College Football's Top 50 Players and Their NFL Comparisons

Ryne HodkowskiAnalyst INovember 17, 2011

College Football's Top 50 Players and Their NFL Comparisons

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    I want to do something special for you—the loyal reader—for the Thanksgiving holiday. To show my appreciation, I am going to give you a 2-for-1 article (my grocery store has 2-for-1 turkeys, so I know such a promotion exists in relation to the holiday).

    What two things are you getting? First…the top 50 college football players in the nation. Second, their NFL equivalent.

    “Equivalents” are based on a few factors. For one, it’s a comparison of size and speed. Next, we’re going to take into account the style in which the player plays. Add in intangibles, and you get what I believe are close “equivalents” for every college player.

    Keep in mind that I’m comparing all of these college players to well known current or former NFL players. Since the NFL players are well known, there’s a good chance that they’re very good as well. The purpose of this article isn’t to say that the college player will/won’t be as good as their comparison. It’s just to say that they exude the same characteristics and attributes outlined above.

    What NFL player is your favorite college player comparable to? Who is this guy from the MAC most like in the NFL? Read on to find out.

Ray Graham

1 of 50

    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 195

    Comparison: Jahvid Best


    Graham was the nation's leading rusher when he was lost for the season due to injury. He's short, strong, incredibly quick and is used in the passing game (he had 30 catches in just seven games).

    Best is similar in stature at 5'10", 199. Whoever ends up drafting Graham will get a player like Best; one who may not be extremely successful rushing between the tackles, but certainly can catch 50-plus passes out of the backfield and provide a major threat to the defense (I think Graham may even be quicker than Best).

Collin Klein

2 of 50

    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 225

    Comparison: Matt Jones


    Klein has been very impressive this season. He leads the nation in rushing touchdowns (24) and has rushed for over 1,000 yards. As a quarterback, he's only completed 59 percent of his passes and has a 10-5 TD-INT ratio.

    There's a good chance he won't play quarterback in the NFL. Klein played wide receiver in 2009 and is most likely to return to that position at the next level.

    Matt Jones is 6'6", 242 and made a similar transition. Jones was a quarterback at the University of Arkansas before being selected as a wide receiver in the draft. The only difference is that Jones never played receiver before. Klein has that advantage already.

Jonathan Martin

3 of 50

    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 305

    Comparison: Bryan Bulaga


    Martin is a big, athletic tackle. He has done well protecting Andrew Luck, but scouts around the nation are stating that Martin needs to improve on his pass blocking (his run blocking is fantastic).

    This likely means that Martin will start at right tackle. Bulaga played left tackle at Iowa, a predominantly rushing team, but has made the switch to right tackle for the Packer. Bulaga is 6'5", 315 and extremely athletic. I expect Martin to improve on his pass protection and be an effective tackle in the league for years to come.

Andre Branch

4 of 50

    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 260

    Comparison: Terrell Suggs


    Branch is one of many superstars on the Clemson Tigers this season. The senior end has 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss on the season. Watch the tape here of him performing against Virginia Tech, and you'll see that he can perform at the next level.

    He's big, athletic and quick. He would primarily be used as a pass rusher. At 3:05 in the clip, you can see the quick burst he has getting around the tackle (4:08 too). At times, he lined up in a two-point stance instead of the traditional three-point stance.

    I see him as a OLB/DE hybrid at the next level. He's a bit taller than Suggs (6'3"), but weighs the same. Suggs made a similar transition from playing DE in a 4-3 at Arizona State (or according to this, Ball So Hard University) to playing OLB in a 3-4. I think Branch has the athleticism to make the switch as well (you'll also see in the highlight reel that he loses contain sometimes in rush defense).

Marquess Wilson

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 185

    Comparison: A.J. Green


    Wilson is one of the nation's better-kept secrets. The sophomore at Wazzu has 15 career touchdowns and 2,300 yards receiving in his short time there.

    He's tall and lanky. His comparison will have to wait until he puts on some muscle to that 6'4" frame (and he will put on a lot).

    He has a long way to go to get to the size of Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Dwayne Bowe or Marques Colston (forty pounds in some cases), but I suppose anything is possible.

    At 6'4", 210 pounds, A.J. Green is the most comparable player in terms of height and weight. I expect Wilson to get to 205 or 210 pounds eventually.

    Wilson is only going to get bigger, better and gain more notoriety. Don't be surprised when he's eventually a first-round selection in the NFL draft.

