Future Pros To Watch
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The 2012-2013 Pre-Bowl Rankings
- The Can't Miss - The Top 5
The Excellent - No. 6 to No. 10
- The Solid - No. 11
to No. 15 | Just Bowls. No More, No Less - No. 16 to No. 20
- The Mediocre - No. 21
to No. 25 |
The Lousy - No. 26
to No. 30
- Seriously? - No. 30
to No. 35
Sheraton Hawai'i - QB Derek Carr. Jr. Fresno State vs. SMU
He’s not the talent his brother, David, was, but he’s a smart bomber who’s coming into his own with almost 7,500 passing yards and 62 scores over the last two seasons. He already said he’s coming back for his senior year and should be one of the hottest prospects on the board for the 2014 draft.
Heart of Dallas - DT Kawann Short, Sr. Purdue & RB Joseph Randle, Jr. Oklahoma State
The Boilermakers had a rough season against the run, but Short did what he could with six sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss with four blocked kicks. After putting off the NFL for a year, this is his last chance to make a big statement by trying to stop Randle and the OSU running attack. There are several decent backs in the game, but Randle is the star of the show coming off a 1,351-yard, 14 touchdown season. With his quickness and burst, he’s destined for the next level and should come up with a huge game before having a big decision to make.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City - QB Mike Glennon, Sr. & CB David Amerson, Jr. NC State vs. Vanderbilt
One of the high-rising names on the draft boards, Glennon needs to come up with one final big game to wow the scouts even more. He threw for 493 yards and five scores in the shootout loss to Clemson, and he tossed for 467 yards and five touchdowns against North Carolina. Amerson was ripped by some after a tough first game against Tennessee, but the preseason All-American and pickoff artist finished with a nice year making five interceptions with 54 tackles. He got better as the season went on.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas - QB/WR MarQueis Gray, Sr. Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Gray has been through it all, originally signed as an elite dual threat quarterback prospect and finishing up as a receiver after injuries struck this year. He wasn’t able to do much over the second half of the season, but with time off, he should finally be healthy. With his size, athleticism and skills, he should find a spot on an NFL roster in a jack-of-all-trades role, with his primary job as big, tough target.
Russell Athletic - QB Logan Thomas, Sr. Virginia Tech & LB Khaseem Greene, Sr. Rutgers
The combination of size, arm strength and mobility are peerless, but he throws too many interceptions. There are too many skills to not be given a long look by an NFL team, but it would be nice to close out with a big win. He could use one big game to generate more of a buzz. He’ll be chased around by Greene. Arguably the best all-around linebacker in college football, he suffered a serious injury in last year’s bowl, but he came back to make 125 tackles with six forced fumbles and 5.5 sacks. He’s a terror.
R+L Carriers New Orleans - PK Brett Baer, Sr. Louisiana-Lafayette vs. East Carolina
The star in the final moments in last year’s win over San Diego State – nailing a bomb of a field goal for the win – he followed up an 18-of-20 season by hitting 17-of-20 field goals. All three of his misses came early in the year.
Military - TE Ryan Otten, Sr. San Jose State & DT Chris Jones, Sr. Bowling Green
Otten has all the skills and tools to have a long and productive NFL career, and he should thrive in the right system. A solid pass catcher, he’s the go-to target with nice hands and the ability to stretch the field a bit. Meanwhile, the scouts are going to be focused on the Bowling Green line to watch Jones. One of the nation’s best interior pass rushers, the senior has cranked out 12.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. Lightning quick, he’ll have to collapse the pocket time and again to slow down the Spartan passing game.
Allstate Sugar - QB Teddy Bridgewater, Soph. Louisville & S Matt Elam, Jr. Florida
Elam’s stats might not be eye-opening, and he only has four picks, but he’s the leader and the star defensive back of a secondary that leads the nation in pass efficiency D. His forced fumble against LSU was one of the SEC players of the year. He’ll be spying on Bridgewater, who isn’t eligible yet for the NFL but will be a top prospect for 2014. He came up with a heroic performance to get the Cardinals into the BCS, completing 20-of-28 passes coming off the bench against Rutgers. Despite playing with an injured arm and on one leg, he gutted out the win. If UofL wins, it will be because he was the star in what could be his coming out performance.
GoDaddy.com - RB Dri Archer, Jr. & DE Roosevelt Nix, Jr., Kent State vs. Arkansas State
The real shame about the Golden Flashes not getting into the BCS was Archer not getting a bigger national spotlight. With 1,352 yards 15 touchdowns, and three kickoff returns for scores and four receiving touchdowns, he’s one of the nation’s best all-around backs. While he’s a bit new to the scene, NFL scouts are all over Nix. His last two seasons have been a tad underwhelming after starting out like a house on fire as a freshman, but he is still one of the MAC’s elite pass rushers and top disruptive forces. He’s strong against the run, too.
