College Football's Top 50 Players for 2014
The college football world lost a tremendous amount of star power this offseason, with a record 98 underclassmen declaring for the 2014 NFL draft, including heralded headline-makers such as Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater and Sammy Watkins.
While many of the top performers from the 2013 season may be moving on to the pros, there are still plenty of players left on the collegiate level who are worth getting excited about.
Florida State QB Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman winner, will be college football’s new cover boy this offseason. However, there are plenty of other players who deserve their fair share of recognition as well.
That’s why I wanted to put together a preliminary preseason analysis of the top players to watch out for this fall.
There were many factors I considered when putting together these rankings. Physical ability, pro potential and past production were all factored into the equation, but ultimately, the main word and general idea I focused on when putting together the list was impact.
These are the players who I feel have what it takes to make the biggest individual impact at their respective positions this season.
Here’s a look at the top 50 college football players for the 2014 season, as well as a breakdown of the top 25 players at every position.
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Let’s admit it, there really isn’t much left for Jameis Winston to prove at the college level. Though Winston may only have one season’s worth of work on his collegiate resume, his outstanding debut campaign in 2013 was enough to solidify his status as one of the sport’s elite top-tier talents.
This past season, the former highly touted 5-star recruit emerged as college football’s new “it” quarterback, following in the footsteps of recent breakout stars such as Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton.
The 2013 Heisman winner displayed a rare combination of size, athleticism, arm strength and natural playmaking ability, as he led the Seminoles to an undefeated season, which culminated with a memorable last-minute win over Auburn in the BCS championship game.
Following a season in which he threw for over 4,000 yards and accounted for 44 total touchdowns, the 6’4’’, 227-pound redshirt sophomore has now become college football’s most polarizing figure. Winston will undoubtedly enter his second year as a starter as the preseason favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
There’s no question that Winston is the most physically gifted quarterback in college football. The only question is: will the star Seminole signal-caller be able to keep a level head as he deals with all the attention and scrutiny?
If “Famous Jameis” can properly handle the spotlight, he’s got a great chance to become just the second ever repeat Heisman-winner. He’s also got enough talent surrounding him to lead Florida State back into contention for another national title.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Marcus Mariota knows the risk of returning to Oregon. Mariota has seen high-profile passers like Aaron Murray, Matt Barkley, Jake Locker and Matt Leinart ultimately regret the decision to bypass entering the NFL draft in order to return to school and continue to chase collegiate glory.
That clearly isn’t what the dynamic dual-threat quarterback is focused on, though. No, instead Mariota is fueled by the thought of unfinished business and the motivation that a 2013 season that can be best summed up as a missed opportunity can provide.
Like Jameis Winston, Mariota really has nothing left to prove on the college level. However, unlike Winston, what Mariota doesn’t have is a Heisman Trophy sitting on his mantle and a national championship ring around his finger, which is likely what made his decision to return to Eugene a much easier one to make.
In two seasons as a starter, Mariota has totaled over 7,800 yards of offense and accounted for 78 touchdowns, while leading the Ducks to a 23-3 overall record.
This past season, the Hawaii native proved that he can succeed even without Chip Kelly running the show. With Kelly gone, Oregon is truly Mariota’s team now. Not only is he the face of one of the college football’s power programs, he’s also one of the sport’s brightest rising stars.
The third-year starter is a natural born leader who has been blessed with remarkable natural ability. After facing the disappointment of a what-could-have-been 2013 campaign, Mariota’s now got the necessary motivation he needs to help push his game to an even higher level in 2014.
3. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Unfortunately for Todd Gurley, he was unable to escape the injury bug, which ravaged the Georgia offense in 2013. Though he may have been hampered by an ankle injury throughout the month of October, the 6’1’’, 232-pound bruising bull-like back was still able to total over 1,400 yards of offense and 16 touchdowns in his second season.
With QB Aaron Murray now gone, the pressure for the big back to produce at a high level will only increase even more in 2014. But if there’s anybody that’s built to handle that burden and put the offense on his shoulders, it’s Gurley.
The powerful and physically intimidating rusher possesses rare athleticism, speed and explosiveness for a player his size. That’s why many Bulldog fans have already begun comparing him to the greatest back in the history of Georgia football: Herschel Walker.
Walker, himself, has been impressed by what he’s seen from Gurley, saying “He’s an incredible back. He has size and vision. The Georgia fans have something to look forward to with him running the ball like that. That’s what you need to build your program back up.”
If he can stay healthy, Gurley has the size, strength and speed to potentially be the most dominant rushing force that we’ve seen in college football since Adrian Peterson was at Oklahoma.
With Keith Marshall returning to the fold, the Bulldogs will once again have one of the most dangerous rushing duos in college football in 2014. Though he’ll have to defer some carries to Marshall, Gurley’s got a legitimate chance to break Walker’s single-season record of 1,891 rushing yards before he heads off to the NFL.
4. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
CB Darqueze Dennard may have been the award-winning standout star of Michigan State’s defense in 2013. However, DE Shilique Calhoun also played a prominent role in helping the Spartans’ stout “D” rank second nationally in total defense and third in the country in scoring defense last year.
Calhoun caused plenty of chaos in the trenches during his first season as a full-time starter. The 6’4’’, 250-pound edge-rusher totaled 7.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hurries, 34 quarterback hits and 14 tackles for loss. He also scored three touchdowns. It was a performance which earned him the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year award along with numerous All-American honors.
What’s really scary about the former 3-star recruit from New Jersey is that he’s really only just beginning to tap into his true potential. In a recent story in the Detroit Free Press, the junior DE said he needs to add a little more bulk to his frame this offseason. He also admitted that he needs to improve his pass-rushing abilities and learn to get off blocks better.
If Calhoun can add a few pounds during the summer without losing his explosiveness off the edge, there’s no telling just how dominant he could be in 2014.
Though the Spartans have produced a few notable defensive linemen in recent years such as Jerel Worthy and William Gholston, they haven’t had a defensive lineman selected in the first round of the NFL draft since 1999.
If Calhoun plays up to his potential this fall, he’ll easily end that drought. He should be considered the early favorite to be the first defensive end selected in the 2015 NFL draft.
5. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
After putting together a fantastic freshman season in 2012, in which he led UCLA to a surprising nine-win campaign and a Pac-12 South division title, Brett Hundley seemed like he was on the verge of taking that next step towards superstardom in 2013. Though Hundley didn’t quite make the major leap that many Bruins fans were hoping to see in his second year as a starter, he did put together another solid overall performance, as he led the Bruins to their first double-digit win season since 2005.
The 6’3’’, 227-pound junior once again displayed tantalizing flashes of his rare physical gifts, as he totaled over 3,800 yards of offense and accounted for 36 touchdowns.
There’s no question that Hundley has the skills to be one of the biggest stars in college football in 2014. Still, there are some questions about how he handles the big stage against the toughest competition. Though Hundley has led UCLA to 19 wins over the last two years, his record against ranked opponents is just 3-6, including an 0-4 mark against the Pac-12’s top two powerhouses: Stanford and Oregon.
Hundley has already proven that he has the talent to be a game-changing playmaker at the quarterback position. What he now must prove is that he can handle the pressure of the big stage and beat the best teams that the conference has to offer.
If the big, athletic QB can step up and excel in UCLA’s biggest games in 2014, not only will he find himself in the thick of the Heisman race, Hundley will also find himself in the discussion to potentially be the top overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
6. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
In the last decade, there have been eight different schools who have produced multiple offensive tackles who were first-round draft picks—Oklahoma (3), Alabama (3), USC (3), Iowa (3), Virginia (2), Boston College (2), Wisconsin (2) and Central Michigan (2). Still, none of those programs can say that they had offensive tackles selected in the first round in three consecutive drafts.
