Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina. Previous Rank: 1 1/1/14: Clowney didn't help himself when he received a speeding ticket for going 110 mph in a 70-mph zone earlier this month. South Carolina will take on Wisconsin in bowl season.
In the Gamecocks' regular-season finale, Clowney recorded three tackles with two tackles for a loss and a sack against Clemson. He was a beast against the run versus Tennessee, making a number of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Clowney also played well against Florida. The junior picked up five tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, plus got some pass pressures. Clowney has done well this year, but he hasn't been dominant. However, Clowney has been getting an insane amount of blocking and game-plan attention - more than any team could get away with in the NFL.
Clowney previously recorded four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in South Carolina's win over Vanderbilt. It was his best performance of the season. Clowney has totaled 40 tackles, three sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss, two passes defended and a forced fumble in 2013. He has also had a big impact on game plans with teams deliberately going the other direction.
To start the year, Clowney was out of shape and took plays off in underwhelming performances against North Carolina and Georgia. He got a few pressures on the quarterback, but only totaled three tackles against the Tar Heels. Clowney had a sack against the Bulldogs. After a rough start, Clowney showed improved effort and wasn't taking plays off like he did in the season opener. Clowney's conditioning in the second half of the year seems to have improved.
8/30/13: Clowney currently looks like he could turn into the best defensive prospect to enter the NFL draft this century - with the possible exception of Ndamukong Suh in 2010. Clowney has a rare skill set with an elite combination of speed, strength and athleticism. The junior could turn into the "Andrew Luck" of defensive draft prospects; a high-pick lock who is extremely coveted by every team in the NFL and a safe selection to turn into an franchise player.
Sources told WalterFootball.com that Clowney lacks motivation and a good work ethic, plus lives by a different set of rules than his teammates and takes a lot of plays off. While those traits are disappointing, they can be fixed in the NFL via good coaching, workout clauses in his contract and veteran leadership.
Clowney dominated the SEC last season and was one of the best players in college football. The sophomore amassed 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, two passes batted and 13 sacks. He finished sixth for the Heisman Trophy.
Clowney was the SEC Freshman of the Year and a Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2011. He totaled 36 tackles with eight sacks, 12 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles.
The phenom is NFL ready and head coach Steve Spurrier said Clowney was ready to turn pro coming out of high school. He is overwhelmingly fast and physical, and can beat offensive tackles with either blinding speed or brute force.
Clowney has incredible explosion off the snap. He is lightning fast coming off the edge and has the power to shed blocks. Clowney already has a developed arsenal of pass-rushing moves, too. He wrecks game plans and constantly is requiring double- or triple-teams. Clowney also seems to have the ability to get some sacks on sheer intimidation. There are times where he looks like a young Lawrence Taylor.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. Previous Rank: 2 1/1/14: Barr took on Virginia Tech on New Year's Eve. In his penultimate game for the Bruins, he helped beat rival USC with five tackles, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two sacks. Prior to that, Barr recorded seven tackles with a 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack against Arizona State. His numbers were solid, but the Sun Devils did a pretty good job of keeping him from making game-changing plays.
Barr stepped up with a big game against Oregon, recording four tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. A week before taking on the Ducks, the senior had eight tackles with a tackle for a loss against Stanford. He recorded three tackles and sack versus California. Barr notched two sacks, five tackles and three tackles for a loss against Utah. He picked up three tackles and a sack versus New Mexico State in the contest before that. Barr's performance against Nebraska was monstrous as he collected forced three fumbles, 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
As of December 30, Barr has 62 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and a pass batted this year. His performances against Oregon and Stanford confirm his high draft grade.
8/30/13: In 2012, Barr went from being an obscure fullback who had a total of 12 receptions across two seasons into a potential high first-round pick as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Jim Mora, Jr. and his staff deserve the credit for changing Barr's position and turning him into an impact player.
Barr (6-4, 235) broke out last year as one of the nation's leader in sacks. The junior collected 13 sacks, 83 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, five passes batted and four forced fumbles. His sack total was the second largest in the nation behind only Georgia's Jarvis Jones. Barr is a tremendous blitzer who would fit well in a NFL 3-4 defense.
The senior is explosive off the edge with fantastic closing speed. He also is a physical player who dishes out some punishing hits on the quarterback.
Barr was consistently good throughout 2012, but he was utterly dominant to close out the regular season. Barr then made the smart decision to return to UCLA for the 2013 season. The senior can still use some developmental at his new position. Barr should get better at defending runs straight at him and could benefit from 10-15 more pounds of muscle.
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M. Previous Rank: 3 1/1/14: Check out our soon-to-be-released recap of the Chick-fil-A bowl where Texas A&M will take on Duke. Matthews helped hold Missouri pass-rushers Michael Sam and Kony Ealy to only .5 sacks in the Aggies' loss to close out the regular season. Matthews was solid against LSU, although he did allow a coverage sack. That was Johnny Manziel holding onto the ball way too long really. In early November, Texas A&M and Matthews won in a shootout over Mississippi State. He played well in his final home game for the Aggies.
Auburn's speed-rushers gave Matthews some issues. He won the majority of his blocks, but was beaten for a sack by Ladarius Owens on a left-armed rip move. Matthews played much better in the second half and his pass protection was strong. That performance won't help him, but it won't be enough to change his standing as the top tackle prospect.
A week earlier, Texas A&M had a comeback win against Ole Miss, and Matthews was superb in protecting Manziel to let him lead the Aggies to 20 fourth-quarter points. Matthews previously played well versus Arkansas while taking on some quality pass-rushers like Chris Smith.
Texas A&M put up a huge point total against Alabama in a losing effort. Matthews had a couple of mistakes, but won the vast majority of plays. Crimson Tide defensive end Jeoffery Pagan had Matthews beaten for a sack, but Manziel slipped out of his grasp to complete a pass for a big gain. Matthews was dominant for the vast majority of the season-opener against Rice, but got crossed up on a stunt and allowed a sack. Overall, Matthews has been very impressive as a senior.
8/30/13: There is a quality debate about who is the top tackle prospect between Matthews, Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio and Michigan's Taylor Lewan. Kouandjio could have the best physical skill set. At this point, I like Matthews the most because he is the most proven. He has been excellent the past three seasons going against elite competition in the Big XII and SEC.
