Which College Football Freshmen Could Be One-and-Done If the NFL Allowed?
College basketball is typically the short-term home for the best NBA draft prospects. But while the best players spend a year in college before heading to the NBA, top football talents must wait three years to become eligible for the NFL draft.
What if that weren't the case?
The hypothetical demands an immediate qualifier: Only the rarest of exceptions—Adrian Peterson and Trevor Lawrence among them—would actually be top NFL prospects after their freshmen year. Otherwise, one-and-done players would be more comparable to the draft-and-stash selections made in the NBA.
Expecting an immediate NFL starter would be foolish. But the opportunity to add such a promising and young football talent would certainly be an enticing possibility, too.
While the selections are highly subjective, physical size, tested athleticism and perceived upside were all considered.
Will Anderson Jr., DE, Alabama
Exceptional quickness aided his rise; he piled up 37 tackles for loss with 22 sacks last fall. Anderson enrolled early at Alabama and has had a chance to earn rotational snaps following the departures of Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis.
Listed at 6'4" and 230 pounds, Anderson will benefit from nutrition and strength programs. And once that happens, he'll likely be a nightmare for college linemen to contain.
Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
The nation's No. 1 prospect is included. Shocker. Wouldn't it be more of a surprise if Bryan Bresee weren't featured?
Bresee, who is 6'5" and 290 pounds, enrolled at Clemson in January. Despite the short stay, he has already started to surpass the lofty expectations associated with his recruiting billing.
"He's been better than advertised," a source told Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.
Given his size, strength and versatility, which allows him to play several spots on the defensive line, Bresee would be worth a speculative pick.
Jordan Burch, DL, South Carolina
"He's a fantastic athlete," he said of Burch on WFNZ, per John Del Bianco of 247Sports. "He could flip over and play tight end and probably be as good a tight end as he is a defensive end. He's going to stay on defense, believe me."
Similar to Bresee, the 6'5", 275-pound Burch has the ability to play multiple spots on the defensive line. NFL teams would undoubtedly love to have a crack at molding him.
Julian Fleming, WR, Ohio State
As you'd expect from a 5-star, Julian Fleming checks every box.
With a 6'2", 199-pound frame, he's built to handle big cornerbacks. His 4.45-second 40-yard dash and 40-inch vertical leap translate to elite explosion. While he's adept at winning a 50-50 ball vertically, he also creates separation as a route-runner and looks natural catching passes.
Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are Ohio State's best receivers right now, but Fleming seems to be next in line.
Justin Flowe, LB, Oregon
Fast defenders are a pain to block. Smart defenders are reliable and instinctive.
Justin Flowe is an ideal example of those tools getting combined in one player. And it's a pretty useful mix for a linebacker, right?
The Oregon-bound standout is listed at 6'2" and 225 pounds. He has tremendous burst to attack the backfield, but his blend of instincts and unyielding play style makes him special. As a senior, he racked up 123 tackles (18 for loss) and 10 sacks while forcing five fumbles.
Flowe has the physical tools and emotional strength to develop into a fearsome linebacker. There's no doubt NFL teams want that.
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Throw on his highlight reel and you'll see an intelligent cornerback. But if you're looking to see why Kelee Ringo is such a promising talent, watch how he contributes with the ball in his hands.
Speed, burst, vision, agility—it's all there at an extremely high level. Ringo, put simply, is an incredible athlete.
Only complicating matters for opposing receivers will be his 6'2", 205-pound frame. Ringo won't be bullied, and his physicality as a defender is appealing, too. It's safe to suggest NFL scouts will be drawn to his mix of size, speed and tenacity.