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Answering questions on Cato, Clowney, top 5 QBs and more


I love Twitter. There, just said it.

Most people my age abhor it, but what I love about Twitter is the same thing I love about going to games and being on the road: the interaction with fans. It allows me to receive and answer questions like this:

Now, most people, much less college football fans, have never heard of Cato, but in our preseason college football predictions, I picked Rakeem Cato to lead the nation in passing. He's got a nice target at Marshall in wide receiver Tommy Shuler, who was a teammate of his at Miami (Fla.) Central. The two have hooked up 33 times already this season for 367 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Cato is a slightly under 6-foot. He reminds me a little bit of Russell Wilson, but I don't think he's as good as the Seahawks quarterback. He moves around a lot and has a strong arm. A junior, he's a guy right now who would definitely be drafted if he were to come out. He definitely is a prospect, but it would be smart for him to stay in school, with all the quarterbacks coming out this year.

I don't like to rank underclassmen this early for a couple of reasons, but mainly because I don't do a deep study of them until they've declared for the draft. Here's how I'd rank my top five senior quarterbacks:

1. Alabama's AJ McCarron: McCarron is a game manager, but when Alabama needs a play, he can execute it (see game vs. Texas A&M). I don't think he can do what Andrew Luck does -- not many can -- but he can be successful in the NFL.

2. Miami's Stephen Morris: Perhaps with the exception of LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Morris has shown the biggest jump of any quarterback in college football, from last year to now. I ranked him No. 17 in my preseason Hot 100 seniors, and he'll rise even higher in my next revision.

3. Clemson's Tajh Boyd: He makes a very good scheme at Clemson run smoothly because of his athletic abilities.

4. Georgia's Aaron Murray: He will probably end up starting more games than any other quarterback in FBS history. A solid performer. I ranked him No. 34 in my Hot 100, right behind Boyd.

5. San Jose State's David Fales: He played well last year and is a little bit overmatched this season because he lacks talent around him. In order for him to be successful he needs help from his teammates. He is a good quarterback with an NFL future, but he can't do it by himself.

I am not a Logan Thomas fan. He's an OK quarterback, but he doesn't have enough touch or accuarcy when he throws. A lot of times people will talk glowingly about a QB like Thomas even though they've never seen him in person. That's what was happening with him two years ago. When you see him, and I have, he's physically impressive but has no accuracy.

Early last year he was talked about as a high first-round pick when he eventually enters the draft. I didn't see it that way. This is a sheep's game; there were a lot of followers with Thomas. He's a big guy and was considered by some the No. 1 tight end prospect coming out of high school in Lynchburg, Va. If you want a runner, he's a threat because of his size. He'll get drafted, but he's a big, stiff quarterback.

I think they need to look at defensive players. They need to get better players, and it probably starts by replacing MLB London Fletcher, who has slowed down this year. They should also look at offensive linemen.

The Wisconsin running back is already getting Heisman buzz, but that's sure to increase if he can have a big game this week at Ohio State. The true sophomore was part of a three-man rotation with Montee Ball and James White last year and is part of a two-man rotation with White this year, although many would argue he's the man in the Badgers' backfield despite having eight fewer carries.

He's a true Wisconsin product, having graduated from Kenosha Bradford High School, located south of Milwaukee, but he wasn't recruited nationally. A lot of regrets, I'm sure, around many campuses these days. He's averaging 11.8 yards per carry, a year after averaging 10 yards. He's better than White, more skilled and faster. We'll know a lot more about him -- and his Heisman hopes -- after the Ohio State game this week.

He's probably the best tight end, but again, he's a junior, and I haven't studied him completely. He was impressive on Saturday, playing just a little more than a quarter in Washington's 56-0 rout of Idaho State, catching five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.

He's big and athletic. He has some baggage; he was suspended for the season opener after pleading guilty to DUI charges in the offseason. He's got some time to stay clean before the draft if he decides to enter after this season. And he'll need to if he wants to get drafted high. The Aaron Hernandez situation has changed the climate.

This is the ultimate compliment when I say Jadeveon Clowney is a lot like Derrick Thomas when Thomas came out of Alabama in 1989. Many NFL evaluators considered Thomas the best defensive player in college football, maybe the best player overall, but he wasn't taken until the fourth pick in the draft behind four offensive players: Troy Aikman, Tony Mandarich and Barry Sanders. When Lawrence Taylor came out in 1981, tell me there was a better player than him in the decade before or after, yet he went No. 2 overall behind George Rogers.

The feeling these days is that you have to have a quarterback to win. Nothing wrong with that theory. You can win with a lesser players at other positions, but not at quarterback. Not in today's NFL.

You worry a little bit about Clowney's bone spurs, but if he checks out OK physically at the combine, safely assuming he enters the draft, he'll be a top-five pick.

I don't think what David Carr did in the NFL will have any effect whatsoever on what Derek does. His draft status will be on his own merits.

He looked pretty good against Boise State last week. I'm eager to see him aganst Colorado if that rained-out game is rescheduled. Colorado was the biggest threat on Fresno's schedule, including Boise State.

Fresno has a great system, but Carr's not a system QB. He does have a big advantage, however, playing in Fresno with all those great wide receivers. I had him No. 57 in my Hot 100, which at this point would put him in probably in the third round.

I didn't have Zach Mettenberger ranked in my preseason Hot 100 seniors. But when I saw him in person in Dallas vs. TCU, I was surprised with his mobility, and I didn't think he'd be as accurate as he was.

Cam Cameron has really helped his development at LSU. His future will depend on what else he absorbs from Cameron this year. He's a guy like Ryan Tannehill, who was underrated going into his senior year. Tannehill had a good season to finish out his college career and ended up being drafted in the first round.

I'm not saying that will happen to Mettenberger, but he has a chance if he continues to progress the way he did over the offseason.

Interesting note: Mettenberger plays Georgia this week in a huge SEC showdown. His mother is a secretary in the Georgia athletic office.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter _@GilBrandt_.

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