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Three defensive players to watch in the CFP National Championship game

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There is a lot of attention focused on the high-powered offenses, but both LSU and Clemson have defensive stars as well.

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NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Louisiana State Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The final game of the 2019-2020 college football season is almost here. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the game in New Orleans featuring the red-hot LSU Tigers — who have developed a nearly unstoppable offensive attack behind quarterback Joe Burrow —and the Clemson Tigers — a team that has not lost in over two seasons and is led by Trevor Lawrence.

As expected, much of the attention is focused on the offenses. That said, there are some defensive standouts that are sure to hear their name called early in April’s 2020 NFL Draft.

Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have a glaring need at the safety position, and it appears that the upcoming NFL Draft has a stud in LSU defensive back Grant Delpit. The junior safety did not have quite the year that he had as a freshman and sophomore, but Delpit was honored with the Thorpe Award at the conclusion of the regular season — a testament to how good he has been during his collegiate career.

Dane Brugler’s 27th ranked prospect has been the talk of many around Cowboys fans due to his ceiling and talent. Brugler cites an ankle injury as a partial cause for Delpit’s up and down season.

27. *Grant Delpit, DS1, LSU (6-2, 206, 4.56)

Despite winning the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, Delpit did not have the 2019 season that many expected, especially vs. the run (22 missed tackles). But an ankle injury is partially to blame and his range and instincts in coverage are still desirable traits.

Delpit will have his hands full with the weapons that Clemson will throw at him and the rest of the LSU secondary, but he has the talent to go toe-to-toe with the best of them.

A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sticking with the secondary theme, the Cowboys will obviously have to go out and upgrade the defensive backfield this offseason. Whether that is through the draft or through free agency remains to be seen, but there will be plenty of options for Dallas to choose from.

Another option in the secondary is Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell who has had a very impressive season at cornerback for a team that is looking to repeat as national champions tonight. Terrell has made six interceptions in his career, despite quarterbacks thinking twice about throwing his way. Perhaps none was bigger than this one:

Brugler’s 48th ranked prospect will be tasked with stopping LSU’s plethora of receivers led by Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson.

48. *A.J. Terrell, CB7, Clemson (6-1, 192, 4.49)

A well-built athlete with steady speed, Terrell keeps one eye on the quarterback and the other on the route, baiting and jumping throws. His grabby hands will get him in trouble with officials, but his size and aggressive nature will translate well to the NFL game.

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Another corner? Yes, this game is loaded with good defensive back play. Which seems appropriate, given the talent at the skill positions for both LSU and Clemson.

Kristian Fullton, a former five-star talent out of high school, has been nothing short of special this season while going up against impressive competition. While teammate Derrick Stingley — a freshman that will surely have his name called in the first-round of the 2022 draft — receives more of the attention, Fulton has been key for the Tigers throughout the season.

Fulton lands at 20 on Brugler’s most recent big board and has been floated as name that the Cowboys may have interest in.

20. Kristian Fulton, CB3, LSU (6-0, 194, 4.46)

Although he must improve his tackling and body positioning, especially if he wants to handle slot duties in the NFL, Fulton stays in the pocket of receivers with his patient process and athletic traits. He shows the natural feel for reading route breaks that plays at every level.

The LSU defensive back has not been tested very much this season, but he still has deflected 13 passes in 2020 while adding an interception to his name. Per PFF, Fulton has been “every bit of a lockdown cornerback”.

Forgotten on his own team not because of his success but rather the surprising play of his teammate Stingley, Fulton is every bit a lockdown cornerback. He’s been targeted 59 times and allowed just 26 receptions on the year, and he hasn’t been beaten for a pass longer than 35 yards since Week 6.


If you love good defensive back play, tune into the National Championship.