As we move closer to the start of the college football season, we asked our panel of experts which current CFB player they would choose to build their team around, if they were charged with starting a CFB program. Here are their responses.
Note: NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt and analyst Chad Reuter both selected Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa before the news broke that Bosa is suspended for the Buckeyes' season opener. After learning of the suspension, both analysts said they would still select Bosa.
- Charles Davis NFL.com
Boykin provides sturdy foundation
It all comes back to the QB, doesn't it? In my opinion, the game of football, on all levels, has never been more QB-centric than it is right now. And, while I'm tempted to go big (Joey Bosa of Ohio State or Andrew Billings of Baylor), or with someone who "strikes" (Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame or Myles Jack of UCLA), or a runner (Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State or Nick Chubb of Georgia) or even a pretty playmaker on the perimeter (Tyler Boyd of Pitt, Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss or Corey Coleman of Baylor), it does all come back to the QB. I'm taking Trevone Boykin of TCU. He has tremendous arm talent. The ball comes off his hand nicely, and his offseason has had people I trust buzzing. We must also consider his excellent athleticism (he has played WR at TCU, and I fully believe he could be a big-time RB or DB, too), and top-notch (and improving) decision making. I'd start my team with him, and build a championship squad in support.
- Gil Brandt NFL.com
Bosa gets nod with no franchise QB available
Normally, if there's a quarterback available who had franchise-QB ability, I would take the QB. For example, last year I would have taken the QBs that went No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, over anyone else. However, I don't think there's a franchise QB in college football right now. So, my pick is Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa, even after learning he'll be suspended for the season opener. He has everything you want -- height, weight, speed, ability and pedigree (his father, John, was a first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1987). If you can't get a QB, I think pass rusher is the second-most valuable position to start a franchise with, and Bosa's record speaks for itself.
- Lance Zierlein NFL.com
Ohio State RB a tone-setter
There are so many great options, but I'm going with running back Ezekiel Elliot from Ohio State. If you want to build a team around a particular player, that player needs to be incredibly productive and he needs to set the tone. When it came to setting the tone, nobody was better than Elliot by the end of the season for the Buckeyes. Elliot has the size, athleticism and talent to be a workhorse as well as the toughness and attitude to impose his will, which is what I would want my team to do.
- Chad Reuter NFL.com
Bosa would be backbone of team
Give me Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa, even though he's suspended for the season opener, and I'll figure out the rest. He's active against the run whether containing outside or stunting toward the middle. He'll bull his way to the quarterback or hustle around the edge. I'd be comfortable dropping him into short-area coverage, as well. My defense would be planned around him, and that's a sound foundation for any team.
- Chase Goodbread College Football 24/7
Georgia's Chubb can propel squad
If we're truly building, youth is important; no sense picking a senior who will be gone in a year. And nobody in college football has proven more at a younger age than Georgia running back Nick Chubb. The Bulldogs star rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season as a freshman despite sitting behind Todd Gurley for roughly half the season. Offensive line shaky? No problem -- Chubb has the power to make his own holes when necessary. He's a coach's dream from a work-ethic standpoint, and best of all, he has three years of NCAA eligibility left.