50 College Football Stars That Will Be Pro Bowl Players in the NFL
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The NFL recently announced the rosters for the 2013 Pro Bowl. It's certainly an eclectic mix of players, who come from all different types of backgrounds.
There are plenty of former top-10 draft picks included such as Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Von Miller, Julio Jones and Aldon Smith. However, there are also a few players such as Arian Foster, Victor Cruz, Cameron Wake and Wes Welker, who have taken the long road to success after coming into the league as undrafted free agents.
It just goes to show that you don't necessarily have to be a superstar in college in order to become one of the top players in the NFL. Still, there are always certain young players that you see in college who just seem bound for greatness in the pros.
Here's a look at 50 college stars that are destined to end up as Pro Bowl players some day.
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
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Sadly, the best defensive player in the country, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, won't be eligible for the 2013 NFL draft, since he's just a true sophomore. However, he'll enter next season as the clear favorite to be the No. 1 pick of the 2014 NFL draft, following his amazing sophomore campaign this year.
Clowney has already developed into the dominant pass-rusher that many believed he would become when he was ranked as the consensus No. 1 overall prospect of the 2011 recruiting class.
After a solid debut last year, the 6'6'', 256-pound edge-rusher took his game to another level in 2012.
He finished the regular season with 13.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss and 37 solo tackles, and he was often times simply unblockable.
The All-American defensive end possesses the type of rare combination of size, power, instincts and speed off the edge to become the next pass-rushing phenom to take over the NFL.
WR Marqise Lee, USC
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Sadly, the best offensive player in college football, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, also won't be eligible for the 2013 NFL draft, because like Clowney, he's just a true sophomore as well (We'll save the argument about the league's absolutely ridiculous three-years removed from high school rule for a different day, though).
Lee was the main bright spot of an otherwise terribly disappointing season for the Trojans this year. The 6'0'', 195-pound pass-catcher finished the regular season as the national leader with 112 catches for 1,680 yards, and 14 of those receptions were for touchdowns.
The Pac-12 isn't exactly a conference that's known for strong secondaries, but that doesn't diminish what Lee was able to accomplish in 2012. If you watched a USC game this year, then you know just how incredibly talented this young man really is.
In recent years, we've seen more than a few receivers dominate in college and then fail to make the same type of impact once they reach the pro level. But Lee certainly doesn't seem to fit in that category. He's built to excel in the NFL, and he's got the potential to one day be one of the league's top five receivers.
OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
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The term "franchise offensive tackle" is something that should be reserved for a special few prospects. But Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel is one of the few extremely talented tackles who deserves to have such a prestigious label bestowed upon him.
Joeckel has been the leader of the team's offensive line basically since his first practice in College Station. Over the past three years, he's started every single game for the Aggies and he's managed to develop into an integral part of the team's offensive success.
The 6'6'', 310-pound junior blends excellent size, athletic ability, strength, tenacity and fundamentally sound technique to create a tackle prospect that every NFL team would love to have.
If this year's Outland Trophy winner decides to declare for the 2013 NFL draft as expected, he'll be one of the top contenders to be the first overall pick. Joeckel's the type of tackle that can come in and instantly become a leader of an NFL offensive line, and he could be a Pro Bowl player as a rookie. He's that good.
DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
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Florida State lost highly touted senior defensive end Brandon Jenkins after just one game this season.
Luckily for the Seminoles, they had a supremely gifted pass-rusher like Bjoern Werner, who made up for Jenkins' absence.
With Jenkins out of the picture, Werner emerged as Florida State's most dominant defender and one of the true standout players in college football in 2012.
The 6'4'', 255-pound junior finished the regular season with 13 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and five quarterback hurries.
Although the German native is still a bit raw and unrefined, he still possesses the type of power, aggressiveness and athleticism to develop into a Jared Allen-esque difference-maker in the NFL.
DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
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NFL teams are always on the lookout for big, powerful defensive tackles that can clog up running lanes and cause chaos in the interior, and Utah's Star Lotulelei can do exactly that.
Lotulelei may not be the most flashy player in the 2013 draft class, but he always manages to get the job done and he helps make the players surrounding him better.
In terms of physical attributes, the monstrous 6'4'', 325-pound senior is cut from a similar mold as another well-known tackle of Tongan ancestry, Baltimore's Haloti Ngata.
