College Football's Top Prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft
There aren't going to be many arguments this offseason about who's the top prospect for the 2014 NFL draft.
Unlike in recent years, when highly touted quarterbacks such as Matt Barkley, Andrew Luck and Jake Locker hogged up most of the spotlight, this summer, it will be South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, who will be the most talked-about player in college football.
Clowney has already solidified his status as the most exciting and intriguing prospect in the 2014 draft class. However, he's certainly not the only great player who scouts will be keeping a close eye on.
Here's a very early look at college football's top pro prospects for the 2014 NFL draft.
Top Senior QB: David Fales, San Jose State
If you’re looking for the best pure passer and the most pro-ready quarterback in college football, then look no further than David Fales.
Fales, who transferred to San Jose State after leaving Nevada and spending a few years in the JUCO ranks, had an incredible first season as the starting signal-caller for the Spartans.
He led the nation with a 72 percent completion percentage, threw for over 4,100 yards, and he finished the season with an outstanding 33-9 touchdown-interception ratio.
What was most impressive, however, is that he led San Jose State to its first double-digit win season in 25 years.
The supremely gifted 6’3’’, 220-pound senior signal-caller has the size, athleticism, arm strength, accuracy, leadership qualities and important intangibles to develop into a top-flight franchise quarterback in the NFL.
The Top 10 Senior Quarterbacks
1. David Fales, San Jose State
2. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
3. Aaron Murray, Georgia
4. AJ McCarron, Alabama
5. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
6. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
7. Casey Pachall, TCU
8. Derek Carr, Fresno State
9. Bryn Renner, North Carolina
10. Connor Shaw, South Carolina
10 Senior Quarterbacks to Watch
James Franklin, Missouri
Jeff Mathews, Cornell
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Keith Price, Washington
Stephen Morris, Miami
Taylor McHargue, Rice
Terrance Owens, Toledo
Tyler Russell, Mississippi State
Tyler Tettleton, Ohio
Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Top Underclassmen QB: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater’s performance in a huge upset win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl has helped the young quarterback generate plenty of buzz so far. The question is: can he live up to the hype in 2013?
Bridgewater has been a savior for the Cardinals over the past two years, as he’s helped transform the program into a nationally relevant team once again.
The former blue-chip recruit from Miami possesses a natural feel for the game, and he seems to always know where the ball has to be on every passing play. Plus, obviously, it helps that Bridgewater’s been blessed with tremendous arm strength and outstanding physical ability.
The 6’3’’, 218-pound junior signal-caller clearly has all the skills to be a star. Now, we’ll just have to see if he can live up to the pressure.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Quarterbacks
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
4. Kevin Hogan, Stanford
5. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
6. Brett Hundley, UCLA
7. Jeff Driskel, Florida
8. Blake Bell, Oklahoma
9. Devin Gardner, Michigan
10. Brett Smith, Wyoming
10 Underclassmen Quarterbacks to Watch
Andrew Manley, New Mexico State
Blake Bortles, UCF
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
Clint Trickett, Florida State
Cody Fajardo, Nevada
David Ash, Texas
Everett Golson, Notre Dame
Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
Top Senior RB: Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State’s offense experienced a huge blow when RB Joseph Randle decided to declare for the 2013 NFL draft.
Luckily, though, the Cowboys have Jeremy Smith, who looks like he's ready to become the team’s next breakout star rusher.
Smith has had to play second-fiddle to Randle during his time in Stillwater, but when he has gotten the ball in his hands, he’s shined, averaging 6.3 yards per carry over the last two years.
The 5’10’’, 208-pound senior is more quick than he is fast. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that he’s got the power and natural running instincts to be a difference-maker at the next level.
