With the amount of veteran quarterbacks going down with injuries or changes under center in general, I wanted to take a look at this group of young signal-callers and judge how confident their respective teams should by what they’ve shown so far. This list focuses quarterbacks, who have their first extended period of starts this season. So this obviously doesn’t include guys who might be full-time starters now, after taking over at some point last year, and neither is it about signal-callers who simply switched places or went back under center for their squad with the QB1 out of the picture. This is all about potential starters for the future. Because of that, I did not include the Jets Luke Falk either, even though I always liked his ability to throw on time and target, because he started out as third string and the Jets already have a young QB that they are very invested in. So here are these six quarterbacks and my level of confidence in them:
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.
So usually I wait for the NFL Network to finish their countdown and then I can look at some of the comparisons, but for some reason they won’t start releasing episodes until two-and-a-half weeks from now. Since training camps are in full swing at that point and I want to look at position battles or maybe even look forward to specific games and such as, I decided to reveal my list now already – which is where I usually do anyway.
Like I do every year, I want to clear up the criteria first. This is a list for the top players in 2019 – therefore players who will miss several games due to suspension (Patrick Peterson for example) or injury (Sheldon Rankins to a lesser degree) won’t be included and I also put together a couple of names that I am just not sure yet about what their status for the upcoming year is. Please understand that I am looking at these players as individual talents and will not reward them fully for what they have around them in terms of teammates or coaches.
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.
The position fans have the hardest time comparing players to each other and ranking them accordingly is cornerback. When people reach outside linebacker nominees in the Pro Bowl voting they look who has the most sacks and with defensive backs the number of interceptions is often the deciding factor. It’s just not that easy. To grade cornerbacks you have to watch the tape and understand their responsibility in the respective schemes. On film you can see if their coverage was that good the opposing quarterback didn’t want to throw their way, what position they were in prior to the pass, how they competed when the ball was in the air and which plays they were responsible for giving up. After watching multiple games of the best corners in the league, I decided to rank the top ten at the position up to this point of the season. This is an evaluation over a span of ten weeks, not who I think are the best in general. So some guys who have proven over time they are worthy of a spot didn’t make the cut, because they haven’t played at the level they are capable of. Here’s my list: