One Thing Each Top 25 College Football Player Must Improve in 2013
There shouldn't be much to work on if you are a top 25 player in college football. A lot of these players are exciting to watch, and most are now beginning to prepare for a future in the NFL. This means that these players will begin tweaking a few things in hopes to improve their draft stock and better their team's success.
Yes, even the best of the best still have room to improve. All of those individual awards don't mean much when a scout is watching and critiquing your every step.
Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney and Braxton Miller are just some of the players who have at least one thing to work on this season.
Note: The player's rankings were provided by the Sporting News.
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Bradley Roby isn't the biggest defender at 5'11" and 192 pounds. This lack of size really limits him in run support, but he plays much bigger in coverage and has shown the ability to get physical. You would like to see that aggressive play all the time to make him an all-around player.
Roby doesn't mind coming up in the box and getting his hands on the running back. However, you can tell he really isn't comfortable tackling, and he really just brushes against the ball carrier to either slow him down or nudge him out of bounds.
There's little question Roby is the top cornerback in the country and a possible first-round pick. He will be a guaranteed top 10 selection if he can become better in run support.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Sammy Watkins is blessed to have such an accurate quarterback in Tajh Boyd. He usually puts the ball right on the money and allows Watkins the ability to make plays after the catch. But the Clemson receiver has a hard time adjusting when the ball is occasionally thrown high or inaccurate.
Watkins rarely lays out for a football, and can struggle putting himself in position to catch the deep pass. Although he can jump out of the stadium and make difficult catches, there is plenty of meat left on the bone.
He runs tons of slants and routes which put him in space. If he can improve his adjusting skills, he would be more effective on deeper routes, making him that much more dangerous.
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Deep Ball Accuracy
That 66 percent completion percentage isn't as telling as you would think. Brett Hundley has the tools to be great, but you would like to see him throw the ball deeper and truly test that arm strength.
Just watch this video and count how many intermediate routes and dump passes you see. The UCLA offense was vanilla last season and allowed Hundley to take advantage of high percentage passes. This was likely a coaching staff wanting to ease the young man into the game.
Hundley has the skill set to receive a ton of love from NFL scouts. It's now time to take the handcuffs off and allow him to let the ball fly.
De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
De'Anthony Thomas is one of those players who is what he is. He isn't going to get any bigger and strength will never be part of his game. Thomas is built for speed, and that won't change throughout his football career.
Whether it is running the ball to the outside or running routes to catch the ball, Thomas is as effective with his game as anyone else in the country. He is sure-handed and easily one of the fastest players in college football. His style of play will work in the NFL and will continue to pay off in Eugene.
Thomas doesn't have anything to work on. What you see is what you are going to get.
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
C.J. Mosley would have been a high draft pick in last year's draft. His size, athleticism and extremely high football intelligence makes him arguably the best linebacker in the country. He is the perfect fit to play middle linebacker at the next level.
One thing he could work on is blitzing. He isn't a natural pass rusher and can get stood up at times due to poor pad leverage. He also has limited pass rushing moves that don't exactly help him break through the line.
Mosley would increase his value and his pocket book by becoming a better pass rusher.
Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Ka'Deem Carey was the leading rusher last season and there is a lot to like about his game.
The thing he can improve on is his patience. Carey spends a lot of time juking guys behind the line and sometimes tries to take on the entire defense by himself. He doesn't really wait for his blocks to get set up and sometimes isn't as effective because of it. Carey had plenty of big runs, but there could have been a lot more if he was a little more patient.
This is something Carey will have no choice but to work on with the way defenses will be attacking him this season.
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Can you name the last cornerback who was considered a possible first-round pick who didn't have any interceptions in his career?
Loucheiz Purifoy is in that boat as he enters his third season.
This has a lot to do with the physical coverage Purifoy prefers to play. He can really shut down a receiver to the point where the quarterback doesn't even throw near him. He's tough in run support and runs surprisingly well for somebody who is a 6'1" defender.
Purifoy obviously has good ball skills with Florida experimenting with him at wide receiver. Still, you would like to see it on game day.
