Offensive playmaker prospects
The conversation for the Clemson offense is clearly surrounding Lawrence and senior running back Travis Etienne. Etienne returned to Clemson for his senior season in 2020, despite being a highly ranked running back in last year’s loaded class. In 2019, he ran for 1,614 yards and 19 touchdowns while also taking on a larger role in the passing game with 37 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns. The top running back for many evaluators out of last year’s class, it was surprising to see him return to school for another year.
It’s doubtful that the Chiefs will be looking to add another first-round running back in 2021 after taking Clyde Edwards-Helaire this past offseason. Regardless, the running backs in this game are something to keep an eye on if you love the NFL Draft. Kyren Williams for the Irish will be a name to look for in next year’s draft as well.
The wide receivers in this game will be worth looking at for those second and third-day contributors for the Chiefs. Javon McKinley is having a breakout season as the top receiver for the Irish. Throughout the season, he has improved at winning the contested catches down the field to become the deep target for quarterback Ian Book.
Amari Rodgers has returned from his 2019 injury to be a top target in the Tigers’ offense. Built more like a running back at 5’10, 210 pounds, and when the ball is in his hands, he moves like one too. He’s been an interesting weapon for Clemson as mostly a gadget weapon and return specialist before this season. Rodgers has stepped up in the offense as the primary weapon, with Tee Higgins leaving for the NFL and Justyn Ross out for the 2020 season.
While Rodgers does a good job of reading zone defenses and finding openings for his quarterback, most of his production is manufactured. Clemson finds ways to get him the ball in the open field to produce yards after the catch using his physicality and vision. He has flashed some abilities to be more of a threat in the field’s intermediate areas, but most of his usage is in the short game.
The other receiver for the Tigers to keep an eye on is Cornell Powell, who has come on as a reliable field stretch for Clemson over the last four games. He hauled six receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown when these two teams met in the regular season. His ability to stretch the field and create yards after the catch has certainly given him a boost in the latter half of the season.