The Top 25 Players in College Football
- Analyst, NFL.com and NFL Network
- Published: Dec. 13, 2012 at 02:14 p.m.
- Updated: Dec. 13, 2012 at 03:02 p.m.
The college football regular season is in the books, and all the attention now turns to the bowl games. Bucky Brooks takes the opportunity to re-order his top 25 players who are at least three years removed from high school. (*Denotes non-senior)
25. Xavier Rhodes*, Florida State, CB:
Scouts have been raving about Rhodes' impressive cover skills and instincts. He displays an aggressive game that is ideally suited for bump-and-run teams, but his movement skills could make him a fit in any scheme.
24. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, DT:
The NFL loves big, talented playmakers with the ability to wreak havoc on opponents. Richardson has been impressive against SEC competition, and scouts envision him blossoming into a difference maker at the next level.
23. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU, DE:
Ansah is a freakishly talented athlete with boundless potential. He shows rare hand skills and pass rush ability for a player with limited experience. (Ansah has only played two years of organized football.) With more exposure and better coaching, scouts believe Ansah can develop into a Jason Pierre-Paul-type talent as a pro.
22. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, OT:
Scouts have been raving about Fisher since the beginning of the season. He displays exceptional agility and movement skills for a man of his size (6-7, 305 pounds), and flashes the potential to develop into a quality starter at the next level.
21. Taylor Lewan*, Michigan, OT:
Lewan is the next great Michigan offensive tackle. He possesses the size, athleticism and agility that scouts covet in left tackle prospects. Although he still needs to refine a few areas of his game, Lewan's natural ability makes him a highly desirable player.
20. Matt Barkley, USC, QB:
After being viewed as the No. 1 prospect heading into the season, Barkley suffered through a miserable senior season. He failed to lead USC into title contention and showed alarming flaws as a decision-maker in the pocket. Although he remains a viable option as a potential franchise quarterback, he must prove to evaluators that he possesses the arm strength and athleticism to succeed as a pro.
19. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State, CB:
Banks is a natural ball hawk with tremendous instincts, awareness and skills. He displays a game that is polished in all aspects, and defensive coordinators will likely view him as a "plug and play" player.
18. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, OG:
Cooper is an athletic interior blocker with the size, strength and agility to thrive in a power-based or zone blocking system. He brings a host of starting experience to the next level and should be an immediate upgrade to any offensive line up.
17. Geno Smith, West Virginia, QB:
Smith was one of the hottest prospects in the draft during the first half of the season before a midseason slump sent his stock tumbling. However, he has outstanding physical tools and is an efficient drop-back passer with the ability to make all of the throws. Although he is not in the class of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as a talent, Smith is a franchise quarterback with the potential to emerge as a star.
16. Anthony Barr, UCLA, OLB:
Barr has emerged as a top pass rusher despite limited experience on the defensive side of the ball. The running back-turned-linebacker has shown a natural knack for getting after the passer, and scouts are salivating about his potential to develop into an impact player with more coaching and experience.
15. Jonathan Jenkins, Georgia, DT:
Jenkins is an disruptive force in the middle with his imposing size, strength and power. He is immovable off the point, and his ability to occupy multiple blockers frees linebackers to make plays all over the field. While Jenkins' production wouldn't appear to merit consideration as a top pick, he will sit near the top of draft boards across the league due to his ability to help others thrive in the middle.
14. Dion Jordan, Oregon, DE:
Jordan is a better athlete than player at this point, but his remarkable talents are hard to ignore. He has tallied five sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss and shown a propensity to get to the quarterback. With pass rushers coveted at a premium, NFL teams will certainly line up to take a chance on a tremendous talent like Jordan.
13. Bjoern Werner, Florida State, DE:
Werner is a relentless pass rusher with tremendous athleticism and movement skills. He surprises opponents with his first-step quickness and his outstanding production is a testament to his pass rush prowess.
12. Alec Ogletree*, Georgia, ILB:
Ogletree is an explosive sideline-to-sideline playmaker with exceptional instincts. He wreaks havoc on opponents with his speed and displays surprising physicality for a nimble athlete.
11. Dee Milliner*, Alabama, CB:
Milliner is a polished cover corner with outstanding feet and instincts. He has the ability to blanket receivers in man or zone coverage, yet is also a physical force against the run. With few college corners capable of matching Milliner's diverse skill set, it is not surprising to hear scouts rave about his potential.
10. Keenan Allen*, Cal, WR:
Allen is a gifted pass catcher with a polished game that is ideally suited for the NFL. He has the capacity to run every route and is a natural fit as a No. 1 receiver in any offensive system.
9. Jake Matthews*, Texas A&M, OT:
Matthews displays the balance, body control and agility to thrive as an edge blocker. He is a masterful technician with a keen understanding of the position, and his bloodlines (son of Hall of Fame offensive tackle Bruce Matthews) will only enhance his value in the minds of scouts.
8. Barkevious Mingo*, LSU, DE/OLB:
Mingo is a freakish athlete with remarkable first-step quickness and closing speed. He simply overwhelms opponents with his pure speed and is developing an array of rush moves that certainly will make him hard to stop off the edges at the next level.
7. Chance Warmack, Alabama, OG:
Warmack moves defenders off the ball like they're small pieces of furniture. He shows extraordinary strength and power, yet is a nimble athlete with extraordinary physical dimensions (6-2, 322 pounds).
6. Luke Joeckel*, Texas A&M, LB:
Joeckel ranks as the top offensive tackle in the country with his unique combination of balance, body control and agility. He is one of the few franchise-caliber left tackles in the college game.
5. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB:
Te'o might be the most improved defender in college football. He registered nine takeaways (seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries) in 2012 after failing to produce a turnover during his first three seasons. More importantly, he displayed the kind of instincts, awareness and physicality that will make him a terrific playmaker at the next level.
4. Jonathan Hankins*, Ohio State, DT:
There is a premium placed on big, physical defenders with extraordinary size, strength and power. Hankins certainly fits the bill with his tremendous physical dimensions (6-3, 320 pounds) and disruptive impact (one sack and four tackles for loss) as a nose tackle.
3. Damontre Moore*, Texas A&M, DE:
Moore has shot up the charts after collecting 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss for the Aggies this season. Most impressively, Moore has shown a refined game built on speed, quickness and agility that should enable him to make an instant impact at the next level.
2. Jarvis Jones*, Georgia, OLB:
Jones is the top pass rusher in the country with a combination of speed and quickness that makes him nearly impossible to block off the edge. He has amassed 26 sacks in the past two seasons and dominated the best conference in college football with his skills.
1. Star Lotulelei, Utah, DT:
Lotulelei is unquestionably the best big man in college football. He pulverizes opponents with his brute strength and power and is agile enough to make plays down the line. With few defenders capable of matching his skills or disruptive impact, Lotulelei deserves to sit atop this list.