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Arizona defensive lineman Roy Lopez declares for 2021 NFL Draft

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Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

The Arizona Wildcats are quickly adding talent to Jedd Fisch’s first roster, but they just lost arguably their best defensive player.

Senior defensive lineman Roy Lopez announced Thursday that he is declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft, turning down the free year of eligibility all players were given due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lopez had 18 tackles (four for loss) and a sack in five games with the Wildcats after joining the program as a graduate transfer from New Mexico State.

While those aren’t big numbers, he earned a spot on Pro Football Focus’ All-Pac-12 Team for a reason.

“Lopez came to Arizona this offseason after four years at New Mexico State, and he ended up having his best stretch of play with the Wildcats.” the site wrote. “In his five games this year, Lopez recorded an 82.2 PFF grade. Considering the fact that he played almost 100% of his snaps at heads-up nose tackle, that’s extremely impressive.”

The good news is Arizona does return some key defensive lineman like JB Brown, Aaron Blackwell and Trevon Mason, plus just picked up a commitment from linebacker Jason Harris, a Colorado transfer who should the Wildcats off the edge under new defensive coordinator Don Brown.

Lopez joins running back Gary Brightwell and cornerback Lorenzo Burns as Wildcats who have left for the NFL Draft this offseason.