Manti Te'o

6 of 50

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 255

    Comparison: James Laurinaitis 


    Te'o is big enough and fast enough to remain at inside linebacker in the NFL. He's very disciplined, fundamentally sound, fills holes well and then makes solid tackles when he finds the opponent.

    He reminds me a lot of Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis himself was very fundamentally sound, and as a result, he too was a tackling machine at Ohio State.

    At 6'2", 250, Laurinitis possess a similar frame as well.

Vinny Curry

7 of 50

    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 240

    Comparison: Cameron Wake

    Curry is having a great season at Marshall. He's second in the nation with 10.5 sacks and second in the nation in tackles for loss with 19. He's a great defensive end at the college level.

    I see him as a OLB/DE hybrid at the next level. His 240 is too small as of right now to play only defensive end. He has the athleticism to move to linebacker.

    He isn't quite as big as Suggs or Ware yet. I see him playing a role similar to Cameron Wake. Wake is only 6'3", 250, so Curry will eventually exceed Wake's size. Curry is athletic enough to line up at OLB, and if he puts on some weight, could walk up and play defensive end. This is how the Dolphins use Wake.

    Curry is going to be a late first-round, early second-round type of pick. Someone is going to like what he brings to the table and have a plan of how to utilize his skills. Whoever believes in Curry will be rewarded.

Michael Dyer

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    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 210

    Comparison: Frank Gore


    People seem to have forgotten about Michael Dyer this season, and that is a shame. Dyer is getting more carries this season and will eclipse his impressive freshman season in every stat possible.

    Dyer is short, well-built, strong and explosive. Equivalently, Gore is 5'9", 215 pounds and still has top-end speed. Neither player is used much in the passing game. Despite being short, each player has the power to run between-the-tackles, and each can burn the defense once they get free.

Melvin Ingram

9 of 50

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 272

    Comparison: LaMarr Woodley


    At 6"2", Ingram is a bit short for DE, the position he currently plays. He came to South Carolina as a linebacker and was subsequently moved, but my guess is that he'll go back to playing OLB in the NFL, most likely in a 3-4 scheme.

    This makes sense because he is so well-built and heavy at 272. Odds are that he'll get down to about 260 for his NFL days, and he has enough speed to play the position.

    Woodley is 6'2", 265 pounds and played DE at the University of Michigan. Now, he plays OLB on the Steelers vaunted 3-4 defense.

    I see Ingram following a similar path.

Jordan White

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    Height: 6'0"

    Weight: 215

    Comparison: Roddy White


    White already has 108 receptions on the season, all good for 1,389 yards. Last season, he tallied 1,387 yards, and he has 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

    It would be easy to compare him to Greg Jennings, a former WMU Bronco. White is slightly bigger than Jennings, though, and has had more success than Jennings at WMU (which is saying a lot).

    I'd like to see Jordan White develop into someone like Roddy White. Roddy is 6'0" 210 pounds and has an overall similar style to Jordan. Jordan White will never be as big as Larry Fitzgerald, Dwayne Bowe or Dez Bryant, and he won't be as fast as Mike Wallace or Steve Smith. Neither fact implies that he can't produce. I can see him being a quality No. 2 receiver who catches a lot of passes.

Patrick Edwards

11 of 50

    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 175

    Comparison: Davone Bess


    Edwards is the biggest beneficiary of QB Case Keenum's proficient passing. Edwards has 1,277 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. It's the third year in a row he has eclipsed 1,000 yards.

    He's small and doesn't possess the same blinding speed as other small receivers in the league. But, he can be productive as a slot receiver.

    Bess is 5'10", 190 and came from a spread offense at Hawaii. Bess had more receptions on average while at Hawaii, but the two are similar in build. Edwards can produce similar results in the NFL.

Geno Smith

12 of 50

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 215

    Comparison: Alex Smith


    Smith is lanky and lean for his 6'3" frame. He has a strong arm and would benefit from putting on another 10-15 pounds, which he eventually will do. He will be a beneficiary of having played in a high-powered spread offense for two years under Dana Holgorsen.

    Going off of that spread ideology, Smith's greatest attribute is spreading the ball around to a variety of receivers. Eight receivers have caught more than 10 passes for the Mountaineers this season.

    Alex Smith is 6'4", 215, so he is similarly lanky. Neither player is a major threat to run. Smith was a beneficiary of being an "intelligent quarterback," having led Urban Meyer's Utah Utes to a perfect season in 2004.

    I don't expect Geno Smith to be taken No. 1 overall the way Alex Smith was. I do anticipate there being discussion of how Geno can spread the ball around and is an intelligent player. I think he'll end up being a late round selection, and his ceiling is Alex Smith.

