With the 2013 NFL draft behind us, it’s natural to take a forward look to what the 2014 draft class should have to offer. There are 11 players that could jump to the league now, but luckily college football fans have them for one more year.
Jadeveon Clowney is easily the headliner, but others like Sammy Watkins and Taylor Lewan make the cut.
Here is a look at the best in college heading into the 2013 season.
In two seasons with Clemson, Watkins has caught 139 passes for 1,927 yards and 15 touchdowns.
His freshman season was off the charts, but his production fell last year. He was suspended for two games in 2012 but returned in Week 3 to become the second-leading receiver for the Tigers.
This year should be a breakout season if Watkins stays healthy. With DeAndre Hopkins now departed for the NFL, Watkins will be able to return to the No. 1 spot in the Clemson offense.
The Wisconsin offense has relied on the ground game to drive production in recent years, but Jared Abbrederis has quietly become one of the country’s best receivers along the way.
The 6’2”, 180-pound rising senior has caught 124 passes for 2,059 yards and 16 touchdowns in three years as a contributor.
He is a steady possession receiver that has helped Wisconsin secure two consecutive Big Ten titles. Abbrederis will be a big part of the Badgers' offensive plan this fall, receiving the spotlight for the first time in his career.
The Golden Gophers are not known to churn out defensive line talent, but Ra’Shede Hageman is one of the best in the game heading into the fall.
Hageman had a chance to jump to the draft after last season, but he decided to stick around for his senior year and help the Minnesota program continue its swing upward in the Big Ten.
The Big Ten is loaded with talented linemen, but Hageman is one of the best heading into the season. He finished last year with 35 tackles and six sacks, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.
Taylor Lewan heads into the 2013 season as arguably the best offensive tackle in college football. This past draft saw a host of linemen depart in the early rounds, making Lewan’s decision to stick around for one more year a questionable one.
This year he can prove that it was a good move by owning the competition.
He will be the leader for the Michigan offensive line and has the opportunity to increase his draft stock with another big year in the Brady Hoke pro-style scheme.
Don’t be surprised if Lewan leads the draft as the No. 1 selection next April.
The Trojans lost All-American receiver Robert Woods to the draft this past spring, and after a solid year in 2013, they will likely lose Marqise Lee.
Lee is the leader for the Trojans receiver corps after the departure of Woods. He will help usher in a new quarterback and mold a developing offense into an elite Pac-12 group.
In just two seasons, Lee has accumulated 191 receptions, 2,864 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns.
Last season, he had eight games with over 100 yards receiving.
A mediocre year will push him into the draft, but another 1,500-yard or better performance will ensure a first-round selection in 2014.
Jordan Matthews may not be a name that you immediately recognize, but take a trip around the interwebs and you will quickly see why he makes this list.
Matthews was the driver of the Vanderbilt offense last season. The Commodores were able to march to an impressive nine-win season in which Matthews caught 94 passes for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns.
He has 150 career receptions, 2,282 yards and 17 receiving touchdowns to his credit.
He has caught 47 or more passes for three straight seasons and heads into the fall as the best the SEC has to offer at the position.
After thinking hard on an early departure to the NFL, C.J. Mosley decided to stick around Tuscaloosa for his senior season.
The All-American has put together one of the best careers in Alabama history, helping the Tide defense rule college football and march to two consecutive national titles.
Mosley is the Tide’s most experienced player for the coming fall, and his talents as an impact defender are undeniable.
He finished 2012 as a first team All-American with 107 total tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. Mosley is a big part of the Tide’s push for a third straight national title in 2013.
The Longhorns lost a talented defender this spring when Alex Okafor departed the program, but Jackson Jeffcoat returns at defensive end looking to make a major impact in his final season.
His junior year was cut short with an injury, but he was still impressive before the injury. He was able to finish the year second on the team in sacks and tackles for loss.
Jeffcoat is a talented athlete that can play a hands-down defensive end position in the NFL or stand up as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.
He will be an early selection next April. Heading into the fall, he is one of the most NFL-ready bodies in the college ranks.
Another group of talented offensive linemen will storm the NFL draft in 2014, and Jake Matthews is one of the headliners.
Matthews and Taylor Lewan will battle for the top spot at offensive tackle in next year’s draft.
Heading into the 2013 season, Matthews will lead-block for the most dynamic offense in the country. He is a sure first-round selection.
Silas Redd transferred from Penn State to start the 2012 season and immediately became an impact player for the Trojans.
Redd was able to rush for 905 yards and nine touchdowns on 167 carries in his one year with USC. He returns for his senior year this year and is expecting to produce results similar to his 1,000-yard sophomore campaign with the Nittany Lions.
He has 488 carries, 2,583 rushing yards and 18 total rushing touchdowns in his career.
Staying for one more season was a wise move for Redd, and it should pay dividends for the young back next April.
Heading into the 2013 season, Jadeveon Clowney is the most watched junior in college football. He has been a starter for the Gamecocks since he was a freshman, and last year he put up masterful numbers.
He finished with 54 total tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks.
Clowney also finished the year with the most devastating hit of the season when he de-cleated Michigan running back Vincent Smith.
The Heisman Trophy may be in reach for Clowney this year, but a first-round selection next April appears to already be in the bag.