Who will be the biggest breakout players for the 2016 college season? I reached out to five different NFL personnel executives and asked them which under-the-radar player is set to generate the most buzz this fall. Guys like LSU RB Leonard Fournette and Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett are well known among scouts and college football fans. Who represents the next wave of players that will take off in a big way? Here are their answers.
Executive 1: Stanford DE Solomon Thomas
"Freaky tester who played out of position last year at Stanford. Should have a big year this year playing as a defensive end. On the next level he has value as a big defensive end in a 4-3 scheme and sub rusher from an interior position. Tremendous upside."
Executive 2: Alabama OLB Ryan Anderson
"Ryan Anderson at Alabama is finally out of the shadows of all those other studs on the Alabama defense. He's a really talented player."
Executive 3: LSU S Jamal Adams
"I know he's not quite under the radar but he's gonna be the talk of the fall, especially once LSU starts SEC play. Elite player."
Executive 4: Ole Miss WR Damore'ea Stringfellow
"He has a great blend of size, speed and length. He had some really impressive flashes on tape last year. He will blow up this season."
Executive 5: Texas A&M S Justin Evans
"This kid jumps off the tape. He's a better player than (2016 first-round pick) Karl Joseph. He's a ferocious hitter and he can cover a lot of ground. He will be a top-20 pick this spring."
Summary: That's one vote apiece for Thomas, Anderson, Adams, Stringfellow and Evans
Conclusion: I've already studied Adams and Anderson. I can vouch for their talent and upside. I've compared Adams to Chiefs safety Eric Berry, and I wrote on Saturday that Anderson might have been the player who gained the most traction with scouts during Alabama's Week 1 rout of USC. I've seen the other three players on TV but I haven't studied them yet. I can't wait to dig into the tape and see what has these personnel executives so fired up.