The Top 10 Senior Running Backs
1. Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State
2. Silas Redd, USC
3. Dri Archer, Kent State
4. Damien Williams, Oklahoma
5. Alfred Blue, LSU
6. James White, Wisconsin
7. John Hubert, Kansas State
8. LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
9. Venric Mark, Northwestern
10. Ben Malena, Texas A&M
10 Senior Running Backs to Watch
Branden Oliver, Buffalo
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Charles Sims, Houston
James Sims, Kansas
Jeff Scott, Ole Miss
Marion Grice, Arizona State
Prince Tyson-Gulley, Syracuse
Roderick McDowell, Clemson
Senorise Perry, Louisville
Stephen Houston, Indiana
Top Underclassmen RB: Jeremy Hill, LSU
It’s quite possible that both of LSU’s early entrant underclassmen running backs, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware, may not hear their name called in the 2013 NFL draft.
Still, it’s hard to blame them for leaving, considering they would have likely had to defer plenty of carries to emerging star Jeremy Hill next season.
Hill was overshadowed by his fellow freshman conference counterparts, Todd Gurley and T.J. Yeldon, this past season. But he still put together a tremendous debut campaign, rushing for 755 yards on just 143 carries and scoring 12 touchdowns.
The 6’2’’, 225-pound redshirt sophomore has the size, speed, vision and power that you look for in a potential NFL featured back.
If you’re a fan of watching great players making clutch plays in crunch time, then watch this highlight of Hill’s 50-yard “dagger” touchdown against South Carolina.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Running Backs
1. Jeremy Hill, LSU
2. Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
3. De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
4. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
5. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
6. Bishop Sankey, Washington
7. Devonta Freeman, Florida State
8. Joe Bergeron, Texas
9. James Wilder, Florida State
10. Brendan Bigelow, California
10 Underclassmen Running Backs to Watch
Andrew Buie, West Virginia
George Atkinson III, Notre Dame
Henry Josey, Missouri
Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State
Kenny Hilliard, LSU
Kevin Parks, Virginia
Lyle McCombs, Connecticut
Malcolm Brown, Texas
Michael Dyer, Arkansas Baptist
Storm Woods, Oregon State
Top Senior WR: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt hasn’t produced many high-profile NFL prospects in recent years. However, the Commodores now have a prized possession in WR Jordan Matthews, who will surely have the full attention of pro scouts next season.
Matthews is coming off a terrific junior season, in which he finished first in the SEC with 94 catches for 1,323 yards.
The 6’3’’, 205-pound senior is truly a nightmare matchup waiting to happen.
He's already established himself as one of the premier players in college football's powerhouse conference. Now it's time for Matthews to take his game to the national stage in 2013.
The Top 10 Senior Wide Receivers
1. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
2. Cody Hoffman, BYU
3. Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma
4. Devin Street, Pittsburgh
5. Tevin Reese, Baylor
6. Ryan Grant, Tulane
7. Mike Davis, Texas
8. Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
9. Noel Grigsby, San Jose State
10. Kofi Hughes, Indiana
10 Senior Wide Receivers to Watch
Alex Amidon, Boston College
Bennie Fowler, Michigan State
Eric Ward, Texas Tech
Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
Josh Huff, Oregon
Kevin Norwood, Alabama
Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest
Nick Harwell, Miami (Ohio)
Shaquelle Evans, UCLA
TJ Jones, Notre Dame
Top Underclassmen WR: Marqise Lee, USC
You can never judge a receiver based solely on stats. Still, it's hard not to be impressed with the type of numbers that Marqise Lee put up in 2012. Lee led the nation with 118 catches for 1,721 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.
The 6'0''. 195-pound pass-catcher isn't just a terrific athlete, he's also an incredibly gifted playmaker, who has all the physical traits to develop into a dangerous No. 1 receiving threat for an NFL offense.