Whitney Mercilus

13 of 50

    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 265

    Comparison: Jason Pierre-Paul


    Mercilus has exploded onto the scene this season, leading the nation in sacks with 12.5 after tallying one last season. He is also third in the nation in tackles for loss with 17.5.

    Mercilus is getting bigger and bigger. He's only played full-time in college for one season. I don't think he has the athleticism to make a transition to outside linebacker the way some of these other defensive ends I have listed do.

    If he puts on another 15 pounds, he'll be massive. Pierre-Paul is 6'5", 278 and has remained a defensive end after playing one at USF. I think it would be better for Mercilus to bulk up and stay at the position than to be moved to OLB. He can still be dominant force at the end position, the same way Pierre-Paul is this season with his 9.5 sacks.

Montee Ball

14 of 50

    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 210

    Comparison: BenJarvus Green-Ellis


    Ball is short and well-built and benefits greatly from running behind one of the best offensive lines in the game. He has a high yards per carry average, but may lack top-end speed.

    Still, it's hard to ignore someone who has the Big Ten single season record for rushing touchdowns and has rushed for 1,200 yards and counting this season.

    Green-Ellis is 5'11", 215 and is overall a very similar player to Ball. They have a similar make-up, similar speed and can do similar things (run between tackles, but aren't as good in the passing game).

    I can see Ball becoming part of a running back rotation somewhere in the NFL. He'll be used to it by then.

Quinton Coples

15 of 50

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 270

    Comparison: Brian Orakpo


    There aren't going to be many defensive ends in the NFL bigger than Coples (Julius Peppers and Jared Allen are the only ones which come to mind). Still, Coples has great speed and athleticism, both of which may help him transition to an OLB in a 3-4 set.

    It will be interesting to see what NFL teams decide to do with Coples. On one hand, Coples played defensive tackle a couple of years ago in college, so a transition to OLB would be very rare. On the other hand, his sack numbers are down this season (10 to 4.5), and he has the size and athleticism to make a switch.

    Orakpo is 6'4", 260 pounds. Therefore, he isn't as big as Coples, but he made the transition from DE at the University of Texas to OLB for the Redskins. Coples could be the next Orakpo, or he could put on 15 pounds, develop a mean streak and some technical skills for the position and become the next Jared Allen or Mario Williams.

    My guess is it's more towards Orakpo.

Marcus Lattimore

16 of 50

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 230

    Comparison: Adrian Peterson


    Lattimore's season ended early due to injury, but he's still one of the 50 best players. It is probably a good thing that he's only a sophomore and will have another season of college to rehab his knee before making the jump to the NFL.

    He burst onto the scene last year, rushing for nearly 1,200 yards as a true freshman. He was on his way to eclipsing that mark this season before the injury. He was averaging 24 carries per game going into the Mississippi State game (the one in which he was injured).

    At 6'1", Lattimore is the same height as Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. Peterson weighs in at 217 and Foster, 230. Therefore, Lattimore is more similar in build to Foster, but I expect Lattimore to shed a few pounds and get in better shape.

    Additionally, I don't see Lattimore as big of a threat to catch the pass as Foster is. I see him as a between-the-tackles, 25-30 carries a game, punishing running back, just like AP.

Travis Lewis

17 of 50

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 230

    Comparison: Sean Weatherspoon


    Lewis' numbers are skewed this season due to playing through injury. The senior broke his foot early in August and was expected to miss eight weeks, or approximately four games. Instead, he missed two.

    Last season, he tallied 109 tackles while playing outside linebacker. He turned down the NFL to come back and play for OU. Now, we just have to hope his injury doesn't hamper his chances of getting back to the NFL.

    Lewis is going to play weakside linebacker in a 4-3 defense somewhere in the NFL. He isn't going to be expected to rush the quarterback, but he's going to use his athleticism to plug holes and help in pass defense.

    I see him turning out like Sean Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon is young, but he's already cemented his place as weakside linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons. At 6'2", 245, Weatherspoon is comparable in size and athleticism.

    Lewis may not be taken as highly as Weatherspoon was (19th overall) due to his injury. Whoever ends up taking him will get a tough, solid football player.

Chris Polk

18 of 50

    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 222

    Comparison: Michael Turner

    Polk is a great running back. When it's all said and done, he'll have rushed for around 4,000 yards in three years at Washington, one of those seasons being the dreaded 0-12 campaign.

