As the coordinating producer who oversees NFL Network's college football and draft coverage, I have watched my share of college games over the years. I watch it as a fan but I also watch it as a fan of the NFL Draft, looking at players and how they might project to the next level.
As the resident college football "expert" at the network, I was asked by NFL Draft 365 to come up with this season's top 50 college players. After much thought, I did. But it's not a list based on film breakdown or pro potential. This is a talent list based on production and performance. These are, in my opinion, the best players in college football, regardless of eligibility.
Over the next five weeks, culminating on the kickoff of the college football season, I will unveil my picks, 10 players at a time. Then each week throughout the season, I will adjust the list, moving players up and down and in and out based on their performances.
Here are Nos. 41-50:
50. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama (senior)
With two BCS titles under his belt, McCarron is the undisputed leader of the Crimson Tide. He might be the best play-action quarterback in college and is deadly from 20-40 yards. While I had my doubts in 2011, 2012 proved to me that he's one of the most talented quarterbacks in the nation, in a year where the position runs deep.
» Watch: McCarron highlights
49. A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee (junior)
Not many people outside the state of Tennessee know about Johnson, but they will after this season. Simply put, he's a tackling machine that led his team in both tackles and, get this, RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS. If he can show a little improvement in his pass-coverage skills, don't be surprised to see him accepting the Butkus Award later this year.
48. Christian Jones, LB, Florida State (senior)
Jones will be the first guy to tell you he expected more out of himself last year, but there's no denying the talent. He's got the height/weight/speed combination that all linebackers dream of. Is he a WILL? Is he a SAM? To me, it doesn't matter, because he is one of my favorite players in the nation.
47. Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama (senior)
You could say Stinson is probably really good because he practices against NFL-caliber offensive linemen every day (see Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Barrett Jones, Cyrus Kouandijo, etc.). But Stinson, the only returning starter on the Crimson Tide defensive line, should have a breakout year and is a prototype 3-4 defensive end.
» Watch: Stinson highlights
46. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona (junior)
The only thing that concerns me about Carey is his off-field stuff. On the field, he's one of the best running backs in the nation. And I guarantee he goes over 2,000 yards rushing this season after coming so close last year. Again, the only thing that can hold back Ka'Deem Carey is Ka'Deem Carey.
» Watch: Carey highlights
45. David Fales, QB, San Jose State (senior)
One of the most accurate passers in college football, Fales completed more than 70 percent of his passes in 2012. While no one would say he has a rocket arm, neither did the last outstanding Spartans QB prospect (Jeff Garcia). Mark down the Sept. 7 game at Stanford. If Fales can impress in that game, his draft stock will soar.
» Watch: Fales highlights
44. Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo (senior)
Mack is by far the best defensive player in the Mid-American Conference. He has the feet of a ballerina and hits like a truck. He is one of the most disruptive players in the nation, with more than 50 tackles for loss and 11 forced fumbles in his career.
43. Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee (senior)
At 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds, if McCullers gets underneath your pads, it's over. He's still a work in progress, but there is no doubting he will be one of the most intriguing players that I will be keeping an eye on this season.
» Watch: McCullers highlights
42. Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma (senior)
Whether he's a corner or a safety at the next level, there's one thing I'm sure of: Colvin plays a physical style of football that coaches love. He reminds me of Malcolm Jenkins, the former Ohio State corner (except Colvin weighs a bit less).
41. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State (senior)
When you can be compared to Jadeveon Clowney, that's got to be a good thing. Sutton recorded 23.5 tackles for loss last season, tied for second in the nation with Clowney. Explosive with great pursuit speed, he might be short, but every time you watch him, he makes plays.
» Watch: Sutton highlights