Although his production will be hampered by playing with an inexperienced quarterback, there's no reason Lee shouldn't continue to flourish and eventually become a top-5 pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
It's a shame he isn't eligible for the 2013 draft, because there are plenty of teams picking in the top 10 that would love to have him.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Wide Receivers
1. Marqise Lee, USC
2. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
3. Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
4. Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
5. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
6. Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
7. Rashad Greene, Florida State
8. Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
9. Odell Beckham, LSU
10. Allen Robinson, Penn State
10 Underclassmen Wide Receivers to Watch
Austin Hill, Arizona
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Brandon Carter, TCU
Davante Adams, Fresno State
DeVante Parker, Louisville
Jarvis Landry, LSU
Justin Hardy, East Carolina
Kasen Williams, Washington
Kenny Bell, Nebraska
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Top Senior TE: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
Iowa simply couldn't find an offensive identity in 2012, which is why the Hawkeyes struggled to a 4-8 record. Clearly, the team lacked an offensive spark this past season, but that will change this fall if TE C.J. Fiedorowicz has anything to say about it.
Fiedorowicz was one of the most productive tight ends in the nation last season, catching 45 passes for 443 yards.
The 6'7'', 265-pound senior is a naturally gifted athlete who can easily create mismatches in the passing game.
If he can solidify and fine-tune his blocking, Fiedorowicz will quickly develop into a coveted commodity in 2013.
The Top 10 Senior Tight Ends
1. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
2. Arthur Lynch, Georgia
3. Kaneakua Friel, BYU
4. Blake Jackson, Oklahoma State
5. Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin
6. Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State
7. Trey Burton, Florida
8. Chris Coyle, Arizona State
9. Gator Hoskins, Marshall
10. Ted Bolser, Indiana
10 Senior Tight Ends to Watch
Asa Watson, NC State
Beckett Wales, Syracuse
Gabe Holmes, Purdue
Gabe Linehan, Boise State
Jordan Najvar, Baylor
Kevin Haplea, Florida State
Nehemiah Hicks, Texas A&M
Nexon Dorvilus, Florida Atlantic
Ryan Hubbell, Louisville
Zane Fakes, Ball State
Top Underclassmen TE: Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Eric Ebron hasn't thrown many textbook blocks during his collegiate career, but that doesn't really matter.
Sure, being a one-dimensional receiving tight end may be frowned upon by some. But when you possess the kind of natural athleticism and speed that Ebron does, it simply doesn't matter.
The 6'4'', 235-pound junior caught 40 passes for 625 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, and he displayed remarkable explosion and quickness for a player his size.
Ebron definitely fits the description of a wide receiver who was born in a tight end's body.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Tight Ends
1. Eric Ebron, North Carolina
2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
3. Jake McGee, Virginia
4. Xavier Grimble, USC
5. Nick O’Leary, Florida State
6. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
7. Colt Lyerla, Oregon
8. Clive Walford, Miami
9. Randall Telfer, USC
10. A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State
10 Underclassmen Tight Ends to Watch
Ben Koyack, Notre Dame
Dejzon Walker, Northern Arizona
Issac Blakeney, Duke
Jack Tabb, North Carolina
Jake Murphy, Utah
Jay Rome, Georgia
Kivon Cartwright, Colorado State
Richard Rodgers, California
Rory Anderson, South Carolina
Ryan Malleck, Virginia Tech
Top Senior OT: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Jake Matthews bypassed the chance to join his Texas A&M teammates Luke Joeckel and Damontre Moore in the 2013 NFL draft, which is a bit surprising considering he was guaranteed to be a top-15 pick.
Matthews, the son of legendary tackle Bruce Matthews and cousin of star LB Clay Matthews, certainly has the type of genes to be a standout pro.
The 6'5'', 305-pound senior has manned the right tackle spot for the Aggies for the past three years. But now that Joeckel's gone, he'll have the chance to prove himself on the right side in 2013.
If Matthews can show that he can handle the SEC's speedy edge-rushers, while continuing to dominate in the running game, there's no reason he shouldn't be a top-10 pick in 2014. He should even garner some consideration to be the No. 1 overall selection.
The Top 10 Senior Offensive Tackles
1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2. Taylor Lewan, Michigan
3. Zack Martin, Notre Dame
4. Morgan Moses, Virginia
5. JaWuan James, Tennessee
6. Seantrel Henderson, Miami
7. Austin Wentworth, Fresno State
8. James Hurst, North Carolina
9. Bryce Quigley, San Diego State
10. Jack Mewhort, Ohio State
10 Senior Offensive Tackles to Watch
Billy Turner, North Dakota State
Brandon Thomas, Clemson
Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State
Davonte Wallace, New Mexico
Ed Olson, Minnesota
Emmanuel McCray, Ole Miss
Jeremiah Sirles, Nebraska
John Fullington, Washington State
Kenarious Gates, Georgia
Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
Top Underclassmen OT: Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Alabama's offensive line has lost three players—Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones and DJ Fluker, who will be high picks in the 2013 NFL draft.
Luckily, however, the Tide have a young budding star lineman, Cyrus Kouandjio, who will be the new leader in the trenches.
Kouandjio has quickly gone from being one of the top-rated prospects of the 2011 recruiting class to being one of the most reliable and consistent lineman in the country.
The 6'6'', 311-pound junior is a rare physical specimen who possesses the size, strength, quick feet and overall toughness to develop into a franchise left tackle for an NFL team.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Offensive Tackles
1. Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
2. David Yankey, Stanford
3. Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
4. Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati
5. Brandon Scherff, Iowa
6. Chaz Green, Florida
7. Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
8. Quinton Spain, West Virginia
9. Malcolm Bunche, Miami
10. Cameron Fleming, Stanford
10 Underclassmen Offensive Tackles to Watch
Aundrey Walker, USC
Brett Boyko, UNLV
Brey Cook, Arkansas
Cameron Erving, Florida State
Daniel Koenig, Oklahoma State
Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
Jamon Brown, Louisville
Josh Cochran, Texas
Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers
Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
Top Senior IL: Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
The SEC was home to the best offensive guard prospect for the 2013 NFL draft, Alabama's Chance Warmack. The league will also be home to the best guard prospect for the 2014 draft, Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson.
Like Warmack, Jackson is a big, strong and physical guard who can overwhelm and maul opposing defenders in the running game with his size and power.
The 6'4'', 320-pound senior is also surprisingly nimble and agile for a player his size.
Jackson is the complete package in terms of physical skills. If he puts together a dominant senior campaign next season, there's a good chance that he'll end up being a first-round pick in 2014.
The Top 10 Senior Interior Linemen
1. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
2. Cyril Richardson, Baylor
3. Anthony Steen, Alabama
4. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
5. Andrew Norwell, Ohio State
6. Jonotthan Harrison, Florida
7. Brandon Linder, Miami
8. Spencer Long, Nebraska
9. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
10. Mason Walters, Texas
10 Senior Interior Linemen to Watch
Antwan Lowery, Rutgers
Bronson Irwin, Oklahoma
Bryan Stork, Florida State
Chris Burnette, Georgia
Chris Watt, Notre Dame
Jon Halapio, Florida
Josh Williford, LSU
Tyler Larsen, Utah State
Tyler Strong, Wyoming
Weston Richburg, Colorado State
Top Underclassmen IL: Josue Matias, Florida State
Back in 2011, Josue Matias arrived at Florida State as a heralded 4-star recruit out of New Jersey.
It hasn't taken him long to show that he's got the physical tools to develop into an All-American-caliber offensive lineman.
In his first year as a full-time starter in 2012, Matias displayed tremendous athleticism and strength, and he proved that he was versatile enough to handle himself as both a pass-blocker and a run-blocker.
The 6'6'', 326-pound junior clearly has the size, strength and agility that scouts are looking for in an upper-echelon guard prospect. If Matias can continue to refine his technique and work on his fundamentals, he should emerge as one of the top offensive lineman in the country in 2013.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Interior Linemen
1. Josue Matias, Florida State
2. Trai Turner, LSU
3. Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
4. Marcus Martin, USC
5. Russell Bodine, North Carolina
6. La’el Collins, LSU
7. Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
8. Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern
9. Tre Jackson, Florida State
10. B.J. Finney, Kansas State
10 Underclassmen Interior Linemen to Watch
A.J. Cann, South Carolina
Alex Lewis, Colorado
Andrew Miller, Virginia Tech
Chad Slade, Auburn
Cyril Lemon, North Texas
Daniel Quave, Louisiana-Lafayette
David Andrews, Georgia
Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Marcus Jackson, Tennessee
Reese Dismukes, Auburn
Top Senior DT: Dominique Easley, Florida
Florida's defense lost a lot of star power with the early departures of DT Sharrif Floyd, SS Matt Elam and LB Jelani Jenkins. However, the Gators are still loaded with plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball for 2013.
The defender to really watch out for is Dominique Easley.
Easley has shown that he can line up all over the defensive line, whether it's at end or at tackle, and make a big impact. He's the type of versatile defensive lineman prospect, who could fit in as either a 4-3 defensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive end once he reaches the NFL.
The highly athletic 6'2'', 280-pound senior is a former All-American recruit, who hasn't yet fully lived up to his high school hype. However, now that he'll be fully recovered from a torn ACL he experienced late in the 2011 season, Easley should be ready to dominate in his final season in Gainesville.
The Top 10 Senior Defensive Tackles
1. Dominique Easley, Florida
2. Will Sutton, Arizona State
3. Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State
4. Byran Jones, Arkansas
5. Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech
6. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
7. Demonte Mcallister, Florida State
8. Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
9. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
10. Bruce Gaston, Purdue
10 Senior Defensive Tackles to Watch
Ashton Dorsey, Texas
Beau Allen, Wisconsin
Derrick Hopkins, Virginia Tech
Jay Bromley, Syracuse
Jibreel Black, Michigan
Khyri Thornton, Southern Miss
Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest
Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Boise State
Roosevelt Nix, Kent State
Wade Keliikipi, Oregon
Top Underclassmen DT: Louix Nix, Notre Dame
Manti Te'o received pretty much all of the credit in 2012. However, it was actually DT Louis Nix, who was the real key to Notre Dame's defensive success.
Nix's performance in the trenches was the main reason why the Irish ranked 11th in the nation in rushing defense this past season.
The 6'3'', 326-pound nose tackle was an immovable rock, who constantly clogged up running lanes and caused havoc for opposing blockers.
Not only can the monstrous middle-man eat up blockers and free up others to make plays; he can also make crucial stops himself. Nix finished the 2012 season with 50 total tackles, including 20 solo stops, 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
With Te'o gone, the talented run-stuffer should finally start to garner the type of recognition he deserves in 2013.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Defensive Tackles
1. Louis Nix, Notre Dame
2. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
3. Anthony Johnson, LSU
4. Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
5. Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
6. Desmond Jackson, Texas
7. George Uko, USC
8. Ego Ferguson, LSU
9. Danny Shelton, Washington
10. Leon Orr, Florida
10 Underclassmen Defensive Tackles to Watch
Angelo Blackson, Auburn
Brandon Ivory, Alabama
Camaron Beard, Cincinnati
Elkino Watson, South Florida
Gabe Wright, Auburn
Justin Hamilton, Louisiana-Lafayette
Shawn Underwood, North Carolina
Travis Raciti, San Jose State
T.Y. McGill, NC State
Viliami Moala, California
Top Senior DE: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
If it wasn't for an unfortunate pectoral injury that kept him sidelined for the second half of the 2012 season, right now, we'd likely be talking about Jackson Jeffcoat as a potential top-15 pick for the 2013 NFL draft.
In just two and half seasons of action, Jeffcoat has already proven that he's a true game-changing defensive difference-maker.
Over the past two years, the 6'5'', 245-pound junior has racked up 12 sacks and 33 tackles for loss in just 19 games of action.
Jeffcoat, the son of former first-round NFL draft pick Jim Jeffcoat, is an athletic and explosive edge-rusher, who could end up being either a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 rush linebacker in the pros.