Like Ngata, Lotulelei is capable of overpowering any blocker he faces in a one-on-one situation and he can almost singlehandedly keep an opponent's run game in check. That's why he'll likely be a top-5 pick in the 2013 NFL draft and end up developing into one of the league's top run-stuffers early in his pro career.
LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
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Manti Te'o is the type of player who was seemingly born to be the leader of NFL defense.
Te'o is a humble, hard-working and supremely talented linebacker, who capped off an outstanding college career with a fantastic final campaign in 2012.
The 6'2'', 255-pound senior racked up over 100 tackles for the third straight season and he was the key figure for one of college football's most stout defensive units.
Although he has a few limitations, most notably in pass coverage, Te'o will provide valuable locker room leadership and a strong presence in the middle of a defense for whichever NFL team ends up with him.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
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Justin Hunter may have been Tennessee's leading receiver this season. But his Vols teammate, fellow receiver Cordarelle Patterson, actually has the higher NFL ceiling.
Patterson only played one year at the FBS level after transferring from Hutchinson Community College this past offseason. But during that short time, he displayed the type of skills that it takes to develop into a dominant receiver in the NFL.
The 6'3'', 205-pound junior averaged a whopping 16.9 yards on 46 total catches, rushed for 308 yards, averaged 25.3 yards on punt returns, 28 yards on kick returns and scored 10 total touchdowns.
Although he doesn't have a lengthy resume, Patterson made the type of plays in 2012 that indicate he's got the potential to become a star wide receiver at the NFL level.
He could very well be the next Julio Jones.
RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
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Since he played for a North Carolina team that didn't exactly receive a ton of national attention during his collegiate career, Giovani Bernard certainly didn't garner the type of publicity and respect that he truly deserved during his time in Chapel Hill. But he'll likely start to gain the attention he's worthy of once he starts tearing up NFL defenses in the coming years.
After a terrific debut campaign last season, Bernard once again displayed eye-popping explosiveness and playmaking ability in 2012. The 5'10'', 205-pound redshirt sophomore finished the regular season ranked first in the country with an average of 171 total yards from scrimmage per game.
In just 10 games of action this year, Bernard rushed for over 1,200 yards, caught 47 passes for 490 yards, averaged a whopping 16 yards on punt returns and scored 19 total touchdowns.
The lighting fast home-run threat has the chance to be a Jamaal Charles-type of dangerous weapon at the NFL level.
LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
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Jarvis Jones may have been the Georgia defender who received all of the praise and accolades this season. But you can easily make the argument that fellow linebacker Alec Ogletree was just as valuable to the Bulldogs defense this season.
Ogletree finished the regular season as the team-leader with 98 tackles, which included 54 solo stops, 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
The 6'3'', 232-pound junior is faster and more athletic than every single inside linebacker in the NFL right now, and he possesses the type of instincts and recognition skills to easily adapt to the pro game.
If you could somehow mutate DeMeco Ryans and Lawrence Timmons into one linebacker, the finished result would likely look an awful lot like Ogletree.
DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
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Manti Te'o is the Notre Dame defender that received pretty much all the national publicity this season, and rightfully so. However, his teammate, Stephon Tuitt, also played a critical role in the Irish defense's success this year. He's displayed the type of skills to develop into an even better prospect than Te'o.
Tuitt, a former 5-star recruit out of Monroe, Georgia, has helped Notre Dame fans forget all about Aaron Lynch, as he's developed into a monster in the trenches this season.
The 6'6'', 303-pound sophomore has totaled 11 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, nine quarterback hurries and he's had one fumble return for a touchdown.
With a rare blend of size, power, athleticism and tenacity, Tuitt should develop into an outstanding 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. Although he's not eligible for the 2013 draft, the star pass-rusher has the chance to be a top-5 pick in 2014 if he can put together another solid season next year.
CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
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During his first two years at Alabama, Dee Milliner had to wait his turn behind Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie before he got his chance to be a full-time starter.
Now that he's finally gotten the opportunity to prove himself, however, Milliner has shown that he can make a huge impact for the Tide defense.
The 6'1'', 199-pound junior has racked up 51 tackles, including 33 solo stops, picked off two passes and broken up another 18 throws in 2012.
The big, athletic former 5-star recruit has the combination of size, speed, coverage ability, ball skills and toughness that you look for in a potential top-15 draft pick.
Milliner is the type of cornerback that could come in and instantly solidify an NFL secondary as a rookie.
