2016 Preseason Award Projections: Lott IMPACT Trophy

By Charlie Campbell
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Heading into the 2016 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 2017 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Lott IMPACT Trophy is given to the top Defensive Impact Player of the Year in college football. Last year’s winner was Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib.

Lott IMPACT Trophy Winner:

Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State

The Lott Trophy has a big inclination toward linebackers. A linebacker has won the award in four out of the last five years. The last time a non-linebacker won the award prior to Nassib was J.J. Watt in 2010. In 11 years, only four times has the Lott IMPACT Trophy gone to a non-linebacker. With that in mind, Davis seems like a great prospect for this award.

McMillan played really well in 2015. He totaled 119 tackles with 1.5 sacks and four passes broken up on the year. McMillan is a physical, tough defender at the point of attack. As a freshman in 2014, he played a lot for Ohio State and totaled 54 tackles with 2.5 sacks and a pick-six. With Darron Lee, Von Bell, and Tyvis Powell in the NFL, it wouldn’t surprise me if McMillan has an even bigger tackle total this season. Plus, Ohio State lost defensive lineman like Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington, who were made tackles against the run as well. McMillan could produce a huge 2016 season and looks like a strong candidate to win the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Lott IMPACT Trophy Runner-Up:

Jarrad Davis, Florida

If you watched the Gators last year, Davis leapt out at you and was maybe the most impressive player on their defense, including star cornerbacks like Vernon Hargreaves III and Jalen Tabor. Davis is a devastating inside presence who made some clutch tackles for Florida in 2015. He totaled 98 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, an interception and 3.5 sacks. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is fast, physical and instinctive. He has sideline-to-sideline speed with the athleticism to be a three-down defender.

With Antonio Morrison and Keanu Neal in the NFL, it wouldn’t be surprising if Davis’ tackle total increases as a senior. Plus, he has a year of experience, so he could be even more instinctive against SEC offenses. Davis could be in store for a huge year, and if he won the Lott IMPACT Trophy nobody would be surprised.

Lott IMPACT Trophy Dark Horse:

Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Garrett became a superstar quickly during his freshman season for the Aggies. Instantly, he started to dominate the best conference in college football. Garrett even broke the NCAA freshman sack record previously set by Jadeveon Clowney with 11.5 sacks. Garrett also had 53 tackles and 14 for a loss. He took his game to another level in 2015. Even with teams sending extra blocking his direction, the sophomore continued to overwhelm the opposition, recording 59 tackles with 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, two passes batted and an interception on the year. Garrett was utterly unblockable in many games. Even though he sees double teams, the junior is too talented to be held in check as he is extremely fast and freakishly athletic.

Don’t be surprised if Garrett has a massive 2016 season even though teams will be selling out to stop him and he will see steady double teams. The junior is just that much better than the competition. I think Garrett will get close enough to, or even reach, double-digit sacks to bring home a lot of postseason hardware. The Lott IMPACT Trophy could be one of them.

Honorable Mentions: Michigan State DT Malik McDowell, Tennessee LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Northwestern LB Anthony Walker, Mississippi State LB Richie Brown, Stanford LB Peter Kalambayi, LSU DT Davon Godchaux, LSU DE Lewis Neal, Michigan State DT Malik McDowell, Florida Atlantic DL Trey Hendrickson, Auburn DE Carl Lawson, Florida DE Bryan Cox Jr., Texas A&M DE Daeshon Hall, Alabama DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama LB Tim Williams, Alabama LB Rueben Foster, Louisville DE Devonte Fields, Missouri DE Charles Harris and Tennessee DE Derek Barnett.

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12