The Top 10 Senior Defensive Ends
1. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
2. James Gayle, Virginia Tech
3. Morgan Breslin, USC
4. Kareem Martin, North Carolina
5. Ben Gardner, Stanford
6. Ed Stinson, Alabama
7. Cassius Marsh, UCLA
8. Taylor Hart, Oregon
9. Deandre Coleman, California
10. Garrison Smith, Georgia
10 Senior Defensive Ends to Watch
Chaz Sutton, South Carolina
Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado
Chris Smith, Arkansas
Darryl Cato-Bishop, NC State
David Gilbert, Wisconsin
Denico Autry, Mississippi State
Dominic Alvis, Iowa
Jason Ankrah, Nebraska
Ryne Giddins, South Florida
Tyler Scott, Northwestern
Top Underclassmen DE: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Jadeveon Clowney arrived at South Carolina as one of the most highly touted high school football recruits of all time. However, he certainly hasn't let the pressure and sky-high expectations affect him at all so far.
Clowney has already become the type of dominant pass-rushing phenom that many projected him to be when he was coming out of high school.
The 6'6'', 256-pound junior definitely deserves the label "physical freak" for the type of size-speed combo that he has to offer. He put those rare physical skills to good use in 2012, as he totaled 13 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.
There's no doubt that Clowney would be the first pick in the 2013 draft if he were eligible, which is why he'll enter next season as the overwhelming favorite to be the No. 1 pick in 2014. He'll also be one of the top early contenders for the Heisman Trophy.
Even though he's sure to face plenty of double-teams in 2013, the "once-in-a-generation" pass-rusher still has a chance to put together one of the best performances we've ever seen from a college defender.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Defensive Ends
1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
3. Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
4. Scott Crichton, Oregon State
5. Kony Ealy, Missouri
6. C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss
7. Vic Beasley, Clemson
8. Chuka Ndulue, Oklahoma
9. Henry Anderson, Stanford
10. Marcus Rush, Michigan State
10 Underclassmen Defensive Ends to Watch
Anthony Chickillo, Miami
Brock Hekking, Nevada
Corey Crawford, Clemson
Dylan Wynn, Oregon State
Jermauria Rasco, LSU
Josh Shirley, Washington
Kaleb Eulls, Mississippi State
Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
Ryan Russell, Purdue
Trey Flowers, Arkansas
Top Senior LB: Kyle Van Noy, BYU
If you watched the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl, then you already know just how dominant of a defender Kyle Van Noy really is.
Van Noy completely took over the game, finishing with an eye-popping stat line, which included eight total tackles, including five solo stops and 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two touchdowns, an interception, a forced fumble and a blocked punt.
Following that exceptional performance against San Diego State, it looked like the highly athletic 6'3'', 235-pound junior was destined to be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. But the outstanding outside linebacker instead chose to return to Provo for his senior year.
After totaling 13 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries and six forced fumbles this past season, Van Noy will now enter the 2013 season as one of the most feared defensive players in all of college football.
The Top 10 Senior Linebackers
1. Kyle Van Noy, BYU
2. Anthony Barr, UCLA
3. CJ Mosley, Alabama
4. Christian Jones, Florida State
5. Shayne Skov, Stanford
6. Khalil Mack, Buffalo
7. Max Bullough, Michigan State
8. Andrew Jackson Western Kentucky
9. Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
10. Lamin Barrow, LSU
10 Senior Linebackers to Watch
Anthony Hitchens, Iowa
Boseko Lokombo, Oregon
Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Christian Kirksey, Iowa
Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
Denicos Allen, Michigan State
Jonathan Brown, Illinois
Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College
Prince Shembo, Notre Dame
Trent Murphy, Stanford
Top Underclassmen LB: Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Star quarterback Braxton Miller will surely be the Ohio State player who receives most of the publicity this offseason. But the Buckeyes' most intriguing player is actually LB Ryan Shazier.
Shazier is coming off a sensational sophomore season, in which he totaled 114 tackles, including 69 solo stops, 17 tackles for loss and five sacks.
The 6'2'', 230-pound junior is a remarkable athlete, who can fly from sideline to sideline and make crucial stops all over the field.
Ohio State has produced some great linebackers over the last decade. It wouldn't be surprising, though, if Shazier ends up being better than all of them.