FS Eric Reid, LSU
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Eric Reid is the son of former LSU All-American hurdler Eric Reid Sr. Judging by what we've seen from him out on the field during his time in Baton Rouge, it's clear that he was blessed with the same tremendous physical gifts as his father.
Not only is Reid a super-athletic safety who has the range and speed to fly around the field; he's also a big, powerful player, who certainly isn't afraid to deliver a blow to any ball-carrier he can get his hands on.
The 6'2'', 212-pound safety has followed up a breakout 2011 campaign with another impressive outing this season, as he's racked up 81 tackles and picked off two passes.
Reid is a natural ball-hawk in the defensive backfield, and he's the type of standout secondary leader who should quickly make a name for himself once he reaches the NFL.
DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
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Before the season started, many thought that linebacker Sean Porter would be Texas A&M's biggest star defender this year. But it quickly became apparent that the Aggies' true defensive MVP was defensive end Damontre Moore.
Moore has had no trouble adapting to his switch from his hybrid Joker linebacker position to a more traditional 4-3 defensive end role. He's also had no trouble embarrassing some of the best offensive linemen that the SEC has to offer.
The 6'4'', 250-pound junior has notched 12.5 sacks, 80 total tackles, including 20 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries and blocked two kicks this season.
While he may be a bit undersized by NFL standards, Moore makes up for it with his strength, relentless playing style and ability to burst up the field. He has the chance to excel as either a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 rush linebacker in the pros.
QB Mike Glennon, NC State
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Mike Glennon had his fair share of ups and downs during his two years as a starter at NC State. But during his time in the spotlight, he showed the flashes you want to see from a legitimate franchise quarterback prospect.
Over the past two seasons, Glennon threw for over 6,700 yards and 61 touchdowns. He displayed impressive arm strength and the ability to hit every throw needed to succeed in the NFL.
The 6'6'', 232-pound senior signal-caller possesses great size and an absolute cannon for an arm. But the questions that will have to be answered are: Can he get it done in crunch time, and can he lead an NFL franchise to the promised land?
Obviously, Glennon has all the skills to be a highly successful quarterback in the NFL. If he has a strong performance in offseason workouts, there's even a chance he could be the first quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL draft.
The tall, prototypical pro-style pocket passer might just end up being the next big young gun quarterback that everybody talks about.
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
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Missouri's first season in the SEC turned out to be a major disappointment, as the Tigers managed to win just two conference games and finished with just a 5-7 overall record. However, there was one player, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who showed that he was ready to handle the step up in competition.
Richardson was one of the most disruptive defensive lineman in the country in 2012. The 6'4'', 295-pound junior finished the season with 75 total tackles, including 39 solo stops and 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, seven quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.
The agile, nimble and explosive tackle is the type of player that could fit into a variety of different defensive schemes in the NFL, which will only help to enhance his already soaring stock.
If Richardson learns to keep his mouth shut and if he focuses on doing all his talking with his play on the field, he's got the chance to be the next Marcell Dareus.
OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
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Luke Joeckel isn't the only Texas A&M offensive tackle that we'll be talking a lot about for years to come.
Joeckel's teammate, Jake Matthews, also has all the necessary skills needed to become a truly dominant offensive lineman in the NFL.
Matthews has certainly been blessed with some outstanding football DNA, as he's the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and the cousin of Packers All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews.
The 6'5'', 305-pound junior has manned the right tackle position for the Aggies during his three years in College Station. But he'll likely slide over to left tackle and become a valuable bodyguard in the NFL just like his famous father.
DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
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Oregon's best known for its high-powered offensive attack. But this year, the Ducks' best NFL prospect can actually be found on the defensive side of the ball.
Defensive end Dion Jordan is the type of big, long and athletic edge-rusher that has certainly caught the attention of NFL scouts over the last two years. The 6'7'', 243-pound senior has followed up an All-Pac-12 campaign in 2011 with another strong outing this season.
Jordan has racked up five sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles this season, and he's been one of the Ducks' key defensive leaders.
The former tight end is still learning all the nuances of being a pass-rusher and still adapting to the defensive side of the ball. However, he has the potential to develop into a dynamic and dangerous edge-rusher in the NFL as either a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 rush linebacker.
OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
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It's not often that interior offensive linemen get picked in the top 20 of the NFL draft. But then again, it's not often that a prospect like Alabama guard Chance Warmack emerges from the collegiate ranks.
Warmack has all the traits that you look for in a standout offensive line prospect—size, strength, agility, solid technique, physicality and overall toughness.
The 6'3'', 320-pound senior has opened up some huge holes for notable running backs such as Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon during his three years as a starter in Tuscaloosa. Plus, he's proven himself against some of the best defensive linemen in the country.
The powerful road-grading run-blocker will be a very valuable addition in the trenches for whichever NFL team ultimately ends up with him.
WR Keenan Allen, California
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Keenan Allen was limited to just nine games in 2012 due to an injury, yet he still managed to catch 61 passes for 737 yards and six touchdowns, even though he didn't have a consistent quarterback.
Allen has done more than enough to solidify his spot in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. But his stock could climb even higher after he gets the chance to wow scouts in workouts.
The 6'3'', 210-pound junior is a former 5-star recruit, who possesses incredible athleticism and explosiveness or his size.
With his combination of size, sure hands, leaping ability and natural playmaking instincts, Allen has the chance to develop into a dangerous red zone weapon in the NFL.
OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
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Taylor Lewan is certainly a prospect that easily passes the eyeball test. The 6'8'', 309-pound junior is a massive and well-built offensive tackle, who moves extremely well for his size.
Lewan has the agility and footwork to contain speedy edge-rushers in pass-protection, and he definitely knows how to use his size and strength to his advantage when run blocking.
He may not be as polished at this point in his development as former Wolverine tackle Jake Long was when he was the No. 1 pick of the 2008 NFL draft. However, the big, strong and physical left tackle still has the potential to develop into the linchpin of an NFL offensive line early in his pro career.
If he reaches his full potential in the pros, Lewan should become a similar type of reliable blindside protector as Oakland's Jared Veldheer.
WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
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Baylor may have lost its two most important offensive players from 2011, quarterback Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Kendall Wright, who were both top-20 picks in the 2012 NFL draft. However, the Bears still managed to have the third most productive passing attack in the country this year.
The emergence of receiver Terrance Williams was one of the main reasons the team was able to have so much success through the air, even though RGIII and Wright were no longer in the lineup.
Williams hauled in 95 catches for 1,764 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, and he displayed incredible playmaking ability throughout the entire season.
The 6'2'', 205-pound senior has the type of size-speed combination that NFL teams are looking for in a No. 1 receiving threat.
TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
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There hasn't been a tight end selected in the first round of the NFL draft since 2010. But that drought will come to an end if Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert declares for the 2013 draft as expected.
You could make the argument that Eifert is the best tight end prospect to come out of the college ranks since Vernon Davis left Maryland back in 2006.
Over the past two seasons, the 6'6'', 251-pound redshirt junior has combined to catch 107 passes for 1,427 yards and nine touchdowns.
Eifert is a complete tight end who can present major matchup problems for an opposing defense, because of his unique combination of size, speed and pass-catching skills.
DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
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Every year, it seems there's a freakishly athletic pass-rushing prospect who makes a huge climb up draft boards. BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah seems like he's going to be that player for the 2013 NFL draft.
Ansah started off his college career as a track athlete before making the switch to football in 2010. He's still a raw prospect, but he's got the type of potential that will make scouts salivate.
The 6'6'', 270-pound senior is a remarkably fast and powerful player who is capable of flat-out embarrassing any lineman that tries to take him on one-on-one.
Although he may not make a huge impact right away in the NFL, since he still has to continue to work on his technique and fundamentals, Ansah is the type of explosive edge-rusher that we could be talking a lot about in three or four years.
The native of Ghana could end up being the next Tamba Hali.
LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
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Collin Klein may have received pretty much all of the credit for Kansas State winning 11 games and a Big 12 championship this season. However, the Wildcats' defensive leader, middle linebacker Arthur Brown, also played a crucial role in the team's success as well.
Brown finished the regular season with 91 total tackles, including 58 solo stops and six tackles for loss, and he was the centerpiece of a defense that allowed just 21 points per game in 2012.
The 6'1'', 231-pound senior managed to revive his career in a big way following a transfer from Miami, and he's proven that he's one of the top linebacker prospects available for the 2013 NFL draft.
The athletic, physical and instinctive inside 'backer should quickly make an impact and become a key playmaker for an NFL defense early in his pro career.
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
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Geno Smith was college football's biggest September star and the early front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy. Unfortunately, Smith wasn't able to maintain his early success, as the Mountaineers went on a disastrous five-game losing streak in the middle of the season.
The 6'3'', 220-pound senior signal-caller still had a very impressive overall 2012 campaign, though. He finished the regular season with a 71 percent completion percentage, over 4,000 passing yards and 40 passing touchdowns compared to just six interceptions.
Smith possesses elite arm strength, terrific accuracy and a natural feel for the game. But some will unfairly knock him because of the pass-heavy Air Raid-style system he played in at West Virginia.
It's quite clear from watching Smith develop over the last two years under Dana Holgorsen that he's got the talent to become a franchise quarterback and one of the NFL's most productive passers. If he impresses in workouts as expected, he should be the first quarterback taken and a top-10 pick in the 2013 draft.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
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T.J. Yeldon arrived at Alabama as a blue-chip recruit, who was expected to immediately play a key role for the Tide's offense following the departure of Trent Richardson.
It didn't take long for Yeldon to live up to his high school hype, as he finished his first season with 1,000 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns.
The 6'2'', 216-pound running back is one of the most physically gifted freshman running backs that we've seen in college football in years, and he could likely start for a few different NFL teams right now.
If Yeldon keeps developing as expected and if he continues to get even better, he'll likely be a top-5 pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
Once he finally reaches the pros, he could ultimately become an even better version of Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.
LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
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After putting together a fantastic debut campaign in his first year in the SEC in 2011, in which he led the league with 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, Jarvis Jones had a lot to live up to this season. But somehow, he managed to have an even more impressive performance in 2012.
Jones finished the regular season with 12.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss, 47 solo stops, 19 quarterback hurries and seven forced fumbles. The dominant showing helped to solidify his status as one of the premier defensive playmakers in the country.
The disruptive defender always seems to find a way to make an impact and come up with game-changing plays, and that should continue once he reaches the NFL.
He may not be the next Von Miller like some are labeling him, but Jones definitely has Pro Bowl potential.
LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
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Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins may have been the most talked-about NFL prospect on Ohio State's defense this season. But the Buckeyes' true defensive MVP was clearly linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Shazier finished third in the Big Ten with 114 total tackles, including 69 solo stops and 17 tackles for loss, and he also totaled five sacks, 10 pass breakups and three forced fumbles.
The 6'2'', 230-pound sophomore really started to figure out how to make the most of his outstanding ability in 2012.
The scary part is, Shazier's sensational season may have only been just an appetizer of what's to come in the future.
DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
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Sharrif Floyd was one of the most highly touted prospects in Florida's top-ranked 2010 recruiting class. This season, he showed why he was such a sought-after and coveted commodity during his days at George Washington High School in Philadelphia.
Floyd was one of the most disruptive defensive lineman in the SEC in 2012, racking up 41 total tackles, including 26 solo stops and 11 tackles for loss.
The 6'3'', 303-pound is capable of causing havoc in the interior with his combination of size, strength and quickness.
The former 5-star recruit was one of the main reasons Florida ranked sixth in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just three yards per carry this year. It's likely that Floyd will have a similar impact as a disruptive run-stopper for whichever NFL defense he eventually ends up on.
LB Chase Thomas, Stanford
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If you're looking for a pass-rushing prospect who could make a similar rise up draft boards and ultimately end up as a top 20-pick like Shea McClellin did in the 2012 NFL draft, then look no further than Chase Thomas.
Like McClellin, Thomas is a high-motor, high-effort edge-rusher who plays the game with the type of passion and aggression that NFL scouts want to see from a young 3-4 outside linebacker.
This year, the 6'4'', 248-pound senior played a key role in the Cardinal's run to the Rose Bowl, and he was one of the main reasons the team ranked third in the nation in run defense. Thomas finished the regular season with 71 total tackles, including 15.5 tackles for loss and 44 solo stops, 7.5 sacks, five quarterback hurries and four pass breakups.
Ultimately, the strong, explosive and powerful outside linebacker has the potential to become a similar type of feared pass-rusher as Green Bay's Clay Matthews.
LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
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Alabama lost plenty of key veteran leaders from last year's top-ranked defense such as linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower, corner Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Mark Barron, who were all high picks in the 2012 NFL draft.
