Preview 2009 ... Top 200
181 to 200
The Top 200 Players
Top Ten |
Here are the 200 best players going into the 2009
season. This has nothing to do with pro potential
and these aren't the 200 best pro prospects (that's
a completely different list). These are the stars
for this year and they should be the difference
makers who'll define the season.
181. CB Aaron Berry, Sr. Pitt
While the 5-11, 175-pound Berry is the star of the good Panther secondary, he was suspended at the end of spring practice for a violation of team rules and can't make any further mistakes. A second team All-Big East selection, the Panthers need his lockdown ability and athleticism in the last line of defense. In his best season at Pitt, he had 41 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and a team-best 10 pass break ups.
182. DE Jeremy Beal, Jr. Oklahoma
The 6-3, 261-pound junior stepped up and started every game last season making 61 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 15.5 tackles for loss in a first-team All-Big 12 season. The star of the 2007 Big 12 Championship, he kept the production rolling throughout last year as the team's most active all-around lineman with the ability to come up with tackles in bunches, like he did against Cincinnati with ten stops, and is way too quick for most tackles. With the expected return to form of
Auston English, Beal should flourish even more.
183. DE Willie Young, Sr., NC State
Young has quietly developed into one of the
nation’s better rush ends and a candidate to be
selected very high by the NFL next April. A
fourth-year starter, he’s collected 102 tackles,
28.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, and 50
pressures in the last two seasons alone. Playing
with the speed and suddenness of an outside
linebacker, he gets off the snap in an instant,
blowing by opposing linemen before they can get
set. With one more year to impress scouts, he’ll
be playing with a noticeable sense of urgency.
184. OG Thomas Austin, Sr., Clemson
Tiger line will be the 6-3, 315-pound senior , who’s
moving to left guard after earning All-ACC honors as a part-time
center. The toughest drive blocker of the unit, he’s led the
team in knockdowns the last two seasons and has proven he can
play multiple positions equally well. A future in the NFL
185. RB Chris Brown, Sr. Oklahoma
Brown has always been a bit of an afterthought in the offense, lacking the star power of other more heralded players, but all he did last year was run for 20 touchdowns and lead the team with 1,220 yards. He is a proven workhorse who ripped off four 100-yard games in the final five, with the one game under 100 a 98-yard effort in the win over Oklahoma State. While he's not lightning fast, and he's not the receiver that Murray is, the 5-10, 200-pounder can move and also provides a little bit of power and is great around the goal line and in short-yardage situations.
186. LB Perry Riley, Sr., LSU
The 6-1, 240-pound Riley came up with a great season finishing third on the team with 60 tackles with an interception and 7.5 tackles for loss. The Chick-fil-A Bowl Defensive MVP will start at the Buck, or the strongside, as a major-league playmaker who projects to be taken around the fourth round next year. He has good enough speed to get by, and he's an intimidating hitter with the ability to be used as a pass rusher. With defensive lineman strength, he holds up well against the run.
187. OT Anthony Castonzo, Jr., Boston College
True to its personality, the Boston College offense will be built around
a formidable front wall. Four starters and five lettermen return to a
unit that’ll look to set the tone for the entire program. The star is
the 6-7, 287-pound Castonzo, who is on the fast track to being a high NFL draft choice
when he leaves the Heights. A third-year starter, he made a seamless
transition from right tackle to left tackle, displaying the long arms
and light feet of an All-ACC second-teamer.
188. DE Thaddeus Gibson, Jr., Ohio State
OSU is loaded at defensive end with the best of the bunch likely to be Gibson, a 6-2, 240-pound junior who's a blur into the backfield and polished enough to be the team's breakout star. The former linebacker doesn't have the freakish skills of a Vernon Gholston, but he showed just a glimpse of his potential last season with a team-leading five sacks and nine tackles for loss to go along with 26 tackles. Now that he knows what he's doing, he's a legitimate threat for double-digit sacks.
189. LB Ryan D'Imperio, Sr., Rutgers
With a long-awaited chance to play on every down, the 6-3, 240-pound D'Imperio emerged as one of the league’s best linebackers, earning a spot on the All-Big East second team. A prototypical middle linebacker and one of the defensive role models, he has tremendous instincts and range. He laid the foundation for what will be even more individual awards this fall, making 93 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks.
190. DE Cameron Jordan, Jr., California
The 6-4, 287-pound junior is on the brink of becoming a nationally-known defender. He only scratched the surface of his potential a year ago, cracking the lineup early on and making 47 stops, 11 tackles for loss, and four sacks. At his size, he possesses the burst and quickness that’s usually seen in outside linebackers.
