Johnny Manziel is the only freshman in college football history to win the Heisman Trophy, but it will be another season before he's eligible for the NFL draft.
The other two finalists—Collin Klein and Manti Te'o—however, will be pursuing their NFL dreams starting in April at the 2013 NFL draft.
Both Klein and Te'o have been nothing short of spectacular in their respective college careers. Klein is perhaps the best player in Kansas State history and Te'o helped return the Fighting Irish back to national prominence.
Both were immensely successful in college, but the pair are set to have very different paths towards the NFL. So, let's breakdown where Klein and Te'o stand in regards to the NFL draft.
Collin Klein, Kansas State
He's the closest thing to Tim Tebow since, well, Tim Tebow.
Fortunately for Klein, Tebow was drafted in the first round. Unfortunately for Klein, he's still not Tebow.
They may have the same herky-jerky motion, physical running style and Christian beliefs, but Klein is still no Tebow.
He didn't have the same career in college. Tebow won a pair of national titles at Florida and a Heisman Trophy to boot. Klein, on the other hand, finished third in his only Heisman finalist appearance and was unable to lift the Wildcats to the national title game this season.
But it's his limitations as a passer that will really hurt his draft stock.
Klein was recruited to play wideout at Kansas State, but moved to quarterback in his sophomore season. In his two years under center, he racked up more than 4,500 yards passing and over 2,000 rushing.
But despite the numbers, he’s a developmental project. He's got a strong arm but it’s offset by his throwing motion, which is hurt by a hitch. Plus, Klein is not a natural pocket passer. He's quick to scramble to escape pressure and is more running back than quarterback at times.
At 6'5", 226 pounds he does have prototypical NFL size, so he has that going for him.
Still, he's more of a project than a sure-fire first-rounder.
Expect Klein to go in the middle of the draft, anywhere from round three to five. Because, after all, not everyone can be Tebow.
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Te'o's NFL prospects are clear cut. He's an elite prospect.
The middle linebacker is projected by many to go in the first half of the first round.
He's got the size and the speed to be an impact middle linebacker, and NFL scouts salivate when you combine those skills with his passion for the game. On top of that, Te'o is a natural leader up the middle. You can see it every time his teammates or coaches talk about him.
Te'o's only weakness is his instincts to the ball. Often times, he relies too much on his athletic ability to get to the ball carrier instead of film study and smarts.
However, it's a small nit. Te'o is still an elite prospect.
More than likely he'll follow up his national championship game appearance with a Top-10 selection in the NFL draft.
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