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Published: Oct. 14, 2016 at 12:08 p.m.

10 seniors most in need of strong second half

Whether it's due to injuries, disappointing play or a combination of both, things haven't gone as well as these seniors would have liked in the first half of the college football season. These players are running out of time to prove to scouts that they're worthy of the hype they received heading into the season.

Here are 10 seniors most in need of a strong second half.

10 Photos Total

  • Sutton was playing well before fracturing his right ankle against Ohio in Week 3. Coach Butch Jones has said there's a possibility he'll return late in the season. I hope he can return to field this year because as talented as he is, there are 10-12 cornerbacks that could be fighting for first- and second-round consideration in 2017. Missing so much time in his final collegiate season could put him at a disadvantage against other CBs that were able to show their wares throughout the season. 10

    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    10. Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee

    Sutton was playing well before fracturing his right ankle against Ohio in Week 3. Coach Butch Jones has said there's a possibility he'll return late in the season. I hope he can return to field this year because as talented as he is, there are 10-12 cornerbacks that could be fighting for first- and second-round consideration in 2017. Missing so much time in his final collegiate season could put him at a disadvantage against other CBs that were able to show their wares throughout the season.

  • Luke is a physical player with the size/speed combination that scouts love. At times, he plays like the top cornerback prospect that many believe he can be. But his mental errors, missed tackles, and inability to find the ball at crucial times have made him a target for opposing quarterbacks. Playing on an island is a very difficult job, but in a cornerback class with great potential, Luke will need to make more plays if he's going to be considered one of the top prospects at the position. 9

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    9. Cole Luke, CB, Notre Dame

    Luke is a physical player with the size/speed combination that scouts love. At times, he plays like the top cornerback prospect that many believe he can be. But his mental errors, missed tackles, and inability to find the ball at crucial times have made him a target for opposing quarterbacks. Playing on an island is a very difficult job, but in a cornerback class with great potential, Luke will need to make more plays if he's going to be considered one of the top prospects at the position.

  • Williams was considered one of the top pass rushers in the country coming into the year, as he had 10.5 sacks as a junior. He started off a bit slow, accounting for only one sack in Alabama's first four games. Williams managed to pick up a sack in each of the last two games, however, and made four total tackles behind the line of scrimmage in those contests. He possesses the size, athleticism, and strength to be an elite player -- a strong finish to the year would push him up the draft board. 8

    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    8. Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama

    Williams was considered one of the top pass rushers in the country coming into the year, as he had 10.5 sacks as a junior. He started off a bit slow, accounting for only one sack in Alabama's first four games. Williams managed to pick up a sack in each of the last two games, however, and made four total tackles behind the line of scrimmage in those contests. He possesses the size, athleticism, and strength to be an elite player -- a strong finish to the year would push him up the draft board.

  • There was quite a bit of talk heading into the season about Leidner being a sleeper early round pick in the 2017 draft, but the results don't portend that sort of stock. He has just five touchdowns to go against four interceptions, has completed less than 58 percent of his passes, and is merely 68th in the country with just over 200 passing yards a game. The Gophers don't have Ohio State or Michigan on the schedule, but road games at Nebraska and Wisconsin won't be easy for him. While he possesses some of the physical traits coaches desire in a signal-caller, he'll need to be much more accurate than he was against Iowa last weekend if he wants to make the case as a top-100 selection. 7

    Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports

    7. Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota

    There was quite a bit of talk heading into the season about Leidner being a sleeper early round pick in the 2017 draft, but the results don't portend that sort of stock. He has just five touchdowns to go against four interceptions, has completed less than 58 percent of his passes, and is merely 68th in the country with just over 200 passing yards a game. The Gophers don't have Ohio State or Michigan on the schedule, but road games at Nebraska and Wisconsin won't be easy for him. While he possesses some of the physical traits coaches desire in a signal-caller, he'll need to be much more accurate than he was against Iowa last weekend if he wants to make the case as a top-100 selection.

  • Dural's in a tough situation because of the Tigers' shortcomings at the quarterback position. He's averaging less than 10 yards per reception and has one touchdown; those are not the numbers scouts want to see. Dural can't control when the ball is thrown to him, but he can make the most of his opportunities if he beats physical coverage with violent hands, breaks tackles, catches the ball consistently and works hard to come back to his quarterback when the play breaks down. Scouts will give him points if they see that effort on film. 6

    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    6. Travin Dural, WR, LSU

    Dural's in a tough situation because of the Tigers' shortcomings at the quarterback position. He's averaging less than 10 yards per reception and has one touchdown; those are not the numbers scouts want to see. Dural can't control when the ball is thrown to him, but he can make the most of his opportunities if he beats physical coverage with violent hands, breaks tackles, catches the ball consistently and works hard to come back to his quarterback when the play breaks down. Scouts will give him points if they see that effort on film.

  • The Badgers currently rank 78th in the country in rushing, partially because Clement hasn't been his explosive self due to injuries. Wisconsin is coming out of a bye week to face Ohio State; if Clement can move laterally to find space and accelerate quickly into the open field against the Buckeyes (and Iowa and Nebraska in their next two games), he'll prove to scouts that he�s back from the injuries that have hampered him. Reminding everyone of the talent he showed off as Melvin Gordon's backup in 2013 and 2014 will earn him a strong top-100 look in a potentially loaded running back class. 5

    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    5. Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin

    The Badgers currently rank 78th in the country in rushing, partially because Clement hasn't been his explosive self due to injuries. Wisconsin is coming out of a bye week to face Ohio State; if Clement can move laterally to find space and accelerate quickly into the open field against the Buckeyes (and Iowa and Nebraska in their next two games), he'll prove to scouts that he�s back from the injuries that have hampered him. Reminding everyone of the talent he showed off as Melvin Gordon's backup in 2013 and 2014 will earn him a strong top-100 look in a potentially loaded running back class.

  • NFL scouts don't know what to think about Dobbs right now. Is he the team leader that brought the Vols back for multiple comeback wins, sometimes with NFL-caliber throws? Or is he the guy who struggled from the pocket early in the year and against Texas A&M at times last weekend? Dobbs is an intelligent, hard-working leader with great intangibles. But if he can't show scouts he can consistently win games with accurate throws and solid in-game decision-making, then they'll view him as a third-day (Rounds 4-7) flier rather than a top-100 pick with starting potential. 4

    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    4. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

    NFL scouts don't know what to think about Dobbs right now. Is he the team leader that brought the Vols back for multiple comeback wins, sometimes with NFL-caliber throws? Or is he the guy who struggled from the pocket early in the year and against Texas A&M at times last weekend? Dobbs is an intelligent, hard-working leader with great intangibles. But if he can't show scouts he can consistently win games with accurate throws and solid in-game decision-making, then they'll view him as a third-day (Rounds 4-7) flier rather than a top-100 pick with starting potential.

  • Despite dropping at least 30 pounds in the offseason to get into the 345-pound range, Banner's movement skills and agility are still lacking. Now, Banner is struggling with an ankle injury, something a player of his size can't afford. If he continues to lose weight, relieving the stress on his ankles and legs, then he could become a good starting NFL right tackle. But if he can't move well against NFL-caliber talent like he'll face against Washington, UCLA and Notre Dame to end the regular season, scouts won't believe he will be more than serviceable on Sundays. 3

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    3. Zach Banner, OT, USC

    Despite dropping at least 30 pounds in the offseason to get into the 345-pound range, Banner's movement skills and agility are still lacking. Now, Banner is struggling with an ankle injury, something a player of his size can't afford. If he continues to lose weight, relieving the stress on his ankles and legs, then he could become a good starting NFL right tackle. But if he can't move well against NFL-caliber talent like he'll face against Washington, UCLA and Notre Dame to end the regular season, scouts won't believe he will be more than serviceable on Sundays.

  • A year after putting up 11 sacks for the Cardinals, Fields has managed just two sacks this season -- his only stops behind the line of scrimmage through five games. His size and athleticism are worthy of a pick in the top half of the draft, but scouts are wondering if he can consistently win strength battles against veteran linemen on Sundays. Fields needs to show he's a consistent playmaker before teams will consider using a first-round pick on him. He'll also have to answer questions from NFL teams about the allegations of domestic violence that led TCU to part with him in 2014. The toughest part of Louisville's schedule is behind the team, so it's quite possible Fields will produce over the next few weeks. 2

    Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

    2. Devonte Fields, OLB, Louisville

    A year after putting up 11 sacks for the Cardinals, Fields has managed just two sacks this season -- his only stops behind the line of scrimmage through five games. His size and athleticism are worthy of a pick in the top half of the draft, but scouts are wondering if he can consistently win strength battles against veteran linemen on Sundays. Fields needs to show he's a consistent playmaker before teams will consider using a first-round pick on him. He'll also have to answer questions from NFL teams about the allegations of domestic violence that led TCU to part with him in 2014. The toughest part of Louisville's schedule is behind the team, so it's quite possible Fields will produce over the next few weeks.

  • Kelly needs a great second half to the year to convince general managers that he'll be a great pick <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000448115/article/qb-chad-kelly-jims-nephew-and-an-ole-miss-signee-arrested">despite his off-field transgressions</a> and occasional lapses in judgement on the field. The Rebels face road tests against Arkansas, LSU, and Texas A&M in the second half. If he can limit turnovers while making use of his stable of receivers in those games, he'll be on the right track toward alleviating concerns about his game. His arm talent and toughness are excellent, so he's capable of putting together a great string of games. Scouts will be evaluating his maturity on and off the field, as well as his ability to stick throws in tight windows. 1

    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    1. Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss

    Kelly needs a great second half to the year to convince general managers that he'll be a great pick despite his off-field transgressions and occasional lapses in judgement on the field. The Rebels face road tests against Arkansas, LSU, and Texas A&M in the second half. If he can limit turnovers while making use of his stable of receivers in those games, he'll be on the right track toward alleviating concerns about his game. His arm talent and toughness are excellent, so he's capable of putting together a great string of games. Scouts will be evaluating his maturity on and off the field, as well as his ability to stick throws in tight windows.