The Tide needed a new defensive leader to emerge in 2012, and luckily, linebacker C.J. Mosley was up to the task.
Mosley finished the regular season as the team leader with 99 tackles, which was 43 more than the team's second ranked tackler, Trey DePriest. He also picked off two passes and racked up four sacks.
The 6'2'', 232-pound has already announced that he will delay the move up to the NFL and return for his senior year. He'll likely enter the 2013 season as the most talked-about linebacker in college football.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
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DeAndre Hopkins managed to step out of his more heralded teammate Sammy Watkins' shadow in 2012 and he was able to prove just how talented he really is.
Hopkins displayed outstanding speed, sure hands and a knack for creating explosive, game-changing plays this year. The 6'1'', 200-pound junior finished the regular season with 69 catches for over 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. His 17.6 yards per catch average was the second most in the country by a receiver who finished the year with at least 50 catches.
Although he still needs to get stronger and continue to fill out his slight frame, Hopkins clearly has the potential to develop into a reliable go-to receiver in the NFL.
LB Kevin Minter, LSU
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Fellow LSU defenders such as defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo and safety Eric Reid were the ones who received most of the preseason publicity during the summer. But linebacker Kevin Minter proved this season that he's the real heart and soul of the Tigers defense.
Minter led the team with 111 total tackles, including 48 solo stops and 13.5 tackles for loss, and he also notched three sacks, five pass breakups and had four quarterback hurries.
The 6'2'', 245-pound junior has all of the physical traits and intangibles that you look for in a standout 4-3 mike linebacker. Minter's got the size, strength and instincts it takes to develop into a reliable run-stopper in the NFL.
OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
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Jonathan Cooper has been a dominant force in the trenches for North Carolina since he first stepped into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 2009.
Cooper has managed to continue to improve and get better each year, and he finished off his collegiate career with his best season yet, earning All-American honors for his performance in 2012.
The 6'3'', 295-pound senior has the strength and athleticism to excel as both a pass-blocker and a run-blocker, and he's the type of experienced veteran who should have no trouble adapting to the NFL.
Ultimately, Cooper should develop into a similar type of Pro Bowl-caliber guard as Tampa Bay's Davin Joseph.
RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin
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Montee Ball raised a lot of eyebrows after deciding to pass up the chance to enter the 2012 NFL draft following his fantastic junior campaign in order to return for his senior year at Wisconsin. Although Ball wasn't able to match his eye-popping numbers from 2011 again this season, he still had another outstanding year.
The 5'11'', 215-pound senior finished the regular season with 1,730 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, even though he played behind an offensive line that featured three new starters.
Ball may not possess one truly elite trait that makes him stand out from the crowd. But he's still about as solid of a back as you're going to find in the 2013 draft class.
With the right type of training and coaching, the star Badger back should develop into a similar type of dependable rusher as Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants.
CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
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Desmond Trufant clearly has the genes it takes to play in the NFL, considering both of his older brothers, Marcus and Isaiah, are currently on NFL rosters. He also has the type of skills it takes to develop into a No. 1 cornerback for an NFL defense.
The 6'0'', 186-pound senior is a tremendous athlete who has the size, speed and coverage ability it takes to match up with any receiver that lines up in front of him.
Trufant's stock will only continue to climb during the offseason once he gets the chance to flaunt his speed and athleticism in workouts.
Eventually, he should end up in the first-round conversation for the 2013 draft once April rolls around.
He clearly possesses the talent to become a solid cover corner similar to Lardarius Webb of the Ravens.
DT Jesse Williams, Alabama
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Jesse Williams doesn't seem to mind doing all the dirty work for Alabama's defense. Since arriving in Tuscaloosa in 2011 as a highly touted JUCO recruit, Williams has become a key figure for the Tide's top-ranked defense.
The 6'4'', 320-pound senior has consistently clogged up the middle of the field, as he's shut down running lanes and eaten up double-teams.
Williams is a former rugby player from Australia, who possesses the power to overwhelm blockers and the quickness to break into the backfield.
Ultimately, the massive and monstrous middle man should develop into a feared 3-4 nose tackle at the next level.
RB Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
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Ka'Deem Carey was one of college football's biggest breakout stars of the 2012 season.
Carey flourished in his first year playing in Rich Rodriguez's spread system. He finished the year as the national leader with an average of 148 yards on the ground per game and he also scored 24 total touchdowns.
