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LSU vs. Clemson: 10 NFL prospects to watch in the College Football Playoff national championship

Clemson's Isaiah Simmons and Denzel Johnson react after

Clemson's Isaiah Simmons and Denzel Johnson react after making a defensive play during the first half of an NCAA football game against Florida State on Oct. 12, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. Credit: AP/Richard Shiro

This year’s College Football Playoff national championship is more than just the biggest game of the year for fans. It’s also a scouting dream.

Monday night’s title game between LSU and Clemson is littered with NFL prospects. A good portion of those players could hear their names called in the first round, and one may even end up as the potential No. 1 overall pick.

Here are 10 of the top NFL prospects to keep an eye on Monday night.

Joe Burrow, QB, LSU, Sr.

Burrow put it all together in LSU’s new offensive system, and it paid off with a Heisman Trophy and the likely No. 1 pick in April’s draft. Along the way, he showed many of the traits NFL teams want in a starting quarterback, including great arm strength and accuracy, pocket presence and toughness.

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson, Jr.*

Simmons is an ideal “moneybacker” in an NFL that demands increasingly more from its linebackers. You can see his background as a safety any time he’s asked to cover a tight end or close in on a ballcarrier, but he also has the size (6-4, 225 pounds), instincts and tackling ability to stop the run.  

Grant Delpit, S, LSU, Jr.*

Delpit can do a little bit of everything in the defensive backfield, just like his predecessor, Jets safety Jamal Adams. The 6-3, 203-pound Delpit can play deep zone, come up into the box to stop the run, cover slot receivers and tight ends, or blitz off the edge.

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson, Jr.*

Higgins has been Trevor Lawrence’s top target the last two seasons. At 6-4, 215 pounds, he’s an ideal red-zone target who can use his size, physicality and catch radius to outmuscle defenders at the catch point.

Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU, Jr.*

Just as Burrow enjoyed a breakout season, so too has Jefferson, who caught four first-half touchdowns in the College Football Playoff semifinal. The 6-3, 192-pound Jefferson is a tall, lanky receiver with a knack for creating separation.

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU, Sr.

Fulton excels in man coverage, and at 6 feet, 200 pounds, he has the size to play press when needed. He also has experience in the slot and as a nickel safety.

K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge rusher, LSU, Soph.*

Chaisson missed all but one game in 2018 with a torn ACL but came back this year with the same burst and athleticism that made him Freshman All-SEC in 2017. He’s a little on the lighter side for an edge rusher at 240 pounds but has experience at 4-3 weak-side end and 3-4 outside linebacker.

Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson, Jr.*

Etienne is a speedster in a running back class full of diverse talents. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he can get to his top speed very quickly and break any carry for a long gain or a score.

A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson, Jr.*

Terrell got the Tigers off to a quick start in last year’s national championship game, returning an interception 44 yards for a score on the opening drive. He has yet to allow more than 60 yards in coverage in a single game this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU, Jr.*

Edwards-Helaire only had two carries in the semifinal while dealing with a leg injury, but he was a versatile ballcarrier during the regular season with 1,918 all-purpose yards (1,305 rushing, 399 receiving, 214 kickoff). He has the power to run between the tackles and the soft hands to catch passes out of the backfield.

*-denotes player who has yet to declare for the draft. The deadline for underclassmen to declare is Friday, Jan. 17.

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