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Published: Oct. 22, 2012 at 08:46 p.m.
Updated: Oct. 24, 2012 at 09:25 p.m.

Top 20 college players at midseason

The college football season has reached its midpoint, and NFL scouts have begun their grades on players. Find out which college players have stood out so far. (*Denotes underclassmen.) http://www.nfl.com/podcast/nfl-draft-tracker-podcast

20 Photos Total

  • 20. Matt Barkley, QB, USC: 20

    20. Matt Barkley, QB, USC:

    Barkley entered the season as a potential top-five pick, but his stock has steadily declined due to questions about his height, athleticism and arm strength. Barkley simply lacks the blue-chip physical characteristics associated with most top draft choices, and I don't know if his superior football intellect can compensate for his deficiencies. Granted, other quarterbacks have been able to succeed without having the big arm or ideal physical dimensions, but most were not selected at the top of the first round. This will make it challenging for Barkley to retain a draft slot near the top. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

  • 19. Justin Hunter*, WR, Tennessee: 19

    19. Justin Hunter*, WR, Tennessee:

    Hunter flashes all of the physical tools to be the best receiver in college football. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Hunter is a big-bodied pass catcher with excellent movement skills and athleticism. He capably runs all of the routes and shows the capacity to work effectively both over the middle and down the field. While I love his production as the Vols' No. 1 receiver, he needs to become more consistent as a pass catcher to finish the season regarded as the premier receiver in college football. (Wade Payne/Associated Press)

  • 18. Robert Woods*, WR, USC: 18

    18. Robert Woods*, WR, USC:

    Scouts love to see consistent production and performance from pass catchers, and there are few in the college game who can match Woods' play over the past two and a half seasons. He has dominated Pac-12 competition with his polished game, and I believe he might be the best route runner at USC since Johnnie Morton. With the Trojans facing pivotal games against Oregon and Notre Dame over the final month of the season, Woods will get plenty of chances to showcase his game to scouts across the league. (Alix Drawec/NFL)

  • 17. Marcus Lattimore*, RB, South Carolina: 17

    17. Marcus Lattimore*, RB, South Carolina:

    Even though the NFL is trending toward running back rotations, most coaches will still tell you they would prefer having a multi-purpose workhorse in the backfield. Lattimore has been a premier runner in college football since his arrival as a true freshman, and he continues to display the overall skills to handle 300-plus carries as a feature back in a pro system. While there is some concern about his recovery from a torn ACL, Lattimore has shown no ill effects from the injury and remains the smooth, fluid runner that I remember from early in his career. With a few more games to show that he has fully recovered from last season's setback, Lattimore can certainly reestablish his reputation as college football's premier back. (John Amis/Associated Press)

  • 16. Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia: 16

    16. Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia:

    Nose tackle isn't a sexy position, but every defense needs a monstrous player in the middle. Jenkins is a natural, boasting the size, strength and power to control the point one-on-one or against double-teams. With more teams utilizing variations of the 3-4, Jenkins will certainly receive a ton of attention from scouts heading into draft. (Kevin Liles/US Presswire)

  • 15. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama: 15

    15. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama:

    It is hard to find offensive linemen with the kind of versatility Jones has displayed during his time with the Crimson Tide. He has notched starts at center, guard and tackle during his career, and his ability to play at a high level at each spot makes him a valuable commodity in the minds of evaluators. While I envision Jones excelling as an interior blocker at the next level, it is quite possible that a team will view him as a capable offensive tackle prospect, raising his value on the draft board. (Kevin Jairaj/US Presswire)

  • 14. Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon: 14

    14. Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon:

    Jordan has flown under the radar due to the overwhelming attention paid to the Ducks' offense, but he might be the best player on their roster. He is a freakish athlete with the speed, agility and explosiveness to wreak havoc off the edges. The fact that the Ducks are willing to play him all over the field -- Jordan was recruited as a receiver/tight end, but plays defensive end, outside linebacker and press corner in the Ducks' scheme -- suggests his athleticism is rare for a guy of his size (6-7, 243). Although Jordan's game remains a work in progress, the raw talent and potential makes him an intriguing prospect to watch down the stretch. (Jim Z. Rider/US Presswire)

  • 13. Dee Milliner*, CB, Alabama: 13

    13. Dee Milliner*, CB, Alabama:

    The lack of cover corners with the size, athleticism and length to match up with the big-bodied receivers currently dominating the NFL raises Milliner's value in the minds of evaluators. At 6-1 and 199 pounds, Milliner is big enough to challenge tall receivers at the line and in jump-ball situations. Most importantly, he shows the agility and awareness to make plays on the ball in coverage. With few college corners capable of playing effectively in both man and zone, Milliner will earn rave reviews from NFL scouts when they eventually take a closer look at his game. (Marvin Gentry/US Presswire)

  • 12. Sam Montgomery*, DE, LSU: 12

    12. Sam Montgomery*, DE, LSU:

    Montgomery is a powerful edge player with the size and length to develop into a disruptive base end as a pro. He will be most effective working against right tackles and tight ends due to his rugged game, and he should be able to set the edge against the run with to his strength and power. Although disruptive pass rushers are traditionally viewed as the premier players in college football, the fact that Montgomery has registered solid sack production while capably manning the edge leads me to believe he will receive a high grade from scouts. (Kim Klement/US Presswire)