The 5'10'', 197-pound sophomore possess a rare combination of breakaway speed, natural running instincts, vision, balance and pass-catching ability.
Following his huge performance in 2012, Carey will go into next season as one of the early Heisman favorites as well as one of the top-rated running back prospects for the 2014 NFL draft.
WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
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It's almost unbelievable how productive Tavon Austin has been during his final two seasons at West Virginia. After leading the country with 2,574 all-purpose yards in 2011, Austin was even more productive as a senior, finishing the regular season ranked second in the nation with 2,767 all-purpose yards.
The explosive triple-threat is the type of versatile weapon that can do major damage in a variety of different ways—either as a receiver, a returner or a runner out of the backfield.
Checking in at only 5'9'', 171-pounds, Austin obviously doesn't have the type of prototypical size that NFL teams look for in a true No. 1 receiver. However, he makes up for his smallish stature with his game-breaking speed and his knack for coming up with big momentum-swinging plays.
Austin should develop into a valuable playmaker for whichever NFL team drafts him, and there's a good chance that he could turn out to be the next Percy Harvin.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
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Jackson Jeffcoat only played in six games in 2012. But during that limited time, he asserted his dominance and showed that he's capable of being an unstoppable pass-rusher.
Jeffcoat totaled four sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles before going down with a pectoral injury.
The son of former first-round draft pick Jim Jeffcoat was certainly blessed with his father's football genes, as he was seemingly born to be a dominant defensive end.
With fellow defensive end Alex Okafor out of the picture, the 6'5'', 245-pound junior will be counted on to be the key leader for the Longhorns' defensive line in 2013. If Jeffcoat can stay healthy and play up to his potential, he's got the chance to be a top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
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Rarely do nose tackles playing in a 3-4 defense get the chance to stand out and shine. But Notre Dame's Louis Nix bucked that trend and put together quite an impressive highlight-reel in 2012.
Nix finished the regular season with 15 solo tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, five pass breakups and three quarterback hurries, and he played a crucial role for an Irish defense that ranked fourth in the country in run defense this year.
The 6'3'', 326-pound redshirt sophomore is incredibly agile and athletic for his size, and he possesses the type of size and strength to overwhelm pretty much every blocker that tries to take him on one on one.
The fact that Nix has already announced that he will return to South Bend for the 2013 season is simply terrible news for any center that will have to square off with him next year.
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
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Following a fantastic freshman campaign in 2011, Sammy Watkins was expected to be one of college football's featured stars this season. But injuries and an early suspension hampered the young star receiver's production in 2012.
Watkins finished the regular season with a respectable 57 catches for 708 yards and four touchdowns. But it was definitely not the type of year that many had originally predicted he would have.
The 6'1'', 200-pound sophomore has all the skills and attributes—size, speed, hands and natural playmaking instincts—that it takes to be a No. 1 receiver at the NFL level. All Watkins has to do is make sure he focuses on his future and keeps himself out of trouble off the field. Hopefully, he'll come to the realization that he's got the talent to be one of college football's most dynamic and dangerous weapons in 2013.
If he has a big bounce-back campaign that he's capable of next season, Watkins has the chance to be a top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
DE Devonte Fields, TCU
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Devonte Fields was one of the highest rated high school football prospects to ever sign with TCU. It didn't take long for the 4-star rated recruit from nearby Martin High School in Arlington to become an impact defender for the Horned Frogs.
As just a true freshman, Fields took the Big 12 by storm, racking up 32 solo tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks and two forced fumbles in his first season of action.
The 6'4, 240-pound edge-rusher still has to grow into his body and continue to get stronger. But if he continues on his current path, there's no telling just how good Fields could be in a few years.
CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
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Johnthan Banks is the type of big, long and athletic corner that NFL teams are searching for in this day and age.
Not only does Banks have the size that teams are looking for, he also has the ball skills and natural instincts it takes to excel at the pro level.
Over the last two years, the 6'2'', 185-pound senior has totaled 130 tackles, nine interceptions, 16 pass breakups and four forced fumbles.
Banks has a similar physical makeup as Jacksonville's Derek Cox. But he could ultimately end up becoming a similar type of impact defensive back as Philadelphia's Nnamdi Asomugha.
LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
Kyle Van Noy
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Ezekiel Ansah may be the BYU defender that everyone fawns over during the offseason because of his freakish athletic ability. But it was actually linebacker Kyle Van Noy who was the Cougars' real defensive MVP in 2012.
