Since the Chuck Bednarik Award (presented annually to the top defensive collegiate football player) was first given out in 1995, only eight of the 18 winners (and just two of the last six) have gone on to become first-round NFL draft selections. With that as the background, who is your pick to win the Bednarik this season?
- Chase Goodbread NFL.com
Clowney represents confluence of college production and pro potential
If the 2013 Bednarik Award were a horse race, a bet on any contender other than South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney would pay off handsomely. For just about any national award open to a front-seven defensive player -- and there are several -- the Gamecocks junior will be a prohibitive favorite. The award's criteria, and history, clearly doesn't reward NFL potential. But in the case of Clowney, the college game's best defender and vast pro potential align in one. Three to watch if Clowney falters: LSU LB Lamin Barrow, UCLA LB Anthony Barr and Ohio State CB Bradley Roby.
- Daniel Jeremiah NFL.com
Very difficult to think outside the box for this award
I could come up with several outstanding candidates to win this award but I'm going to take the easy route: Jadeveon Clowney.
I'm all for thinking outside the box, but there are times when it's best to stick with the obvious alternative. Clowney is the most dominant defender in college football and he will put up enough stats to lock up this honor.
- Mike Huguenin NFL Draft 365
Preseason hype helps make Clowney the clear choice
I think Clowney will win the award -- and that means it will be three of the past seven winners going in the first round. Clowney has received as much preseason hype as any defensive player in recent memory (his hype going into the season dwarfs that received by Charles Woodson the season he won the Heisman), and I think he basically will live up to the hype. He is going to get his dozen or so sacks, then take home the Bednarik as the nation's best defensive player.
- Dan Greenspan NFL.com
The evidence is overwhelming
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present exhibit A. And with that, the prosecution rests.
- Bucky Brooks NFL.com
Sutton disrupts flow of games more than Clowney
The top defensive player in the country in 2013 could be Arizona State's Will Sutton. While I certainly respect the games of Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr, I don't know if either disrupts the flow of a game like Sutton. The 6-foot-1, 288-pound defensive tackle recorded 13.0 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss a season ago, while also knocking five passes at the line of scrimmage. Those numbers are impressive for any defender, particularly a diminutive defensive tackle with substandard physical dimensions. While scouts will spend most of the fall debating whether Sutton's game translates to the pros, opponents will have a tough time coming up with effective strategies to neutralize his rare combination of speed, quickness and power. With the Sun Devils' defensive staff planning to unleash Sutton in an ultra-aggressive scheme, the standout senior could terrorize the Pac-12 this fall on the way to claiming the prestigious defensive award.