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Utah-Arizona matchup loaded with future NFL talent

Just when you’re getting ready to call it a day, one more game tonight should grab NFL draft enthusiasts’ attention: Utah (9-1) at Arizona (4-6).

Sure, it’s likely to wind up as a blowout as the Utes have now won six consecutive games after losing by 7 to USC back on Sept. 20. During the streak, Utah has outscored its opponents by a whopping 228-54. Take away Utah’s thrilling 33-28 win over Washington, and the Utes are outscoring the other five opponents by an average score of 39-5 during the streak.

So it’s not like this game is a second-coming of the epic LSU-Alabama matchup.

But from an NFL draft perspective, it’s still must-see TV.

Fanspeak was the first to report that the number of Utah players who have accepted Senior Bowl invites – six – is a school record. How impressive is the feat? Both school and Senior Bowl officials struggled to figure out the last time the school sent more than three players to the game.

Overall, Fanspeak estimates Utah has nine draft-eligible players who will either be drafted or make a team’s practice squad next season, including QB Tyler Huntley, RB Zack Moss, edge rusher Bradlee Anae, defensive tackles John Penisini and Leki Fotu, linebacker Francis Bernard, cornerback Jaylon Johnson and safeties Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon.

Johnson is the lone junior, and he could be the highest-drafted. At 6-feet, 195 pounds, Johnson has 26 tackles, 8 pass deflections and 2 interceptions this season. Dane Brugler of The Athletic rates him as the No. 37 overall prospect in his latest top-100.

“Whenever I catch up with West Coast scouts, Johnson’s name inevitably comes up as a player who will go higher than most think,” Brugler writes. “While size isn’t a strength, he has terrific speed and loose hips to turn-and-run or drive on throws – just like he did … (against the Huskies), intercepting Washington’s Jacob Eason for a pick six.”

Arizona has three players who could make an NFL roster, including QB Khalil Tate, RB J.J. Taylor and CB Jace Whittaker. Taylor, a junior, is among the first players to already declare for the 2020 NFL draft.

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