  • 11. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: 11

    11. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State:

    Banks possesses the size and skill to blossom into a No. 1 corner at the next level. While I still have some reservations about his speed and burst, I love his competitive grit and the way he raises his game against top competition. With those characteristics valued at a premium by defensive coordinators around the league, I expect this senior to carry a high grade on most draft boards around the league. (Spruce Derden/US Presswire)

  • 10. Keenan Allen*, WR, Cal: 10

    10. Keenan Allen*, WR, Cal:

    The evolution of the passing game in the NFL has scouts searching high and low for pass catchers with outstanding hands and playmaking ability. Allen has emerged as the top receiver in college football in his third season. Evaluators are raving about his dominance in the Pac-12, despite inconsistent quarterback play. When I look at Allen's game, I marvel at his refined route-running skills and ability to create separation from defenders with his size and athleticism. Allen is a name on the rise in the NFL scouting community. (Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire)

  • 9. Barkevious Mingo*, DE/OLB, LSU: 9

    9. Barkevious Mingo*, DE/OLB, LSU:

    Mingo might be the most athletic edge player in college football when you consider his combination of speed, quickness and explosiveness. He blows off the ball like a cat and shows remarkable closing quickness when chasing quarterbacks from the backside. Although Mingo's sack production certainly doesn't match his athleticism, the disruptive potential that he displays in flashes will make him a coveted pro prospect. (Derick E. Hingle/US Presswire)

  • 8. Jake Matthews*, OT, Texas A&M: 8

    8. Jake Matthews*, OT, Texas A&M:

    When a prospect the son of a Hall of Famer (Bruce Matthews) and possess the requisite physical characteristics, NFL scouts will pay closely attention to their development over the course of a career. Matthews has quickly become one of the top offensive tackles in college football, and his sound overall game has evaluators salivating over his potential as a pro. Although Matthews could opt for another year of seasoning as a collegian, I love his overall growth over the past year and expect him to emerge as one of the top prospects in the 2014 class. (Thomas Campbell/US Presswire)

  • 7. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama: 7

    7. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama:

    The Crimson Tide have become quite a football factory under Nick Saban, and the production line will certainly continue with Warmack emerging as a potential top-10 selection. At 6-3, 320 pounds, he is a fundamentally sound interior blocker with exceptional strength and explosiveness. Although the guard position isn't traditionally viewed as a premium need, the fact that Warmack is a "plug and play" prospect could prompt NFL scouts to make an exception to the rule. (Matthew Emmons/US Presswire)

  • 6. Luke Joeckel*, OT, Texas A&M: 6

    6. Luke Joeckel*, OT, Texas A&M:

    Offensive tackles with superb size, strength and footwork are hard to find, so Joeckel has created a buzz in the scouting community with his exceptional skill set. The hype will only increase following Joeckel's fine performance against LSU's Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. With a few more showdowns against quality competition in the SEC, Joeckel could finish the season regarded as the top offensive tackle in college football. (Kevin Jairaj/US Presswire)

  • 5. Jarvis Jones*, OLB, Georgia: 5

    5. Jarvis Jones*, OLB, Georgia:

    Pass rushers are coveted at a premium in the NFL, and there isn't a finer rusher in college football than Jones. The junior led the SEC in sacks a season ago, and has already racked up 5.5 sacks in five games in 2012. Jones' combination of speed, explosiveness and burst is unrivaled in college football, and he has developed an array of rush moves that complement his remarkable athleticism. Although concerns about his injury history could impact his eventual draft grade, Jones is an intriguing prospect with the kind of talent scouts desire in franchise players. (Daniel Shirey/US Presswire)

  • 4. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: 4

    4. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame:

    Te'o has been the most dominant defender in college football over the first half of the season. He seemingly makes every tackle for the Irish defense and has started to make the kind of disruptive plays (forced fumbles and interceptions) that NFL evaluators desire in blue-chip linebackers. If he can continue to impress in big games against Oklahoma and USC, Te'o will solidify his status as a top-five prospect. (Brian Spurlock/US Presswire)

  • 3. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: 3

    3. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia:

    Smith was the surprise of the college football world through West Virginia's first five games of the season, but he has started to cool off after two straight disappointing performances. However, scouts are still fascinated by his combination of physical tools and leadership skills, so he remains a viable candidate to be the first quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL Draft. (Rob Christy/US Presswire)

  • 2. Johnathan Hankins*, DT, Ohio State: 2

    2. Johnathan Hankins*, DT, Ohio State:

    The continuing trend of building a fortress down the middle of the defense certainly could lead to Hankins earning high marks from NFL evaluators across the league. At 6-3, 317 pounds, Hankins dominates offensive centers with his strength and power, and routinely spends time playing in the opponent's backfield. With the NFL trending toward the 3-4 as the defensive scheme of choice, Hankins is a player scouts will continue to view as a crown jewel. (Pat Lovell/US Presswire)

  • 1. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: 1

    1. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah:

    Elite defenses in the NFL are typically strong down the middle, so Lotulelei's ability to function as a "one-man wrecking crew" at defensive tackle makes him a coveted prospect. While his numbers (two sacks and seven tackles for loss) don't really jump off the page, a closer look at the tape reveals a blue-chip defender with the skills to transform a defense in the middle. (Alix Drawec/NFL)

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