Top NFL-Eligible College Studs and Their Pro Comparisons
Throughout the next couple of weeks we will hear many quality college football players declare that they will be entering the NFL draft. These are the guys that will put the college life on hold and forgo their senior seasons to begin their professional careers a year early.
If a player does decide to make the leap towards the next level, there is a good chance that he expects to be a top pick within the first couple of rounds and should have a bright future moving forward.
We have had our chances to see these guys on multiple Saturdays making plays for their schools, but who do they compare to on an NFL field?
Sometimes comparing a college kid to somebody that everybody is familiar with at the next level gives us a better understanding of what to expect from that player.
With that said, here are the professional comparisons for some of the top NFL-eligible players in the country.
Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Who He Should Remind You Of: Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
Maybe it is not fair to compare a college student to somebody as explosive as Von Miller. Although the Broncos linebacker has only been in the league for a couple of seasons, he has quickly emerged as one of the better pass-rushers in the league.
However, Jones has the ability to become just as great. He isn't the biggest defensive player in the world, and he showed that he isn't terrific against the run against Alabama. Still, he is a natural born pass-rusher. He has great instincts on the football field and absolutely explodes through the line, consistently making plays in the backfield.
Miller and Jones are both athletic freaks and game-changers on the defensive side of the ball.
Much like Miller, Jones will be a top pick come April.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Who He Should Remind You Of: Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland
Haden and Dee Milliner both have playmaking ability, and they also like to get physical at the line of scrimmage and knock guys off their routes. Both have good size for the cornerback position and possess underrated athleticism.
Neither has elite speed, and they should not be considered shutdown guys. However, both do a great job of shedding blocks and can also do more than their fair share in helping to stop the run.
Haden was a top-10 pick in the 2010 NFL draft, and Milliner should be one of the first players taken in his class as well.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Who He Should Remind You Of: Chris Long, DE, St. Louis Rams
Chris Long wasn't the second overall pick in the 2008 draft because he was off the charts athletically or because he was tremendously better than everybody else. He was taken so high because he was somebody who worked hard, had terrific upside and had his technique down to a science.
Bjoern Werner is not somebody who will jump off the screen when watching him play, but he is effective and will get the job done. He has a good combination of speed and physicality, and he has an effective motor, as noted by Kevin Weidl of ESPN and WalterFootball.com.
His upside is tremendous, and much like Long was a few years ago, Werner has the ability to be taken in the first round.
Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Who He Should Remind You Of: B.J. Raji, DT, Green Bay Packers
For guys that are well above 300 pounds, both B.J. Raji and Johnathan Hankins move surprisingly well and display a great deal of athleticism. There are not many plays where either one of them is able to be blocked by one defender, and they are both forces in run defense.
While they both relentlessly clog up running lanes, they are also quick off the ball and can do a solid job in rushing the passer. The instincts of both players are incredible and allow them to quickly react and make plays on the ball-carrier.
Raji was a top-10 pick in the 2009 draft, and if teams are wise, they won't let Hankins fall too far in the draft order either.
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Who He Should Remind You Of: Corey Williams, DT, Detroit Lions
Sheldon Richardson has a bulky frame at 6'3", 295 pounds, and has the ability to add a few more pounds in a NFL locker room.
Much like Williams, Richardson is not terrific at rushing the passer, but they both get off the ball well and display above-average athleticism for defensive linemen, especially considering how big both of them are. Both also play the game with high intensity and use their hands well to help shed blocks and disrupt passing lanes.
Williams was a sixth-round pick back in 2004, but that only had a lot to do with the poor competition that he was playing against at Arkansas State. Richardson is one of the most underrated defensive players in this draft and could be a steal for a team in the second or third round.
Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Who He Should Remind You Of: Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears
Sam Montgomery has a lot of work to do on a NFL field before he can prove that he has what it takes to be compared to Julius Peppers, somebody who has more than 100 sacks in his career. However, the LSU superstar has a lot of things to like and could quickly emerge as one of the better defensive ends in the league.
His speed and athleticism coming off the edge make him a natural pass-rusher. As you can see in the picture, he is also very intense when he is on the field, making him a coach’s dream, as he simply loves to play the game. Much like Peppers, Montgomery is also fabulous against the run, showing great awareness and using his hands well.
The Tigers defensive lineman will be one of the first players taken in April, just like Peppers was back in 2002.
Keenan Allen, WR,
Who He Should Remind You Of: Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills
Stevie Johnson has emerged as one of the more underrated receivers in the NFL because of his great hands and ability to separate from defenders. Keenan Allen and the Buffalo receiver are not the most explosive guys you will find at the position, but the speed and quickness in and out of their cuts is surprisingly undervalued.
Allen and his big hands allow him to catch nearly anything in sight, and his ability to track the ball in the air makes him a tough cover. He can go up and get it with the best of them with his great size at 6'3", and he has a competitive drive like none other.
Johnson was a seventh-round pick out of Kentucky in the 2008 draft, but Allen should be taken in the first round next April, as many teams are looking for reliable wideouts to help immediately in the passing game.
Eric Reid, S, LSU
Who He Should Remind You Of: Reggie Nelson, S, Cincinnati Bengals
The thing that makes Eric Reid such a great player on the LSU defense is his instincts on the football field.
He sees the play develop and quickly reacts, making a good read on the football. Other than understanding the game well, Reid is solid in coverage and has above-average ball skills for a safety.
He is a hard worker on and off the field and shouldn't be a problem for an NFL team in the locker room. Much like Nelson, he has the ability to be physical in run support and can make an opposing offensive player think twice with a big hit in the open field.
Nelson was a first-round pick coming out of Florida in 2007, and Reid should be the first safety taken this year.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Who He Should Remind You Of: Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
While the majority of the attention on the Clemson offense was given to Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins made a name for himself as well.
Much like the Steelers' Mike Wallace, Hopkins has a bunch of speed to get down the field in a hurry and stretch out a defense. He is quick in and out of his cuts and is a playmaker once he gets the football in his hands. Hopkins is also one of the best route-runners this draft has to offer at the receiver position.
If you are looking for a big-play receiver that can make some of the toughest catches look easy, the Clemson wideout is the guy you are looking for.