That’s the type of unprecedented feat that Texas A&M has a good chance of accomplishing. Former Aggie Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, started off the streak last year. Jake Matthews, who is widely projected to be a top-10 pick in May, should continue it this year. Ultimately, it will be up to A&M’s latest burgeoning blocker, Cedric Ogbuehi, to make it three in a row in 2015.
Though he reportedly received a first-round grade from the draft advisory board, Ogbuehi made the decision to return to College Station for his senior year in order to continue to pursue his degree and to continue to improve his already soaring stock.
The 6’5’’, 300-pound senior is a remarkable physical specimen, who possesses unbelievable athleticism and agility for an offensive lineman. According to teammate Clay Honeycutt, Ogbuehi recently clocked an unbelievable 4.7 second time in the 40-yard dash during testing, which is almost unheard of for a tackle.
With Matthews now gone, Ogbuehi will likely make the switch from right tackle to left tackle this offseason, where he’ll get the chance to demonstrate to scouts his true pass-blocking ability. Not only is the talented tackle an All-American candidate, he’s also got the potential to be a top-10 pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
7. Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Over the last few years, Clemson has developed into somewhat of a defensive end factory. Since 2007, the Tigers have had six ends—Gaines Adams, Da’Quan Bowers, Phillip Merling , Ricky Sapp, Andre Branch and Malliciah Goodman—selected in the NFL draft. They would have had another one taken in the 2014 draft, but luckily, their top pass-rusher Vic Beasley surprisingly opted to return to school, even though he had the chance to potentially be a first-round pick if he had declared as expected.
The 6’3’’, 235-pound Beasley may not possess the type of size that NFL scouts look for in a prototypical 4-3 defensive end. Nevertheless, his explosive speed, athleticism and relentless attitude are what makes him such a matchup nightmare for opposing offensive tackles.
After opening up eyes with an eight-sack performance as a sophomore in 2012, Beasley truly came into his own during his junior season. He put together an All-American-caliber campaign, totaling 13 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hurries, four forced fumbles and six pass breakups.
Beasley has proven that you definitely don’t have to be the biggest player in order to make the biggest impact.
He’s already gained the nickname of “The Beast” from Clemson fans. After seeing him dominate the competition this past season, it’s clear that he deserves that type of menacing moniker.
Joined by fellow ends Shaq Lawson and Corey Crawford, Beasley will once again be the featured face of what could arguably be the best trio of pass-rushers in college football in 2014.
8. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Just how fast is Melvin Gordon?
Forget about 40 times, it’s dazzling highlight-reel worthy plays like his 80-yard touchdown scamper against Arizona State that show just how dangerous and explosive of a runner Gordon truly is.
Following a 2012 season in which he was essentially a lightly-used third wheel in the Wisconsin backfield behind Montee Ball and James White, Gordon finally got the chance to shine in 2013. He certainly made the most of it. The speedy 6’1’’, 203-pound junior rushed for over 1,600 yards on just 206 touches (7.8 yards per carry) and scored 12 touchdowns.
Gordon’s 50 runs of 10 yards or more ranked first in the Big Ten and tied for fifth in the nation.
Now, with James White gone, the Wisconsin native will finally have the opportunity to show what he can do as a true featured back in 2014.
If he had decided to declare for the 2014 NFL draft, Gordon likely would have been the first running back selected. Still, his decision to return to Madison for another year could certainly turn out to be the right one, since he’ll now have the opportunity to prove to scouts that he’s a complete all-around back who’s capable of carrying a heavy workload.
The Badgers have produced some great backs in recent years. Now, it looks like Gordon is ready to cement his legacy as the next great rusher in Wisconsin history.
9. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
With heralded future NFL players like Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson and Jaylen Watkins all returning to Florida’s defensive backfield for the 2013 season, initially, it didn’t seem like there was much room for another cornerback to make a name for himself. Ultimately, though, that didn’t stop Vernon Hargreaves III from becoming the surprising show-stealer in the Gators secondary.
The former blue-chip 5-star recruit from Tampa lived up to his huge high school hype immediately, as he quickly developed into one of the top cover corners in the country as just a true freshman.
Hargreaves played a key role in helping Florida rank seventh nationally in pass defense. He totaled three interceptions and 11 pass breakups and helped lock down basically every receiver that lined up in front of him.
With Purifoy, Roberson and Watkins all moving on to the pros, the 5’11’’, 192-pound sophomore will now be counted on to be the leader of the Florida secondary in 2014.
Over the last few years, the SEC has annually featured some of the best cornerbacks in college football such as Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Dee Milliner, Stephon Gilmore and Joe Haden. It appears that Hargreaves is on the fast track to becoming the conference’s next premier player at the position.
Now that he has a year of experience under his belt, VH3 should be ready to rise to an elite level and become a true shutdown corner this fall. He possesses all the traits to be the SEC’s next star defender.
10. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
After turning Robert Griffin III into a Heisman winner in 2011, and then developing Nick Florence into the most productive passer in the country in 2012, Baylor coach Art Briles once again worked his magic with his latest quarterback pupil Bryce Petty in 2013.
In his first year as a starter, Petty proved to be a perfect fit for Briles’ high-octane spread system. The 6’3’’, 230-pound senior completed 62 percent of his passes for 4,200 yards, averaged over 10 yards per attempt and threw 32 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions.
Not only was Petty the catalyst of the fifth-ranked passing attack in the country, he also led the Bears to 11 wins, their first Big 12 championship and their first ever BCS bowl appearance.
Though Petty may not be the same type of dual-threat quarterback that RGIII was, he looks to be an even better overall passer than Griffin.
With weapons like RB Shock Linwood and receivers Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood and Corey Coleman all returning, the strong-armed senior has the supporting cast he needs to lead the Bears back into contention for another Big 12 title in 2014.
Briles has praised Petty and gone on record, saying that he believes his quarterback will end up being a top-five pick in the 2015 NFL draft. While that’s obviously a tough forecast to live up to, it’s still certainly a possibility, considering that the highly productive passer has the desired size, arm strength, accuracy and intangibles that scouts look for in a franchise-caliber quarterback prospect.
11. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
Oregon’s high-powered offense usually receives all the attention and generates all the headlines. But over the last few years, the team has had some standout players on the defensive side of the ball as well. CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is the latest Duck defender who has demanded his share of the spotlight.
This past season, Ekpre-Olomu was the key reason why Oregon’s secondary allowed just 5.5 yards per pass attempt, which was the third lowest average in the nation. The 5’10’’, 185-pound senior proved he was a truly complete corner, as he totaled 84 tackles, including 54 solo stops, three interceptions and six pass breakups.
The two-time first-team All-Pac 12 performer is a tough, physical and highly instinctive corner who is capable of locking down any receiver that lines up across from him.
12. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
The final play of Braxton Miller’s junior season—an interception which sealed Ohio State’s fate in a loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl—was obviously a disappointment. However, that one miscue shouldn’t overshadow all that Miller was able to accomplish in 2013.
Though he struggled with injuries early on in the season, Miller returned to the field and emerged as the dangerous dual-threat playmaker that many projected him to be. The former blue-chip recruit averaged 263 yards of offense per game, accounted for 36 touchdowns and finished the season with a 158 passer rating.
Some may bash the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year for not being a top-flight passer, but it’s really tough to knock a player who’s gone 22-2 as a starter over the last two years.
13. Leonard Williams, DE, USC
Though he may only be just entering his junior year, Leonard Williams has already generated quite a buzz for himself.
“I have been around USC for 40 years. Leonard is one of the top-five players I have ever seen. He is that good,” said USC AD Pat Haden.
“Leonard Williams is one of the top defensive players in college football. Outstanding length, quickness and instincts. Makes a ton of plays on tape,” said NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
Following a breakout sophomore season, in which he racked up 73 total tackles, including 31 solo stops, 12.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, it’s easy to see why Williams is garnering such high praise. The 6’5’’, 290-pound junior is undoubtedly one of the most intimidating defenders in all of college football.
Williams will be one of the key leaders for what is shaping up to be an extremely stout USC defense in 2014.
14. TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama
Alabama’s offense will have a new face behind center in 2014, following the departure of starting QB AJ McCarron. Luckily, though, the Tide bring back plenty of talent at the other offensive skill-positions, most notably RB TJ Yeldon.
After splitting carries with Eddie Lacy as a freshman, Yeldon got the chance to prove himself as a featured back in 2013. He certainly made the most of the opportunity, as he totaled over 1,400 yards of offense, averaged six yards per carry and scored 14 touchdowns.
The 6’2’’, 218-pound junior will have to defer some carries to fellow backs Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake and Jalston Fowler in 2014. Still, Yeldon has to be considered one of the top preseason contenders for the Heisman Trophy, especially since new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will likely rely heavily on the running game, while breaking in a new quarterback.
15. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
It’s likely that Kevin Hogan’s 2014 season will bear a strong resemblance to former Alabama QB AJ McCarron’s 2012 campaign. After leading Stanford to 11 wins, a Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl berth during his first full year as a starter, Hogan is now in a similar position as McCarron was when he was entering his second season as a starter for the Tide. He’s a steady game-manager looking to become a true game-changer at the position.
Playing for an offense that tied for 18th nationally with 584 rushing attempts, Hogan didn’t have a ton of opportunities to display his passing skills in 2013. 75 quarterbacks attempted more throws than Hogan did last season. Still, the big pro-style passer did make the most of the limited chances he did have. He completed 61 percent of his passes and averaged 8.9 yards per pass, while boosting his overall record as a starter to 16-3.
If David Shaw loosens his leash and gives Hogan a real opportunity to flourish this fall, he should develop into one of the most productive and consistent passers in the country.
16. Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
In recent years, we’ve seen plenty of defensive linemen such as Jason Pierre-Paul, Nick Fairley, Tank Carradine and Bruce Irvin emerge from the junior college ranks and develop into coveted NFL prospects. It looks like Nebraska’s Randy Gregory is going to be the next one to join that group.
In his first year after transferring from Arizona Western Community College, Gregory made an immediate impact for the Cornhuskers defense, totaling 9.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries and 16 tackles for loss.
The 6’6’’, 255-pound junior has already caught the attention of NFL scouts and Big Ten offensive tackles. The explosive edge-rusher is now ready to step out onto the national stage and become a household name in 2014.
17. Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
Florida State lost a lot of talented underclassmen to the NFL with the early departures of key players such as WR Kelvin Benjamin, running backs Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. and DT Timmy Jernigan. Luckily, though, the Seminoles offense received a huge boost, when the captain of the offensive line, left tackle Cameron Erving, announced he would return.
Erving bypassed the chance to potentially be a first-round pick in this year’s draft in order to return to Tallahassee and continue to polish up his game, even though it really doesn’t need all that much refining at this point.
After switching from defensive tackle to offensive tackle following his freshman year, the remarkably agile and nimble 6’6’’, 320-pound blocker has grown into one of the most consistent blind-side protectors in college football.
Joined by three other returning starters: Tre Jackson, Josue Matias, and Bobby Hart, Erving will return to lead a Seminole offensive line that should once again be one of the best front-fives in the country in 2014.
18. Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
After losing all four starting defensive linemen from the 2012 season, Ohio State’s defense desperately needed a new fresh-faced force to dominate in the trenches in 2013. Fortunately, the Buckeyes found a few rising stars to build their defensive line around for the future, but none of them was more impressive than DT Michael Bennett.
Bennett stepped into a full-time starting role and immediately made an impact in the interior, totaling seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles, while helping the Buckeyes rank ninth nationally in run defense.
The 6’3’’, 285-pound senior is a former 4-star recruit who possesses the power, quickness and tenacity to become college football’s next great defensive tackle.
19. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The SEC has lost many of its top receivers from the 2013 season such as Mike Evans, Jordan Matthews, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Donte Moncrief and Bruce Ellington. Their departures mean that there’s now room for new star pass-catchers to rise in 2014.
No other receiver in the conference has the potential to rise as high as Alabama’s Amari Cooper.
After carving out a name for himself within the conference as a true freshman in 2012, when he hauled in 58 passes and scored 11 touchdowns, Cooper saw his numbers drop a bit in 2013 due to defenses focusing more of their attention on him. Still, the 6’1’’, 198-pound junior clearly has the physical tools to develop into a Julio Jones-esque receiving weapon.
20. Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
Once a lightly-sought-after 2-star recruit during his days at Rosa Fort High School in Tunica, Mississippi, Benardrick McKinney doesn’t have tales to tell about his mailbox being stuffed with scholarship offers from powerhouse programs, and he doesn’t know what it’s like to bring ESPN programming to a halt by simply picking up a hat.
None of that matters now, though.
The 6’5’’, 235-pound junior was one of the overlooked afterthoughts of the 2011 recruiting class, But over the last two years, he’s shown that not only can he handle SEC competition; he can dominate against it.
McKinney has totaled 172 tackles, including 87 solo stops, during his first two seasons. But it’s clear that he’s really only just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential and only just starting to figure out how to maximize his unique size-speed combination.
After deciding to stay in Starkville for another season, the long, athletic outside ‘backer will now be looking to solidify his status as the top overall linebacker in college football in 2014. You can bet that plenty of NFL scouts will be paying visits to the Cowbell capital of college football this season to see what McKinney has to offer.
21. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
The time is now for Dorial Green-Beckham to make some truly decisive decisions in his life. After dealing with his second drug-related arrest back in January, the supremely talented wideout needs to adhere to the old “changing people, places and things” philosophy and turn himself into a model citizen throughout the rest of his stay in Colombia.
The former blue-chip 5-star recruit is far too talented of an athlete to let silly off-the-field distractions detract from what has the potential to be a long and lucrative professional football career.
On the field, the light finally came on for the 6’6’’, 225-pound junior in 2013. Green-Beckham led the Tigers with 59 catches for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns and he played an integral role in Missouri’s surprising run to the SEC championship game.
Green-Beckham has the rare physical ability to become a Calvin Johnson/Andre Johnson-caliber receiver. In order to reach that potential, though, he needs to add some much-needed discipline into his off-field lifestyle.
22. Hroniss Grasu, OC, Oregon
Oregon’s offense has ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing offense in each of the past three years. Though the offensive skill-position pieces have changed on a yearly basis during that time, one constant has been center Hroniss Grasu, the linchpin of the Ducks’ offensive line.
Grasu has started 40 straight games. The 6’3’’, 297-pound senior has been one of the most steady and consistent blockers in college football and proven to be a perfect fit for Oregon’s zone-blocking scheme.
The All-American center will enter the 2014 season as the top contender for the Rimington Trophy, and the top-rated center in the 2015 NFL draft class.
23. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
After losing Marcus Lattimore, the team’s leading rusher for three straight seasons, South Carolina needed a new back to step up and lead the way on the ground in 2013. Mike Davis was happy to oblige and fill that role.
After touching the ball just 52 times as a freshman in 2012, Davis proved he could carry a much heavier workload in his second season. The 5’9’’, 216-pound junior rushed for 1,183 yards on 203 carries (5.8 yards per rush), caught 34 passes for 352 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
Though his arrival on campus may not have generated nearly the same type of fanfare as his former teammate Lattimore’s did, Davis has a chance to end up becoming just as dangerous of a rushing threat for the Gamecocks as Lattimore was before injuries derailed his collegiate career.
24. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
In this day and age, it’s rare to see a collegiate athlete be a successful two-way player on both offense and defense. That’s what makes what Myles Jack was able to accomplish as just a true freshman in 2013 so special.
Last year, Jack arrived at UCLA as a 4-star rated linebacker recruit. Even though he was joining one of the most talented linebacker corps in the country, the 6’1’’, 225-pound outside ‘backer still found a way to make an immediate impact.
He totaled 76 tackles, including 51 solo stops and seven tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups and two interceptions. As if that wasn’t enough, he also proved to be an effective rusher late in the season, averaging over seven yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns.
After becoming the first ever player in Pac-12 history to take home both Offensive Freshman Player of the Year and Defensive Freshman Player of the Year honors, Jack will now be looking to earn All-American honors in 2014.
The extremely athletic and versatile sophomore is truly a rare commodity.
25. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
USC’s star wide receiver Marqise Lee’s constant injury issues may have been bad news for the Trojans’ offense in 2013. But if there’s a silver lining to Lee’s injury-plagued campaign, it’s that it allowed Nelson Agholor to step up and show that he can handle being a productive go-to receiving threat.
After catching just 19 passes as a freshman in 2012, Agholor took his game to another level in 2013. He led the Trojans with 56 catches for 918 yards (16.3 yards per catch), averaged 19 yards on punt returns and scored eight touchdowns. His 15 catches of 20 yards or more ranked fifth in the Pac-12.
The former 5-star recruit from Tampa is one of the most athletic and most explosive receivers in college football. Now that Lee has moved on to the NFL, Agholor will now become the true focal point of USC’s offense in 2014.
He’ll have the stage to showcase his skills and the chance to prove that he’s one of the elite receivers in the country.
26. Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas
The Arkansas defense may have lost DE Chris Smith, who totaled 18 sacks over the last two seasons. But fortunately, the Razorbacks have another emerging edge-rusher, DE Trey Flowers, who should be able to make up for his absence.
Though Flowers may not be as polished of a player as Smith was heading into his senior year, he’s got the physical skills to develop into one of the SEC’s most feared pass-rushers in 2014. During his two seasons as a full-time starter, the 6’4’’, 265-pound senior has totaled 11 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries, and 94 tackles, including 26.5 tackles for loss.
Since the former 2-star recruit from Alabama wasn’t shown much recruiting love from any of the SEC’s power programs, Flowers now plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He certainly wants to show those schools that overlooked him just exactly what they missed out on.
27. Blake Countess, CB, Michigan
Following an impressive performance as a true freshman in 2011, it looked like Blake Countess was ready to become one of the Big Ten’s premier defensive playmakers in 2012. Unfortunately, Countess experienced a season-ending knee injury in the season-opener against Alabama.
After sitting out the season and rehabbing, obviously it would have been understandable if Countess looked a little rusty when he first returned to the field. However, the 5’10’’, 192-pound corner certainly didn’t show any signs of rust in 2013. He tied for first in the conference with six interceptions, which helped earn him first-team All-Big Ten honors.
Following his successful bounce-back campaign this past season, Countess will now be looking to solidify his status in school history and show that his name belongs amongst the likes of Charles Woodson, Leon Hall and Dave Brown as one of the best corners in Michigan history.
28. Antwan Goodley, WR, Baylor
Not only has Art Briles’ spread offense produced some highly productive passers like Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty; it’s also helped to produce a few highly productive pass-catchers as well such as Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams and most recently Antwan Goodley.
Like his predecessors Wright and Williams, Goodley is an explosive field-stretching threat who’s capable of producing big plays any time the ball is thrown his way. He proved that during his breakout junior campaign in 2013, when he hauled in 71 catches for 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns.
His 18.8 yards per reception average ranked 13th in the nation, and his 14 catches of 30 yards or more was tied for the third most in the country.
The 5’10’’, 225-pound senior will once again be QB Bryce Pettys’ favorite target in 2014.
29. Cedric Reed, DE, Texas
In recent years, there’s been a pretty solid string of pass-rushing talent that has come through the Texas program, including notable names such as Brian Orakpo, Sergio Kindle, Alex Okafor, Sam Acho and most recently Jackson Jeffcoat, who led the Longhorns with 13 sacks this past season.
Now that Jeffcoat has left town, it’s time for Cedric Reed to step up and become the next great pass-rusher in Austin.
Though Jeffcoat was the one who received all the recognition last offseason, Reed proved that he could have just as big of an impact in 2013 as his more heralded counterpart. He totaled 10 sacks, 12 quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles and 79 tackles, including 19 tackles for loss.
The 6’6’’, 258-pound senior is a tall, long and fluid edge-rusher who has what it takes to become the Longhorns’ next destructive defensive end.
30. Derron Smith, FS, Fresno State
The real story of Fresno State’s 2013 season was the team’s high-powered offensive attack, led by future high NFL draft picks QB Derek Carr and WR Davante Adams. However, the Bulldogs defense also featured a few standout performers as well, most notably safety Derron Smith.
Though Smith didn’t garner the type of national attention that Carr and Adams did, he did gain the respect of Mountain West coaches, who awarded him with first-team All-Conference honors for the second year in a row.
The 5’11’’, 200-pound senior definitely deserved the accolades, following a season in which he led the league with seven interceptions and totaled 87 tackles, including 60 solo stops, four sacks and eight tackles for loss.
No other safety in college football possesses the type of radar for the football that Smith has. He’s a true ball-hawk in the Bulldogs secondary.
31. Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
QB Collin Klein accounted for 68 percent of Kansas State’s total offense and 60 percent of the team’s scoring in 2012. Obviously, losing Klein hindered the unit’s production, but luckily, the Wildcats found a new offensive star in 2013: WR Tyler Lockett.
After showing how dangerous he could be as a kick returner in 2012, Lockett got the chance to prove he could be a No. 1 receiver following the departure of Chris Harper. The speedy senior made the most of the opportunity, as he totaled 81 catches for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Now that he’s established a strong bond and familiarity with Jake Waters and gained the quarterback’s trust, Lockett has a great chance to be even more productive in 2014.
32. Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Benardrick McKinney may be the star of Mississippi State’s defense, but you could easily make the argument that DT Chris Jones is the most intimidating defender that the Bulldogs have.
Jones arrived in Starkville as the crown jewel of the team’s 2013 recruiting class, so he had plenty of pressure and high expectations to live up to. It didn’t take long, though, for the former 5-star recruit from Houston, Mississippi to show that his high school hype was warranted.
The massive 6’5’’, 305-pound run-stuffer immediately broke his way into the defensive line rotation, and he proved he could handle the treacherous trenches of the SEC as just a true freshman. Jones racked up three sacks, 32 tackles, including 17 solo stops and seven tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries during his debut campaign.
Whether he lines up at either end or tackle in the team’s three-man front, Jones has shown that he can manhandle and overwhelm opposing blockers.
33. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
During Kirk Ferentz’s 16 years as head coach at Iowa, the Hawkeyes have had 13 offensive linemen selected in the NFL draft, including three first-round picks. Ferentz, a former NFL offensive line coach, clearly knows how to properly prepare his lineman for the next level.
Brandon Scherff is the latest lineman who Ferentz is grooming for the pros.
The 6’5’’, 315-pound senior possesses the type of size, toughness and fundamentally sound-technique that you’d expect from a Hawkeye blocker.
After suffering a season-ending injury midway through the 2012 season, Scherff returned to the lineup in 2013 and reasserted his dominance, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors for his performance. He’ll enter the upcoming season as one of top-rated tackle prospects in the 2015 NFL draft class, and he has a chance to be the next Hawkeye lineman to crack the first round.
34. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
That’s the number of players returning to college football that can say they rushed for more yards in 2013 than Ameer Abdullah.
Abdullah’s 1,690 rushing yards was the most by a Cornhusker back since Ahman Green topped the 1,800-yard mark back in 1997.
With QB Taylor Martinez injured, the 5’9’’, 190-pound senior put the Nebraska offense on his back and showed he could handle being a workhorse back. Only nine other players totaled more than Abdullah’s 281 carries last year.
Though Abdullah may not be the biggest back in college football, he makes up for it with his endurance, toughness, and natural running instincts. He’s truly the prototypical Cornhusker rusher in every sense.
35. Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
Going into the 2013 season, the three Pac-12 quarterbacks that everyone was talking about were Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan and UCLA’s Brett Hundley. Ultimately, though, it was Taylor Kelly who ended up being the conference’s biggest breakout star at the position.
After showing glimpses of his potential during his first year as a starter in 2012, Kelly made a noticeable progression in his second season in Mike Norvell’s system.
The 6’2’’, 201-pound senior completed 62 percent of his passess for over 3,600 yards and 28 touchdowns, while also adding over 600 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
Following a season in which he led the Sun Devils to 10 wins and a Pac-12 South division title, Kelly has proven that his name belongs in the same conversation with the conference’s other premier passers.
36. Karlos Williams, RB, Florida State
Florida State’s backfield took two big hits when Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. both decided to leave school early and declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. Freeman and Wilder combined to rush for 1,569 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2013. Obviously, both of them will be missed.
Fortunately for the Seminoles, it seems like former safety Karlos Williams has the potential to become a true standout featured back in 2014.
In his first season after switching from defense to offense, Williams displayed explosive playmaking ability, averaging over eight yards per carry on 91 touches and scoring 11 touchdowns.
The 6’1’’, 223-pound senior is a former 5-star recruit who possesses the size, speed and strength to develop into a complete back. With Freeman and Wilder out of the way, Williams will have plenty more opportunities to prove himself in 2014.
He’s got potential breakout star written all over him.
37. Noah Spence, DE, Ohio State
DT Michael Bennett wasn’t the only new face on the Ohio State defensive line who made a major impact in 2013. While Bennett was wreaking havoc in the interior, DE Noah Spence was driving opposing offensive tackles crazy on the outside.
Spence showed why he was such a highly regarded recruit coming out of Pennsylvania’s Bishop McDevitt High School. In his first season as a starter, the 6’3’’, 252-pound edge-rusher totaled 50 tackles, including 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
Unfortunately, Spence’s breakout season ended on a sour note, as he was suspended for the Orange Bowl and the first two games of the upcoming season after reportedly testing positive for ecstasy. Though the junior DE may miss the early part of the 2014 season, he should return with a vengeance and emerge as one of the Big Ten’s premier pass-rushers.
38. Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan
The collegiate ranks lost a lot of great young tight ends to the NFL this offseason, including notable early entrant underclassmen declarations such as Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Troy Niklas and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The title of “college football’s best tight end” is now up for grabs.
Though there are some talented up-and-coming players at the position to look out for this fall, right now, no other tight end in the country deserves that label more than Michigan’s Devin Funchess.
Funchess was one of the most productive tight ends in the country in 2013, totaling 49 catches for 748 yards and six touchdowns.
The athletic 6’5’’, 235-pound junior is on track to be a future high NFL draft pick, but before he leaves for the pros, he’ll be looking to separate himself from the pack and prove his superiority at the position in 2014.
39. Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia
Anthony Harris’ breakout performance was one of the lone bright spots of Virginia’s otherwise massively disappointing two-win 2013 campaign.
While many of his fellow teammates may have failed to raise their level of play this past season, Harris certainly raised his.
The 6’1’’, 190-pound senior led the nation with eight interceptions and totaled 80 tackles, including 42 solo stops. Harris took a huge leap forward in his overall understanding of the game this past season, as he displayed tremendous awareness, anticipation, instincts and playmaking ability.
Hopefully the Cavaliers can win a few more games in 2014, so Harris can receive the type of national attention and recognition he truly deserves.
40. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn
Just how did Auburn offense’s go from being a unit that ranked dead last in the SEC in total offense and 12th in scoring offense in 2012 to one of the most productive and dangerous attacks in the country in 2013?
Obviously, the influence of head coach Gus Malzahn played a huge role in the offense’s turnaround. However, it also helped that the Tigers finally found some much-needed stability at the quarterback position, courtesy of first-year starter Nick Marshall.
Marshall proved to be a terrific fit for Malzahn’s unique spread system. The athletic dual-threat quarterback threw for over 1,900 yards, rushed for over 1,000 yards and accounted for 26 touchdowns as he guided the Tigers to a shocking run to an SEC title and a berth in the BCS championship game.
Though Marshall will have to work on his overall consistency as a passer this offseason, he should still emerge as one of college football’s most feared playmakers in 2014, especially now that he has a year’s worth of starting experience.
Ultimately, he very well could become the next Pat White.
41. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Back when Jaelen Strong was a senior at West Philadelphia Catholic High School, he wasn’t exactly viewed as a coveted commodity in recruiting circles. Strong’s only scholarship offer from an FBS school was from lowly Eastern Michigan, which is why he opted to go the JUCO route.
It was at Los Angeles Pierce College where Strong blossomed into one of the top JUCO receiver prospects in the country. There, he finally got the respect he was looking for, as he received numerous scholarship offers from prominent BCS schools.
Strong’s decision to come to Arizona State has turned out to be the perfect choice. In his first year with the Sun Devils in 2013, the 6’4’’, 205-pound junior caught 75 passes for 1,122 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
The imposing pass-catcher presents a huge catch radius for QB Taylor Kelly, and he’s the type of receiver that no corner wants to cover.
42. Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
After spending his freshman season being overshadowed by fellow corner Desmond Trufant, Marcus Peters finally got the chance in 2013 to show that he’s capable of being a No. 1 corner. Peters made the most of the opportunity, as he totaled five interceptions, nine pass breakups and 44 solo tackles.
The 5’11’’, 193-pound junior played an integral role in helping the Huskies secondary tie for seventh nationally with an average of just 5.8 yards per pass allowed.
During his days at Boise State, new Washington coach Chris Petersen helped prepare and groom corners such as Jamar Taylor, Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson for the NFL. Now, he’ll be looking to do the same with Peters. The skilled cover man should make a big climb up NFL draft boards in 2014.
43. Shock Linwood, RB, Baylor
Baylor may have had one of the most potent passing attacks in college football this past season. However, what really made the Bears offense so dangerous in 2013 was the balance provided by the three-headed backfield of Lache Seastrunk, Glasco Martin and Shock Linwood.
The solid performances from Seastrunk and Martin were expected, but the emergence of Linwood was really a pleasant surprise. After taking a redshirt year in 2012, the once largely overlooked 3-star recruit from Linden, Texas became a key piece of the team’s powerful offensive attack.
Linwood rushed for 881 yards on just 128 touches (6.8 yards per carry) and scored eight touchdowns. His 26 runs of 10 yards or more ranked fifth in the Big 12.
With Seastrunk and Martin gone, the explosive 5’8’’, 200-pound sophomore should get plenty more touches as the Bears’ featured rusher in 2014.
44. Christian Covington, DT, Rice
Over the last few years, there have been a number of foreign-born defensive linemen such as Ezekiel Ansah, Bjoern Werner, Brent Urban, Margus Hunt and Jesse Williams who have come to America and made a name for themselves in the college game.
Rice DT Christian Covington, who was born and raised in Vancouver, is the latest imported defensive lineman to take college football by storm.
Covington—the son of CFL legend Grover Covington—has caused quite a stir in Conference USA over the past two seasons, as he’s totaled 102 tackles, including 19.5 tackles for loss, 64 solo stops and nine sacks.
The 6’3’’, 295-pound junior is one of the fiercest, strongest and most active interior defensive lineman in the country.
If Covington continues to progress as a player and if he continues to produce at his current pace, he should begin to gain national notoriety in 2014.
45. Hayes Pullard, LB, USC
Last offseason, Hayes Pullard was asked to make the transition from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker in coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s new-look 3-4 scheme.
Pullard definitely didn’t look like he needed much time to adjust to the new system in 2013, as he immediately stepped up and became the key defensive leader for the Trojans. The 6’1’’, 230-pound senior led the team with 94 tackles, including 44 solo stops, and he played a pivotal role in helping USC rank 14th nationally in run defense.
After flirting with the idea of declaring for the 2014 NFL draft, Pullard ultimately decided to stay in LA, which is great news for a Trojan defense that lost both Dion Bailey and George Uko early to the NFL.
If the former 4-star recruit continues to progress in Pendergast’s system, the decision to stay in school for his senior year could turn out to be a very wise choice, considering he’ll have plenty of NFL scouts paying close attention to him in 2014.
46. Jordan Richards, SS, Stanford
Stanford’s defense lost many of its key veteran leaders such as linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov, DE Ben Gardner and safety Ed Reynolds from a unit that ranked 10th nationally in scoring defense in 2013.
Luckily, though, the cupboard hasn’t been left completely bear. The Cardinal will have a new leader to rally around in strong safety Jordan Richards.
Since entering the starting lineup back in 2012, Richards has been one of the steadiest and most consistent safeties in college football. Over the last two years, he’s totaled six interceptions, 15 pass breakups and 136 tackles.
The 5’11’’, 208-pound senior is a fast, physical and instinctive safety who has the experience and football IQ to provide the stability in the secondary and leadership presence the Stanford defense will need in 2014.
47. Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami
It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that Miami was churning out great defenders on a yearly basis. In fact, the Hurricanes had at least one defender selected in the first round of every NFL draft between 2001 and 2008.
In recent years, however, the defense has failed to produce that same caliber of star power.
Al Golden has begun to slowly but surely build up the team’s defensive personnel since his arrival. One of the top players from Golden’s first recruiting class—LB Denzel Perryman—has grown into a dominant defender and the unit’s undisputed leader.
Perryman put together his best season yet as a junior in 2013, leading the Canes with 108 tackles, including 69 solo stops. The 6’0’’, 248-pound senior is a throwback to the tough-minded, gritty defenders that Miami had during its glory days.
48. Lorenzo Doss, CB, Tulane
Though he held scholarship offers from more prominent BCS programs such as Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Utah and TCU back when he was a 3-star rated recruit at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, Lorenzo Doss ultimately chose to play for his hometown school, Tulane. So far, the decision to stay in New Orleans has played out well for the talented corner.
After earning numerous honors for his impressive performance as a freshman in 2012, Doss really opened eyes this past season with a brilliant All-American-caliber campaign. He tied for second in the nation with seven interceptions, while also totaling nine pass breakups.
The 5’11’’, 175-pound junior has proven that he’s one of the top cover corners in the country and a game-changing defender. You can bet opposing quarterbacks will know where No. 6 is on the field at all times in 2014.
49. Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
Though Kelvin Benjamin was the Florida State receiver who generated the biggest buzz during the team’s run to a national championship, fellow pass-catcher Rashad Greene just as impressive as his teammate Benjamin was in 2013.
Greene led the Seminoles with 76 catches for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns. The speedy 6’0’’, 180-pound senior showed plenty of big play potential of his own, as he totaled 15 catches of 20 yards or more.
Now that Benjamin and Kenny Shaw have both departed, Greene will be relied on even more heavily in 2014, and he’ll once again be Jameis Winston’s trusted go-to wide out.
50. Ramik Wilson, LB, Georgia
Last offseason, Georgia’s defense suffered two huge blows when it lost star linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree, who were both first-round picks in the 2013 NFL draft.
After losing both Jones and Ogletree early to the pros, the Bulldogs desperately needed a new linebacker to step up and become a tone-setter for the front-seven in 2014. Though many initially thought that player would either be Jordan Jenkins or Amarlo Herrera, instead, it was Ramik Wilson who ended up becoming the team’s surprise breakout star defender.
After totaling just 10 tackles in his first two seasons, the 6’2’’, 232-pound inside ‘backer thrived during his first year as a starter, leading the SEC with 133 tackles, including 76 solo stops, 11 tackles for loss and four sacks. He was the key cog for a run defense that allowed just 3.7 yards per carry.
Wilson will now return for his senior year to lead one of the top linebacker corps in college football.
The Top 25 Quarterbacks
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State
2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3. Brett Hundley, UCLA
4. Bryce Petty, Baylor
5. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
6. Kevin Hogan, Stanford
7. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
8. Nick Marshall, Auburn
9. Connor Cook, Michigan State
10. Sean Mannion, Oregon State
11. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
12. Devin Gardner, Michigan
13. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
14. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
15. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
16. Rakeem Cato, Marshall
17. Jeff Driskel, Florida
18. Taysom Hill, BYU
19. Cody Kessler, USC
20. Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
21. Cody Fajardo, Nevada
22. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
23. Shane Carden, East Carolina
24. Anthony Boone, Duke
25. Terrance Broadway, Louisiana-Lafayette
Other Quarterbacks to Watch
- Anthony Jennings, LSU
- Brandon Allen, Arkansas
- Connor Halliday, Washington State
- Cyler Miles, Washington
- David Ash, Texas
- Davis Webb, Texas Tech
- Dylan Thompson, South Carolina
- Everett Golson, Notre Dame
- Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
- Grant Hedrick, Boise State
- Jake Coker, Alabama
- Jake Rudock, Iowa
- Jake Waters, Kansas State
- Jared Goff, California
- Joel Stave, Wisconsin
- John O'Korn, Houston
- JW Walsh, Oklahoma State
- Keenan Reynolds, Navy
- Kenny Hill, Texas A&M
- Marquise Williams, North Carolina
- Maty Mauk, Missouri
- Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
- Quinn Kaehler, San Diego State
- Trevor Siemian, Northwestern
- Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
The Top 25 Running Backs
1. Todd Gurley, Georgia
2. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
3. TJ Yeldon, Alabama
4. Mike Davis, South Carolina
5. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
6. Karlos Williams, Florida State
7. Shock Linwood, Baylor
8. Alex Collins, Arkansas
9. Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
10. Duke Johnson, Miami
11. Byron Marshall, Oregon
12. Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State
13. Jay Ajayi, Boise State
14. Kenny Hilliard, LSU
15. Derrick Henry, Alabama
16. Keith Marshall, Georgia
17. Johnathan Gray, Texas
18. Tevin Coleman, Indiana
19. Trey Williams, Texas A&M
20. Dominique Brown, Louisville
21. Travis Greene, Bowling Green
22. Kevin Parks, Virginia
23. Venric Mark, Northwestern
24. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
25. Jahwan Edwards, Ball State
Other Running Backs to Watch
- B.J. Catalon, TCU
- Bill Belton, Penn State
- Brandon Williams, Texas A&M
- Corey Clement, Wisconsin
- Corey Grant, Auburn
- Dallas Crawford, Miami
- David Cobb, Minnesota
- D.J. Foster, Arizona State
- Jamaal Williams, BYU
- James Conner, Pittsburgh
- Javorious Allen, USC
- Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
- Jordan Howard, UTEP
- Kelvin Taylor, Florida
- Lyle McCombs, Connecticut
- Malcolm Brown, Texas
- Marcus Murphy, Missouri
- Mark Weisman, Iowa
- Michael Dyer, Louisville
- Paul James, Rutgers
- Ralph David Abernathy IV, Cincinnati
- Storm Woods, Oregon State
- T.J. Logan, North Carolina
- Trey Edmunds, Virginia Tech
- Zach Zwinak, Penn State
The Top 25 Wide Receivers
1. Amari Cooper, Alabama
2. Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
3. Nelson Agholor, USC
4. Antwan Goodley, Baylor
5. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
6. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
7. Rashad Greene, Florida State
8. Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh
9. Sammie Coates, Auburn
10. Stefon Diggs, Maryland
11. Justin Hardy, East Carolina
12. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
13. Deontay Greenberry, Houston
14. Ty Montgomery, Stanford
15. Kasen Williams, Washington
16. Jamison Crowder, Duke
17. DeVante Parker, Louisville
18. Kenny Bell, Nebraska
19. Quinshad Davis, North Carolina
20. Matt Miller, Boise State
21. DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame
22. Tommy Shuler, Marshall
23. Shane Wynn, Indiana
24. Jaxon Shipley, Texas
25. Malcome Kennedy, Texas A&M
Other Wide Receivers to Watch
- Austin Hill, Arizona
- Bralon Addison, Oregon
- Brandon Carter, TCU
- Bryce Treggs, California
- Chris Harper, California
- Christion Jones, Alabama
- DeAndrew White, Alabama
- Devin Smith, Ohio State
- Dres Anderson, Utah
- Ezell Ruffin, San Diego State
- Gabe Marks, Washington State
- Geremy Davis, Connecticut
- J.D. McKissic, Arkansas State
- Jamal Robinson, Louisiana-Lafayette
- Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State
- Jordan Williams, Ball State
- Josh Harper, Fresno State
- Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa
- Levi Norwood, Baylor
- Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
- Mario Alford, West Virginia
- Marquez North, Tennessee
- Shaq Roland, South Carolina
- Stacy Coley, Miami
- Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
The Top 25 Tight Ends
1. Devin Funchess, Michigan
2. O.J. Howard, Alabama
3. Nick O’Leary, Florida State
4. Jake McGee, Virginia
5. Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
6. Clive Walford, Miami
7. Rory Anderson, South Carolina
8. Randall Telfer, USC
9. Ben Koyack, Notre Dame
10. Wes Saxton, South Alabama
11. Tyler Kroft, Rutgers
12. Kyle Carter, Penn State
13. Hunter Henry, Arkansas
14. Connor Hamlett, Oregon State
15. Gerald Christian, Louisville
16. Braxton Deaver, Duke
17. Brian Vogler, Alabama
18. C.J. Uzomah, Auburn
19. Pharaoh Brown, Oregon
20. E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State
21. Kivon Cartwright, Colorado State
22. Maxx Williams, Minnesota
23. Tyreese Russell, Eastern Michigan
24. Jay Rome, Georgia
25. Johnny Mundt, Oregon
Other Tight Ends to Watch
- Alan Cross, Memphis
- Billy Freeman, San Jose State
- Blake Bell, Oklahoma
- Brendan Downs, Tennessee
- Cameron Clear, Texas A&M
- Casey Pierce, Kent State
- Cethan Carter, Nebraska
- Connor Cella, Rice
- Evan Engram, Ole Miss
- Giorgio Newberry, Florida State
- Jack Tabb, North Carolina
- Jesse James, Penn State
- Jimmy Mundine, Kansas
- Jonnu Smith, Florida International
- Joshua Perkins, Washington
- Josiah Price, Michigan State
- Justin Sinz, Purdue
- Justin Tukes, UCF
- Kalvin Cline, Virginia Tech
- Luke Kaumatule, Stanford
- Malcolm Johnson, Mississippi State
- Manasseh Garner, Pittsburgh
- Mike McFarland, South Florida
- Sam Arneson, Wisconsin
- Travis Dickson, LSU
The Top 25 Offensive Linemen
1. Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
2. Cameron Erving, Florida State
3. Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
4. Brandon Scherff, Iowa
5. Tre Jackson, Florida State
6. Andrus Peat, Stanford
7. Jake Fisher, Oregon
8. La’El Collins, LSU
9. Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
10. Spencer Drango, Baylor
11. Josue Matias, Florida State
12. Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
13. Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
14. Arie Kouandjio, Alabama
15. Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
16. Jack Conklin, Michigan State
17. Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati
18. Reese Dismukes, Auburn
19. Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
20. Brandon Shell, South Carolina
21. Sean Hickey, Syracuse
22. B.J. Finney, Kansas State
23. Max Tuerk, USC
24. Quinton Spain, West Virginia
25. Donovan Smith, Penn State
Other Offensive Linemen to Watch
- AJ Cann, South Carolina
- Alex Kozan, Auburn
- Alex Redmond, UCLA
- Austin Blythe, Iowa
- Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern
- Brett Boyko, UNLV
- Cyril Lemon, North Texas
- Dan Voltz, Wisconsin
- Daniel Quave, Louisiana-Lafayette
- David Andrews, Georgia
- Dominic Espinosa, Texas
- Evan Boehm, Missouri
- Jack Allen, Michigan State
- Jake Smith, Louisville
- Jerald Hawkins, LSU
- Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers
- Laken Tomlinson, Duke
- Landon Turner, North Carolina
- Malcolm Bunche, UCLA
- Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
- Rowdy Harper, Houston
- Ryan Kelly, Alabama
- Shaquille Mason, Georgia Tech
- Torrian Wilson, UCF
- Tyler Loos, Northern Illinois
The Top 25 Defensive Ends
1. Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
2. Vic Beasley, Clemson
3. Leonard Williams, USC
4. Randy Gregory, Nebraska
5. Trey Flowers, Arkansas
6. Cedric Reed, Texas
7. Noah Spence, Ohio State
8. Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
9. Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State
10. Shawn Oakman, Baylor
11. Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
12. Henry Anderson, Stanford
13. Martin Ifedi, Memphis
14. Dante Fowler Jr., Florida
15. Joey Bosa, Ohio State
16. Ray Drew, Georgia
17. Anthony Chickillo, Miami
18. Markus Golden, Missouri
19. Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
20. Carl Lawson, Auburn
21. Jermauria Rasco, LSU
22. Tony Washington, Oregon
23. Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
24. Devonte Fields, TCU
25. Andre Monroe, Maryland
Other Defensive Ends to Watch
- Beau Barnes, SMU
- Brock Hekking, Nevada
- Bronson Kaufusi, BYU
- Chris Casher, Florida State
- C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss
- C.J. Olaniyan, Penn State
- Corey Crawford, Clemson
- Deion Barnes, Penn State
- Dylan Wynn, Oregon State
- Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
- Eddie Yarbrough, Wyoming
- Eli Harold, Virginia
- Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
- Frank Clark, Michigan
- Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
- Ifeadi Odenigbo, Northwestern
- Josh Shirley, Washington
- Marcus Rush, Michigan State
- Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
- Shaq Lawson, Clemson
- Sheldon Day, Notre Dame
- Silverberry Mouhon, Cincinnati
- Terrell Stanley, East Carolina
- Thomas Niles, UCF
- Theiren Cockran, Minnesota
The Top 25 Defensive Tackles
1. Michael Bennett, Ohio State
2. Chris Jones, Mississippi State
3. Christian Covington, Rice
4. A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
5. Grady Jarrett, Clemson
6. Carl Davis, Iowa
7. Travis Raciti, San Jose State
8. Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
9. Darius Hamilton, Rutgers
10. Thomas Teal, NC State
11. Gabe Wright, Auburn
12. Brandon Ivory, Alabama
13. Malcom Brown, Texas
14. Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
15. Danny Shelton, Washington
16. Justin Hamilton, Louisiana-Lafayette
17. Isaac Gross, Ole Miss
18. Chucky Hunter, TCU
19. Leon Orr, Florida
20. Quentin Thomas, LSU
21. Arik Armstead, Oregon
22. Darius Philon, Arkansas
23. Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech
24. Antwaun Woods, USC
25. Chuka Ndulue, Oklahoma
Other Defensive Tackles to Watch
- Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
- Alex Balducci, Oregon
- Darius Kilgo, Maryland
- David Parry, Stanford
- Demetris Anderson, UCF
- Desmond Jackson, Texas
- Eddie Goldman, Florida State
- Elkino Watson, South Florida
- Ellis McCarthy, UCLA
- Kaleb Eulls, Mississippi State
- Jamal Bruce, Duke
- James Castleman, Oklahoma State
- Jarron Jones, Notre Dame
- Javonte Magee, Baylor
- Jaxon Hood, Arizona State
- J.T. Surratt, South Carolina
- Leterrius Walton, Central Michigan
- Matt Hoch, Missouri
- Montravius Adams, Auburn
- Olsen Pierre, Miami
- Rodney Coe, Iowa State
- Shawn Underwood, North Carolina
- Terry Redden, Memphis
- Vincent Valentine, Nebraska
- Warren Herring, Wisconsin
The Top 25 Linebackers
1. Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
2. Myles Jack, UCLA
3. Hayes Pullard, USC
4. Denzel Perryman, Miami
5. Ramik Wilson, Georgia
6. A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
7. Shaq Thompson, Washington
8. Derrick Matthews, Houston
9. Amarlo Herrera, Georgia
10. Trey DePriest, Alabama
11. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
12. Eric Striker, Oklahoma
13. Jabari Hunt-Days, Georgia Tech
14. AJ Tarpley, Stanford
15. Eric Kendricks, UCLA
16. Jake Ryan, Michigan
17. Stephone Anthony, Clemson
18. Bryce Hager, Baylor
19. Chi Chi Ariguzo, Northwestern
20. Derrick Malone, Oregon
21. Ejiro Ederaine, Fresno State
22. Steve Edmond, Texas
23. Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
24. Addison Gillam, Colorado
25. Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
Other Linebackers to Watch
- Antonio Morrison, Florida
- Ben Heeney, Kansas
- Branden Jackson, Texas Tech
- Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn
- Curtis Grant, Ohio State
- Darian Claiborne, Texas A&M
- David Santos, Nebraska
- Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
- Desmond Morgan, Michigan
- Dyshawn Davis, Syracuse
- Frank Shannon, Oklahoma
- James Vaughters, Stanford
- Jordan Hicks, Texas
- Junior Sylvestre, Toledo
- Kelby Brown, Duke
- Leonard Floyd, Georgia
- Mason Monheim, Illinois
- Michael Taylor, Florida
- Mike Hull, Penn State
- Quayshawn Nealy, Georgia Tech
- Ryan Simmons, Oklahoma State
- Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss
- Terrance Plummer, UCF
- Terrance Smith, Florida State
- Tyler Matakevich, Temple
The Top 25 Cornerbacks
1. Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
2. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
3. Blake Countess, Michigan
4. Marcus Peters, Washington
5. Lorenzo Doss, Tulane
6. Wayne Lyons, Stanford
7. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
8. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
9. Quandre Diggs, Texas
10. Trae Waynes, Michigan State
11. Damian Swann, Georgia
12. Byron Jones, Connecticut
13. Ronald Darby, Florida State
14.Steven Nelson, Oregon State
15. Doran Grant, Ohio State
16. Jacoby Glenn, UCF
17. Jalen Mills, LSU
18. Charles Gaines, Louisville
19. P.J. Williams, Florida State
20. Desmond King, Iowa
21. Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech
22. Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia
23. Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
24. Alex Carter, Stanford
25. Tim Scott, North Carolina
Other Cornerbacks to Watch
- Bennett Okotcha, UTSA
- Bobby McCain, Memphis
- Bryce Callahan, Rice
- Cam Thomas, Western Kentucky
- Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
- D’Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic
- Devin Bass, Ohio
- Donald Celiscar, Western Michigan
- Donte Deayon, Boise State
- Greg Henderson, Colorado
- Jalen Collins, LSU
- Jeremiah Johnson, Maryland
- Jordan Lucas, Penn State
- Justin Cox, Mississippi State
- KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame
- Kevin White, TCU
- Ladarius Gunter, Miami
- Le’Vander Liggins, Louisiana Tech
- Merrill Noel, Wake Forest
- Nick VanHoose, Northwestern
- Nick Waisome, Florida State
- Sojourn Shelton, Wisconsin
- Tevin Mitchel, Arkansas
- Tim Bennett, Indiana
- Tracy Howard, Miami
The Top 25 Safeties
1. Derron Smith, Fresno State
2. Anthony Harris, Virginia
3. Jordan Richards, Stanford
4. Sam Carter, TCU
5. Josh Shaw, USC
6. Landon Collins, Alabama
7. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
8. Jeremy Cash, Duke
9. Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
10. Corey Cooper, Nebraska
11. Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss
12. Ronald Martin, LSU
13. Kyshoen Jarrett, Virginia Tech
14. Su’a Cravens, USC
15. Jermaine Whitehead, Auburn
16. Tony Conner, Ole Miss
17. Adrian Amos, Penn State
18. Trevon Stewart, Houston
19. Rohan Gaines, Arkansas
20. Karl Joseph, West Virginia
21. Clayton Geathers, UCF
22. Chris Hackett, TCU
23. Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Arizona
24. Cody Riggs, Notre Dame
25. Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee State
Other Safeties to Watch
- Adrian McDonald, Houston
- Alan Turner, Arkansas
- Anthony Jefferson, UCLA
- Braylon Webb, Missouri
- Brian Randolph, Tennessee
- Brison Williams, South Carolina
- Darion Monroe, Tulane
- Deon Bush, Miami
- Dominique Green, North Carolina
- Durell Eskridge, Syracuse
- Elijah Shumate, Notre Dame
- Eric Rowe, Utah
- Erick Dargan, Oregon
- Howard Matthews, Texas A&M
- Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
- Isaiah Johnson, Kansas
- Jared Tevis, Arizona
- Jeremy Ioane, Boise State
- Lorenzo Waters, Rutgers
- Michael Mudoh, Tulsa
- Nate Andrews, Florida State
- Quentin Hayes, Oklahoma
- Ray Vinopal, Pittsburgh
- Robenson Therezie, Auburn
- Sean Davis, Maryland
The Top 10 Kickers
1. Roberto Aguayo, Florida State
2. Andy Phillips, Utah
3. Marvin Kloss, South Florida
4. Marshall Morgan, Georgia
5. Austin Lopez, San Jose State
6. Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
7. Jeremiah Detmer, Toledo
8. Shawn Moffitt, UCF
9. Michael Geiger, Michigan State
10. Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State
The Top 10 Punters
1. Drew Kaser, Texas A&M
2. Spencer Roth, Baylor
3. Mike Sadler, Michigan State
4. Will Monday, Duke
5. Austin Rehkow, Idaho
6. Tom Hackett, Utah
7. A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech
8. Ethan Perry, TCU
9. Nick O’Toole, West Virginia
10. Sean Covington, UCLA
The Top 25 True Freshmen
1. Jabrill Peppers, CB, Michigan
2. Cameron Robinson, OT, Alabama
3. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
4. Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia
5. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
6. Tony Brown, CB, Alabama
7. Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama
8. Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M
9. Damian Prince, OT, Maryland
10. Bo Scarborough, RB, Alabama
11. Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
12. Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
13. Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M
14. Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee
15. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
16. Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
17. Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
18. Damon Webb, CB, Ohio State
19. Malik McDowell, DE, Michigan State
20. Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
21. Rod Taylor, OG, Ole Miss
22. Arrion Springs, CB, Oregon
23. K.D. Cannon, WR, Baylor
24. David Sharpe, OT, Florida
25. Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma