Bednarik Award Watch List 2014: Full List Released

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2014

USA Today

The Maxwell Football Club has officially announced the college football stars who've earned consideration on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award. 

The Bednarik Award has been given to the best defensive player dating back to 1995. Notable past winners include Charles Woodson, LaVar Arrington, Julius Peppers, Ndamukong Suh, Manti Te'o and Patrick Peterson.

The honor isn't a guarantee of pro success, but most of those players have gone on to have productive NFL careers, while Te'o and last year's winner, Aaron Donald, look primed for strong 2014 seasons.

This year's watch list features plenty of defensive standouts who will likely hear their name called on draft day very soon.

Here's a look at the full 2014 Bednarik watch list.

2014 Bednarik Award Watch List
Henry AndersonDEStanfordMyles JackLBUCLA
Stephone AnthonyLBClemsonGrady JarrettDTClemson
Vic BeasleyDEClemsonJordan JenkinsLBGeorgia
Michael BennettDTOhio StateA.J. JohnsonLBTennessee
Joey BosaDEOhio StateKarl JosephSWest Virginia
Kelby BrownLBDukeEric KendricksLBUCLA
Malcom BrownDTTexasHau'oli KikahaLBWashington
Shilique CalhounDEMichigan StateJordan LucasCBPenn State
Alex CarterCBStanfordLuther MaddyDTVirginia Tech
Sam CarterSTCUTyler MatakevichLBTemple
Jeremy CashSDukeLorenzo MauldinLBLouisvile
Frank ClarkDEMichiganBenardrick McKinneyLBMississippi State
Landon CollinsSAlabamaRyan MuellerDEKansas State
Christian CovingtonDTRiceShawn OakmanDEBaylor
Su'a CravensSUSCNorkeithus OtisDENorth Carolina
Carl DavisDTIowaDenzel PerrymanLBMiami
Trey DePriestLBAlabamaTerrance PlummerLBUCF
Quandre DiggsCBTexasCody PrewittSOle Miss
Lorenzo DossCBTulaneHayes PullardLBUSC
Kurtis DrummondSMichigan StateCedric ReedDETexas
Alvin DupreeDEKentuckyJordan RichardsSStanford
Mario EdwardsDEFlorida StateA'Shawn RobinsonDEAlabama
Ifo Ekpre-OlomuCBOregonJames RouseDTMarshall
Kyler FackrellLBUtah StateKeiVarae RussellCBNotre Dame
Devonte FieldsDETCUJake RyanLBMichigan
Trey FlowersDEArkansasFrank ShannonLBOklahoma
Leonard FloydLBGeorgiaDanny SheltonDTWashington
Dante FowlerDEFloridaDerron SmithSFresno State
Kendall FullerCBVirginia TechJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
Markus GoldenDEMissouriEric StrikerLBOklahoma
Randy GregoryDENebraskaCharles TapperDEOklahoma
Bryce HagerLBBaylorA.J. TarpleyLBStanford
Vernon Hargreaves IIICBFloridaRobenson TherezieSAuburn
Eli HaroldDEVirginiaShaq ThompsonLBWashington
Anthony HarrisSVirginiaTrae WaynesCBMichigan State
Ben HeeneyLBKansasLeonard WilliamsDEUSC
Chucky HunterDTTCUP.J. WilliamsCBFlorida State
Martin IfediDEMemphisRamik WilsonLBGeorgia

Stars to Watch

Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Leonard Williams was one of the best defensive linemen in the country last year, and he wasn't even 100 percent. In fact, he may have been closer to "65 to 70 percent" in 2013, according to Rahshaun Haylock of FoxSportsWest.com after surgery for a torn labrum.

"I'm just expecting to just be a lot better than I was last year," Williams said. "My last season was a lot better than my freshman season so I just want to gradually continue to get better."

The USC junior is equally capable of playing on the inside or outside of the defensive line. In his two years as a Trojan, he's compiled 13 sacks and 26 tackles for loss.

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 07:  Vernon Hargreaves #1 of the Florida Gators makes an interception during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It's always scary when a freshman establishes himself as the best at a certain position. You can only wonder where he might go from there.

Vernon Hargreaves III needed only one season to emerge as one of the best lockdown cornerbacks in the country. In his first year at Gainesville, he intercepted three passes and broke up another 11. Those 11 breakups tied Janoris Jenkins' school record for a freshman.

Teams may be a bit more wary of throwing Hargreaves' way, which could lead to a drop in production. His talent will never be in doubt, but if he doesn't have the numbers, Bednarik voters might not look his way, either.

Devonte Fields, DE, TCU

Oct 20, 2012; Fort Worth, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs defensive end Devonte Fields (95) defends against the Texas Tech Red Raiders offense during the game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The Red Raiders defeated the Horned Frogs 56-53 in overtime.  Mandatory Cre

Devonte Fields' freshman season couldn't have gone much better. He was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and earned a first-team selection on the All-Big 12 team.

It wasn't hard to see why Fields earned so many plaudits, as he racked up 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.

Injury derailed Fields' sophomore campaign, though, so the hype train has slowly idled into station for 2014.

NFL.com's Bryan Fischer believes that with a clean bill of health, the TCU star will get back to the player he was in 2012:

Whether you want to call it a breakout season or a comeback year, Fields is primed to return to form after a disappointing 2013 campaign. Injuries and a few off-the-field issues limited him, and he was barely present when he was on the field. He's had a good spring and looks to be even stronger than he was when he had a terrific freshman year. If he's 100 percent, he's a nightmare for opposing offenses.

The Horned Frogs should be a title contender in the Big 12, and Fields' performance will go a long way toward getting them near the top.

Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Myles Jack may be considered a two-way player, but he's a much better linebacker than he is a running back.

UCLA head coach Jim Mora said that Jack will get touches in the backfield, but he sounded far from committed to the idea, per Pac-12 Networks:

The Bruins sophomore was named to Phil Steele's preseason All-American team, via ESPN.com, and the college football writer believes that Jack may be destined for New York:

Last year Jack became the first player in Pac-12 history to be named the conference's freshman of the year on both the offensive and defensive sides. His 75 tackles were the second-most by a UCLA true freshman in school history and on offense he scored seven rushing touchdowns. If he exceeds that type of production this year, he could be a dark horse candidate to get an invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

In a way, being a two-way player may benefit Jack in the Bednarik discussion, much Tyrann Mathieu's prolific punt returns helped him in 2011.

The more attention drawn to Jack's snaps on offense will invariably lead to more voters seeing him on defense and truly appreciating how great a player he is.

Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson

Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;  Clemson Tigers defensive end Vic Beasley (3) reacts in the second half of the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Sun Life Stadium. The Tigers won 40-35. Mandatory Credit: Robert

Expectations were high for Vic Beasley last season, yet he somehow managed to exceed them, registering 13 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and six defended passes.

The Clemson senior could've easily entered last year's draft and made a good account of himself. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller tweeted back in January that Beasley could've earned a first-round grade:

Instead, he returned to school for his senior season and enters 2014 as one of the premier pass-rushers in the country. The Tigers lost a ton of offensive talent last year, but with Beasley leading the defense, they may be all right after all.

The only potential snag for Beasley's Bednarik campaign may be that constant double teams will lead to a drop in stats.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.