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Seven key USC football players who could get picked in the 2021 NFL Draft

USC football defensive lineman Jay Tufele. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
USC football defensive lineman Jay Tufele. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
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Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy

USC football could see a major boost in producing pros picked in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The 2020 NFL Draft was an unusual experience. For NFL fans, the virtual nature of the event required an adjustment. For USC football fans, the oddity was in the lack of Trojan selections.

For the first time since 2002, USC had just two draft picks.

When the 2021 NFL Draft comes around, USC football fans should have high hopes for that number to increase exponentially.

Who could contribute to boosting the Trojans’ draft showing? Here are seven key players with a chance of being drafted:

Jay Tufele

Status: Redshirt Junior

Why he could leave early: Tufele got to USC in the 2017 recruiting class as a high four-star prospect out of Utah, with all the hopes of being the next great interior lineman for the Trojans. That potential is absolutely still there, following two good but inconsistent years as a starter. If he can string together a complete 2020 football season as the anchor of a defensive line loaded with veteran talent, Tufele could solidify himself as a bonafide NFL prospect worthy with three years of positive tape under his belt. If his post-season evaluation from the NFL hints at a Day 1 or Day 2 selection, it would be a no-brainer to go.

When he could get drafted: If all goes well for Tufele in 2020, he could ultimately play himself into being a high draft pick. CBS Sports has him as the 30th pick in the first round in their Way Too Early 2021 NFL Mock Draft, while Sports Illustrated puts him at No. 32 and Walter Football sees him as a second-rounder.

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