    He averages 21 carries a game (34 against Arizona), so like Turner, he's a workhorse. He's the same height as Turner, but will have to put on some size to get to Turner's weight of 245. Regardless or not of whether he's able to put on all that poundage, we should realize the two have similar rushing styles.

    I expect Polk to be a mid-round selection in the NFL draft. He could be of great service to an NFL team as a pound-the-ball, between-the-tackles running back.

Lamar Miller

19 of 50

    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 210

    Comparison: Ben Tate


    Miller is well-built, but quick. He's only a sophomore, so he has time to put on some weight.

    He reminds me of Ben Tate at Auburn (5'11" 214). Tate went through offensive coordinator changes at Auburn and was never able to fully capitalize on his talent (great senior season, though). Despite that, he was taken in the second round of the NFL draft. He's young, but when given the starting position, he's shown he's as effective as Arian Foster.

    I expect Miller to be an early second-round pick as well and a nice complementary back in the NFL, if not more.

Tajh Boyd

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 230

    Comparison: Tarvaris Jackson


    Tajh Boyd is a big guy. He's accurate with his throws, has a good arm and is primarily a pocket passer.

    Because of his short stature and limited mobility, Boyd is a difficult player to project (not to mention he is only a sophomore). He most fits with the mold of Tarvaris Jackson (6'2" 225). Both guys are a bit on the short side, but strong.

    I expect Boyd to compete for a starting job in the NFL in the upcoming years. He's too talented not to.

Jarvis Jones

21 of 50

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 240

    Comparison: Takeo Spikes


    Where has this young man come from? The sophomore linebacker for the Dawgs is tearing up the competition, but acknowledgments are few and far between. He has no Wikipedia page, it's difficult to find a picture of him on Google and the only thing we know about him is that he transferred from USC.

    We know one other thing: He's completely dominant this season. He has 10 sacks, 16 tackles for loss and nine QB hurries...and this is his first season playing.

    He's only a sophomore, but with all the transferring he's done, he is eligible for the 2012 draft. After a win against Florida, he reassured reporters and fans that he planned on staying at UGA for at least one more year.

    Looking ahead, Jones seems to be very versatile. He has the measureables to be a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3, or an inside linebacker in a 3-4.

    I'm going to say he fits in better with the latter. He has shown his athleticism and ability to blitz, but has tremendous size to fill the middle. Spikes is currently 6'2" 240 and has been a staple at inside linebacker for 14 years. Spikes was always good for a couple of sacks on the season and had as many as six in 2001 when a member on the Bengals. I expect Jones to follow a similar path as the all-star veteran.

Bernard Pierce

22 of 50

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 220

    Comparison: Fred Jackson


    Pierce is a big, physical back who will be able to play at the next level. He's a between-the-tackles runner and hasn't been utilized much in the passing game.

    Fred Jackson is similar to Pierce in that he is deceptively large (6'1" 215). Jackson catches some passes out of the backfield, but so does pretty much everyone in the NFL.

    Pierce is going to be more well-known than Jackson was when he came out of Coe College. I don't think Pierce is going to sneak up on anyone in terms of production, but I do expect him to produce.

Devon Still

23 of 50

    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 310

    Comparison: Kevin Williams


    At 6'5", Still is huge for a defensive tackle. He can most likely add another 10-15 pounds, which would make him an absolute terror to block up the middle.

    His durability is a question mark. He had major ACL surgery just one season ago. Additionally, his frame makes him a bit of a tweener. He isn't a massive body like Haynesworth, Ngata or Sopoaga, and he isn't athletic enough to play nose. He doesn't have the pass rushing skills to get moved to defensive end.

    It is imperative that Williams put on some mass. As of now, Kevin Williams is 6'5", 315, and is enjoying his ninth season as a defensive tackle for the Vikings. I feel that until Still works on pass rushing skills, this is where he will most likely find himself: a one-technique on a 4-3 defense (lines up between guard and center).

Mark Barron

24 of 50

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 220

    Comparison: LaRon Landry


    At 6'2", 220, Barron is probably closer to linebacker size than he is safety. For example, Troy Polamalu is 5'10", 213, while Chad Greenway is 6'2", 242.

    At 6'0", 220, Landry is comprabale in size to Barron and is equally as hard of a hitter. Landry may have a step or two on Barron, however.

    Where Barron plays will be dependent on how fast he is. It could end up being that he's asked to put on 10 pounds and move to linebacker in a 4-3. This would put him closer to the size of someone like Phillip Wheeler (6'2", 240), or the aforementioned Greenway.

Chandler Harnish

25 of 50

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 220

    Comparison: Ryan Fitzpatrick


    Harnish offers up a mid-week treat nearly every single week, as he and the Huskies are "must-see-TV" in their weekday MAC games.

    On the year, Harnish has thrown for 2,600 yards, 22 TDs and only four interceptions. Impressive, right? Now add in that he has rushed for 1,203 yards and 10 TDs. He's going to finish with 3,000/1,500!

    Fitzpatrick (6'2", 225) has a similar build to Harnish and has also shown the ability to run the ball. Harnish isn't going to rush for 1,000-plus yards at the next level, but he will most likely provide a minor threat to run the ball at the next level.

    I see Harnish getting a chance somewhere. He'll be a backup at first, just as Fitzpatrick was. When Fitzpatrick was given an opportunity, he seized it and never looked back. We'll see if Harnish can do the same.

Dre Kirkpatrick

26 of 50

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 190

    Comparison: Charles Tillman


    Kirkpatrick is about as big as you can get at the cornerback position. Normally, you'll find 5'11", 6'0" blazers. Instead, Kirkpatrick is 6'2" and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash.

    Because of his size, Kirkpatrick has something that most corners can't match. The old adage is that you can't teach speed or height. Because of this, Kirkpatrick has the potential to be one of the game's greats.

    For now, he most reminds me of Charles Tillman. Tillman is 6'2", 200 and is a physical corner. He isn't the fastest person on the field, but he will go toe-to-toe with any wide receiver in the game.

    If Kirkpatrick can put on some size and improve his coverage, he can be a Nnamdi Asomugha (who is 6'2" 210). That is the ceiling for Kirkpatrick.

Vontaze Burfict

27 of 50

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 255

    Comparison: Derrick Johnson


    Burfict is a freak athlete at middle-linebacker. He's tall, big and fast for the position. He's a great tackler, and he plays with a mean streak.

    The closest comparison I can make is to Derrick Johnson, who is 6'3" 242. The two have similar builds and athleticism, but I am not certain whether Burfict would fit into a 3-4 as well as DJ has with Kansas City.

    At 255, Burfict is more similar in weight to fellow Sun Devil Terrell Suggs (260). Suggs came out of ASU as a defensive end, but their builds are similar if that helps.

    Burfict is a great athlete, and I expect him to be as successful at the next level as Johnson has been.

Michael Floyd

28 of 50

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 225

    Comparison: Brandon Marshall


    Floyd is a big, physical receiver that can be a deep threat despite not possessing blinding speed. He has shown the ability to single-handedly take over games.

    Marshall is 6'4", 230 and catches a lot of passes for a small average (from 2007-2010, he averaged 98 catches for 1,181 yards and 6.5 TDs a season).

    I see Floyd being a similar possession receiver in the NFL. He's dangerous deep without blinding speed and capable of catching short passes and making something happen after the catch.

Courtney Upshaw

29 of 50

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 275

    Comparison: Tamba Hali


    There really is no comparison to Upshaw's build. He's only 6'1", but he's 275 pounds. Have you ever heard of this?

    He's listed as an OLB at Alabama, but often times, he will walk-up and lineup where a DE traditionally would. He figures to continue to play this role in the NFL with an emphasis on playing linebacker (most likely).

    Hali played defensive end at Penn State, a 4-3 scheme. Still, he was moved to OLB in the Chiefs' 3-4 defense. He's 6'3", 275, so while slightly taller than Upshaw, he was/is also a "tweener."

    Upshaw may be hurt by his un-traditional frame, as fewer teams will feel that he can fit into their scheme. Someone will feel strongly about him, however, and they'll get a good football player who is going to produce.

David Wilson

30 of 50

    Height: 5'10"

    Weight: 205

    Comparison: Shonn Greene


    You can see just from this picture that Wilson is a load. He's rushed for 123 yards or more in every game but one this season (85 yards against Arkansas State).

    He's a junior, so he's only going to get bigger and bigger. He's taller than MJD and Ray Rice, but would have to put on around 40 pounds to get to be the size of Michael Turner.

    His frame and style are both similar to Shonn Greene. Greene is 5'11", 226 and was a workhorse in college as well (but only started one season).

    Greene carried the ball 307 times for 1850 yards his junior season at Iowa. Through 10 games, Wilson has 210 carries for 1,360 yards. He's playing at least three more games (four if they make the ACC title), which will put him in the high 200s for carries and right around 1,800 for yardage.

Matt Kalil

31 of 50

    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 295

    Comparison: Jake Long


    Kalil is a tremendous athlete for his size. He is great in pass blocking for Matt Barkley and is tremendous in run blocking as well.

    Watch a USC game and you will see. USC runs toss-left approximately five times a game, and Kalil can really get out to the perimeter quickly and make a great block.

    At 6'7", 315, Jake Long was taken No. 1 overall in 2008. Long was known for his strength as a run blocker, and Kalil is no different.

Ronnie Hillman

32 of 50

    Height: 5'10"

    Weight: 190

    Comparison: LeSean McCoy


    Let me be the first to point out that the all-time NCAA rushing record could be in serious jeopardy.

    Hillman rushed for 1,532 yards as a freshman last year. This season he already has 1,278 (and was only 50 percent last week with an ankle sprain). Hillman has a long way to go, but he figures to be at SDSU for four years, so Ron Dayne's 6,397 isn't impossible.

    How he compares to NFL players will depend on how much bulking up he does. Right now, he's on the short side, and not as bulky as Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew. He isn't nearly as physically punishing as Adrian Peterson or Steven Jackson either.

    Physically, he's most like McCoy (5'11" 208). It may seem as if Hillman would need to work on his receiving game to match McCoy's production, and he does, but he has time. McCoy caught 65 passes in two seasons at Pittsburgh, so it isn't as if he were the threat through the air then as he is now.

Tyrann Mathieu

33 of 50

    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 175

    Comparison: Brandon Flowers


    What can you say about a guy like Mathieu that hasn't been said already? He's tenacious, he's a playmaker, he's extremely physical for his size and he always finds the ball. And...he's only a sophomore.

    I don't know if he's done growing or not, but I know that he can get himself up to 190 and play in the NFL. Flowers is playing football at an extremely high level for the Chiefs at 5'9", 187. He will break-up the pass, come up in run support, force fumbles and intercept the pass.

    I expect Mathieu to continue to get discriminated against for his small size. It won't matter. This guy will eventually find his way onto an NFL roster and be a great player.

Don't'a Hightower

34 of 50

    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 260

    Comparison: Karlos Dansby


    Hightower is a versatile player. He has the size to fill the middle, but the speed (4.67-40) to cover the field. As a result, he can play inside or outside in a 3-4.

    Dansby is 6'4", 260 and played inside linebacker at rival Auburn. Since then, he has developed as a strong ILB on the Dolphins 3-4 scheme. He's a bit faster than Hightower as of now (he was clocked 4.56 at the 2004 combine), but the two are nearly identical in size.

    I expect Hightower to be taken by a team that runs the 3-4 and easily insert him at ILB.

Sammy Watkins

35 of 50

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 180

    Comparison: Mike Wallace


    Watkins is a hard person to compare when it comes to size, as the speedster is only a freshman and figures to grow. We'll figure that he grows slightly and doesn't lose any of his remarkable quickness.

    He'll have to grow significantly to get to the size of Larry Fitzgerald (6'2", 218), so it's more likely he maintains a frame more similar to Wallace (6'0", 199). He's as fast as Wallace, and when he eventually makes the league, he'll have an inch or two on the Steeler.

    It should be noted that Watkins also returns punts and sometimes kicks (like the one he returned for a touchdown against Maryland). This places him in the realm of the DeSean Jacksons. But, he's already significantly bigger than Jackson (5'10" 175).

    As you can tell, Watkins has the tools to be a special player in the NFL.

Brandon Weeden

36 of 50

    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 220

    Comparison: Chris Weinke


    This may seem like I am a culprit of age discrimination, but the two are very similar.

    Weinke is 6'4", 230. Weinke played in an explosive offense at Florida State (probably not as good as OSU's, though). And just like Weeden, Weinke spent his early and mid 20's playing baseball.

    Weinke was picked in the fourth round of the draft at age 28. If Weeden is selected in the 2012 draft, he will be 28.

    I feel that like Weinke, Weeden is going to get a shot somewhere in the NFL. He will be drafted in the middle rounds and provide early-back-up. Organizations can't bet the farm on him since he's already 28, but they'd be foolish to overlook him entirely.

Luke Kuechly

37 of 50

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 235

    Comparison: Paul Posluszny


    Kuechly led the nation in tackles last season and is easily on his way to doing so again. Whoever drafts Kuechly is going to get a guy who will find the ball at all times.

    Kuechly isn't the fastest or the best athlete on the field, but he gets the job done. He may have the frame to put on a few pounds.

    At 6'1", 238, Posluszny is very similar in build. Additionally, Posluszny had a knack for finding the football at Penn State despite not being the biggest or fastest player on the field.

Kellen Moore

38 of 50

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 190

    Comparison: Colt McCoy


    Above all else, Kellen Moore is one thing. He's a winner.

    Moore recently broke the all-time NCAA record for wins by a starting quarterback. No matter what team you play for or what your height and weight are, that's a major accomplishment.

    At 6'1", 215, Colt McCoy provides the most accurate physical comparison. McCoy was a four-year starter at the University of Texas and won his fair share of games as well. The two have similar builds, arm strength and pedigrees.

Russell Wilson

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    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 205

    Comparison: Seneca Wallace


    Wilson is on the small-side when it comes to NFL quarterbacks (Brees is 6'0"). Still, I expect someone to draft him and give him a chance at the position before they try to move him around.

    With his size, arm strength and mobility, he is most reminiscent of Seneca Wallace. Wallace is 5'11", 220 pounds, and has shown enough flashes of talent at the QB position to stay there rather than be moved to wide receiver.

    I expect the same for Wilson. I think he's smart and talented enough to be taken in the late rounds of the draft and could be a valuable back-up for a team.

Robert Woods

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 180

    Comparison: Reggie Wayne


    Woods is only a sophomore, but he already does just about everything right. He runs great routes. He has great speed. He has great hands. He runs well after the catch.

    If he puts on another 20 pounds in the next two years, he can be a tremendous weapon in the NFL. He'll be able to catch the ball underneath and stretch the defense deep.

    Wayne doesn't have the exact same make-up as Woods, but their games remind me of each other. Wayne is 6'0", 198, so Woods should surpass Wayne in both departments. That said, I expect Woods to put up numbers similar to what Wayne put up in his heyday. Woods is a receiver who can beat you deep or catch 15-yard outs all day, just like Wayne.

Justin Blackmon

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 210

    Comparison: Anquan Boldin


    In the past decade, we've seen receivers get bigger and faster. Randy Moss, T.O., Calvin Johnson and even Larry Fitzgerald are all bigger than Blackmon. Smaller guys like DeSean Jackson and Mike Wallace are faster than Blackmon. He's somewhere in-between.

    This isn't to say he won't be as good as any of those receivers. He's just different.

    He has good top-end speed, but not blazing. He is a great route-runner and has great hands. He will most likely put on 10-15 pounds and be a great receiver in the NFL.

    Boldin is 6'1", 225. He was never the fastest player in the NFL, but he had enough speed to threaten the defense deep. He's already in his ninth season in the NFL and has a solid 43 receptions on the season. I expect Blackmon to have as long and fruitful of a career as Boldin.

Ryan Broyles

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    Height: 5'10"

    Weight: 190

    Comparison: Greg Jennings


    The main hope now is that the season-ending injury to Ryan Broyles doesn't affect his ability to play at the next level. Despite missing a third of the season, Broyles was able to become the all-time leader in receptions, a remarkable statistic.

    Broyles is great, but he's small. He doesn't possess the blinding speed of other small guys like DeSean Jackson, but he can be a deep-threat.

    He's very similar to a player such as Greg Jennings. Jennings is 5'11", 198, so the two have similar builds. Jennings and Broyles each have great hands and are great route-runners.

    I expect Broyles to get healthy and be selected in the middle rounds of the NFL draft. If he can put on 10-15 pounds and maintain his health, he can be a quality receiver on many teams. Odds are that he will end up as a slot receiver, with Jennings being his ceiling.

Morris Claiborne

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    Height: 6'0"

    Weight: 175

    Comparison: Carlos Rogers


    Claiborne is shooting up draft boards, and it's with good reason. He shows good speed, is relatively tall and will add to his body weight.

    I expect Claiborne to round out at around 190. This puts him in the upper echelon of cornerbacks in terms of height and weight.

    One player he is comparable to is Carlos Rogers of the 49ers. Rogers is 6'0" 190 himself and has the physicality to go along with the size. Both players exhibit a mean-streak of sorts and are not afraid to help in run support.

    With Claiborne's measurables and steady improvement, I expect him to be a fixture in the NFL for a long time.

Robert Griffin III

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    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 220

    Comparison: Randall Cunningham


    RGIII seems to get better every week. He has shown that he can throw the ball deep this season and is a world-class athlete. Before even playing a football game as a freshman, Griffin earned all-American honors in track. He would win the 400m hurdles with the third fastest time in school history.

    Additionally, he's been selected to the Dean's list multiple times and has already graduated. If he returns to Baylor next season, he will have to be enrolled in some sort of classes. Rumor has it he's considering law school.

