2017 Preseason Award Projections: Hendricks Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2017 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next April for the 2018 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Ted Hendricks Award is given to the best defensive end in college football. Last year’s winner was Alabama defensive end/tackle Jonathan Allen.

Hendricks Award Winner:

Harold Landry, Boston College

The Hendricks Award favors players with big sack production, and Landry easily could have received the honor for his 2016 season, in which he racked up 16.5 sacks. He also chipped in 22 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, four passes batted and 51 tackles. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder is a fast edge rusher who should produce another big season of getting after the quarterback. Teams will send double teams his direction, but Landry has enough skill to get around that, along with Boston College moving him around, to make it harder to double team him. He also has a favorable schedule in the ACC. Considering what Landry did last year, if he comes close to that production again, I think the Hendricks Award will be inclined to reward him.

Hendricks Award Runner-Up:

Marcell Frazier, Missouri

In recent years, Missouri has been a factory for edge-rushing talent. With Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Markus Golden, Shane Ray and Charles Harris, the Tigers have produced consecutive pass-rushers who have been impact-making players in the SEC. Frazier was able to do some damage in 2016 across from Charles Harris. Frazier came on strong at the end of the season. On the year, the junior notched 7.5 sacks with 33 tackles. Frazier has a lot of talent with speed around the corner to produce a huge season for Missouri with a big sack total. The senior definitely could be a strong candidate to win the Hendricks Award.

Hendricks Award Dark Horse:

Arden Key, LSU

One wouldn’t think that Key is a dark horse considering he enters the 2017 season as the top defensive prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. Key was one of the best players in college football in 2016. He recorded 56 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up on the year.

Key is a dangerous pass-rusher with excellent speed and the ability to bend around the corner. He has the ability to take over games and is a constant threat to make a game-changing play. His production might slip some as a junior because of the double teams that will come his direction. That was the case for other superstar edge rushers like Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and Joey Bosa, who all had their junior productions decline from what they did as sophomores. Thus, I think that makes Key more of a dark horse to win the award as he has a lot to overcome considering all the extra blocking attention the SEC will be throwing at him this season.

Honorable Mentions: Kansas’s Dorance Armstrong Jr., Boston College’s Harold Landry, N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb, Virginia’s Andrew Brown, Florida State’s Josh Sweat, Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, Florida’s CeCe Jefferson, Wake Forest’s Duke Ejiofor, Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard and Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis.