The Pac-12 is the final Power 5 conference to open play this weekend. Several of the conference’s top players made the decision to sit out the season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, but the cupboard is not bare. The absence of those top-tier talents just creates opportunity for other players to build their own legacy. 

Here are the top prospects to know at each of the Pac-12’s member institutions:

Oregon State

Hamilcar Rashed Jr., EDGE

Rashed is on the lean side but his quick twitch and smooth change of direction have him rated among the elite edge rushers available in the 2021 NFL Draft class. His explosion off the snap led to 14 sacks last season for the Beavers. Rashed has been a regular in my personal first-round projections.

Oregon State opens their season at home against Washington State. 

USC

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG

Vera-Tucker is one of the best offensive guard prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. He initially opted out of the season before changing his mind. The California native has an ideal frame for an interior offensive lineman. The lineman possesses active eyes and hands. Vera-Tucker showed his mobility when fulfilling pull assignments and could fit into any blocking scheme.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR

St. Brown is a slot receiver that does a great job sitting in the zone or adjusting his route to attack the defense’s weakness. His motions can be a bit mechanical and he catches the ball too often with his body but one team will get a productive receiver that has 60-plus receptions each of the past two seasons.

Trojans defensive tackle Jay Tufele is another top-100 prospect that determined it was in his best interest to opt out of the season. His reasons sound legitimate and scouts will unlikely hold his decision against him during the process.

Who else to watch

Arizona

Linebacker Tony Fields II would have been Arizona’s top prospect but he made the decision to transfer to West Virginia with safety teammate Scottie Young.

Arizona State

Inside linebacker Merlin Robertson was a productive player last season and many consider him to be one of the better available linebackers. It is more likely that he is taken on Day 3 than Day 1, however. Cornerback Jack Jones is a feisty player that is willing to come up and make a tackle in the backfield. Although diminutive in size, Jones is physical and not afraid to jam the opposition at the line of scrimmage. Cornerback Chase Lucas is another draftable talent. 

California

Cornerback Camryn Bynum effortlessly mirrors opposing receivers and does a great job of getting his eyes back to the quarterback. He has great size and shows an ability to provide run support. The California native opted back into the season and could help his stock significantly. Kuony Deng has intriguing traits as an edge rusher but was still rather raw last season. His development will be closely monitored.

Colorado

Linebacker Nate Landman could be one to watch as the season progresses but the Buffaloes lack the upper echelon talent that they have presented in the past. 

Oregon

There may not have been a program hit harder by opt-outs than the Ducks. Penei Sewell is the top offensive tackle prospect available in the 2021 NFL Draft but has opted out of the season. Safety Jevon Holland would have competed to be the first safety off the board but also opted out. Cornerback Thomas Graham is another to turn his attention to 2021 NFL Draft preparation.

Stanford

Cornerback Paulson Adebo is a smart, productive player that elected to opt out of the upcoming season. He is likely a Day 2 pick in the upcoming draft. Offensive tackle Walker Little opted out of the season as well. It would have been nice to see him play considering he was robbed of 2019 by an ACL injury. Little has great athleticism but talent evaluators might be turned off by the regression of Washington offensive tackle Trey Adams after his ACL injury.

UCLA

Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a mobile quarterback with a strong arm. However, his ball placement has been poor. The California native looks to run from clean pockets and does not show great mobility within the pocket. The traits to be successful are there but Thompson-Robinson needs to grow more comfortable with what he is seeing and feeling around him.

Utah

By the Utes’ standard, it will be a down year in regards to talent. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, safety Julian Blackmon and safety Terrell Burgess have been revelations in the NFL. With those upperclassmen out the door, it should create opportunities for their successors. 

Washington

Defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike and edge rusher Joe Tryon may have been the Huskies’ top professional prospects but they have called an end to their collegiate careers. Instead, the attention will redirect to the secondary where cornerbacks Elijah Molden and Keith Taylor form one of the best tandems in the Pac-12. Each is in the mix for Day 2 consideration.

Washington State

Offensive tackle Abraham Lucas could work his way into a Day 2 selection. The right tackle has unquestionably received a lot of pass protection reps over the years in Mike Leach’s scheme. It will be interesting to see how he fares under new head coach Nick Rolovich.

The full slate of Week 10 college football games can be found at CBSSports.com. The William Hill Sportsbook odds for each game can be found at SportsLine.

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