Matthews produced his third dominant season of college football in 2012. He was a strong pass-protector for Johnny Manziel and was phenomenal at opening up holes in the ground game. Matthews had his biggest test of the year taking on LSU speed-rusher Barkevious Mingo. Matthews hit some great blocks in the ground game, including some plays where he took care of Mingo and another defender on the second level. Mingo didn't beat Matthews for a sack and only had one pressure after Manziel scrambled into Matthews while blocking Mingo. Matthews also turned in impressive performances against Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Oklahoma.
Matthews was very good at protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in 2011. Matthews was excellent at opening up holes in the ground game for running backs Cyrus Gray and Christian Michael, too.
Matthews has natural strength and agility. He is quick in his pass drop and is light on his feet. Matthews has a ton of upside with his best football ahead of him.
Watching Matthews clearly shows that he has great instincts and intelligence. The senior is a natural football player. Matthews has a lot of success with cut blocks, and is quick to use one when he sees an opening to take a linemen out of the play by diving at the legs. For the next level, Matthews could use more strength to push defenders at the point of attack and help him to sustain his blocks longer.
Matthews has moved to left tackle this year to protect the blind side of Johnny Manziel. I think Matthews will make the move successfully because he is a pure football player. Matthews also has great bloodlines as he is the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. Previous Rank: 4 1/1/14: Clemson will play Ohio State in their Bowl game, and the Buckeyes' vulnerable defense could be exploited by Watkins. Taking on South Carolina, the junior had seven receptions for 93 yards. Watkins was excellent as he burned Georgia Tech for two long touchdowns and 104 yards on 5 catches. One score came on a bomb downfield as Watkins was able to pull off a defensive back. The second touchdown came on a quick screen pass that he took the distance from about 40 yards out.
Against Virginia, Watkins dominated with eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He had 14 receptions for 163 yards the week before against Maryland. Watkins caught eight passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in Clemson's loss to Florida State. He played better than the numbers indicate.
Watkins has looked like the 2011 version of himself since this season's opener against Georgia, maintaining a high level of play. Versus the Bulldogs, he caught a 15-yard bullet from Tajh Boyd before shedding a tackle and exploding down the field. None of Georgia's defenders could catch Watkins as he sprinted for a 75-yard score. That has set the tone for Watkins this year. He has 85 receptions for 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013.
8/30/13: Last year was a disappointment for Watkins. Even before the season started (May 2012), he had a drug arrest and that landed him a two-game suspension to start the year. The sophomore was unable to reestablish his place in the offense after returning as DeAndre Hopkins emerged as Clemson's No. 1 receiver. Watkins caught just 57 passes for 708 yards and three touchdowns in 2012.
That was a big change from Watkins' fantastic freshman season. The speedster totaled 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011. He also ran the ball 32 times for 231 yards. On special teams, the versatile receiver averaged 25 yards per kick return with one score.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound receiver is extremely explosive. His game looks similar to Percy Harvin. Watkins is a threat to score on any touch and has rare first-step quickness. He looks like a potential game-breaking receiver for the NFL. Watkins should be the No. 1 receiver again now that Hopkins is with the Texans and has the luxury of a great college quarterback in Tajh Boyd. As long as Watkins stays healthy, he should produce a massive season.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville. Previous Rank: 5 1/1/14: At the end of blowing out Miami in bowl season, Bridgewater said, "what a way to go out." It certainly was as he dominated the Hurricanes. Bridgewater completed 35-of-45 passes for 447 yards with three touchdowns. He also did some damage on the ground.
Bridgewater completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,970 yards with 31 touchdowns and four interceptions this year. In the regular-season finale against Cincinnati, he completed 23-of-37 passes for 255-yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
In Louisville's game versus Central Florida, Bridgewater played well overall, but the Cardinals were upset by the Knights to ruin Louisville's hopes of an undefeated season. He completed 29-of-38 passes for 341 yards with two touchdowns. Bridgewater made some beautiful throws and used his eyes to open his receivers. This year, he has really showed off a great mental acumen for the position.
Bridgewater is known to be a real student of the game who really puts in the time in the film room and on the practice field. The same can't be said for Clowney. Thus, I think Bridgewater has the work ethic to succeed in the NFL. Clowney has such a great athletic skill set; he can be successful on that alone, but I think Bridgewater has the intangibles to lead to a good NFL career.
As a passer, Bridgewater has a good skill set. He has a strong, though not elite, arm. Bridgewater can make all the throws with some natural accuracy. He hangs tough to deliver passes in the face of pass rush and shows some mobility on rollouts, but isn't a true dual-threat quarterback. Bridgewater was clutch on third downs in 2013. On a number of throws this season, he demonstrated great poise in the pocket and was patient to let his receivers work themselves open.
8/30/13: Bridgewater has the skill set, and is building the resume, to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder has a strong arm with some natural accuracy. He also has mobility, intelligence and toughness. Bridgewater could possiblt be a dual-threat quarterback in NFL. However, he is more similar as an athlete to Andrew Luck rather than Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton.
Bridgewater was the one of the best quarterbacks in college football last year. He carried Louisville to an 11-2 season including a Sugar Bowl win over Florida. The sophomore completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 237 yards (211 net) and a touchdown. Bridgewater threw for over 400 yards against both Cincinnati and Syracuse. He had a clutch performance to beat Rutgers late in the season and send Louisville to a BCS bowl.
Bridgewater took college football by storm as a true freshman and was named the Big East Rookie of the Year. He completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bridgewater ran for 265 yards (66 net) and four touchdowns, too. He was calm and showed excellent composure despite his lack of experience. Originally, Bridgewater was going to play in his backyard at Miami, but Charlie Strong was able to steal Bridgewater away after the Hurricanes fired Randy Shannon.
Former Florida safety Matt Elam said last January that Bridgewater was the best quarterback the Gators played in the 2012-2013 season. That was high praise considering that Florida took on Johnny Manziel, Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray and E.J. Manuel. The Gators' defense had just dominated Manuel, but Bridgewater completed 20-of-33 passes for 266 yards with two touchdowns and an interception on a tipped pass. He was even better than the numbers indicate.
