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Published: Nov. 30, 2017 at 02:14 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 30, 2017 at 02:42 p.m.

Top 17 future NFL stars playing on college football's Championship Weekend

College football's Conference Championship Weekend is here. These league-title games offer a big stage for prospects to impress in front of NFL evaluators.

GMs and scouts put greater weight on performances in postseason games when grading players. Decision-makers want to see how players rise up (or sink) on the largest stages. With berths in the College Football Playoff and elite bowl games at stake, as well as their draft stock, there's plenty on the line for prospects this weekend.

The 17 players listed below will all be playing Power Five conference title games. But don't forget to watch Memphis' senior duo of QB Riley Ferguson and WR Anthony Miller in the AAC title game against UCF. Ferguson has NFL size and arm strength, while Miller is a short but feisty, strong-handed, and explosive receiver who can make plays all over the field.

The players on this list are ranked from 1-17 based on how I rate them as prospects (17 is lowest, 1 is highest).

17 Photos Total

  • <b>Game:</b> Pac-12 championship vs. Stanford, Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 212 carries for 1,346 yards (6.3 average), 16 TDs. 13 catches for 181 yards (13.9 average), 1 TD.<br><br>
 
Jones looks and moves like a slasher, providing a home-run threat for the Trojans. He'll be used in a receiving role more in the NFL than he is now, and is willing to run with lean between the tackles. 17

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    17. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

    Game: Pac-12 championship vs. Stanford, Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

    2017 stats: 212 carries for 1,346 yards (6.3 average), 16 TDs. 13 catches for 181 yards (13.9 average), 1 TD.

    Jones looks and moves like a slasher, providing a home-run threat for the Trojans. He'll be used in a receiving role more in the NFL than he is now, and is willing to run with lean between the tackles.

  • <b>Game:</b> SEC championship vs. Auburn, Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 178 carries for 1,098 yards (6.2 average), 13 TDs.<br><br>
 
Chubb will pound and gash opposing defenses with power and a burst once he's in the open field. He reminds me of Frank Gore with his build and ability to wear down defenses. 16

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    16. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

    Game: SEC championship vs. Auburn, Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS

    2017 stats: 178 carries for 1,098 yards (6.2 average), 13 TDs.

    Chubb will pound and gash opposing defenses with power and a burst once he's in the open field. He reminds me of Frank Gore with his build and ability to wear down defenses.

  • <b>Game:</b> SEC championship vs. Auburn, Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 124 carries for 903 yards (7.3 average), 13 TDs.<br><br>
 
The Lightning in Georgia's "Thunder and Lightning" duo at running back will divvy up the workload against Auburn on Saturday. Michel will be a dual-purpose threat in the pros, similar to Alvin Kamara. 15

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    15. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

    Game: SEC championship vs. Auburn, Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS

    2017 stats: 124 carries for 903 yards (7.3 average), 13 TDs.

    The Lightning in Georgia's "Thunder and Lightning" duo at running back will divvy up the workload against Auburn on Saturday. Michel will be a dual-purpose threat in the pros, similar to Alvin Kamara.

  • <b>Game:</b> Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX<br><br>
 
Price is a nasty, smart player who will lead an NFL offensive line for at least a decade. He's also more mobile than you'd think, and can play guard or center at the next level. 14

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    14. Billy Price, C, Ohio State

    Game: Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX

    Price is a nasty, smart player who will lead an NFL offensive line for at least a decade. He's also more mobile than you'd think, and can play guard or center at the next level.

  • <b>Game:</b> SEC championship vs. Georgia, Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 32 tackles (0.5 for loss), 1 INT, 11 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovered.<br><br>
 
Defensive coordinators looking for a starting press corner would love to have Davis on their squad. His strength allows him to fight with larger receivers downfield, at times picking up penalties but often knocking away the throw or limiting yards after the catch. He also has quick enough feet to stay with receivers off the line, which makes him a likely NFL starter down the road. 13

    Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports

    13. Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

    Game: SEC championship vs. Georgia, Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS

    2017 stats: 32 tackles (0.5 for loss), 1 INT, 11 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovered.

    Defensive coordinators looking for a starting press corner would love to have Davis on their squad. His strength allows him to fight with larger receivers downfield, at times picking up penalties but often knocking away the throw or limiting yards after the catch. He also has quick enough feet to stay with receivers off the line, which makes him a likely NFL starter down the road.

  • <b>Game:</b> Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 19 tackles (5 for loss, including 1 sack), 2 passes defensed.<br><br>
 
Jones' ability to wreak havoc as a one-gap defender makes him a potential Pro Bowler. If the redshirt sophomore can become consistently strong at the point of attack, as well, NFL teams will be even more interested in securing his services. 12

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    12. Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State

    Game: Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX

    2017 stats: 19 tackles (5 for loss, including 1 sack), 2 passes defensed.

    Jones' ability to wreak havoc as a one-gap defender makes him a potential Pro Bowler. If the redshirt sophomore can become consistently strong at the point of attack, as well, NFL teams will be even more interested in securing his services.

  • <b>Game:</b> Big 12 championship vs. TCU, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 51 catches for 848 yards (16.6 average), 6 TDs.<br><br>
 
NFL QBs will love throwing to Andrews, a junior, whenever he's ready to leave Norman. He's 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and runs like a receiver. Andrews has already collecting more receptions (51) and receiving yards (848) in 2017 than in his previous two years combined (50-807). His 20 career touchdowns show what a red-zone threat he can be. 11

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    11. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

    Game: Big 12 championship vs. TCU, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX

    2017 stats: 51 catches for 848 yards (16.6 average), 6 TDs.

    NFL QBs will love throwing to Andrews, a junior, whenever he's ready to leave Norman. He's 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and runs like a receiver. Andrews has already collecting more receptions (51) and receiving yards (848) in 2017 than in his previous two years combined (50-807). His 20 career touchdowns show what a red-zone threat he can be.

  • <b>Game:</b> Pac-12 championship vs. USC, Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 215 carries for 1,848 yards (8.6 average), 16 TDs. <br><br>
 
A home-run hitter of epic proportions, Love explodes through a seam and finds paydirt. Notre Dame "held him" to 125 yards on 20 carries, with a long of "only" 31 yards. He had a run of 50 yards or more in 10 of 12 games this season. Love is only average in terms of his power, but speed kills in any league. 10

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    10. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

    Game: Pac-12 championship vs. USC, Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

    2017 stats: 215 carries for 1,848 yards (8.6 average), 16 TDs.

    A home-run hitter of epic proportions, Love explodes through a seam and finds paydirt. Notre Dame "held him" to 125 yards on 20 carries, with a long of "only" 31 yards. He had a run of 50 yards or more in 10 of 12 games this season. Love is only average in terms of his power, but speed kills in any league.

  • <b>Game:</b> Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 36 tackles (10 for loss, including 4.5 sacks), 2 forced fumbles.<br><br>
 
Hubbard isn't among the NCAA leaders in tackles for loss (10) or sacks (4.5), but NFL personnel evaluators are still quite aware of his motor, quickness, and instincts. It's a good thing he decided to play football instead of lacrosse in college. 9

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    9. Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

    Game: Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX

    2017 stats: 36 tackles (10 for loss, including 4.5 sacks), 2 forced fumbles.

    Hubbard isn't among the NCAA leaders in tackles for loss (10) or sacks (4.5), but NFL personnel evaluators are still quite aware of his motor, quickness, and instincts. It's a good thing he decided to play football instead of lacrosse in college.

  • <b>Game:</b> Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 34 tackles (2 for loss), 1 INT, 14 passes defensed.<br><br>
 
Ward is not the biggest corner among those fighting for All-American status this year, but he might be the best cover man. His short-area quickness, length, and ability to play the ball in the air makes him a future NFL starter -- even if he barely scrapes 5-10 on the measuring tape. Ward has no issue being physical, either, as Michigan receivers found out last weekend. 8

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    8. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

    Game: Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX

    2017 stats: 34 tackles (2 for loss), 1 INT, 14 passes defensed.

    Ward is not the biggest corner among those fighting for All-American status this year, but he might be the best cover man. His short-area quickness, length, and ability to play the ball in the air makes him a future NFL starter -- even if he barely scrapes 5-10 on the measuring tape. Ward has no issue being physical, either, as Michigan receivers found out last weekend.

  • <b>Game:</b> ACC championship vs. Miami, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 34 tackles (2 for loss, including 1.5 sacks).<br><br>
 
Yes, there are three Clemson defensive linemen among the top seven players on this list. This sophomore presents brute strength and long arms that he uses to own the line of scrimmage. When playing with a low pad level, he's hard to move. Plus, he has the quickness to collapse the pocket and move down the line of scrimmage on stretch plays. 7

    Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

    7. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

    Game: ACC championship vs. Miami, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

    2017 stats: 34 tackles (2 for loss, including 1.5 sacks).

    Yes, there are three Clemson defensive linemen among the top seven players on this list. This sophomore presents brute strength and long arms that he uses to own the line of scrimmage. When playing with a low pad level, he's hard to move. Plus, he has the quickness to collapse the pocket and move down the line of scrimmage on stretch plays.

  • <b>Game:</b> Big 12 championship vs. TCU, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX<br><br>
 
The son of the late former NFL lineman Orlando "Zeus" Brown is exactly the type of massive man pro teams want guarding the blind side. Brown does have issues with flexibility and recovering after a pass rusher's initial move, but offensive line coaches will be begging to work with his skill set. 6

    Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

    6. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

    Game: Big 12 championship vs. TCU, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX

    The son of the late former NFL lineman Orlando "Zeus" Brown is exactly the type of massive man pro teams want guarding the blind side. Brown does have issues with flexibility and recovering after a pass rusher's initial move, but offensive line coaches will be begging to work with his skill set.