191. DE Koa Misi, Sr. Utah
Misi had a nice year finishing third on the team with 68 tackles with three sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss on the way to second-team All-Mountain West honors. The 6-3, 256-pound former tackle is expected to take on more of a pass-rushing role and is expected to be more active and even more of a playmaker. A former JUCO transfer, he has plenty of experience with the tremendous athleticism to get a long look from the next level.
192. QB Riley Skinner, Sr., Wake Forest
Although NFL scouts aren’t swarming over the 6-1, 205-pound
senior, Wake Forest is
ecstatic to have him in Winston-Salem for one final season. A
fourth-year starter and one of the most accurate passers in the country,
he’s more efficient than eruptive, managing the game with a premium on
ball security. Last year’s box score was a good snapshot of his game,
going 232-of-363 for 2,347 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions,
while finishing on the plus side in rushing yards. However, 26-11, his
record as a starter, is the statistic that resonates the loudest with
Jim Grobe and the coaching staff.
193. RB Curtis Steele, Sr., Memphis
The identity of Memphis’ next feature back was a glaring mystery in 2008 until Steele won the job and evolved into an all-star. In his first year removed from Northwest Mississippi Community College, he was named Conference USA Newcomer of the Year, rushing for 1,223 yards and seven touchdowns on 218 carries. At 6-0 and 195 pounds, he won’t run through defenders, but he uses his size and quickness as advantages, slashing in and out holes in a flash. A patient, north-south runner with the vision to accelerate to daylight, he has 4.45 speed and outstanding agility.
194. C Kenny Alfred, Sr., Washington State
The Cougars have lots of returning starters, but very little confidence in an offensive line that struggled throughout the 2008 season. The lone exception is the 6-2, 300-pound Alfred, one of the nation’s most underrated centers. Highly cerebral and fundamentally sound, he’s been the lone constant up front for the last three years. An honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection a year ago, he’s going to get a shot to play at the next level.
195. RB Da'Rel Scott, Jr., Maryland
So much for the awkward rebuilding process that was
supposed to take place in 2008. Life after Lance
Ball and Keon Lattimore wasn’t so bad after all,
thanks to the emergence of 5-11, 200-pound junior, Scott, who parlayed 1,133 yards
and eight touchdowns on 209 carries into a spot on
the All-ACC first team. He also has soft hands,
catching 21 passes for 171 yards. A former 100-meter
sprint champ in high school, he has breakaway speed
and runs with the pad level to bull his way to extra
196. DT Terrell McClain, Jr., South Florida
At defensive tackle, the program is giddy over the potential of 6-3, 306-pound McClain, who’s entering his second full season in the regular rotation. Tremendously strong, especially in the lower body, he’s also surprisingly quick and light on his feet for an inside guy. He had 32 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks last season, numbers he’s capable of dwarfing in 2009.
197. DE Brandon Crawford, Sr. Ball State
Crawford's a former Marine who has become a whale of a pass rusher. The 6-3, 260-pound senior earned second-team All-MAC honors with 31 tackles, four sacks, and eight tackles for loss, and while his numbers weren’t as strong as his eight sack season of 2007, he was still the main force for a good line. Originally projected to be an outside linebacker, he has a tremendous first step and is great at closing on the quarterback.
198. SS Josh Pinkard, Sr., USC
The versatile 6-1, 215-pound Pinkard is slotted in at strong safety, though he can also play corner starting 11 games there last season. Like Jeff Byers on offense, he’s an inspiration to the team, earning a sixth year of eligibility after missing 2006 and 2007 to knee injuries. In his return to action, he had 39 tackles and did a fantastic job in pass coverage. Because of his size and physical nature, he’s able to jam and bully receivers out of their rhythm.
199. OT Matt Reynolds, Soph. BYU
The anchor of a rebuilding Cougar line will be Reynolds, an All-Mountain West star and the one who keeps QB Max Hall upright. The 6-6, 320-pound sophomore is one of the top recruits the program has ever landed, and he showed why in his first season as a starter at left tackle. He was the Utah High School Player of the Year in 2005 and could've gone anywhere, and now he'll be the one the offense works around and runs behind on key plays.
200. RB Vai Taua, Jr., Nevada
When Luke Lippincott went down with a torn ACL, Taua stepped up and had a magical season, running for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with 30 catches for 243 yards and three scores. The 5-10, 225-pound junior started last season buried on the depth chart and quickly found his way up to the top spot where he showed good pop and toughness to go along with decent quickness. He ran for 100 yards or more in eight games last year highlighted by a 263-yard day against Fresno State, and he showed off surprising hands. Versatile, he can be a power runner and is also great in space.
The Top 200 Players
Top Ten |