He's undoubtedly one of the top impact defenders in all of college football, and he'll play a critical role in the Buckeyes' quest for a BCS championship in 2013.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Linebackers
1. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
2. Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
3. Jake Ryan, Michigan
4. A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
5. Trey Depriest, Alabama
6. Hayes Pullard, USC
7. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut
8. Steve Edmond, Texas
9. Bryce Hager, Baylor
10. Dion Bailey, USC
10 Underclassmen Linebackers to Watch
Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
Amarlo Herrera, Georgia
Carl Bradford, Arizona State
Denzel Perryman, Miami
Donnie Baggs, Texas A&M
Dyshawn Davis, Syracuse
Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Isaiah Bruce, West Virginia
Lamar Dawson, USC
Stephone Anthony, Clemson
Top Senior CB: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
Aaron Colvin has played both cornerback and safety during his collegiate career, but no matter where he's lined up, he's always found a way to make an impact.
Over the past two seasons, Colvin has totaled 136 tackles, including 97 solo stops, four interceptions and 17 pass breakups.
The 6'0'', 181-pound senior has the size, athleticism and coverage skills to go toe-to-toe with any type of receiver he matches up with.
Colvin may not make a ton of flashy highlight-reel plays. But he's a reliable playmaker on the outside who always seems to find a way to be around the ball.
The Top 10 Senior Cornerbacks
1. Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
2. Jason Verrett, TCU
3. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
4. Bene Benwikere, San Jose State
5. Carrington Byndom, Texas
6. Marcus Williams, North Dakota State
7. Andre Hal, Vanderbilt
8. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
9. E.J. Gaines, Missouri
10. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
10 Senior Cornerbacks to Watch
Antone Exum, Virginia Tech
Bookie Sneed, Sam Houston State
Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss
Ciante Evans, Nebraska
Deion Belue, Alabama
Jimmy Legree, South Carolina
L.J. Jones, Fresno State
Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
Ricardo Allen, Purdue
Shaquille Richardson, Arizona
Top Underclassmen CB: Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Like every young college cornerback, Bradley Roby is still learning all the fundamentals needed to become a great cover corner.
Still, it's already clear that he's got the type of athleticism and playmaking ability needed to excel at the NFL level.
Roby made some truly spectacular plays in 2012. He racked up 63 tackles, including 41 solo stops, picked off two passes and broke up another 17 throws. What was really impressive, however, is that he scored three touchdowns in three different ways (punt block return, interception return and fumble return).
The 5'11'', 190-pound junior should be even better next season. Not only will Roby be a top contender for the Jim Thorpe Award as well as All-American honors, he could very well end up being the top cornerback selected in the 2014 NFL draft.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Cornerbacks
1. Bradley Roby, Ohio State
2. Quandre Diggs, Texas
3. Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
4. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
5. Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
6. Marcus Roberson, Florida
7. Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame
8. Tim Scott, North Carolina
9. Wayne Lyons, Stanford
10. Bashaud Breeland, Clemson
10 Underclassmen Cornerbacks to Watch
Blake Countess, Michigan
Damian Swann, Georgia
Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia
Keon Lyn, Syracuse
Levander Liggins, Louisiana Tech
Merrill Noel, Wake Forest
Phillip Gaines, Rice
Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
Tevin Mitchel, Arkansas
Top Senior Safety: Craig Loston, LSU
LSU's defense was hit very hard by underclassmen declarations. The Tigers lost standouts such as defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, LB Kevin Minter, DT Bennie Logan, FS Eric Reid and CB Tharold Simon.
Now, the defense will need a new leader to step up in 2013, and the player who looks like he's most ready for that role is safety Craig Loston.
Loston is a former 5-star recruit from Texas, who had to wait patiently to get his chance to be a full-time starter. However, once he finally got the chance to prove himself in 2012, he certainly made the most of the opportunity.
The speedy 6'2'', 205-pound ball-hawk was flying around the field and dishing out huge hits this past season, as he racked up 55 tackles and picked off three passes.
The SEC is a conference that's usually home to some of best safeties in the country. It appears as if Loston is destined to be the league's next great player at the position.
