Top 5 College Football Players That Will Succeed In The NFL

Anthony D'AngioContributor IDecember 12, 2008

We could argue the technicalities all day long as we try to squeeze only 5 players into these slots when so many are available, but let's give it our best shot, shall we?


1) Michael Crabtree/WR (Texas Tech)

The ultimate package of talent, guts and determination. Sure I can throw out the statistical numbers (i.e. over 3,000 receiving yards, 227 receptions and 40 touchdowns in only two years at the collegiate level), but you can Google that yourself in five seconds.

He is a unique player and as "can't miss" of a product as Reggie Bush (knock on wood Mr. Crabtree...we all know how that has panned out thus far) three years ago. He is a physically large receiver at 6'3 and about 215 pounds who likes to throw his size around.

He punishes smaller defensive backs with his size and "scout drooling" ability to catch the pigskin at its highest point. While some scouts have concerns with his speed, I assure any doubters that this is not an issue.

He has great game speed and unlike most receivers, he doesn't have to run around you, as he can easily go through you. Crabtree is not afraid of contact and will lower his shoulder pad to pick up extra yards.

His weaknesses are his less stellar strengths. He possesses powerful yet elegant hands as he rarely drops a ball and he breaks down defenses by breaking off huge down-field plays or jail-break screens and dump off passes. He's a YAC kind of guy, certain top 10 pick this year if he elects to come out and will leave Lubbock as arguably the greatest college wide receiver EVER.


2) Colt McCoy/QB (Texas)

Shocked how highly I think of Colt McCoy? Don't be or you will be saying your apologies a few years down the road.

Believe it or not, McCoy is better than Vince Young and he will prove it at the NFL level. He's not quite as mobile as VY but QB speed will only take you so far on Sunday's anyways.

He has tremendous speed for his position, great size (6'3, 210) and such an accurate arm. He is the complete package for a quarterback in my opinion.

He has exceptional pocket presence, yet throws on the run as accurate as anyone in the nation. He has improved his strength more than anything this season as he's difficult to bring down in the pocket. He alludes from defensive pressure like he's chewing up competition in a game of grid-iron chess.

There will be Colt McCoy believers and doubters until he proves himself at the next stage, but he's the caliber player that can save a franchise.


3) Andre Smith/OT (Alabama)

Be honest with yourself. Before this year, have you ever heard of Glen Coffee? Anchor in a gigantic Andre Smith to the offensive line and suddenly a running back with a caffeine-related last name runs wild all over the SEC for almost 1,400 yards. He almost tripled....yes, tripled his production from last year.

Too many warriors in the trenches don't get enough respect and i'm here to serve it. He was the core of an Alabama team that surprisingly went 12-1 this year.

The guy is a load, has great footwork and loves to shove his Bigfoot-like hands in defenders' face masks. He opens up huge holes for his running backs and so much time for John Parker Wilson to throw that he could trot back to the sideline to confirm the next play before feeling any weak side pressure. It all starts on the front line and Andre Smith is the catalyst.


4) Brian Orakpo/DE (Texas)

Since when was it concluded that Michael Johnson was going to be the first DE taken in the draft? I love the size of Johnson, but Orakpo is a tackling machine. This unusual creature has arms the size of VW Beetles.

If you haven't seen his workout routine, take a look and then remove your jaw from the floor before the general public begins giving you an awkward eye. He bench presses 515 pounds, squats 600 pounds and power cleans 380. He is exceptionally conditioned at around 8 percent body fat, but possesses more than just physicality.

He's extremely intelligent in the classroom and on the field. He has a "knack" for knowing where the ball is going to be and I love those kinds of players. The Lombardi Award winner finished with 10.5 sacks this season and 18 tackles for a loss. 

I consider his stats somewhat meaningless because so much of what he does never shows up on the stat sheets. I firmly believe he will be the best DE to enter the draft since Mario Williams. 


5) Sam Bradford/QB (Oklahoma)

I'm sticking with the Big 12 theme here, because quite frankly I think the conference was home to the best players this year.

Last year I was Bradford's biggest critic. I didn't believe he was anything more than a "dump-off", "within 10 yards" passer and man has he proved me wrong this year.

I only give the edge to McCoy because he's more mobile and more physical, but Sam Bradford is going to be a star in the pros. He led his Oklahoma squad to the most potent offensive attack in college football history.

I know he's surrounded by tons of talent in the likes of DeMarco Murray, Jermaine Gresham and Juaquin Iglesias as well as a massive offensive line led by Duke Robinson, but Sam Bradford really is that good.

He passed for almost 4,500 yards and 48 touchdowns. Did I mention he only threw six interceptions all year? He has great pocket presence and such an accurate arm. Don't question his arm strength because it's there and he surprisingly has more mobility than initially perceived.


Just for gossip and giggles, let's round out the top 10.....

6) Michael Oher/OT (Ole Miss)

7) James Laurinaitis/ILB (Ohio State)

8) Michael Johnson/DE (Georgia Tech)

9) Percy Harvin/WR/RB (Florida)

10) Ray Maualuga/ILB (USC)


Again, these are the top 10 players whom I believe will make the biggest impact at the NFL level. This has no bearing on which players were the most productive in college.