After talking about the top offensive players at each position a couple of days ago, we now switch to the defensive side of the ball. So we are looking at the best edge rushers (meaning 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers primarily), interior defensive linemen (everything from nose tackle to 5-technique), off-ball linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties. Some of these guys are hybrid players, so I judged them according to where they line up primarily and what their best spot is. Once again, my criteria for which I judge them is their tape from their collegiate career so far, including the potential I see for them heading into this season, and I evaluate them as college players instead of NFL prospects, where they might fall a little lower because they don’t have pro measurements or athleticism necessarily.
After talking about the most intriguing questions heading into the 2019 college football season, which is right in front of us, I now want to present my five best players at each position. This list is mostly based on where I would rank them right now, but also partially me projecting where they will stack up mid-season. So with some of these established players I really rank them as of right now, but with others I have to consider the talent and what I think they will develop into this year. To do so, I watched plenty of tape on all the top performers from last season (and who stood out to me in limited action) and tried to break them down as individual players. So I did not want to take their team or supporting cast into context and simply judge them based on their ability. Therefore you might not see some of the more common names or guys with the best statistics where you would find them on most lists out there. And to avoid confusion, this is a ranking of them as college players – not simply draft prospects. Today we start things off with the offensive side of the ball.
Less than two weeks away from the NCAA season opener with the ACC’s Miami and SEC’s Florida making early cases for who is the top team in the Sunshine State, I wanted to give a little preview of the upcoming five months or so. To do that, I came up with my top ten storylines ahead of the upcoming college football season. While a lot of people may think this could be a two- or three-team race once again, several things are completely unpredictable and these are the themes that I will be following closely as the year goes along.
Every year there are prospects who boost their draft stock with amazing performances at the NFL scouting combine and then there are those who really hurt themselves with slow times in the fourty, a lack of explosiveness in the leaping events or bad on-field drills. With that being said, the combine is just a small part of the evaluation and most of the information can be found on tape. However, there are some things you see in Indianapolis that make you go back to the film and re-evaluate certain areas of these guys’ games, whether that may be stiffness in their hips, a lack of speed preventing defensive backs to survive full-time on the outside or heavy feet in the drills. Of course, these can also be positive, but for the most part it is just a confirmation of what you have already seen if nothing particularly stands out. The prospects I chose for this article are the ones who I wasn’t completely sure on where I would rank them among their position or on the big board, but really solidified or even improved their draft status.
Overall I think the linebackers and defensive linemen are the groups that really stood out on day three, which was to be expected to some degree but still was highly impressive, considering how they were able to move with the weight they carried. I was discouraged by some of the cornerbacks and there was only one quarterback who really left his mark in Indy in my opinion. Although there were a few performances that made me drop guys a few spots, I thought most of them helped themselves. So while there was nobody who completely threw off my board, I thought these young guys really shined over the weekend:
Ten weeks into the college football season and after Statement Saturday we have a picture of where teams stack up against each other. While I agree with the top six teams of the three major polls, I have some major shakeup throughout the rest of the list. I think the playoff committee has overvalued some teams in a big way while not giving some other programs the credit they deserve. To make myself clear – this is not a ranking of how likely I think it is that teams will be among the final four, because many of them are eliminated already or because I never thought they had a chance to get voted into the playoff. It rather is me grading the resume and as the analysts like to say – who is most deserving – but also how good these teams are compared to each other.
Finishing up on my top five positional rankings for this upcoming NCAA football season, we switch over to the defensive side of the ball. Once again, these lists are about where those guys stack up as college players – not as eventual draft prospects. So the criteria I base them on is the tape I watched on them the last couple of seasons and the jump I project them to make this year. With that being said, I can’t help but look ahead to some degree, since I could easily see eight defensive players drafted in the top ten next April and most of them should be on the D-line.
After revealing my most intriguing storylines heading into the 2018 college football season, I wanted to release my top five positional rankings, like I did a year ago as well. To make the criteria clear – this list is about the actual college players, as a combination of what they showed me last season and what I expect them to be in 2018. So this is not a look forward to these young men as draft prospects in 2019. Therefore, you might find some names that won’t be discussed a lot from next February to April. With that being said, I want to start with the offensive side of the ball and I will get back to defense next week.