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Pac-12 Football: 10 Players Who Will Replace NFL Draft Early Entrants in 2022

Korey Foreman, USC Trojans Football

New USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is expecting big things next season from Korey Foreman, the No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2021

The moment a team's college football season comes to an end, attention turns toward the next campaign. The offseason embodies the oft-repeated cliche "next man up," with the unavoidable reality of roster turnover due both to graduation and early departures for the NFL draft.

Replacements for NFL Draft Early Entrants by Conference: ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC

Roster facelifts in this offseason will be particularly intriguing, given the activity of the transfer portal and the NCAA offering an additional year of eligibility. The Pac-12 is no different in this respect as a number of standouts and all-conference performers are forgoing eligibility to chase their NFL dreams. Here are the big names that fall into that category and who is the potential "next man up."


Gone: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE

Replacing a likely top-five draft pick (if not No. 1 overall) is never easy, but the endlessly talented Thibodeaux will leave an especially sizable hole on the Oregon defensive line. His commanding of double-teams and chip blocks was as central to the Ducks' defense as any statistical output Thibodeaux may have produced.

In: Bradyn Swinson, rising redshirt sophomore

New Oregon head coach Dan Lanning helped Georgia claim this past season's national championship, deploying an aggressive defense that ranks among the best ever. Bradyn Swinson comes from the mold of explosive edge rusher that would have thrived with the Bulldogs, and he'll be an immediate star for the new regime.

Related: Early Pac-12 Football Predictions for 2022

Oregon State

Gone: B.J. Baylor, RB

Baylor set the pace for the Pac-12 in 2021 with nearly 103 rushing yards per game. Baylor's powerful ball-carrying style buoyed the Beavers' multifaceted run game.

In: Deshaun Fenwick, rising redshirt junior

Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith has overseen versatile rushing attacks in his time as both an offensive coordinator and head coach. Five Beavers carried at least 31 times last season, continuing that tradition. After Baylor, Fenwick was second on the team with almost 80 rushing attempts.

Fenwick averaged almost six yards per carry, keeping pace with Baylor, and scored four touchdowns.


Gone: Drake Jackson, Edge

The blue-chip prospect shifted from defensive end in coordinator Clancy Pendergast's 52 defense to outside linebacker in Todd Orlando's scheme. Jackson racked up more than 10 sacks in his two full seasons as a Trojan.

In: Korey Foreman, rising sophomore

The 5-star headliner of USC's 2021 recruiting class scratched the surface of his potential in his debut season with 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Foreman offers the versatility and explosiveness necessary to be a cornerstone for new coordinator Alex Grinch's defense in 2022.

Related: Way-Too-Early Top 25 College Football Rankings for 2022


Gone: Drake London, WR

When London's 2021 was cut short due to an ankle fracture, he was putting up Heisman-caliber numbers. The standard-bearer for a program former Trojan Tyler Vaughns called Wide Receiver U., London now passes the torch in a new era of USC football.

In: Kyle Ford, rising junior

Justin Hardy at East Carolina, Dede Westbrook and CeeDee Lamb at Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley's coaching career is marked with some of the most productive wide receivers seen in this era of college football. Riley inherits a USC roster rife with playmakers like Greg Bryant Jr. and Tahj Washington, while Ford — who missed four games in 2021 — could be the rangy pass catcher the Trojans need to fill London's void.


Gone: Chris Steele, CB

Steele established himself as USC's top cornerback in 2021 with three pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.

In: Mekhi Blackmon, rising graduate senior

Lincoln Riley and his staff have gone hard on the transfer portal, and one of the most important additions the Trojans made through that avenue was the addition of Blackmon. The Colorado transfer was the Buffaloes' top cornerback. He brings size and experience to a USC secondary undergoing considerable change in 2022.


Gone: Greg Dulcich, TE

One of the nation's premier pass-catching tight ends in the last few years, Dulcich surpassed 1,200 yards and hauled in 10 touchdowns from the truncated 2020 campaign through 2021.

In: Michael Ezeike, rising super senior

The additional year of eligibility due to the pandemic will benefit countless players across college football; Ezeike will perhaps be one. Chip Kelly-coached teams have typically leaned on a productive pass-catching tight end, and Ezeike showed off his potential with a long gain in UCLA's rout of USC.


Gone: Kyle Philips, WR

Philips played a key part in UCLA's offensive resurgence the past two seasons, and finished the 2021 campaign as arguably the most dangerous big-play threat in the Pac-12 with Drake London sidelined.

In: Kam Brown, rising redshirt junior

Brown was already a prominent weapon in UCLA's passing attack last season with a pair of touchdown receptions and 247 yards. He'll have the opportunity to step into the role as the home-run threat the Bruins lose with Philips' exit.

Arizona State

Gone: Dohnovan West, C

Interior offensive linemen are not typically early-round picks, but West should be one of the first off the board at his position in this draft class.

In: Jarrett Bell, rising redshirt senior

In the same manner that saw West move from guard to center and flourish in that role, Bell will have the chance to show his ability at center after playing some guard previously. Bell made the start with West missing the Las Vegas Bowl due to a hand injury.


Gone: Trent McDuffie, CB

McDuffie, one of the nation's top ball hawks, announced his departure from Washington late in the process. McDuffie was a standout for the nation's leading pass defense with six pass deflections despite opponents trying to avoid his side of the field.

In: Jacobe Covington, rising sophomore

A highly touted recruit coming out of suburban Phoenix, Covington should get to see more of the field in 2022. Covington is a big (6-2, 195), physical cornerback, bringing a different look to the always-productive Washington secondary.


Gone: Cade Otton, TE

Washington's offensive struggles extended to Otton's production in 2021, but the talented tight end was one of the Huskies' primary playmakers in 2019 and '20. In just four games of the pandemic-shortened season, he had two with at least 100 yards.

In: Devin Culp, rising junior

New head coach Kalen DeBoer's arrival promises a much-needed offensive rejuvenation for Washington. His offense when he was the coordinator at Indiana made effective use of Peyton Hendershot, who posted more than 600 yards at tight end, and last season's Fresno State team featured three reliable targets at the position. 

The promising Culp should see ample opportunities to establish himself as a playmaker next season.

Podcast: How the NFL Draft Deadline Impacts CFB, the Latest in Expansion, Transfer Portal Updates, and Hawaii's Coaching Search

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @KyleKensing and subscribe to his newsletter, The Press Break