In a little more than three months, Joe Burrow will likely be announced as the No. 1 pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2020 NFL draft.
The Heisman Trophy-winning LSU quarterback has been the most impressive player in college football this season. And before moving on to the NFL, he'll play in one more game as he looks to lead the Tigers to victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship versus Clemson on Monday night.
As one might expect, Burrow is far from the only future NFL player who will take the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the national title game. Both LSU and Clemson have rosters filled with elite players who will be playing at the professional level in the next few years.
Heading into the CFP National Championship, here are some predictions for several top NFL draft prospects taking part in Monday's game.
Joe Burrow does it again with another strong performance
Clemson's defense may be ranked No. 2 in the country (264.1 yards allowed per game), but Burrow has excelled against top defenses already this season.
In the SEC Championship Game, the 23-year-old passed for 349 yards and four touchdowns against Georgia, which finished the season with the No. 4 defense in the nation. He also had 293 yards and three touchdowns through the air on Oct. 12 against Florida, which had the No. 9 defense.
So, while Clemson has a strong unit, it won't be something Burrow hasn't already faced. Plus, Clemson had an easier regular-season schedule than some of the SEC teams he has played, which could contribute to some of its strong defensive numbers.
It won't be like the Peach Bowl, when Burrow accounted for eight total touchdowns and more than 500 total yards in LSU's win over Oklahoma, but he should have another strong showing in his final college game. Expect the Tigers quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns to put a cap on the best season by an SEC quarterback ever.
Clemson WR Tee Higgins, LSU CB Kristian Fulton battle it out
One of the best matchups of the game will come when Clemson has the ball, as wide receiver Tee Higgins will look to have a big game despite likely being covered by top LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton.
These are two players who should both be selected in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft, so it will be exciting to see them go head-to-head.
It will help Higgins, who is 6'4", that he'll have quarterback Trevor Lawrence throwing him the ball. The two have had a strong connection all season, and Lawrence will likely be a top selection when he enters the NFL draft in 2021.
However, Fulton will also have defensive help in covering Higgins, as LSU safety Grant Delpit is another potential first-round draft pick in the Tigers' secondary. If Higgins starts to beat Fulton, it's quite possible Delpit will begin to help Fulton in covering the physical Clemson receiver.
Because this game is likely to feature a lot of offense and points, it's likely Higgins will get the best of Fulton in this matchup. Higgins will likely score a touchdown and have a solid receiving night. But don't be surprised if Fulton also makes a big play for LSU's defense at some point.
Justin Jefferson is again Joe Burrow's favorite target
Burrow has made sure to credit the talented players around him in LSU's offense throughout the season. And one of those playmakers is wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who is coming off a huge Peach Bowl performance versus Oklahoma.
Against the Sooners, Jefferson had 14 receptions for 227 yards and four touchdowns, further improving his NFL draft stock. He also ranks among the best in the country in several receiving stats this season, including third in receptions (102) and receiving yards (1,434) and tied for first in touchdowns (18).
With Jefferson playing so well of late, it's likely Burrow will continue to send the ball his way against Clemson. And Jefferson is talented enough to make plays even when opposing defenses know the quarterback is trying to pass to him.
Jefferson has been a primary beneficiary of Burrow's record-setting season, and that's not going to change now. He should get into the end zone at least once and likely record at least 100 yards in another strong showing for LSU's offense.