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2020 NFL Draft Spotlight: First round status on the line for Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm?

2020 NFL Draft Spotlight

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 06: Quarterback Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks warms up prior to the start of the Pac-12 Championship Game against the Utah Utes at Levi’s Stadium on December 06, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

There is money on the line for top draft-eligible quarterbacks, Justin Herbert and Jake Fromm in Championship Week. Can they help their 2020 NFL Draft stock?

Conference championship weekend is one of the best weekends of the year in college football, and one of the best weekends to scout for the 2020 NFL Draft. It brings about very good games without having the hectic nature having to switch between four games during the day.

Championship weekend also brings a chance for draft prospects to finish the season strong and right the ship from previous performances, and they get to do so against some of the top talent entering the draft this year.

Utah vs. Oregon

This game might be as loaded as any game this weekend. There are draft prospects all over this one, so we will try to keep it concise.

It starts with Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who has taken a tumble on the recent FanSided big board. There has been a lot of talk about Herbert not showing up enough in big games, and his decision-making and accuracy have been inconsistent. The good news for Herbert is he can right the ship with a great performance against the Utah defense. Oregon needs to push the ball down the field, and Herbert needs to be money if they want to win.

The real battle will happen in the trenches between Oregon’s offensive line and Utah’s defensive line. Bradlee Anae has had a fantastic season and is moving up the rankings for the 2020 NFL Draft, not to mention he’s headed to Mobile. He has 12.5 sacks on the season and has been nearly impossible to block this year. He’s going up against Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. He isn’t eligible for 2020, but he’s been the best tackle in college football this season. What a matchup this will be.

Elsewhere along the line, Utah defensive tackle Leki Fotu is going to the Senior Bowl like Anae and has plenty of pass-rushing upside. He leads the second tier of defensive linemen and draws Shane Lemieux and Jake Hanson on the Oregon offensive line. Lemieux has had a solid season in pass protection while Hanson has struggled a bit more this year. If Fotu wins this matchup, Oregon’s offense could be boxed.

Oregon running back C.J. Verdell is an underrated running back with some good burst and physicality for his size. We know Oregon wants to run the ball, and he will need to be disciplined and pick up yardage wherever he can get, while also making plays on screen passes. Utah linebacker Francis Bernard, another Utah defender who made the Senior Bowl, will get opportunities to make plays in the backfield with Oregon’s screen game.

Utah corner Jaylon Johnson will match up with Oregon wide receiver Juwan Johnson. Both are bigger, physical players, so that should be fun.

We finally get to switch to the other side of the ball. Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley has made some strides this year as a passer, but he’s still got a lot of development to do as a 2020 NFL Draft prospect. Huntley will need to make plays to move the Utes down the field. His partner in the backfield, Zack Moss, is another running back to watch in this one. Moss has looked good this season, racking up over 1,200 rushing yards while averaging six yards per carry. He’s become a more all-around back this season, especially in the passing game. His power and speed combo is a blast to watch.

Oregon’s defense has two guys to watch: Nose tackle Jordon Scott does a great job disengaging from blockers against the run, and linebacker Troy Dye is an athletic linebacker who works well in space.

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