Valero Alamo - DE Alex Okafor, Sr. Texas & CB Jordan Poyer, Sr. Oregon State
The Texas defense might be a dog this year, but Okafor has come up with a strong year with eight sacks and 46 tackles. He has been the bright spot, while Poyer has turned in a big year for a solid Beaver D. No. 2 in the nation in interceptions with seven, he has been one of the Pac-12’s best all-around cover-corners while doing a decent job against the run.
Buffalo Wild Wings - RB Le’Veon Bell, Jr. & PK Dan Conroy, Sr. Michigan State vs. TCU
Arguably the most valuable running back in the nation, Bell quietly came up with a brilliant 1,648-yard, 11 touchdown season to go along with 30 catches. He’s the one player who can take over this game, while Conroy could end up making the difference in the final moments of what should be a tight battle. He missed a few too many kicks, but he nailed 22-of-31 and showed off excellent range – he has one of the biggest legs in college football.
Discover Orange - QB E.J. Manuel, Sr. & DE Bjoern Werner, Jr. Florida State vs. Northern Illinois
Combining with fellow end Cornellius Carradine, Werner is an elite pass rusher with the full package of strength and speed. He has 13 sacks on the year with 3.5 against Florida, and while he upped his stock, Manuel dropped a bit. He never grew into the superstar many expected he’d be, but he has all the NFL tools to make the scouts drool. This is his one final shot to make a push after an underwhelming regular season.
Capital One - RB Todd Gurley, Fr. & LB Jarvis Jones, Jr. Georgia vs. Nebraska
Jones is about to become a multi-millionaire, while Gurley’s dough is a few years away. With the way Wisconsin ran up and down the field on the Huskers, Gurley and running mate Keith Marshall have to be licking their chops. Gurley is the stronger of the two with 122 yards and two scores against Alabama, finishing with 1,260 yards and 16 scores. Jones is the nation’s leader in tackles for loss, the junior came up with two sacks and a few big plays in the SEC championship, but he also whiffed on a few key running plays.
Hyundai Sun - S T.J. McDonald, Sr. & WR Marqise Lee, Soph. USC vs. Georgia Tech
Tackling has been an issue for the Trojan defense all season long, and McDonald has had his issues, but he has also made his share of big plays in the secondary with 99 stops with two picks. He's a blasted of a hitter, but he also bounces off too many ball-carriers. Lee isn’t eligible for the draft this year, but he’ll be a sure-thing top 15 pick next season. He didn’t get the invite to New York, but his 112-catch, 1,680-yard, 14 touchdown season puts him front-and-center on the list of 2013 preseason candidates. He was held in check by Notre Dame, but he should blow up against a mediocre Georgia Tech secondary.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday - QB Nick Florence, Sr. Baylor & RB Johnathan Franklin, Sr. UCLA
The Bruin senior had a decent career, and then he blew up under Mora as the workhorse for the attack with more than 100 carries than last year. With 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns, and 32 catches, he’s an elite back who should be a lock for his tenth 100-yard game of the season. On the other side, Florence isn’t RG3, but he put up similar numbers. He leads the nation in total offense, he beat the No. 1 Kansas State Wildcats and he has taken his team to a bowl game. Was he in the Heisman hunt? Nope.
New Era Pinstripe - QB Geno Smith, Sr. West Virginia & QB Ryan Nassib, Sr. Syracuse
Everyone’s midseason Heisman winner, Smith, fell off the map after two blowout losses, but he still finished the season bombing away for 40 touchdowns, 4,004 yards and six interceptions. The spotlight is on to possibly be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Nassib isn’t the pro prospect that Smith is, but he might go in the first round and will almost certainly will go in the top 50. The senior has bombed away for 24 touchdown passes with just one pick over the last six games.
AT&T Cotton - DE Damontre Moore, Jr., OT Luke Joeckel, Jr. & OT Jake Matthews, Jr. Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
Part of the reason Johnny Manziel has come up with his historic season is because of a line that’s among the best in college football. Joeckel is an athletic left tackle and Matthews is a terrific blocker on the right side; both are going to have very long, very strong pro careers. Moore is having almost as good a year from the defensive side with 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. He leads an aggressive defensive front that’s terrific at getting to the quarterback.
Discover BCS National Championship - DE Stephon Tuitt, Soph. Notre Dame & LT Cyrus Kouandijo, Soph.; LG Chance Warmack, Sr.; C Barrett Jones, Sr.; RG Anthony Seen, Jr.; RT D.J. Fluker, Jr. Alabama
Bama’s front five the best unit on the field and the best offensive line in the nation with five future NFL starters. They’ll have to keep the Notre Dame defensive front in check with Louis Nix a burgeoning star on the interior, and Tuitt growing into a special talent on the on the outside. LB Manti Te’o is the Heisman-caliber star of the defense, but an argument could be made that Tuitt, with his 12 sacks, has been every bit as valuable.