On Monday night, LSU and Clemson took the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to determine this year's collegiate National Champion. Despite Clemson jumping out to an early lead, LSU won the title, 42-25.
At least five prospects from Monday's game are likely to be selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, with several more players not far behind.
Pro Football Focus ranked the top prospects in this year’s draft class who took the field last night. You will likely be hearing a lot about these Tigers over the next few months leading up to April's draft.
QB Joe Burrow, LSU
2019 stats: 402 of 527 (76.3%) for 5,671 yards 60 TD, 6 INT, 115 rush attempts for 369 yards, 5 rushing TD
Burrow entered Monday's game as the likely first pick overall in April's draft, and following his performance against Clemson, the Heisman Trophy winner all but solidified his status as the top pick. Burrow went 31-for-49 (63.3%) for 463 yards and five touchdowns, adding 14 carries for 58 yards and an additional score. With his five passing touchdowns, Burrow passed Hawaii's Colt Brennan for most passing touchdowns in a single season.
According to PFF, Burrow's overall grade of 94.8 this season is the best grade the analytics site has ever assigned a college quarterback. The 23-year-old shows tremendous composure in the pocket, whether or not the opposing defense is applying pressure on him. Burrow will not have to wait long to hear his name called during April's draft.
LB/S Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
2019 stats: 104 tackles (67 solo), 8.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, 3 INT, 8 PD, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Simmons has been connected to the Giants in several mock drafts. There is no denying the versatility Simmons offers a defense. The talented 21-year-old played 100+ snaps at every alignment group other than outside corner and finished with a PFF grade of 80.0 or higher in run defense, pass rush and coverage.
Simmons has shown the ability to line up on the line, in the slot, at free safety or in the box, and has excelled at each position. While many experts believe he is destined to be a linebacker in the NFL, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound defender was great in coverage this past season. Simmons is projected as a top 10 pick in most mock drafts.
Simmons' versatility was on full display Monday, as he spent 64% of his snaps in the box while splitting the rest of his time lined up all over the field. He finished the game with seven tackles (six solo), 1.0 sack, two tackles for loss and two passes defended, while allowing only two catches for 21 yards on five targets with two forced incompletions.
WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
2019 stats: 111 receptions for 1,540 yards (13.9 yards per catch), 18 TD
Jefferson had a special campaign in Baton Rouge, highlighted by his performance in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma. The 6-foot-3 receiver exploded for 14 receptions for a whopping 227 yards and four touchdowns against the Sooners, marking his fifth consecutive game in which he found the end zone (he scored nine touchdowns over those five games). Jefferson is a strong route runner with the explosiveness and big play ability to transform an offense.
He may have been overshadowed by his teammate Ja'Marr Chase, but make no mistake, Jefferson put together a strong performance Monday night. The soon-to-be 21-year-old reeled in nine passes for 106 yards and constantly caused headaches for Clemson's defense. Chase ended up with nine receptions for 221 yards and two touchdowns, but NFL teams will have to wait until the 2021 draft to have a chance at selecting him.
EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
2019 stats: 60 tackles (34 solo), 6.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, 2 PD, 1 forced fumble
Chaisson tore his ACL in the first game of the 2018 season, which could explain why his production this year did not really pick up until the latter part of the season. The 6-foot-4 edge rusher recorded two sacks in the CFP Semifinal, and over LSU's last three games, Chaisson has 4.5 sacks to go with 16 tackles (13 solo) and one PD. Similar to Simmons, Chaisson has shown the versatility to line up at several positions but is likely to find his home in the NFL as an outside rush linebacker. He didn't make a huge impact on Monday, finishing with only two solo tackles, but Chaisson is still likely going to be one of the top edge rushers in the 2020 draft.
Here are a few other prospects to keep an eye on from the National Championship:
CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
2019 stats: 38 tackles (28 solo), 1 INT, 14 PD
WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
2019 stats: 59 receptions for 1,167 yards (19.8 yards per catch), 13 TD
Higgins made his presence felt Monday night, despite not playing a huge role in the passing game. The 6-foot-4, 216-pound receiver caught three passes for 52 yards, but made a spectacular play in the second quarter. Higgins took a reverse 36 yards, breaking tackles and running over defenders on his way to the end zone. Higgins is likely to hear his name called sometime during the first round of April's draft.
CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson
2019 stats: 34 tackles (24 solo), 0.5 sacks, 0.5 tackles for loss, 2 INT, 3 PD
RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
2019 stats: 207 rush attempts for 1,614 yards (7.8 yards per carry), 19 TD, 37 receptions for 432 yards (11.7 yards per catch), 4 REC TD
Etiennne was one of the lone bright spots on the Clemson offense Monday night. The talented running back carried the ball 15 times for 78 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and a touchdown, adding five receptions for 36 yards. With his 78 yards on the ground, Etienne became Clemson's all-time leading rusher with 4,038 yards, topping Raymond Preister's mark of 3,966 yards. Etienne is the Tigers' first ever 4,000-yard rusher and only the ninth player in ACC history to reach that milestone.