The Top 10 Senior Safeties
1. Craig Loston, LSU
2. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
3. C.J. Barnett, Ohio State
4. Tre Boston, North Carolina
5. Brian Blechen, Utah
6. Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State
7. Jaylen Watkins, Florida
8. Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
9. Hakeem Smith, Louisville
10. Isaiah Johnson, Georgia Tech
10 Senior Safeties to Watch
Avery Patterson, Oregon
Christian Bryant, Ohio State
Demetruce McNeal, Auburn
Deone Bucannon, Washington State
Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin
Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State
Marquis Flowers, Arizona
Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi State
Sean Parker, Washington
Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
Top Underclassmen Safety: Ed Reynolds, Stanford
Stanford's pass defense wasn't anything special in 2012. However, the Cardinal did have one special player in the secondary, safety Ed Reynolds.
Reynolds displayed the type of natural playmaking instincts, recognition ability and ball skills that you look for in a potential NFL safety. He picked off six passes, returning three for touchdowns.
The 6'2'', 207-pound junior appears to be fully recovered from a knee injury that kept him out the entire 2011 season. That's bad news for Pac-12 quarterbacks.
The big, athletic playmaking free safety has the skills to be one of the biggest defensive stars in the country in 2013.
The Top 10 Underclassmen Safeties
1. Ed Reynolds, Stanford
2. Ha’Sean Clinton, Dix, Alabama
3. Erick Dargan, Oregon
4. Tevin McDonald, UCLA
5. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
6. Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky
7. Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Arizona
8. Karlos Williams, Florida State
9. Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
10. Sam Carter, TCU
10 Underclassmen Safeties to Watch
Brison Williams, South Carolina
Clayton Geathers, UCF
Corey Moore, Georgia
Dean Marlowe, James Madison
Derron Smith, Fresno State
Howard Matthews, Texas A&M
Jared Tevis, Arizona
Jason Hendricks, Pittsburgh
Jeremy Ioane, Boise State
Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 1-10
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
3. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
4. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
6. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
7. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
8. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
9. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
10. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 11-20
11. David Fales, QB, San Jose State
12. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
13. Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
14. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
15. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
16. Craig Loston, SS, LSU
17. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
18. Dominique Easley, DT/DE, Florida
19. Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
20. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 21-30
21. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
22. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
23. CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
24. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
25. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
26. David Yankey, OT, Stanford
27. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
28. Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan
29. Lamarcus Joyner, FS, Florida State
30. Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 31-40
31. Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
32. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
33. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
34. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
35. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
36. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
37. Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
38. Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
39. Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
40. Jeremy Smith, RB, Oklahoma State
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 41-50
41. Quandre Diggs, QB, Texas
42. AJ Johnson, LB, Tennessee
43. Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
44. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
45. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
46. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
47. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
48. Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
49. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
50. Josue Matias, OG, Florida State
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 51-60
51. Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State
52. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
53. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
54. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
55. Trey Depriest, LB, Alabama
56. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
57. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
58. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
59. Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State
60. Hayes Pullard, LB, USC
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 61-70
61. Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
62. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
63. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
64. Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
65. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
66. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
67. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
68. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
69. Calvin Barnett, DT, Oklahoma State
70. James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 71-80
71. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
72. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
73. Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas
74. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
75. Jake McGee, TE, Virginia
76. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina
77. Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut
78. CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
79. Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
80. Silas Redd, RB, USC
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 81-90
81. Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia
82. Trai Turner, OG, LSU
83. Deshazor Everett, CB, Texas A&M
84. Erick Dargan, FS, Oregon
85. Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
86. JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee
87. C.J. Barnett, FS, Ohio State
88. Marcus Williams, CB, North Dakota State
89. Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
90. Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
The Top 100 Overall Prospects: 91-100
91. Dri Archer, RB, Kent State
92. Tre Boston, SS, North Carolina
93. Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma
94. Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama
95. Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
96. Brian Blechen, SS, Utah
97. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
98. Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama
99. Gabe Ikard, OG, Oklahoma
100. DE Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA