2021 NFL Draft Prospects with the Most to Lose without a College Football Season
(Photo by Sam Hodde/Associated Press)
As the days go by, it's looking more like we may not see any college football this season. Currently, 54 of 130 teams will not play college football this fall. It's uncertain how many more teams will follow. The lack of a college season is set to have a major impact on next year's NFL draft. Players with more to prove this season are really at a disadvantage, possibly losing the opportunity to improve on their draft stock. Here are a few of the top players I feel will be the most impacted by the loss of a college football season:
QB Trey Lance, ND State
Lance posted incredible numbers in his first season starting for North Dakota State (28 TDs, 0 INTs) and has already seen his draft stock skyrocket following his strong performance last season. He really has quite a lot to lose without college football in 2020, though. Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are mostly viewed as the top two draft-eligible quarterbacks this season, with Lance as a close third. Lance only has one season of tape under his belt against weaker competition in the FCS. This season would've given him his opportunity to prove this season wasn't a fluke. ND State was set to open their season against Oregon, too, which would've been a great opportunity for Lance to prove himself against stronger competition on a bigger stage and contend with Lawrence and Fields for the top spot.
QB KJ Costello, Mississippi State
Costello started 29 games over three seasons for Stanford, but started only fives games last season due to injury. He transferred to Mississippi State this season to play under Mike Leach, known for his Air Raid system. Leach's system most likely would've helped Costello put up career highs that could've helped him raise his draft stock. He's mostly seen a third day talent now, but easily could've climbed draft boards quickly playing well in the SEC.
WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
Most seem to view Moore as a first round pick already, but I don't think that's a guarantee by any means. Moore is one of the most athletic players in the nation, but his size (5'9", 181 lbs) and hamstring injury that limited him to just four games last season may scare teams away early on in the first round. He has the potential to be a complete game changer every time he touches the ball, but I think teams would feel more comfortable spending a first round pick on him if he was able to showcase he still has the same speed and explosiveness after his injury.
(Photo by: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)
QB Jamie Newman, Georgia
Newman was set to start for Georgia this season after transferring in from Wake Forest. He was viewed by most scouts as a possible second day pick last season, but decided to transfer to Georgia this season in hopes to sneak into first round consideration. Georgia typically has a strong run game every season, and Newman thrives using the run-pass option concept. Georgia seems like a good fit for Newman, who is a dual threat and has the makeup of the modern NFL quarterback. Success in the SEC could've easily helped Newman slide into the first round.
EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan
Paye is a very athletic player that really would've had an opportunity to shine for Michigan's defense this season. He recorded 50 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks last season. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic labelled him the most freakishly athletic prospect in college football this season. He was timed in the 3 cone drill at 6.37 seconds, which would have been better than every other player during the 2020 combine. Paye looks to have all the physical tools to be a dominant player, but this was his season to show he improved his hand work some scouts were questioning. Michigan also lost Josh Uche to the Patriots in the NFL draft, so Paye would have been asked to step up and become more of a leader in Michigan's pass rush.
EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
Phillips was once a former 5 star recruit and considered one of the best high school players in the nation. He played two years for UCLA, sat out last season, and transferred to play in Miami this season. Phillips only played ten games for UCLA over his two seasons there, due to multiple injuries. Phillips has been working hard with Miami's strength and conditioning program and has bulked up from 245lbs to 265lbs. This is really a make or break season for Phillips and the cancellation of a season would really hurt him. He's really seen as more of a late round pick at this point, but really is filled with so much potential.
EDGE Quincy Roche, Miami
Yes, you're reading that right. Another Miami pass rusher. Roche transferred to Miami this season from Temple after posting great numbers. His 68 pressures last season are the most among any returning college football player. He won AAC defensive player of the year last season after registering 13 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. Roche was poised for a big season this year alongside Gregory Rosseau, whom many predict to be a top 10 pick. Playing alongside Rosseau would've decreased the amount of double teams he saw this season, while also giving him the opportunity to show he can perform on a bigger stage in a tougher conference.
OT Walker Little, Stanford
Little was Stanford's starting left tackle in 2018 and earned All-Pac 12 first team honors. He entered 2019 viewed as one of the top offensive lineman, but suffered a serious knee injury. Since then, his stock has fallen and he's no longer considered a consensus first round pick. A solid season this year would've helped Little show he's recovered from his injury and possibly brought him back to first round consideration.
EDGE Tyreke Smith, Ohio State
Ohio State has become pass rush university the last few seasons, producing talents such as Chase Young, Nick Bosa, and Joey Bosa. Smith was ranked as the 34th best recruit in 2018, but hasn't quite lived up to the hype yet. He played in just 8 games last season after missing some time with a groin injury and then also played with a hand fracture the last few weeks of the season. Ohio State will most likely use more of a rotation on their defensive line this year without a true star, leaving Smith with plenty of opportunity to step up and become a playmaker.
EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State
Oweh is another player with freakish athletic abilities. He reportedly ran an unofficial 4.33 second 40 yard dash. Oweh mostly saw playing time with Penn State's second team last season, due to their strong defensive line. He'll see the starting lineup this season though, with Yetur Gross-Matos heading to the NFL. Oweh had 5 sacks last season with limited playing time. Oweh possesses plenty of potential and has the physical abilities of a potential star.
You can follow Tom Barnett on Twitter @tbarnett91