Bridgewater should be able to build on his sophomore season as a junior, in part because Louisville has an easy schedule. The toughest opponents on the Cardinals' regular season schedule are Rutgers and Cincinnati, so he will be in position to have a dominant season before turning pro. If Bridgewater had been in the 2013 NFL Draft, he would have been the first quarterback taken and probably the first- or second-overall pick.
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo. Previous Rank: 6 1/1/14: Mack recorded six tackles and a tipped pass against San Diego State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. In the regular-season finale against Bowling Green, the senior had 12 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss. He exploded against Miami of Ohio for three forced fumbles, three sacks and eight tackles. Mack recorded 10 tackles, an interception and a sack taking on Kent State. He notched a sack, a pass batted, an interception and three tackles against Massachusetts.
There was a real buzz about the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder heading into the 2013 season, and when one sees his production, it is easy to understand the genesis of the hype. He justified it by dominating Ohio State in the 2013 season opener. Mack notched nine tackles and 2.5 sacks against the Buckeyes, plus snagged an interception that he returned 45 yards for a score. The senior amassed 10.5 sacks, 100 tackles, five forced fumbles, seven passes batted, three interceptions and 19 tackles for a loss in 2013.
Mack had 56 career tackles for a loss coming into this year and was a downhill play-maker throughout his career. He registered 94 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, four forced fumbles, one blocked kick and two passes broken up in 2012. Mack totaled 65 tackles with 20.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, two passes batted and five forced fumbles in 2011. He had 68 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 10 passes batted and two forced fumbles as a freshman.
Mack is a fast and instinctive hard hitter who has excellent pursuit skills. He could use more strength to defend runs that come straight at him.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan. Previous Rank: 7 1/1/14: In the final game of his collegiate career, Lewan was rock solid against Kansas State. He won his blocks all night and didn't allow any pressures against the Wildcats. It concluded Lewan's impressive senior season.
Ohio State beat the Wolverines by one point, but Lewan generally played well against the Buckeyes. Previously against Iowa, he played well in the ground game and in pass protection. Lewan won his blocks against Michigan State, and was especially strong in pass protection, but the Wolverines' offense was shut down by the Spartans. There were a few plays where Lewan lost control of his emotions and engaged in some dirty cheap shots in piles. He also was called for a facemask.
The Wolverines and Lewan racked up a big point total against Indiana. Previously, he played well against Connecticut, except for one play where he was beaten for a sack. The senior had a strong game versus Notre Dame in Week 2 and played much better than he did the year before against the Fighting Irish. Lewan did well in run blocking and was rock solid as a pass-protector.
8/30/13: Last year was Lewan's third straight season as an effective blocker for Michigan. He was solid as a pass-protector and a standout as a run-blocker. Lewan was dominant in the majority of games, but he faced a weak conference schedule. Assuming they all stay healthy, Lewan will enter the NFL having not seen as good of competition as Jake Matthews or Cyrus Kouandjio.
Lewan (6-8, 302) had a so-so 2012 performance against Alabama. He was beaten for some pressure and was called for a few penalties. Lewan rolled his ankle late and left the game early, but the outcome had been decided and it seemed more precautionary. He had an okay game against Notre Dame, but was beaten for a sack. The junior allowed some pressure and showed some bend-but-not-break moments. He had a mixed day against Ohio State, too, allowing a sack and also being beaten on another play that produced a forced fumble. Lewan's day against the Buckeyes was fine other than those plays, but those two plays where he was beaten were extremely costly for the Wolverines.
Lewan held his own in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney. Lewan had his share of wins, but he was also beaten for a tackle for a loss. Lewan was called for a holding and needed some double-team help, too. However, he wasn't beaten for a sack and Clowney didn't make him look bad. Against an elite superstar pass-rusher like Clowney, that was a respectable day for any tackle.
Lewan's height give him great length, but it works against him in causing him to have a harder time bending. He needs to improve his knee bend, agility and the speed of his kick slide for NFL speed-rushers.
Lewan was a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore in 2011. It was good to see him mature from his freshman year when racked up way too many personal foul penalties. Lewan is an aggressive blocker who fights through the whistle, but he showed more self-control in his second and third season. Reportedly, Lewan has become a team leader and his devotion to Michigan caused him to pass on the 2013 NFL Draft to return for his senior season; despite the fact that he could have been a high first-round pick.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. Previous Rank: 9 1/1/14: Check out our forthcoming recap of the Chick-fil-A bowl as the Aggies will take on Duke. The Blue Devils have some talent in their secondary, so don't be surprised if Manziel throws a pick or two. The redshirt sophomore had his worst game of the season against LSU. He completed only 16-of-41 passes for 224 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Tigers' defense deserves a lot of credit for its game plan and execution.
A week earlier against Vanderbilt, Manziel played through a shoulder injury and didn't run as much as usual. He completed 25-of-35 passes for 305 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Manziel completed 28-of-38 passes against Auburn for 454 yards with four touchdowns in the game before. He ran for 97 yards (48 net) and a touchdown as well.
Manziel led a comeback, fourth-quarter win on the road at Ole Miss. He completed 31-of-39 passes for 346 yards with an interception. The dynamic signal-caller ran for 121 yards (113 net) with two scores on the ground, too.
Texas A&M lost to Alabama, but, while Manziel had a couple painful mistakes, he had a tremendous game to light up one of the best defenses in college football - one that is loaded with a lot of future draft picks. Manziel completed 28-of-39 passes for 464 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran for 98 yards on 14 carries. Thanks to Manziel, the Aggies lit up the Crimson Tide defense to the tune of 42 points. He threw some perfect passes in the deep part of the field to hit his receivers in stride. Manziel showed excellent anticipation, field vision, accuracy and good arm strength. It was a truly impressive performance.
As of December 30, Manziel has completed 69 percent of his passes this year for 3,732 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has run for 846 yards (686 net) with eight scores, too. While Manziel's running ability gets a lot of attention, he is showing that his passing skills are improved and underrated. His instincts are off the charts.
8/30/13: Manziel, a.k.a Johnny Football, was the breakout star of college football in 2012 and became a national celebrity en route to being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. The first-year starter dominated the SEC as a dual-threat quarterback. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,706 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Manziel also ran for 1,410 yards (1,571 net) with 21 touchdowns on the ground. He was an absolute force.