  • <b>Game:</b> Big 12 championship vs. TCU, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 247 of 346 (71.4 percent) for 4,097 yards, 37 TDs and 5 INTs. 79 rushes for 245 yards (3.1 average), 5 TDs.<br><br>
 
It's possible that some of the players ranked higher of Mayfield on this list will be drafted earlier than Mayfield. But I don't know if those guys have the potential to make the same impact in the league as the Sooners' leader. He has the feistiness of Philip Rivers and the physical traits of Russell Wilson. Mayfield's a playmaker with the ability to stretch the field with his arm and move outside the pocket to throw or run when necessary. 5

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    5. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

    Game: Big 12 championship vs. TCU, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX

    2017 stats: 247 of 346 (71.4 percent) for 4,097 yards, 37 TDs and 5 INTs. 79 rushes for 245 yards (3.1 average), 5 TDs.

    It's possible that some of the players ranked higher of Mayfield on this list will be drafted earlier than Mayfield. But I don't know if those guys have the potential to make the same impact in the league as the Sooners' leader. He has the feistiness of Philip Rivers and the physical traits of Russell Wilson. Mayfield's a playmaker with the ability to stretch the field with his arm and move outside the pocket to throw or run when necessary.

  • <b>Game:</b> ACC championship vs. Miami, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 40 tackles (7 for loss, including 4 sacks), 2 pass breakups.<br><br>
 
Wilkins' versatility will allow him to play inside or at the five-technique spot in the NFL. Like his teammate Clelin Ferrell, Wilkins has plus athleticism, which he uses to track down ball carriers with reckless abandon. Wilkins hasn't spent as much time making plays in the backfield this year as he did at defensive end in 2016 (seven tackles for loss in 2017; 13 in 2016), but he still affects runs and passes on a consistent basis. 4

    Perry Knotts/NFL

    4. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

    Game: ACC championship vs. Miami, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

    2017 stats: 40 tackles (7 for loss, including 4 sacks), 2 pass breakups.

    Wilkins' versatility will allow him to play inside or at the five-technique spot in the NFL. Like his teammate Clelin Ferrell, Wilkins has plus athleticism, which he uses to track down ball carriers with reckless abandon. Wilkins hasn't spent as much time making plays in the backfield this year as he did at defensive end in 2016 (seven tackles for loss in 2017; 13 in 2016), but he still affects runs and passes on a consistent basis.

  • <b>Game:</b> ACC championship vs. Miami, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 57 tackles (16 for loss, including 8.5 sacks), 1 pass breakup. <br><br>
 
It was a tight race between Ferrell and Wilkins for second place on this list, but I give Ferrell a slight edge because of his ability to bend and hustle as a pass rusher. Ferrell's combination of strength and athleticism sets him apart from most all other edge players in college football. 3

    Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

    3. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

    Game: ACC championship vs. Miami, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

    2017 stats: 57 tackles (16 for loss, including 8.5 sacks), 1 pass breakup.

    It was a tight race between Ferrell and Wilkins for second place on this list, but I give Ferrell a slight edge because of his ability to bend and hustle as a pass rusher. Ferrell's combination of strength and athleticism sets him apart from most all other edge players in college football.

  • <b>Game:</b> Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 28 tackles (12.5 for loss, including 6 sacks), 2 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble.<br><br>
 
Bosa's play the past two seasons already has NFL general managers wishing they could add him to their roster. He's very similar in size, strength, and playing style to his older brother, Joey, who has lit up the NFL in his first two seasons. They'll have to wait until at least the 2019 draft for the true sophomore to be draft-eligible, but it will be fun watching him chase down quarterbacks and running backs for the Buckeyes in the mean time. 2

    Joseph Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports

    2. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

    Game: Big Ten championship vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX

    2017 stats: 28 tackles (12.5 for loss, including 6 sacks), 2 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble.

    Bosa's play the past two seasons already has NFL general managers wishing they could add him to their roster. He's very similar in size, strength, and playing style to his older brother, Joey, who has lit up the NFL in his first two seasons. They'll have to wait until at least the 2019 draft for the true sophomore to be draft-eligible, but it will be fun watching him chase down quarterbacks and running backs for the Buckeyes in the mean time.

  • <b>Game:</b> Pac-12 championship vs. Stanford, Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 260 of 411 (63 percent) for 3,505 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs. 5 rushing TDs.<br><br>
 
Despite his issues with turnovers, Darnold is still considered the nation's top quarterback prospect by many league evaluators. He can solidify his standing with a solid performance in the Pac-12 Championship Game, using his feet to buy time and making good decisions with the ball. 1

    Ric Tapia/Associated Press

    1. Sam Darnold, QB, USC

    Game: Pac-12 championship vs. Stanford, Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

    2017 stats: 260 of 411 (63 percent) for 3,505 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs. 5 rushing TDs.

    Despite his issues with turnovers, Darnold is still considered the nation's top quarterback prospect by many league evaluators. He can solidify his standing with a solid performance in the Pac-12 Championship Game, using his feet to buy time and making good decisions with the ball.