconsistency. He plays mostly interior for UCLA, but that size simply isn’t going to fly in the NFL. The good news for his prospects are that A.) He’s a freaky athlete and one of the most agile defensive tackles in the country, and B.) He’s steadily improved each season, finishing with an 80.8 overall grade in 2019. 

USC — WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

St. Brown is the highest-ranked Pac-12 player on the PFF draft board that we’ll actually get to see this fall, at 23rd overall. He was the slot receiver in USC’s offense last season, but with Michael Pittman Jr. gone to the NFL, there’s a chance we’ll see more of him outside. He’s a creative route-runner who is dynamic after the catch, as well. He broke 18 tackles on 77 receptions a season ago.

Utah — TE Brant Kuithe

He’s a tight end by designation, but at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, he’ll likely have to catch on as fullback or H-back in the NFL. Only a junior, there’s still some time to fill out. In 2019, Kuithe was one of the highest-graded tight ends in the country after he hauled in 34 catches for 602 yards with six scores and six broken tackles. His ability to win downfield is a must nowadays at the position when projecting to the next level. 

Washington — CB Elijah Molden

Arguably the best pure slot cornerback prospect in the country. Molden earned an elite 90.9 coverage grade last year as a junior, as he picked off four passes and broke up 10 others. He’s a tremendous tackler, too, with only nine misses on 90 attempts last season, so he could feasibly be seen as a safety for some teams. However, at his listed 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, that looks like a likely slot only in the NFL. That will hurt his stock, obviously, but with another big year, he could find himself at the end of Day 2. 

Washington State — OT Abraham Lucas

Lucas doesn’t have nearly as many run-game or play-strength concerns that former Washington State tackle Andre Dillard had coming out. No, the 6-foot-7, 328-pound right tackle is a brick wall to get through. Last season, he allowed 17 pressures on 786 pass-blocking snaps for an 87.8 pass-blocking grade. Even with Mike Leach gone, we’ll still get to see him in a very pass-heavy attack under former Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich.

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