Pac-12 Week: Top five MVP candidates
Our weeklong conference previews conclude this week with the Pac-12, kicking off today with five surefire conference MVP candidates.
BIG 12 WEEK: Top five MVP candidates | Coaches report | Five best position groups | Top freshmen | Players in need of bounceback seasons | Sleepers | Predictions for each team | Impact transfers | NFL Draft prospects
ACC WEEK: Top five MVP candidates | Five best position groups | Coach report | Players in need of bounceback seasons | Freshmen to watch | Sleepers | Predictions for each team | Impact transfers | NFL Draft prospects
SEC WEEK: Top five MVP candidates | Coach report | Five best position groups | Players needing bounceback seasons | Top true freshmen | Sleepers | Predictions for each team | Impact transfers | NFL Draft prospects
BIG TEN WEEK: Five MVP candidates in the Big Ten | Five best position groups | Coach report | Five players needing bounceback seasons | Freshmen to watch | Sleepers | Predictions for each team | Impact transfers | NFL Draft prospects
1. QB Kedon Slovis, USC
Slovis' sophomore campaign was a slight downtick for him after a stellar breakout freshman year in 2019, but that still meant that he was one of the top passers in the country. A very accurate thrower, he's completed 70-percent of his attempts in his collegiate career, and he has one of the strongest receiving corps in the country with Drake London, Gary Bryant, Colorado transfer KD Nixon and Memphis transfer Tahj Washington.
That group of pass catchers would only get stronger if the suspended Bru McCoy is able to return to the field. Slovis will have plenty of opportunities to air it out this year, especially because the Trojans' defensive unit is definitely going to be giving up some big point totals.
2. DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
If there's any defensive player in the country who's got the best shot at winning a league's MVP, it's Thibodeaux. If an edge rusher prototype was built in a lab, it would look like the former five-star prospect.
At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds with elite athleticism, Thibodeaux is able to get after the quarterback in a myriad of ways. And with new defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter in place, his talents will be deployed in a variety of ways that are certain to confuse opposing offenses. Expect big sack and tackle for loss numbers from Thibodeaux, who's poised to be a top pick in next year's draft.
3. QB Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
While there's a lot of turmoil around the Arizona State program at the moment, one thing that is not in flux is Daniels' ability as both a passer and a runner. The numbers from almost every Pac-12 player can be thrown out from last season, given how poorly commissioner Larry Scott bungled the season.
But if you look back to Daniels' freshman season of 2019 you know the talent is there. Opposing defenses also won't be able to just key in on him either with the emergence of Rachaad White in the Sun Devils' backfield, leading to more opportunities for the former Rivals100 recruit.
4. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
Thompson-Robinson has made significant improvements in each season in Westwood under Chip Kelly, especially last season where his completion percentage, yards per attempts, quarterback rating, and TD-INT ratio all improved drastically in his junior campaign. He also made huge strides as a runner, jumping from a paltry 1.7 yards-per-carry as a sophomore to a very good 5.6 as a junior.
He's poised for a huge senior season, and is one of the main reasons that UCLA has a chance to make a lot of noise in the Pac-12 South this season.
5. RB CJ Verdell, Oregon
Verdell is the main offensive weapon for a Ducks' team that is still sorting out their quarterback situation. We know that Anthony Brown will probably be the starter at the beginning of the season, but don't be surprised if Ty Thompson is the guy for this team by about mid-season.
In Joe Moorhead's offense, you could see Verdell used like Saquon Barkley back when Moorhead was the coordinator for Penn State. Verdell is a guy we could see put up some really big numbers both rushing and receiving, and figures to be the focal point of this offense.