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Pipeline to Pros: Top 25 CFB teams with most NFL talent in 2015

Al Goldis/Associated Press
Michigan State's Connor Cook enters 2015 as one of college football's top quarterbacks.

With fall camps set to begin around the country this week, here's a look at my ranking of the 25 college football programs with the most NFL-caliber talent heading into the 2015 season. I list the top talents to watch for each team in this breakdown, along with a player entering his first year with the program who is worthy of attention.

Here are the teams I have ranked 6-10. I'm unveiling five teams, counting down to No. 1, each day this week.

15 for '15:
CFB 24/7 counts down the best of what college football has to offer in varying categories for 2015.

6. Ole Miss

Players to watch: DT Robert Nkemdiche, OT Laremy Tunsil, WR Laquon Treadwell, TE Evan Engram and DE Marquis Haynes.

The outlook: It's not a coincidence that the Rebels have steadily climbed up the charts as their young blue-chip talents have started to mature and flex their muscles on the opposition. Tunsil and Nkemdiche, in particular, are franchise players with the capacity to wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage. Both players have lived up to the hype that preceded their arrivals, and scouts love prospects that play up to expectations on the biggest stages. Treadwell is recovering from a brutal leg injury, but he has already impressed scouts with his steady production as a No. 1 WR. If he can silence the concerns about his speed and explosiveness, he could emerge as a top receiver in the class.

Newcomer in the spotlight: CB Tee Shepard. The playmaking cover corner appeared on this list a season ago, but an injured toe prevented Shepard from making his debut in 2014. However, the ex-JUCO star is slated to crack the starting lineup this season and scouts are already buzzing over his potential. Measuring 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds with long arms and a spectacular set of skills, Shepard is the prototypical No. 1 CB at the next level.

7. USC

Players to watch: S/OLB Su'a Cravens, C Max Tuerk, DT Antwaun Woods, QB Cody Kessler, WR JuJu Smith and CB/WR Adoree' Jackson.

The outlook: Steve Sarkisian is determined to get the Trojans back into title contention by relying on an impressive collection of young talent. The Trojans boast college football's top two-way player (Jackson) and have another playmaker (Smith) poised to contribute on each side of the ball. Kessler is one of the most efficient passers in college football, posting an impressive 39:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio as the director of the Trojans' pro-style attack. Although scouts question his arm strength and range, it is hard to dispute his effectiveness running a system that is ideally suited to the pro game.

Newcomer in the spotlight: CB/S Iman Marshall. The Trojans are set at corner with Kevon Seymour and Jackson penciled in as starters, but that won't stop Sarkisian from looking for a spot for Marshall to make a contribution in the defensive backfield. The 6-foot, 200-pound playmaker is a menacing presence at corner, but his combination of size, athleticism and physicality could make him an ideal fit at safety for the Trojans.

8. Michigan State

Players to watch: QB Connor Cook, DE Shilique Calhoun, OLB Ed Davis, C Jack Allen, SS RJ Williamson and DT Malik McDowell.

The outlook: All eyes are on the Spartans and Cook heading into the 2015 season. The fifth-year senior is viewed as the top prospect at the position; scouts want to see how he handles the Spartans' grueling schedule against top competition. Cook possesses all of the tools scouts covet at the position, but he needs to shine in the Spartans' showcase games to cement his spot at the top of the charts. Calhoun is garnering attention from scouts as a disruptive defensive end who is adept at stopping the run or getting after the passer. Allen doesn't receive a lot of attention due to his position, but evaluators are excited about his potential as a pivot.

Newcomer in the spotlight: RB LJ Scott. The four-star recruit is already drawing comparisons to Le'Veon Bell after impressing the Spartans' veterans in summer workouts with his uncanny agility and movement skills as a big back (Scott measures 6-foot, 233 pounds). Following Jeremy Langford's departure for the NFL, the freshman sensation could work his way onto the field as the Spartans' feature back.

Take a look at the best photos from the 2015 college football fall camps.

9. Georgia

Players to watch: OT John Theus, FB Quavyon Hicks, RB Nick Chubb, WR Malcolm Mitchell, RB Sony Michel, LB Leonard Floyd, ILB Reggie Carter and OLB Jordan Jenkins.

The outlook: The Bulldogs have always featured a roster loaded with NFL-caliber talent since Mark Richt took the reins in 2001. The tradition will continue in 2015 with scouts already touting the Bulldogs' pass-rushing tandem of Floyd and Jenkins as one of the best in college football. Although both guys need to refine their games, it is hard to find long, rangy athletes with the core traits needed to develop into dominant rushers as pros. Chubb appears to be the next great Bulldog runner. He showed up big time in Todd Gurley's absence last season and is primed to put up ridiculous numbers as the feature back in a power-based offense.

Newcomer in the spotlight: QB Greyson Lambert. The graduate transfer from Virginia jumps into a hotly contested quarterback competition with Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta. Although Ramsey has the inside track on the job due to his status as last season's backup, Lambert's experience (started nine games in 2014), moxie and football aptitude could make him Richt's choice at the end of training camp.

10. Baylor

Players to watch: OT Spencer Drango, DE Shawn Oakman, WR Corey Coleman, WR KD Cannon and DT Andrew Billings.

The outlook: Credit Art Briles for transforming Baylor into an NFL factory. The program has produced 18 NFL draft picks over the past five seasons and is now a must-stop for scouts seeking electric playmakers at various positions. Looking ahead to the 2016 class, the Bears have several big bodies that will command attention from evaluators. Oakman and Billings headline a defense that should create chaos at the point of attack. Oakman, in particular, is a physical freak with a long, rangy build (6-foot-8, 278 pounds) that could make him a terror off the edge at the next level. Although he needs to refine his rush moves and become more consistent with his effort, Oakman is the kind of project defensive coordinators covet at the position. Drango is a four-year starter at left tackle and has all of the qualities to blossom into a franchise player at an interior position. He could slide inside to guard as a pro and earn all-star recognition.

Newcomer in the spotlight: QB Jarrett Stidham. Given Briles' success with quarterbacks at Baylor, NFL scouts will certainly pay close attention to Stidham's development throughout the years. The four-star recruit was viewed as one of the most explosive dual-threat signal-callers in the class, exhibiting a versatile game that is ideally suited for the Bears' fast-paced attack. Although it might take him a year or so to earn the starting job, Stidham is a dynamic playmaker capable of taking the Baylor offense to the next level.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.



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