Stats don't tell the whole story about just how good Van Noy was this year, but his stats certainly were impressive—13 sacks, 37 solo tackles, 22 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
The 6'3'', 235-pound has a wide receiver's athleticism and the toughness and demeanor of a linebacker.
If you built a perfect 3-4 outside linebacker from scratch, the finished product would likely bear a strong resemblance to Van Noy.
Punter Brad Wing, LSU
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I've been seriously following college football for about the past decade, and during that time, I've never seen a punter as naturally gifted as LSU's Brad Wing.
The native of Melbourne, Australia possesses a left leg that most punters only dream about.
The 6'3'' sophomore has the type of leg strength and accuracy that could outdo most NFL punters right now.
After averaging 44 yards per punt, including some key field-position changers, as a freshman last year, Wing once again displayed his incredible leg in 2012, averaging 44 yards per punt once again.
If he declares for the 2013 NFL draft as expected, Wing has the chance to become a Day-2 draft pick just like Bryan Anger was in 2012.
It likely won't take long for Wing to become one of the best punters in the NFL.
OG Barrett Jones, Alabama
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As far as natural physical ability is concerned, there are probably about 10 other offensive linemen in the 2013 draft class that are better than Alabama's Barrett Jones. But none of them have displayed the type of consistency, versatility and leadership that Jones has during his time as a four-year starter in Tuscaloosa.
Tackle, guard, center—it doesn't matter what position the Tide asked Jones to master during his college career. He truly did it all.
The 6'5'', 302-pound senior already has plenty of hardwood to display on his mantle, including an Outland Trophy, a Rimington Trophy and two national championship rings. But the best may be yet to come for the versatile offensive lineman.
Jones is the type of talented, intelligent and fundamentally sound leader in the trenches, who should become a stalwart starter for an NFL team for the next decade.
FS Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
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When you think about Oklahoma's football team, the first thought that comes to mind is likely connected to the team's high-powered offensive attack, led by quarterback Landry Jones. However, if you're looking for the Sooners' most talented overall player, then you have to turn to the defensive side of the ball.
That's where safety Tony Jefferson has been carving out a name for himself for the past three years. Since breaking into the starting lineup and earning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in 2010, Jefferson has emerged as one of the top impact defensive backs in college football.
This season, the 5'11'', 212-pound junior had his best performance yet, leading the team with 113 tackles, including an astounding 84 solo stops—a total which ranked fourth in the country.
Jefferson is one of the greatest defensive players in Oklahoma history, and he has the chance to become the type of star safety that everyone thought former Sooner Roy Williams would be in the NFL.
LB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
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Khaseem Greene made the switch from safety to outside linebacker before the start of the 2011 season, and it turned out to be a move that greatly benefited both Greene and the Rutgers defense.
Greene has proven to be a natural for the position, as he's earned back-to-back Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors and racked up 265 tackles in the past two years.
Although he may have started out his college career as a defensive back, the 6'1'', 230-pound senior was seemingly born to be a 4-3 weakside linebacker.
The Scarlet Knights have produced some notable pro prospects in recent years such as Ray Rice, Devin McCourty, Anthony Davis and Kenny Britt. But Greene could end up making just as big of an impact in the NFL as any of them.
QB David Fales, San Jose State
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It's a bit too early to start calling David Fales the next Aaron Rodgers. But Fales obviously possesses many of the same physical traits, as well as a very similar backstory to the Packers' star signal-caller.
Like Rodgers, Fales is a California native, who spent a few years on the JUCO circuit at Monterey Peninsula College before getting his chance to shine at San Jose State in 2012.
Once he finally got his opportunity to prove himself, the ultra-talented 6'3'', 220-pound junior showed that he's got all the qualities that scouts look for in a potential franchise quarterback. He's an intelligent, athletic and instinctive passer who has the arm strength and accuracy to make every single throw.
Fales was the most accurate quarterback in the country this year, completing 72 percent of his passes for over 3,700 yards and throwing 31 touchdowns compared to just nine interceptions. Most importantly, he helped lead the Spartans to their first double-digit win season since 1987.
Although he may not be a true national star just yet, Fales has the chance to be one of the most talked-about quarterbacks in the country if he returns for his senior season in 2013.
He's definitely got the potential to be a truly special player.