NFL draft prospects in College Football Playoff include 10 standouts

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NFL scouts and talent evaluators will observe and take notes on top prospects playing in this year's college football playoffs.

They will be spoiled for choice. All four playoff teams — Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama — are brimming with first-round potential, which might explain why, you know, these are the four teams poised to compete for the national championship.

There's an interesting subplot involving Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, who is draft eligible as a third-year freshman and could be pushed off the fence and into April's draft with two solid games to finish the year.

But based on players who have exhausted their eligibility or appear favorites to enter the draft, these are top 10 NFL playoff prospects:

Texas WR Xavier Digne

Worthy has been a Texas mainstay since his freshman season in 2021, but his evolution into one of the top receivers in the draft reflects the Longhorns' growth into championship contenders. He had 73 receptions for 969 yards during the regular season, with a high of 10 receptions for 137 yards against TCU on November 11.

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Texas DT T'Vondre sweatshirt

Look beyond the score to discover Sweat's impact. The fifth-year interior lineman is gobbling up running backs and game plans as the anchor of one of the best run defenses in the Bowl Subdivision. What Sweat does for Texas is allow fewer players inside the box, which is a big problem in the Sugar Bowl given Washington's powerful passing game and wealth of receiving options.

Washington DE Bralen Trice

Trice is a rock-solid anchor at end who can destroy edge blockers and cause real problems for the Longhorns' running game. He leads the Huskies with 8½ tackles for loss after doing the same with 12 a year ago. Trice went 28th overall to the Detroit Lions in USA TODAY Sports' Latest NFL Mock Draft.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Penix is ​​an example of perseverance after suffering season-ending injuries in each of his four years at Indiana. He has remained healthy since joining the Huskies in 2022 and made a strong run at this year's Heisman Trophy before finishing second to LSU's Jayden Daniels. Injury issues could cause Penix to fall off a bit in April, but he shouldn't fall far.

Washington WR Rome Odunze

Odunze earned All-America honors after making 81 catches for 1,428 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season, giving him 156 catches and 2,573 yards with 20 scores over the past two years. He went 17th overall to Cincinnati in the USA TODAY mock draft as one of the first receivers off the board.

Troy Fautanu, Washington OT

Fautanu is a two-time first-team all-league selection after joining the starting lineup last season. Although he is a left tackle for the Huskies, he is expected to play inside as a professional. Fautanu went to Dallas at 27th overall in our mock, but could move up the ranks by perhaps excelling against the nation's best defensive line in the Sugar Bowl.

Michigan QB JJ McCarthy

McCarthy could be a first-round pick this spring, but would be in contention to be the first quarterback on the board if he delays that draft decision for a year, so the true junior will have a tough decision to be taken after the playoffs. He's nimble, careful with the football and perhaps a little constrained by the Wolverines' offensive scheme, so McCarthy's best ball could get ahead of him.

Alabama LB Dallas Turner

Turner replaced Will Anderson as Alabama's latest elite rusher. After leading the Crimson Tide in tackles for loss (13½) and sacks (9) during the regular season, there's no doubt Turner lands in the first round. He went 14th overall to Denver in our simulation.

Alabama OTJC Latham

Latham may be the strongest and most physical lineman in college football; he can lock down linemen and move them at will, making him a perfect fit for the final two years in Alabama's running game. He was tested by some of the nation's best defenders in SEC play and developed into an elite tackle prospect with great potential. USA TODAY Sports has him No. 6 overall to the New York Jets.

Alabama CB Terrion Arnold

Arnold is another standout Alabama player with ridiculous growth potential after moving from safety to cornerback and thriving at the position. He leads the Tide with five steals and is tied for sixth nationally with 16 assists. If Alabama and Washington advance past the semifinals, seeing Arnold take on the Huskies' receivers will be worth the price of admission. He went 23rd to Pittsburgh in our recent mock.

Alabama CB Kool-Aid McKinstry

But Arnold isn't even the best prospect in his own secondary. Typical Alabama. McKinstry more than lived up to the hype as a five-star prospect with the biggest name in college football by becoming a lockdown defender. Our last simulation had him ranked 11th in Las Vegas.

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