Manziel has a good arm and some accuracy potential as a pro prospect, but will need to continue to develop his ability to be a pocket passer. He could stand to improve his accuracy and has spent time in the offseason working on that along with adding some weight to his frame.
Obviously, Manziel has great mobility. He is so dangerous when he is on the run with the threat to keep it himself or pass the ball. Alabama's defense comprised of NFL talent lost at home to Manziel last year as he put up almost 350 yards of total offense.
Manziel has a good supporting cast this year, but everybody will be gunning for him in 2013. He won't take anybody by surprise and there are high expectations. It will be interesting to see how the sophomore responds to the pressure.
Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame. Previous Rank: 8 1/1/14: Nix finished the year early after deciding on season-ending knee surgery. He had been playing with a torn meniscus and went to Dr. James Andrews to have the knee fixed. Nix has hired an agent, so he's off to the NFL.
Nix had two tackles with a tackle for a loss against USC. After a slow start, he caused disruption and played well overall. Nix recorded six tackles versus Arizona State. Oklahoma sent a lot of double-teams his direction and altered its game plan to compensate for his ability to cause havoc. He also played well against Michigan and was very disruptive at the point of attack. Nix totaled four tackles and a tackle for a loss versus the Wolverines. He recorded 27 tackles with two tackles for a loss in 2013.
8/30/13: Manti Te'o got all the headlines in 2012, but Nix was an animal for the Fighting Irish. He was a disruptive force and caused a lot of havoc at the line of scrimmage. The disruption Nix caused helped his teammates like Stephon Tuitt and Te'o to clean up. Nix totaled 50 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, five passes batted and one forced fumble for the season.
The numbers don't illustrate how good Nix was for the Notre Dame. He could crack the top half of the first round in the 2014 NFL Draft with a strong senior season. Nix also needs to show NFL teams he can maintain good conditioning and be effective over a large amount of snaps.
The 6-foot-3, 340-pounder has surprising quickness. He has a burst off the snap and is like a big bowling ball rolling through the line of scrimmage. Nix could fit a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, but looks like a natural zero-technique nose tackle in a 3-4.
C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama. Previous Rank: 10 1/1/14: Against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, Mosley should end his career in style. The senior had 14 tackles versus Auburn. He also got burned on some of the Tigers' misdirection read-option runs.
Mosley's best game of the season came against LSU. He was around the ball all night, making tackles and having a physical presence. Mosley finished with 12 tackles, two passes broken up and 1.5 tackles for a loss, although he did drop an easy interception.
Mosley has 102 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, five passes broken up and one forced fumble this year. He has been solid in every game, including against Arkansas when he recorded 10 tackles. Mosley had a good outing versus Texas A&M with 12 tackles. He has showcased a well-rounded game with good run defense, pass coverage and blitzing ability.
8/30/13: Alabama's defense last year was comprised of significant pro talent, yet Mosley was one of its best players. The junior led the team with 107 tackles. He also had two interceptions, four sacks, eight tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes broken up.
Mosley (6-2, 235) is extremely well-rounded. He is a good run-defender who is also excellent in pass defense. Mosley moves well and covers a lot of ground in zone coverage. He can play some man coverage and is a skilled blitzer. NFL scouts will love Mosley's pass defense. The senior could use more strength for the ground game, but he is a special player.
Mosley totaled 37 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and an interception in 2011 while splitting time with Nico Johnson and Dont'a Hightower. Mosley had an excellent debut as a freshman in 2010. He was third on Alabama's defense with 67 tackles, plus had 10 pass breakups and two interceptions that were both returned for touchdowns.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M. Previous Rank: 11 1/1/14: It has been reported that Evans will enter the 2014 NFL Draft. Stay tuned for our recap of his matchup with a gritty Duke secondary in his bowl game. Missouri held Evans to eight yards on four receptions late this season. Previously, LSU sent double-coverage his direction and kept him from making any huge plays. He had four catches for 51 yards.
A few weeks earlier, Texas A&M was upset by Auburn, but Evans put on a show for NFL scouts. He continued his stellar year with a dominating performance that totaled 11 receptions for 287 yards and four touchdowns. Earlier in 2013, Evans destroyed Alabama and made a lot of difficult catches for big gains along the deep sideline. He caught seven passes for 279 yards and a touchdown against the Crimson Tide.
For the year as of December 30, Evans has 65 receptions for 1,322 yards with 12 touchdowns. He has averaged 20 yards per reception for the season.
Evans had an awesome freshman season in 2012 and overtook Ryan Swope to be the No. 1 receiver for Johnny Manziel. Evans caught 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder can beat defenses downfield with his mismatch size, the speed to get vertical and the ability to rip off yards after the catch. He looks like a Vincent Jackson-type receiver for the NFL.
Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson. Previous Rank: 12 1/1/14: Beasley drew an interesting bowl matchup with Ohio State. Carlos Hyde will test his run defense, and Beasley should be an asset to chase down Braxton Miller.
In the regular-season finale, Beasley had two impressive sacks, five tackles, a forced fumble and drew a holding penalty against South Carolina left tackle Corey Robinson. The speedster Beasley was just too fast for Robinson to contain around the edge.
Beasly has been a tremendous pass-rusher for the Tigers this season with 12 sacks. The redshirt junior also has 20 tackles for a loss, 36 tackles, five passes batted, four forced fumbles and a fumble recover for a touchdown. After dominating, Beasley was clamped down by Florida State as the Seminoles blew out Clemson. In 2012, he had 14 tackles with eight sacks and a forced fumble.
The 6-foot-2 Beasley weighs in the 230s. He is strong for his weight, but he is still very undersized for the NFL. There is no doubt that Beasley won't be able to stay at defensive end. He could play in a 3-4 defense and be moved around. His best fit may come as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 and play in a similar style to Broncos linebacker Von Miller.
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame. Previous Rank: 16 1/1/14: Tuitt played well against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. He had four tackles with 1.5 sacks. In Notre Dame's regular-season finale, Tuitt had three tackles against Stanford. Going against BYU, he recorded seven tackles with a sack. Tuitt was ejected for targeting against Pittsburgh in the previous game.
The junior had his best game of the season against USC. He dominated the line of scrimmage and had success going against the Trojans' guards and tackles. Tuitt recorded seven tackles with two sacks for his first multi-sack game of the year. He drew a holding penalty and had a lot of other pressures.
Tuitt had three tackles with a strip-sack versus Arizona State. He looked good against Michigan State as he recorded six tackles with sack. Versus Michigan, Tuitt had a few pressures and a diving interception in the end zone to get Notre Dame a huge score in the second half.
Tuitt wasn't as dominant as he was in 2012, but he wasn't as bad as some have made him out to be. Tuitt still made an impact with tough run defense and applyed pressure on the quarterback. He played heavier, yet he has still managed to make impact plays. Tuitt totaled 49 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a pick-six this year.
8/30/13: Tuitt was one of the breakout stars who helped lead Notre Dame to the National Championship game last year. He was a dominant force for the Fighting Irish with his combination of power and surprising quickness. Tuitt had 12 sacks, 47 tackles, three forced fumbles, one pass break up and a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown - against Navy - in 2012. Manti Te'o received all the headlines, but Tuitt and Louis Nix were phenomenal for the Fighting Irish. Like the rest of the Notre Dame defense, Tuitt had a disappointing performance to end the season against Alabama.
Tuitt was a backup as a freshman, recording just 30 tackles and two sacks. The junior could be even more of a force in 2013 now that he has a year of starting experience, but he will see a plethora of double-teams. Tuitt has the size to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense or defensive end in a 3-4 set.
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State. Previous Rank: 13 1/1/14: Carr's final collegiate game against USC was a dud. It may not mean anything next May and he could have a pre-draft rise, but for the moment, Carr has hurt himself with a disappointing performance against the Trojans. Carr was off the mark throughout the game. He overthrew open receivers and struggled with his footwork. Carr looked flustered by the speed and play-making ability of USC's defense. He also didn't look good throwing on the run as Fresno State called a lot of rollouts. Carr completed 29-of-54 passes for 218 yards with two scores and an interception. He can bounce back with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl.
Previously, Carr completed 36-of-53 passes for 404 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions against Utah State in the Mountain West Championship. A week earlier, Fresno State fell short of an undefeated season with a loss to San Jose State, but Carr wasn't the reason. He completed 38-of-50 passes for 519 yards with six touchdowns and an interception.
On senior day, Carr added to his prolific season with a game for the Bulldogs' record books. He threw for 527 yards and seven touchdowns, going 27-of-37. On a number of throws, Carr lofted in some beautiful deep balls for touchdowns against a New Mexico team that looked like a high school squad.
Carr had a great 2013 as he completed 69 percent of his passes for 5,083 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The senior started the year by completing 52-of-73 passes for 456 yards, five touchdowns and an interception in an overtime victory over Rutgers. He threw for 460 yards against Boise State and 487 yards against Nevada.
As a first-year starter in 2011, Carr completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,544 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran in three scores. Carr was even better as a junior in 2012. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,104 yards with 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Carr beat up on some weak competition and didn't have his best games against Oregon or Boise State.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound signal-caller has a strong arm and good mechanics. He reads the field well and gets rid of the ball quickly. Carr makes good decisions and takes what the defense is giving him. He has the potential to rise high in the first round with a strong performance in the lead up to the 2014 NFL Draft.
Haha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. Previous Rank: 14 1/1/14: While Clinton-Dix was credited with only one tackle against Auburn, he was in on more plays downfield to help prevent some touchdowns. The junior also had some rough plays and bit on misdirection.
Against Mississippi State, Clinton-Dix recorded an interception, five tackles and half of a tackle for a loss. He had five tackles against LSU and picked up two tackles against Tennessee. It was Clinton-Dix's second game back since his reinstatement to the team following his two-game suspension. He recorded five tackles against Arkansas in his return to the lineup.
Clinton-Dix did some damage to his draft stock when he landed his then-indefinite suspension for taking a loan from an Alabama assistant. No one is surprised that Nick Saban reinstated Clinton-Dix before the Crimson Tide took on LSU. The junior was excellent against Ole Miss in deep coverage on the Rebels' talented wide receivers prior to his suspension. He had eight tackles and was very active.
Clinton-Dix excelled versus Texas A&M. He had a nice open-field tackle on a run by Aggies signal-caller Johnny Manziel. In the second quarter, Clinton-Dix came across the field to break up a deep pass. It was a great play, but he was questionably flagged for targeting. Clinton-Dix covered a ton of ground and gave good help to his cornerbacks over the top. He made a lot of touchdown-saving tackles versus Texas A&M. Against Virginia Tech, Clinton-Dix had an interception bounce off his hands on an overthrow by Logan Thomas, but played well otherwise.
In 2013, Clinton-Dix has 45 tackles, two interceptions and four passes broken up.
8/30/13: The Alabama defense got some huge, clutch plays out of Clinton-Dix during their National Championship run last season. He had a breakout year as a platoon player with Vinnie Sunseri in replacing Mark Barron. Clinton-Dix totaled 37 tackles with five interceptions, four passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2012.
Clinton-Dix is very good in pass coverage as both a deep defender and roving free safety. He covers a lot of ground, defends big receivers and has ball skills. The junior is expected to be the difference-maker in the Alabama secondary this year with the loss of Robert Lester to the 2013 NFL Draft. Clinton-Dix needs to improve his run defense and tackling, but he has the size to do it. Clinton-Dix also will receive excellent coaching and development as an every-down player.
The Crimson Tide has produced a lot of good defensive backs, and Clinton-Dix looks like the next star to come out of Alabama's secondary with his rare combination of size and speed. The Orlando, Florida product was top recruit coming out of high school.
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA. Previous Rank: 15 1/1/14: Stay tuned for our recap of the Hyundai Sun Bowl, where Hundley saw a nice test against a talented Virginia Tech defense. Versus USC, the redshirt sophomore completed 18-of-27 passes for 208 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. He ran for 80 yards and two scores on the ground, too. Hundley's feet were his most dangerous weapon against the Trojans. He was very impressive with his third-down abilities.
Hundley really struggled in the first half against Arizona State, including a pick-six. However, he bounced back in the final two quarters to lead a comeback that fell short. Hundley completed 22-of-33 passes for 274 yards with two touchdowns and the interception. He also picked up some clutch yards on the ground with 66 yards rushing.