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Lache Seastrunk is now being looked at by NFL scouts. He has the speed and acceleration, but he isn't the best blocker in the world. This has a lot to do with the lack of experience in the Baylor offense. He isn't asked to do this much with the Bears looking to get the ball out quickly.
But when Seastrunk is forced to block, he can lose sight of his assignment and sometimes miss the block all together.
You won't be an every-down back at the next level if you can't pass protect. Seastrunk has to prove he can do the dirty work in order to be picked in the first round.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Get Rid of the Ball
Aaron Murray has been sacked 82 times in three seasons. At some point, the quarterback must take part of the blame for those poor numbers. There's no reason to get sacked a little more than 27 times a year.
Murray can sometimes try to do a little too much with the ball. He'll see the pressure coming and still try to make a play instead of getting rid of the ball. Sometimes he tries to throw the ball after already being wrapped up.
He is entering his senior year. Now is the time to know when to take your chances and when to live to see another play.
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Stephon Tuitt is extremely athletic and can get into the backfield consistently.
One thing he tends to do is over pursue the ball carrier and miss out on the play all together. He gets into the backfield so quickly that he can't slowdown 300-plus pounds and make the tackle. You can see an example on the first play of this video.
Tuitt is going to be a high draft pick once he enters the NFL draft. Better fundamentals and sure tackling would make him the complete package at defensive end.
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jake Matthews is actually bigger than his former teammate Luke Joeckel at 6'5", 305 pounds. But size and strength are two different things, and Matthews could use some more time hitting the weights.
Matthews struggles at times to sustain his blocks. He also doesn't get a consistent push from his lower body which does hurt him in run blocking. He did get beat against better pass rushers and had a hard time locking on and keeping the defender in front of him.
He would be much better off by adding on 10-15 pounds of solid muscle. That would also guarantee him being a first-round pick next year.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Deep Ball Accuracy
When Marcus Mariota isn't running the ball or handing it off to one of his flashy running backs, he is getting the ball out quickly and letting his teammates go to work. You rarely see him throw the ball deep and stretch the field.
It's all part of the Oregon system.
Mariota is a big, strong kid at 6'4". He has the arm strength and the quick release to push the ball down the field. Maybe more deep passes will be added with a new head coach now calling the shots.
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Few linebackers in the country are as explosive as Kyle Van Noy. He flies all over the field, gets into the backfield in a hurry and is comfortable at dropping back into coverage.
The one thing holding him back is his size. Van Noy is only 235 pounds. He's extremely lean and has a hard time shedding blocks once a lineman gets his hands on him.
Van Noy is a playmaker and an ideal fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He still needs to add on about 20 pounds to improve his game and his NFL draft stock.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Get Rid of the Ball
Tajh Boyd has been sacked 31 times in each of the last two seasons. Blame the offensive line a little, but some of that has to be put on the quarterback.
Throw the ball!
Boyd can spend too much time trying to make a play. He has to work on his mental clock and know when to throw the ball away, when to try avoiding a defender and when to takeoff with his legs. Not every play can result in a home run. Taking less sacks and speeding things up would help put Boyd in the elite class of quarterbacks this season.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Taylor Lewan would have easily been a first-round pick if he left Michigan early. Now he will have an extra season to work on his quickness.
Lewan doesn't have the quick feet to keep the speedy pass rushers in front of him. He will get beat if he doesn't engage contact off the ball and sustain the block with his overwhelming strength. Lewan has also struggled most of his career sliding over for inside protection. You can blame this on the foot quickness and late reactions.
This is just about Lewan's only weakness.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
Lower his Pads
T.J. Yeldon is a home run hitter, but he also doesn't shy away from contact.
The young running back needs to take that toughness and begin lowering his pads. You can see in this video how Yeldon consistently runs standing up when contact is coming. He could have possibly broken a few of those tackles had he lowered his shoulder and ran through the defender. Standing up makes for an easy tackle and allows Yeldon to get stopped dead in his tracks.
There is no doubt Yeldon has worked on running lower during the offseason.
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
Make More Plays
AJ McCarron has improved his decision making. He has also shown great accuracy, solid arm strength and almost flawless mechanics.
He now needs to remove the handcuffs and be more of a playmaker.
McCarron can't expect to be a "game-manager" his whole career. If he hopes to have an NFL future, he will be asked to make plays consistently and be the leader of the offense. Right now, McCarron does a wonderful job at Alabama. It's hard to argue with two national titles. But he finished sixth in the SEC in passing yards (2,933) and ninth in pass attempts (314) last season.
Become more of a difference maker.
Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Anthony Barr took college football by storm last season after producing 13 sacks and 82 tackles. His athleticism, length and ability to tackle in space are impressive.
Now he needs to add weight and begin preparing for an NFL career. Barr spent his first two seasons as a wide receiver, so he is extremely undersized at 235 pounds. He's an ideal fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he needs to add on at least 20 pounds for the next level.
Barr should have little problem doing this over the course of a season.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Braxton Miller isn't the best passer in the world and a lot of that has to do with poor footwork. Miller doesn't plant his feet when he is flushed out of the pocket. This results in poor and inaccurate throws that hurt his completion percentage and bring out the critics.
More on his lousy fundamentals have been broken down here.
Miller has been putting in the work during the offseason to improve in this area. Hopefully for his sake it pays off. He can't just rely on his running ability if Ohio State is going to take that next step.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Will Sutton needs to bulk up if he is going to have a successful career at the next level. His explosions is impressive, but his size at 6'1" and 288 pounds will force scouts to question whether he is big enough to play on the interior of the defensive line.
Sutton has short arms and isn't that traditional space eater you would expect to see in the middle. Instead, he is more of a defensive end trapped on the inside. Adding on more weight to his short frame may decrease his speed a little bit.
He may be forced to a limited role in the NFL if his size can't improve.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater could be the first player selected in next year's NFL draft. He has the arm strength, quick delivery and the athleticism to really make some lucky NFL franchise think twice.
The main issue with Bridgewater is his injury issues. Last season, he played through ankle and wrist injuries. It's enough to make you wonder if he is made out of glass and is just one of those players who can't remain healthy.
This will be a concern with NFL teams if the injuries still linger. Being injury free for an entire season will fix these concerns.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Some would argue that Jadeveon Clowney has no weaknesses at all. He is the favorite to be selected first overall in next year's NFL draft, and is considered by many to be that once-in-a-lifetime player.
One thing Clowney can improve on is his upper body strength. He has always come off as more of a finesse player who beats linemen with quickness and remarkable pass rushing moves. But the game against Michigan showed how he can struggle against bigger and more polished offensive linemen.
Once the speed doesn't work, Clowney can find it difficult to shed blocks and get into the backfield.
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Todd Gurley is the most complete running back in the country. He has an incredible combination of speed and strength and also runs with a great deal of patience.
Now he should take his game to the next level by becoming more effective in the passing game. Gurley finished last season with 16 receptions, six of which came in the final three games. He is capable of doing anything on the football field. Proving he can catch the ball consistently could make him that elite running back who is destined for the first round.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Like Jadeveon Clowney, it's time for Marqise Lee to begin focusing on the NFL.
The one thing that needs work is his size. Lee isn't going to get much bigger height wise at 6'1", but he could top 200 pounds. The extra weight would allow him to get more physical with defenders and beat press coverage a lot easier. Lee usually gets a respected cushion at the college level, but that will change once he is drafted in the NFL.
Lee is an elite wide receiver prospect. Bulking up just a little bit would put his draft stock completely over the top.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Think Pass First
It's hard to take Johnny Manziel seriously as an NFL prospect. He has this sandlot feel to his game and usually makes his best plays when he is out there winging it. He also runs whenever the chance presents itself, rather than keeping his eyes down field and looking to make a play with his arm.
Questions with accuracy and decision making will continue to surface. Run first quarterbacks usually don't last long and must tweak their game in order to be successful. Manziel is an interesting player and scouts will keep a close eye on this season.
Spending a little more time in the pocket is the first step for Manziel to improve.