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College Football's Top Prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft

Danny FlynnSenior Analyst IFebruary 14, 2013

College Football's Top Prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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