Versus Oregon, Hundley completed 13-of-19 passes for 64 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He ran for 72 yards on 15 carries and a score as well. Hundley needs to improve on his decision-making and patience, but he played better than his numbers indicate.
Hundley didn't play very well when Stanford topped UCLA. He completed 24-of-39 passes for 192 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The second pick wasn't his fault as his receiver fell down.
Hundley lit up California by completing 31-of-41 passes for 410 yards with three touchdowns. The signal-caller showed off his athletic ability in early October by catching a touchdown, running for a touchdown and throwing for a score in a win over Utah. Early in the season, he also led a furious comeback for a huge road win at Nebraska.
The 6-foot-3, 227-pounder fits in the mold of athletic quarterbacks with good arms. He has a lot of room for improvement, but he has a skill set to work with. Hundley has some natural accuracy and developed field vision. As of December 30, 2013, he has completed 68 percent of his passes this year for 2,637 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. On the ground, Hundley has run for 798 yards and nine scores.
Hundley led the Bruins' revival last year and helped get his team to the Pac-12 Championship Game. He completed 66 percent of his passes in 2012 for 3,740 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, plus ran for 702 yards (355 net) with nine touchdowns.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama. Previous Rank: 17 1/1/14: Alabama lost to Auburn, but Kouandjio played well. The junior had perhaps his best game of the season against LSU. All night, Kouandjio blasted open running lanes and didn't allow any pressure on the quarterback. He was superb in that contest.
Kouandjio has played well with good blocks in the ground game and pass protection for the most part this season. He led the way for Alabama not to allow a sack for more than a month.
In mid-October, Kouandjio kept Kentucky defensive end Za'Darius Smith from notching any sacks. Kouandjio had a quality game overall. His performance against Ole Miss was better than those he had in earlier games.
Kouandjio had a rough start to the season. There were times when the junior dominated Virginia Tech, especially in run blocking, but he was flagged for two holding penalties and almost gave up a sack.
Kouandjio took some time to settle in against Texas A&M before winning his blocks in the first half. In the third quarter, he helped blast open some huge running holes. Kouandjio wasn't perfect in the second half as he had a false start penalty, but otherwise he was tremendous for those final two quarters. Overall, his game against the Aggies helps him.
Kouandjio is still a young player, but he has gotten more consistent over the course of 2013.
8/30/13: Kouandjio's ability to take over the left side allowed the Crimson Tide to move All-SEC and First-Team All-American Barrett Jones from left tackle to center last year. Jones was excellent against elite defensive ends in 2011, so obviously Alabama regarded Kouandjio highly. NFL teams will hold the junior in the same regard as he has the skill set to be a franchise left tackle and high first-round pick.
Kouandjio didn't disappoint as a replacement for Jones as he had an excellent season. The sophomore was a superb run-blocker and rock solid pass-protector by the end of the year. Kouandjio had some early mistakes, but improved steadily. Alabama averaged 224.6 yards per game on the ground and 439.1 of total offense in 2012. He finished the season in impressive fashion with excellent outings against Georgia and Notre Dame.
There is no doubt that Kouandjio is a great athlete for his size. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder is very agile and quick. He is very fast in his kick slide and also has the power to push linemen around at the point of attack.
The coaching staff worked Kouandjio, a freshman, onto the field in 2011. When he was in, the team would move shift Jones to act as a sixth lineman or, more often, lined up like a tight end on the right side. Kouandjio's outings in 2011 ended after he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Tennessee.
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee. Previous Rank: 18 1/1/14: Richardson has declared for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Tennessee lost by four to Vanderbilt to close out this season. Richardson previously continued his tough schedule by playing well against Missouri's speed-rushers. The junior did a great job of getting depth in his drop to negate speed rushes. He also stonewalled bull rushes. The only rusher who was able to get some pressure going against Richardson was Missouri's Kony Ealy. He worked himself free of Richardson on a few occasions, but never quickly enough to get a hit on the quarterback or a sack. Even on Richardson's underwhelming plays, he got enough of his rushers to give his quarterback a reasonable amount of time to throw the ball.
Against Alabama, Richardson played well overall. He did a nice job in pass protection and wasn't beaten for any sacks. Richardson was jacked up for another shot at Jadeveon Clowney. In the beginning of the game, Clowney made some plays against him in run defense, but Richardson settled down and played well. He kept Clowney from recording a sack and did well in pass protection.
Richardson was beaten for a sack against Georgia by Ray Drew, but aside from that play the Volunteers tackle played well overall. His pass protection was strong in the second half when Tennessee almost pulled out an upset win.
A week earlier, Richardson had perhaps his worst game of the past two seasons in the loss to Florida. He was beaten by Dante Fowler for a strip-sack and had issues in the first half with the Gators' defensive linemen. Richardson played better in the second half. That performance could hurt his draft grade.
Richardson played extremely well against Oregon aside from one play.
8/30/13: Entering the 2012 season, Dallas Thomas was a quality tackle prospect, but Richardson's talent prompted Tennessee to move Thomas inside to guard. Richardson was excellent at protecting Tyler Bray's blind side last year. The Volunteers did a great job in pass protection with Richardson leading the way, allowing only eight sacks. He was a Second-Team All-SEC selection.
Richardson (6-6, 332) also held his own going against South Carolina superstar Jadeveon Clowney. He had a good game until Clowney got a critical strip-sack late in the fourth quarter. Richardson has size to go with some athleticism. It wouldn't surprise me to see his stock rise during his junior year. He moves really well for his size and was even used some as a fullback as a freshman in 2011.
The junior faces a challenging schedule with good pass-rushers throughout this coming season. He rematches with Clowney midway through the year. If Richardson has a dominant 2013, he could rise high.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. Previous Rank: 19 1/1/14: Ebron declared for the 2014 NFL Draft.
In Ebron's final game, he caught seven passes for 78 yards against Cincinnati, but the junior did drop a deep ball that would have gone for a touchdown.
Against Duke, Ebron ended the regular season in style with 121 yards on five receptions. He had a phenomenal 2013 season during which he produced long touchdowns and killed teams down the middle of the field. Ebron is very fast with mismatch speed to get open. He recorded 62 receptions for 973 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.
Additionally, Ebron has flashed some impressive blocking potential. There have been times when he rocked defenders and put them on roller skates. There were other times when Ebron missed or didn't finish blocks. He needed to and has improved his blocking - it could always get better. Ebron has a great skill set with size, speed and strength. He has the potential to be a starting tight end in the NFL with three-down ability.
Ebron was the Tar Heels' second leading receiver in 2012, making 40 catches for 625 yards and four touchdowns. He was a dangerous receiver for Bryn Renner. North Carolina was thin at defensive end, so Ebron played some defensive end along with being a tight end. All he pretty much did was try speed rushes to get disruption upfield, but it was impressive that he was able to apply some pass pressures.
Ebron is very fast running through the secondary and is excellent attacking the middle of the field on slants and seam routes. He operates well as a slot receiver, too. Ebron needs to work on his hands and route-running, but he has great potential if he can just be more consistent.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC. Previous Rank: 21 1/1/14: Lee was excellent against Fresno State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. He had 118 yards on seven receptions with two touchdowns. One touchdown was a 40-yard catch-and-run that showed off the explosiveness Lee had in 2012. He had long gains and looked healthier than he has at any point in the 2013 season. The junior is expected to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Taking on rival UCLA, Lee had six receptions for 69 yards. He was playing through pain and had some clutch third-down receptions to move the chains. Against Stanford, Lee came through some clutch catches to help the Trojans upset the Cardinal. He had six receptions for 83 yards. A few weeks earlier, Lee flashed the 2012 version of himself with five receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown against Oregon State. He started the game with a 71-yard touchdown catch on a deep post.
After missing the game against Arizona, Lee had two receptions for 18 yards against Notre Dame. He tweaked his injured knee during the first half and didn't play in the second half. Lee just didn't look the same, and it seems like he may have rushed back to the field too soon. He was then held out against Utah.
Lee had a rough night against Arizona State. He caught seven passes for 92 yards, but also allowed a terrible dropped pass to be intercepted by the Sun Devils. Then in the fourth quarter, Lee injured his knee on a punt return. It was labelled a severe knee strain; he was on crutches in the days following the game and was listed as questionable for the game against the Fighting Irish.
Lee had a mildly disappointing outing in the season opener with a few drops and a muffed punt. On the other hand, he caught eight passes for 104 yards. Washington State then held Lee to 27 yards on seven receptions as USC lost 10-7 to the Cougars. In the third game, against Boston College, he snagged two receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. The Trojans' quarterback play disappointed in 2013, and Lee hauled in just 57 passes for 791 yards and four touchdowns.
8/30/13: Lee was one of the best players in college football in 2012. He was a Heisman finalist who carried USC's offense while other players had a down season. Lee was a consistent source of big plays with the speed to score on any reception. He put up astounding totals with 118 receptions for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. The sophomore also returned kicks and averaged 28.5 yards per return, including a 100-yard touchdown in the season opener.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Lee was an impactful freshman, too. He broke into the starting lineup for the Trojans and was a superb weapon for quarterback Matt Barkley to exploit. Playing opposite Robert Woods, Lee had a massive debut hauling in 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Lee looks like a future No. 1 NFL receiver. He is extremely fast and explosive. Lee also is a track star at USC. The junior projects as a receiver who will stretch a defense vertically and be a threat to score on any play. While Lee isn't the biggest or the strongest, he plays bigger than his size and makes up for it with great route-running and hands. The 2013 season could be a challenging year for Lee as he is going to see double- and triple-teams while the Trojans break in a new starting quarterback.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington. Previous Rank: 22 1/1/14: After helping to beat BYU, Seferian-Jenkins declared for the 2014 NFL Draft. He caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown, plus also did a good job of blocking.
Taking on Washington State, Seferian-Jenkins had two catches for 52 yards with a touchdown. He also did a good job of blocking for Bishop Sankey. Seferian-Jenkins caught four passes for 22 yards with a touchdown against UCLA the game before. The junior also fumbled the ball away early in the game. A week earlier versus Colorado, he matched his 2013 season highs with 62 yards on three catches and a touchdown.
Seferian-Jenkins was only thrown two passes versus Oregon, but he made acrobatic catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. Against Stanford, Seferian-Jenkins recorded four receptions for 58 yards. He had some nice blocks in the ground game for Sankey, but also had a bad drop late in the fourth quarter that could have gotten the Huskies close to being in range for a game-tying field goal attempt. Seferian-Jenkins was suspended for the season-opening contest versus Boise State due to his offseason DUI.
In 2013, Seferian-Jenkins hauled in 36 passes for 450 yards and eight scores. The Washington offense seemed to forget about him as it was led by Bishop Sankey, while Keith Price favored throwing to other weapons.
8/30/13: It looks like Seferian-Jenkins could contend to be the best tight end prospect to enter the NFL since Vernon Davis went in the top 10 of the 2006 NFL Draft. Seferian-Jenkins has a freaky combination of size and speed. The 6-foot-6, 266-pounder's pass receiving and run blocking is reminiscent of New England Patriots star tight end Ron Gronkowski.
Seferian-Jenkins was in the running as the best tight end in college football as a freshman in 2011. He was an absolute force as a receiver and a blocker, totaling 41 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns.
Seferian-Jenkins caught 69 passes for 852 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Quarterback Keith Price had a disappointing season, and his standout tight end was capable of producing even more.
Seferian-Jenkins is a true mismatch receiver. He is too fast for linebackers and most safeties. Seferian-Jenkins also is too big and physical for defensive backs. He has the speed to make big plays down the middle of the field. Seferian-Jenkins should continue to improve his blocking technique, but that will come with more age and experience. The junior looks worthy of being picked in the top half of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. Previous Rank: 23 1/1/14: Amaro and the Red Raiders will play Arizona State in their bowl matchup. The junior had six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown against Texas in the regular-season finale, but he also dropped a couple of passes.
Amaro has been phenomenal this season as he has been a great receiving weapon for the Red Raiders' passing game. He has 98 receptions for 1,240 yards with seven touchdowns this year. The junior had huge days against a number of Big XII teams including Iowa State (9-143), West Virginia (9-136), Oklahoma (8-119) and Oklahoma State (15-174).
Amaro is very fast and is a good route-runner. He is deadly at burning defenses down the middle of the field. Amaro is way too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties to cover effectively. He has excellent body control with reliable hands.
About midway through the season, Amaro tweeted that he was going to return to Texas Tech for his senior year, but WalterFootball.com heard that Amaro is likely declaring for the 2014 NFL Draft. That isn't surprising because Amaro has been dominant this year and probably can't improve his draft stock by returning to Texas Tech.
The sophomore was on his way to a huge season in 2012, racking up almost 400 yards receiving through the first six games. In a blow out of West Virginia, Amaro was having a massive game with five receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he injured his spleen in that contest and missed six games. Amaro ended up catching a total of 25 passes for 409 yards with four touchdowns for the year. He caught seven passes for 57 yards and two scores in 2011.
Amaro has an off-the-field red flag stemming from an arrest in the spring of 2012.
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State. Previous Rank: 24 1/1/14: Gilbert has six interceptions, 40 tackles, seven passes broken up and one kick returned for a touchdown this year. He had an interception returned 31 yards for a touchdown against Iowa State and a 41-yard pick-six against Texas. Gilbert returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Kansas. He finished the regular season with some clutch performances. Gilbert has really improved his game as a senior and become more disciplined. He has the skill set to be a starter in the NFL.
Gilbert has the size to play on the outside. He is good in bump-and-run and also functions well in off-man coverage. Gilbert had a mixed day against West Virginia in that he batted away two passes in the end zone and grabbed an interception, but was also beaten for a 17-yard touchdown before later being ejected at the end of the game over a fight. To finish the regular season, Gilbert had good games against Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma.
Gilbert recorded 63 tackles, nine passes defensed and averaged 26 yards per kick return in 2012. He did a nice job of matching up against Baylor's Terrance Williams late in the season. Gilbert had an excellent 2011 campaign with 59 tackles, 10 passes broken up and five interceptions. He averaged 27 yards per kick return the past two seasons.
Gilbert has size and ball skills. In 2011, he had interceptions against the top-three quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft; Stanford's Andrew Luck, Baylor's Robert Griffin and Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. Gilbert spent his collegiate career in a pass-happy conference, so he should enter the NFL battle-tested and ready to start quickly.
Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford. Previous Rank: 25 1/1/14: Against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship, Murphy had one sack and came close to a few others. He had seven tackles with two tackles for a loss.
Murphy was held in check by Notre Dame left tackle Zack Martin and totaled just two tackles and .5 tackles for a loss. While Stanford fell in a road upset to USC, Murphy was phenomenal for the Cardinal. He had eight tackles with four tackles for a loss and two sacks.
Murphy played well versus Oregon with .5 sacks and four tackles. He was an animal against Oregon State, totaling eight tackles, 2.5 sacks, two batted passes and 4.5 tackles for a loss. Murphy came close to a number of other sacks and was living in the backfield all night. He played well against UCLA with two sacks and three tackles.
While Stanford was upset by Utah, Murphy continued his strong season with four tackles and a sack. A week earlier, he led the Cardinal defense against Washington and made some huge splash plays to help his team stay undefeated. Murphy had two sacks and came close to a few others. In the fourth quarter with the Huskies a few yards away from the end zone, he deflected a pass that was intercepted by teammate A.J. Tarpley.
Murphy had a huge game early in the year against Washington State. He knocked the Cougars' starting quarterback out of the game with a hard hit and intercepted a quick pass to bring it back 30 yards for a touchdown. Murphy started the season strongly with two sacks against San Jose State.
In 2013, Murphy has 14 sacks, 21.5 tackles for a loss, 58 tackles, three passes batted, one forced fumble and an interception returned 30 yards for a touchdown. He is just .5 sacks off being the nation's sack leader with his bowl game remaining.
8/30/13: Murphy was perhaps the best player on Stanford's tough defense in 2012. That is saying something with other good prospects like Ben Gardner, Henry Anderson, Ed Reynolds, Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov all being legitimate pro prospects.
Murphy is a physical force who beats linemen with power and technique. He also has speed and explosiveness to get by as an edge-rusher. Murphy totaled 56 tackles with 10 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, one interception and a forced fumble last year.
Murphy totaled 40 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in 2011. He is a versatile player who has lined up in a variety of spots in the Cardinal's 3-4 defense.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU. Previous Rank: 20 1/1/14: Van Noy has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl.
Van Noy had one big play, but was generally quiet in his bowl matchup with Washington. The senior made a tackle for a loss on a fourth-and-goal to keep BYU in the game in the early going. He recorded seven tackles with a tackle for a loss.
Van Noy had three tackles and a tackle for a loss against Nevada. Prior to playing the Fighting Irish, the senior continued to make splash plays for the Cougars, including two tackles for a loss against Idaho State. A week earlier versus Wisconsin, he recorded eight tackles with two tackles for a loss and an interception.
Van Noy had six tackles, three sacks and three tackles for a loss against Georgia Tech. In the contest with Utah State, he picked off a pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. A week earlier against Middle Tennessee on a tackle for a loss, Van Noy knifed through the line to tackle the running back in the end zone for a safety.
Van Noy had a big impact against Texas, recording eight tackles with a sack. He also had a ton of other pressures and hits on the quarterback. In Week 1 versus Virginia, Van Noy racked up four tackles with two tackles for a loss. He also caused an interception while tackling the quarterback. Van Noy totaled 69 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, seven passes batted and two interceptions in 2013.
8/30/13: While defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was the more high-profile prospect for BYU last year, Van Noy was the better player. Ansah had 4.5 sacks while Van Noy totaled 13. Van Noy also recorded 53 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and five passes batted. The junior was the most impressive player on the Cougars' defense.
Van Noy closed out 2012 with a game for the ages, scoring two touchdowns against San Diego State. On the first, he dropped into coverage and picked off a pass to set up a 17-yard touchdown return. The next score came when Van Noy recovered a fumble in the end zone. He had decent production in 2011 with 68 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, three passes batted and three interceptions.
Van Noy (6-3, 235) is extremely quick off the edge and is a solid run-defender. He looks smooth dropping into pass coverage to go along with his tremendous edge rushing. Van Noy should add weight if he is going to play 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He could play in a 4-3 system as well.