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Five CFB programs that could be next to dominate NFL draft


The University of Michigan placed 11 players in the 2017 NFL Draft to lead all schools, led by first-round selections Jabrill Peppers and Taco Charlton. Alabama was close behind with 10 draft picks, four of which got a first-round call. Last year, College Football 24/7 correctly projected both to have a big impact on the draft.

Which college program could be the next one to dominate an NFL draft? Using analyst Chad Reuter's top 150 CFB players for 2017 as a guide, we look at five schools that could deliver in a big way:

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No surprise, the Crimson Tide will reload behind those 10 lost draft picks with a deep crop of talent. Defensively, junior DT Da'Ron Payne is a dominant interior presence similar to former Tide DT Marcell Dareus, who was a top-five pick. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison will arguably make up the best safety tandem in the nation, unless Fitzpatrick's versatility lends him more to the nickelback or cornerback positions. RB Bo Scarbrough returns, after his late-season emergence last year, with thunderous 240-pound power. WR Calvin Ridley is an explosive deep threat in the passing game who should be heavily-targeted now that ArDarius Stewart has moved onto the pro ranks. A few other top Alabama prospects to watch: DL Da'Shawn Hand, DB Tony Brown, LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, P J.K. Scott.


Coach Chris Petersen's recruiting prowess is taking root at UW, and as a result, the Huskies' talent level will withstand its 2017 draft losses just fine. QB Jake Browning showed a lot of improvement last year despite playing through a late-season shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. RB Myles Gaskin and WR Dante Pettis surround Browning with big-play ability. Vita Vea, a fourth-year junior, will anchor another solid UW defensive line, and LB Azeem Victor will be looking to show scouts pre-injury form after a leg fracture ended his season early last year.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes are turning out NFL talent at an incredible clip under Urban Meyer, and the trend won't be stopping anytime soon. Ohio State has seven players among Reuter's top 150 list, starting with RB Mike Weber, who averaged 6 yards per carry last season in rushing for 1,096 yards. Scouts who venture to OSU practices this fall will take a close look at the Buckeyes' DE tandem of Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard, as well. Other OSU draft prospects include OL Jamarco Jones, OL Billy Price and LB Jerome Baker.


How much pro upside does QB Sam Darnold have? He was a topic of discussion at the NFL Scouting Combine when he wasn't even there. He caught fire after taking over the starting role as a redshirt freshman last season and threw 29 TD passes over USC's last nine games. RB Ronald Jones emerged into a larger role in the Trojans' offense over the second half of last season and will be scouted heavily as a junior this fall. LB Cameron Smith and CB Iman Marshall qualify as two of the top defensive players in the nation, giving the Trojans, along with Darnold, three of the nation's top 25 players, per Reuter.


Clemson is more known for developing draft-worthy skill-position talent, but it's on the line of scrimmage where the Tigers' top players can be found for 2017. Christian Wilkins (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) will help anchor one of the best defensive lines in college football. OT Mitch Hyatt has been a starter from his first game as a freshman, and has developed into an All-ACC player. Then there is DT Dexter Lawrence, who won't be eligible for the NFL draft until 2019 or 2020, but established himself as one of the top freshmen in the country last year. Other Clemson standouts scouts will be watching include WR Deon Cain, LB Kendall Joseph, S Van Smith, CB Mark Fields and OG Tyrone Crowder.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.



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