While the 2013 NFL Draft has not drawn rave reviews due to its overall quality, the expectation is that there is still plenty of talent in this year's class, despite a lack of star power.
This year's class primarily consists of a variety of athletes across the defensive front and in the secondary. However, the offense will display an extremely deep crop of receivers that could make an impact.
Today, I am going to take a look at the most "clutch" players from college in this year's draft. That doesn't necessarily mean the best in the entire draft, but rather the players who produced the most on a consistent basis when their teams needed them most.
Fresno State did not receive much attention as a non-BCS qualifier despite finishing with nine victories on the season.
However, safety Philip Thomas was the most notable contributor on the Bulldogs roster as he led the nation with eight interceptions.
This was extremely impressive considering that Fresno State was not the most dominant defensive team in the Mountain West Conference.
He gained the respect of opposing quarterbacks, who had to find more unique looks on offense to attack this secondary. Thomas proved to become simply more than a safety who creates turnovers deep downfield.
His impact as a defender against the run improved as the season went along, which proved his worth as the most valuable member of this defense.
As Texas A&M garnered plenty of national attention due to Johnny Football and the Aggies offense, the defense had quite an underrated role in their success.
Junior defensive end Damontre Moore played a major role in the Aggies' quality pass rush. His 12.5 sacks led the team, and he showed how his performances were a sign of consistency.
His most notable performances of the season came against LSU, where his ten tackles and one sack kept the Aggies close in this defensive battle.
A few weeks later, Moore was crucial in the upset victory over Alabama. Despite recording only one sack, the amount of pressure he could put on against the quality Crimson Tide offensive line proved to make a difference in the long run as this team found success.
Terrance Williams proved to be both the most valuable and consistent offensive threat on this inexperienced Baylor Bears squad.
To put his season into perspective, Williams had eight games of at least 100+ receiving yards and also four games of at least two receiving touchdowns.
The Bears never scored under 35 points in a game last season, and that was due in large part to Williams ability to take advantage of the lackluster defenses in the Big 12 conference. His performances opened up opportunities for the rest of his teammates as Baylor went on to win a surprising eight games on the year.
As Alabama continues to prove they are the "factory" for quality NFL running backs, Eddie Lacy was no exception.
In an offense where the Crimson Tide lacked the typical firepower they had in the past, Lacy made his impact well known late in the 2012 season.
His best performance of his college career came during their victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game. He rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns on only 20 carries against a Bulldogs defense that held Alabama's offense in check for a good portion of the game.
Eventually, his success carried over to the National Championship Game, where he was the driving force during the dominating victory over Notre Dame.
The debate continues within NFL organizations over what his value is in the draft. Though, his overall performance this past season in the best conference in the country defines him as becoming a clutch pass-rusher.
One cannot make a mistake about his consistency. The majority of his 13.5 sacks came against the upper half of teams in the SEC.
In a strong defensive effort between Georgia and Florida, Jones took advantage of the interior of their offensive line by recording 13 tackles and three sacks on the day.
Meanwhile, he proved his worth on the biggest stage against Alabama in the championship game. His two sacks during the biggest game of his career was incredibly huge for a team that relied heavily on their talented defense.
Tyrann Mathieu's career in collegiate athletics came into an unfortunate end due to trouble with the law.
Despite missing the entire 2013-2013 season, Mathieu was an integral part of the team's run to the BCS National Championship Game the year prior.
His stat sheet may not tend to look the most impressive, but make no mistake about it: Mathieu embraced the opportunity to play in some of the college football games of the season.
He anchored the secondary for an LSU team that did enter the championship game as the best team in the country. His lack of size did not stop him from providing top coverage against the elite talent in the SEC.
More importantly, his impact on special teams was crucial not only due to his ability to earn his team points, but also to set up field position for an offense that did face its challenges of execution during the season.
West Virginia's offense displayed its fair share of star power, with Tavon Austin getting plenty of the national attention for his explosiveness as a receiver.
It was evident that a high octane offense was needed for the Mountaineers, who struggled mightily on the defensive side of the football.
However, Austin was a very crucial part of their overall success during their attempt to score a high number of points on a weekly basis. He had six games of at least 100 yards, with the most notable victories coming against Maryland and Baylor.
He also gave his team a legitimate opportunity to win the games against TCU and Oklahoma, where he combined to accumulate nearly 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
His junior season proved to be impressive as well, as he finished with 101 receptions, 1,186 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns.
There was no denying that West Virginia stayed a competitive football team in large part due to his overall success.
Montee Ball hasn't garnered enough praise from his college career due to his lack of size and speed as a runner.
Yet his performances against Wisconsin's biggest rivals propelled this team to its return to the Rose Bowl. His overall season was clearly impressive, as his 1,830 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns show his overall consistency.
A fact that is overlooked is how Ball performed in the very close losses the Badgers faced against the best teams on their schedule. In two consecutive heartbreaking weeks where both losses came in overtime to Ohio St. and Penn State, Ball combined to rush for over 300 yards and two touchdowns.
In fact, his 2012 was not even close to becoming his best season in a collegiate uniform. His junior year he rushed for an astounding 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns. His quality of play the last two years helped him stand out as one of the elite running backs in the nation.
As Tavon Austin continues to garner the majority of the attention as West Virginia's most explosive playmaker, his teammate Stedman Bailey was one of the leading receivers in the nation this season.
The junior receiver finished the year with 1,622 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns, proving how valuable he is in that offense.
However, his performances in many of these high scoring affairs is what made him stand out from the rest. In the 70-63 victory over Baylor, Bailey was fantastic, with 303 yards and five receiving touchdowns.
Despite his team losing to Oklahoma by one point, he stepped up against the quality secondary of Oklahoma and 13 receptions on 205 yards and four touchdowns.
Although he wasn't the biggest guy that was always on the field, Bailey proved his worth as an offensive threat by proving to be the most consistent veteran playmaker on this offense.
Surprisingly, Ryan Nassib comes on top of this list as the most clutch player in this draft. The reasoning ultimately came down to the senior leader playing his best football at points when their season was on the brink.
In his final year as the signal caller for Syracuse, Nassib conducted two notable game winning drives on the road late in the season.
Although Syracuse did finish on a strong note, they almost missed the opportunity to play in the postseason due to a 1-3 start in the first month of the year.
His charisma and poise truly stood out on a team that relied heavily on the veteran leadership of their quarterback. There is no denying that near the end of football games, Nassib rose to the occasion.