    RGIII is closer to Cunningham than he is to Vince Young and Cam Newton. Young and Newton are bigger and bulkier than Griffin, while Griffin is faster and has a stronger arm.

    Cunningham was 6'4", 220 pounds. So while the former Eagle has a couple of inches on RGIII, they have similar builds. I expect RGIII to be able to run the ball in the NFL, but not be a totally run dominant QB the way Michael Vick is. RGIII is a great athlete, just like Cunningham was, and could be as successful at the next level due to his playmaking ability and strong arm.

Landry Jones

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 230

    Comparison: Sam Bradford


    Jones is very similar to his predecessor, and I see them having similar career paths. Bradford is 6'4", 225, and they played in a similar spread offense despite the change in coordinators.

    Jones won't put up Bradford's gaudy 2009 numbers (4,700 yards, 50 touchdowns), but he is also throwing the ball a lot less than Bradford did. He is just as efficient as Bradford was overall and will be a high selection in the draft whenever he decides to come out.

Case Keenum

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    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 210

    Comparison: Kevin Kolb


    Keenum is a great college quarterback. He has broken nearly every important record, including all-time career passing yards and career touchdown passes.

    People will argue that Keenum is a "system quarterback," implying that he is only successful because of the system in which Houston runs. That's ridiculous. No one player totals that many yards and touchdowns because of a system.

    I would be worried about a transition in speed, however. Going from C-USA to the NFL is a big jump, and Keenum will have to be helped along. Additionally, he's already 23 and had a major injury last season.

    I see him projecting out to be like his predecessor, Kevin Kolb. Kolb is 6'3" 215 pounds, so they are similar in stature. Kolb was at Houston when Art Briles was the coach, but the two ran a similar pass-happy offense.

    I expect Keenum to be taken in the middle rounds of the NFL draft. He could provide a valuable back-up to teams.

Trent Richardson

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    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 220

    Comparison: Rashard Mendenhall


    Trent Richardson is a freak of nature. A detailed breakdown of his workout reveals that he is 5'11", 220 pounds, runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, benches 475 and squats 600 pounds.

    He is as big as Mendenhall, who stands at 5'10" 225, but is probably a bit faster. Still, the two are most like each other (Richardson is bigger than guys like MJD, and smaller than Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden).

    Richardson has a unique combination of power and speed and should be successful at the next level.

LaMichael James

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    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 185

    Comparison: Darren Sproles


    James is an incredibly tough football player, as evident by his short hiatus after dislocating his right elbow (you can see the pad on his elbow in this picture). Still, he's going to have to grow about four inches or put on 25 pounds to be a between-the-tackle runner in the NFL.

    It's safe to say that won't happen. That doesn't mean James can't be of extreme value to some NFL team. He has blinding speed and would be well suited as a third down back.

    Sproles is a bit smaller than James (5'6" 190), but equally quick. For James to match Sproles' production, he will have to put on some weight and improve in the receiving game. If he can do those two things, he'll be a steal for some team in the second or third round of the draft.

Matt Barkley

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    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 220

    Comparison: Tony Romo


    In my opinion, Matt Barkley is every bit as good as Andrew Luck, but he'll never be taken over Luck because of his size.

    Barkley is a little smaller than most NFL quarterbacks, but has above-average arm strength and is extremely intelligent. He already plays in a pro-style offense and is a three-year starter at USC (he was first true freshmen to start in school history).

    Romo is 6'2", 230, and is a solid all-around QB. He isn't the biggest or fastest, and he doesn't have the strongest arm. That said, he can make every throw on the football field. Barkley is the same way (Barkley can also throw well on the move, as can Romo).

Andrew Luck

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 235

    Comparison: John Elway


    Luck has already been compared to just about every other quarterback that has ever played the game. Many have said that he is the best prospect since Peyton Manning, while others have upped the ante and said he's the best prospect since John Elway.

    At 6'4" he is the same height as Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Alex Smith and Matt Ryan...but he is a bit heavier and more mobile than any of those quarterbacks. He's not as tall as Peyton Manning, and he's the same height as Marino but doesn't have the same arm strength.

    All considered, his game most resembles Elway's. Elway was 6'3", 215 pounds, so Luck has the hall-of-famer in size, but Elway showed an ability to run. He wasn't as good of a runner as Steve Young, Cunningham or Vick, but he could run. I expect Luck to be as successful running the ball as Elway was.

    When you take all these measurables into account, you start to understand why Luck is considered one of the better prospects of the last 25 years. He's tall, quick and big. He's a unique blend that is rarely seen.