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  • Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

    Sportsline
    Post-spring Top 25: Still thinking Fiesta in Columbus
    April 28, 2006
    By Dennis Dodd
    CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!





    Updated April 28

    Alert the chat rooms. Fire up the message boards. It's here, the post-spring top 25.

    We've taken the spring developments, thrown them in a Cuisinart and come up with this concoction.

    1. Ohio State: News flash -- Psst, I've seen Chris Wells in his underwear and I'm proud of it. Built like a brick spit house.
    Pre-spring: No. 1. The Buckeyes are going to be fine at linebacker. The spring proved they have seven able bodies for three available spots. The curse of Iowa (see: Dodd, spring '05) is upon them.


    Relax Rich, it's Marshall we're talking about. (Getty Images)
    2. West Virginia: Biggest spring development was Spygate. Question: When did Marshall become good enough to be worthy of being spied on by a Big East team?
    Pre-spring: No. 3. Rich Rodriguez disavowed all knowledge of the student who worked in the athletic offices, drove an athletic department car and took notes at a Marshall spring practice. Right.

    3. Auburn: Still looking for a fullback, which is more than a small problem in the SEC. The line must be shored up in the fall with loss of Marcus McNeill and Troy Reddick.
    Pre-spring: No. 4. One of about four SEC teams that could end up in the BCS title game.

    4. LSU: Too many injuries to get a solid read coming out the spring. Running backs Justin Vincent and Alley Broussard and quarterback JaMarcus Russell missed spring because of nagging injuries.
    Pre-spring: No. 2. Dropped because momentary Final Four fever took over Baton Rouge. Focus will be back in the fall.

    5. Oklahoma: The Miracle Mile is more than a tag for the number of yards Adrian Peterson will run for this year. It's the nickname for the strip of auto dealers in Norman where A.P. got an allegedly sweet car deal. Peterson and mom say it was on the up-and-up.
    Pre-spring: No. 6. Peterson will be the Reggie Bush of 2007, in a good way.

    6. Texas: Mack Brown says he might play both true freshman Jevan Snead and redshirt freshman Colt McCoy in the fall at quarterback. Major Applewhite is disappointed (again) he's not the mix.
    Pre-spring: No. 7.

    7. Notre Dame: Land of the Side Projects. Tom Zbikowski is boxing. Jeff Samardzija is pitching. Brady Quinn is playing with the Stones on their next studio album.
    Pre-spring: No. 5. Record crowd of 41,000 at the spring game.

    8. USC: Now we know why Pete Carroll read the riot act to agents and NFL scouts when they gathered recently to work out the Trojans draft picks. Stay away from my players, he said. Michael Michaels apparently didn't get the message.
    Pre-spring: No. 8. It will be hard to prove USC had knowledge of the Reggie Bush situation. Won't it?

    9. Florida: Dueling controversies in Gainesville -- one at quarterback, one at running back. The difference is that both Chris Leak and Tim Tebow can play. So far, the inconsistent collection of runners can't.
    Pre-spring: No. 9. That's right, I said Tim Tebow can play.

    10. Georgia: Pretty much nothing was decided at quarterback. Joe Tereshinski, Matthew Stafford and Joe Cox were underwhelming in the spring game.
    Pre-spring: No. 10.


    11. Louisville: Bobby Petrino turned down a $20 million offer from the Raiders. Cardinals fans should be relieved. That means he'll stay until at least July.
    Pre-spring: No. 15. Brian Brohm (knee) is making a miraculous recovery.

    Advertisement


    12. Oregon: Power Doppler has yet to pick up this BCS bowl contender.
    Pre-spring: No. 11. You know the Ducks will score. Watch junior DT David Faaeteete, who most likely takes over for Haloti Ngata.

    13. Virginia Tech: What's wrong with being a pocket passer? Sean Glennon isn't embarrassing himself or the program, so the Hokies automatically get better at quarterback with Marcus Vick gone. Really.
    Pre-spring: No. 12. Rising star watch: CB Victor "Macho" Harris. If he lives up to his nickname, the rest of us are all girlie men.

    14. Iowa: Postcard to Michigan: The ranking is wonderful. Wish you were here.
    Pre-spring: No. 13.

    15. Clemson: Get past those games at Boston College, at Florida State and at Virginia Tech and you can envision Clemson winning the Atlantic. Can't you?
    Pre-spring: No. 17.

    16. Boston College: Six bowl wins in a row. If you don't put the Eagles in the preseason top 20, you're nuts.
    Pre-spring: No. 14. The Eagles are going to upset someone in the ACC to get to this lofty ranking. The question is, who?

    17. Cal: New offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar spent the spring installing spread option elements. QB Joe Ayoob -- who lost his job last year -- flourished.
    Pre-spring: No. 16. This is Jeff Tedford's best team since the 2004 squad went 10-2.

    18. TCU: The biggest hope for the non-BCS to get to the BCS bowl. We're guessing that will be decided in the first month when the Frogs play Baylor, Texas Tech, BYU and Utah. Two-and-two looks likely.
    Pre-spring: No. 18.

    19. Nebraska: What kind of parallel universe is this? Nebraska finished last in Big 12 rushing last season. There's hope, though, because of the spring game that featured 182 yards split between tailbacks Cody Glenn and Marlon Lucky.
    Pre-spring: No. 22. If Zac Taylor can stay upright (the line allowed more than 30 sacks), the Huskers should be the favorite in the Big 12 North.

    20. Miami: The defense could be the best ever, which is saying a lot at Miami. It held Kirby Freeman and Kyle Wright to 77 total passing yards in the spring game. But with new offensive coordinator Rich Olson and no breakaway tailback, there is work to be done on offense.
    Pre-spring: No. 21.

    21. Michigan: Not much buzz at all about the Wolverines. They're here mostly on reputation.
    Pre-spring: No. 20. Lloyd Carr is trying to rebuild after the program's worst season since 1984. There won't be much sympathy in places like Columbus (Nov. 18) and South Bend (Sept. 16).

    22. Florida State: How do the Seminoles get better? They were projected to lose four defenders in the first round of the draft. The running game was horrid (109th). Drew Weatherford still needs to prove himself.
    Pre-spring: No. 23. Watch for junior linebacker Lawrence Timmons. He's the next great one for Mickey Andrews.

    23. Penn State: Tony Hunt and Austin Scott are going to come through big time in order ease quarterback Anthony Morelli into his new, awesome responsibility.
    Pre-spring: No. 19. Too many Big Ten teams want big-time revenge for last year.

    24. Arizona State: Best quarterback situation in the country. Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter could -- no, should -- combine for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. Easily.
    Pre-spring: NR

    25. Georgia Tech:Trying to build on upset of Miami. The whole program must become more consistent, starting with quarterback Reggie Ball.
    Pre-spring: No. 24.

    SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
    Buck starts here
    Ohio State No. 1 after spring, but field is wide open
    Posted: Tuesday April 25, 2006 10:43AM; Updated: Tuesday April 25, 2006 6:22PM


    Brady Quinn and the Irish should improve in Year 2 under head coach Charlie Weis.
    Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
    Trying to pick an early No. 1 team for 2006 is a lot like trying to find a decent lunch at the food court in your local mall: None of the choices are particularly appetizing, so you might as well just pick something and go with it.

    Do you go with one of last year's standbys, Texas and USC, even though both must replace franchise players? Do you take a chance on offensive juggernaut Ohio State despite all those unfamiliar faces on defense? Are you willing to overlook that Fiesta Bowl meltdown amidst all the tempting star power of Notre Dame? Was that West Virginia Sugar Bowl show a fluke or a sign of things to come? And, oh yeah, what about Oklahoma, which has a healthy Adrian Peterson?

    After much debate, I decided to go with the Buckeyes -- for now. Perhaps I drank too much of the Kool-Aid during my recent trip to Columbus, but no one there seems particularly worried about the young defense, particularly with stud freshman running back Chris Wells joining an already loaded offense. We'll find out plenty about OSU quickly enough: The Buckeyes are at Texas on Sept. 9.

    NCAA Football Power Rankings
    Rank LW School
    1 -- Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)
    Key returnees: QB Troy Smith, WR Ted Ginn Jr., RB Antonio Pittman, DT Quinn Pitcock

    Spring star: LB Ross Homan. The true freshman turned heads, drawing comparisons to a young A.J. Hawk.

    Lowdown: The offense, which in addition to Smith, Ginn and Pittman welcomed top-rated high school RB Chris Wells during the spring, should be nothing short of powerful. The question is how quickly the Buckeyes' nine new defensive starters -- most of them highly touted, but untested -- jell.
    2 -- Texas Longhorns (13-0)
    Key returnees: RB Jamaal Charles, T Justin Blalock, DT Frank Okam, S Michael Griffin

    Spring star: TE Jermichael Finley. The pass-catching redshirt freshman could be a more athletic version of departed star David Thomas.

    Lowdown: Replacing QB Vince Young with a pair of freshmen, Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead, might seem like a recipe for disaster, but the 'Horns are so loaded at the skill positions and on defense that it's been apparent they'll still be able to win without the quarterbacks running for 200 yards.
    3 -- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3)
    Key returnees: QB Brady Quinn, WR Jeff Samardzija, RB Darius Waker, S Tom Zbikowski

    Spring star: QB Jimmy Clausen (H.S. junior). The prep star's much-anticipated announcement on Saturday that he was committing to the Irish upstaged ND's spring game.

    Lowdown: With four veteran starters on the line to go with Quinn and the skill guys, coach Charlie Weis' offense, 10th in the country last season, figures to be even more potent. Nine starters return on defense, but the key will be developing a better pass rush and more consistent cornerbacks.
    4 -- West Virginia Mountaineers (11-1)
    Key returnees: QB Pat White, RB Steve Slaton, C Dan Mozes, LB Kevin McClee

    Spring star: DB Quinton Andrews. The hard-hitting redshirt freshman is pushing for a starting spot in WVU's 3-3-5 stack.

    Lowdown: The Mountaineers spent the spring cultivating a more productive passing game to go with the already powerful running combo of Slaton and White. The defense, which played a valuable but unsung role last season, will need several youngsters to step up in the secondary.
    5 -- LSU Tigers (11-2)
    Key returnees: QB JaMarcus Russell, WR Dwayne Bowe, FS LaRon Landry, LB Ali Highsmith

    Spring star: DT Glenn Dorsey. LSU coach Les Miles says Dorsey is just as talented as departed stars Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten.

    Lowdown: With Russell sitting out spring, backups Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux made their push for playing time. The Tigers shouldn't have a problem reloading on defense, but running back (Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent are both coming off torn ACLs) and offensive line remain question marks.
    6 -- Oklahoma Sooners (8-4)
    Key returnees: RB Adrian Peterson, LB Rufus Alexander, DE Carl Thibodeaux, DE C.J. Ah You

    Spring star: CB Reggie Smith. The heralded sophomore, who moved from safety to corner, has the looks of a big-time playmaker.

    Lowdown: With eight returning starters, the Sooners will likely trot out their best defense in several years, and a healthy Peterson is obviously a major luxury. The season will turn on how well the young offensive line can protect QB Rhett Bomar, who himself needs to develop.
    7 -- USC Trojans (12-1)
    Key returnees: WR Dwayne Jarrett, WR Steve Smith, C Ryan Kalil, DE Lawrence Jackson

    Spring star: FB Ryan Powdrell. Pressed into tailback duties because of injuries, the 260-pounder showed surprising running ability.

    Lowdown: The offense will remain a mystery until the fall, when QB John David Booty returns from back surgery and several freshmen arrive to replenish the depleted backfield. The Trojans' front seven should be strong, particularly at linebacker, but the secondary could be a weakness again.
    8 -- California Golden Bears (8-4)
    Key returnees: RB Marshawn Lynch, RB Justin Forsett, WR DeSean Jackson, CB Daymeion Hughes

    Spring star: LB Worrell Williams. The athletic sophomore was a standout in practices and will likely earn a starting spot.

    Lowdown: New offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar installed components of the spread offense, a scary thought considering Cal's plethora of weapons. The only question is which quarterback, Nate Longshore or Joe Ayoob, will run it. The defense, extremely young last year, should be improved.
    9 -- Michigan Wolverines (7-5)
    Key returnees: QB Chad Henne, WR Mario Manningham, RB Mike Hart, LB LaMarr Woodley

    Spring star: LB Shawn Crable. With an impressive spring, the junior is on his way to bumping one of UM's returning starters.

    Lowdown: With new coordinators on both offense (Mike DeBord, coordinator for the 1997 title team) and defense (Ron English), the Wolverines figure to be less predictable than past seasons. Much of the O-line and backfield have slimmed down in hopes of becoming a quicker running team.
    10 -- Auburn Tigers (9-3)
    Key returnees: RB Kenny Irons, QB Brandon Cox, DE Marquies Gunn, LB Will Herring

    Spring star: LB Tray Blackmon. The hard-hitting redshirt freshman won the starting weakside linebacker job.

    Lowdown: New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp (Nick Saban's former aide) spent much of spring tinkering with his personnel, including moving productive safety Herring to linebacker. Irons gives the Tigers a powerful runner, but some new receivers will need to emerge.

    NCAA Football Power Rankings, Pt. II
    Rank LW School
    11 -- Florida Gators (9-3)
    Key returnees: QB Chris Leak, WR Dallas Baker, LB Brandon Siler, DT Marcus Thomas

    Spring star: WR Cornelius Ingram. The converted quarterback emerged as one of the Gators' top playmakers.

    Lowdown: Leak, who will be a senior, looks more comfortable in Urban Meyer's offense, though heralded frosh Tim Tebow outplayed him in the spring game. The defense figures to be solid yet again. Last year's weaknesses -- the tailbacks and offensive line (which loses four starters) -- remain major question marks.
    12 -- Florida St. Seminoles (8-5)
    Key returnees: QB Drew Weatherford, RB Lorenzo Booker, WR Greg Carr, LB Buster Davis

    Spring star: LB Lawrence Timmons. Ernie Sims' hard-hitting successor was named most dominant defender of the spring.

    Lowdown: Weatherford, who will be a second-year starter, made major strides this spring, throwing just one interception in scrimmages, and the defense, despite losing seven starters, looks solid again. The question is whether the offensive line will improve enough to bolster FSU's sagging running game.
    13 -- Georgia Bulldogs (10-3)
    Key returnees: RB Thomas Brown, T Daniel Inman, DE Quentin Moses, S Tra Battle

    Spring star: DE Charles Jonnson. Coaches say the junior has emerged as a dominant force opposite Moses.

    Lowdown: The Dawgs will likely rely on their dominant defense and deep backfield (Brown, Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin) early on as they break in a new quarterback. Senior Joe Tereshinski remained No. 1 after spring, but heralded freshman Matthew Stafford will be a factor.
    14 -- Clemson Tigers (8-4)
    Key returnees: RB James Davis, WR Chansi Stuckey, DE Gaines Adams, LB Anthony Waters

    Spring star: WR/RB Rendrick Taylor. The electrifying sophomore caught four passes for 174 yards in the spring game.

    Lowdown: QB Will Proctor, taking over full-time for departed Charlie Whitehurst, steps into what could be a loaded and balanced offense. The Tigers also return seven starters from a defense that ranked in the top 25 last season, though they'll miss DBs Tye Hill and Jamaal Fudge.
    15 -- Louisville Cardinals (9-3)
    Key returnees: QB Brian Brohm, RB Michael Bush, WR Mario Urrutia, WR Harry Douglas

    Spring star: LB Lamar Myles. The sophomore may bump top returning tackler Nate Harris as the starting middle linebacker.

    Lowdown: Brohm, recovering from a torn ACL, didn't participate in spring scrimmages, yet the offense was its usual, dominant self, with Urruita and Douglas taking their games to another level. The defense, which loses sack master Elvis Dumervil, struggled to sustain a pass rush.
    16 -- Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4)
    Key returnees: QB Zac Taylor, WR Nate Swift, LB Corey McKeon, DE Adam Carriker

    Spring star: RBs Marlon Lucky and Cody Glenn. The sleek sophomores combined for 182 yards in the spring game.

    Lowdown: Taylor began showing command of coach Bill Callahan's West Coast offense late last season; the key now is developing a solid running game with Lucky and Glenn. The defense has the potential to be spectacular, particularly the front seven. Some new safeties need to emerge.
    17 -- Oregon Ducks (10-2)
    Key returnees: QB Dennis Dixon, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR James Finley, S Patrick Chung

    Spring star: WR Derrick Jones. The former USC signee could be Oregon's top receiver -- if the NCAA clears him to play.

    Lowdown: The Ducks' defense, despite losing DT Haloti Ngata and three veteran defensive backs, has been impressive in scrimmages. The offense, however, which must replace weapons Terrence Whitehead, Demetrius Williams and Tim Day needs to develop more consistency.
    18 -- Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5)
    Key returnees: QB Drew Tate, RB Albert Young, DE Ken Iwebema, LB Edmond Miles

    Spring star: C Rafael Eubanks. The redshirt freshman soared up the depth chart and might start come fall.

    Lowdown: Tate and Young are All-Big Ten studs, but it's unclear who will step up in place of departed receivers Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon. A strong D-line, and safeties Miguel Merrick and Marcus Paschal, will anchor a defense that lost star LBs Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge.
    19 -- Penn State Nittany Lions (11-1)
    Key returnees: RB Tony Hunt, T Levi Brown, LB Paul Posluszny, DT Jay Alford

    Spring star: QB Anthony Morelli. The junior looked sharp in his first spring game as a starter, completing 13-of-16 passes for 191 yards.

    Lowdown: The Nittany Lions must replace 13 starters, including four-fifths of the O-line, three-fourths of the D-line and the entire secondary. Morelli, a better passer than predecessor Michael Robinson, will be called on to produce big plays with PSU's talented young receivers.
    20 -- Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes (9-3)
    Key returnees: QB Kyle Wright, TE Greg Olsen, S Brandon Merriweather, LB Jon Beason

    Spring star: T Reggie Youngblood. The sophomore looks capable of filling Eric Winston's shoes at left tackle.

    Lowdown: Despite an influx of six new assistants, not much has changed in Coral Gables if the spring game is any indication -- the defense remains dominant, while the offense is a work in progress. Wright and Kirby Freeman managed just 77 passing yards in the scrimmage.
    NCAA Football Power Rankings, Pt. III
    Rank LW School
    21 -- TCU Horned Frogs (11-1)
    Key returnees: QB Jeff Ballard, RB Robert Merrill, RB Aaron Brown, DE Chase Ortiz

    Spring star: DT Lorenzo Jones. A heralded signee in 2005, the sophomore will likely play a big role this fall.

    Lowdown: The Frogs return one of the nation's deepest backfields with Merrill, Brown and Lonta Hobbs, but their success will depend on how well four new O-line starters develop. A new playmaker needs to step in for the departed Cory Rodgers. Ortiz and DE Tommy Blake anchor a strong front seven.
    22 -- Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1)
    Key returnees: RB Kenneth Darby, WR D.J. Hall, T Kyle Tatum, LB Juwan Simpson

    Spring star: QB John Parker Wilson. Brodie Croyle's successor made big plays, but also big mistakes throughout spring.

    Lowdown: It's a year of transition for the Tide, which must replace nearly every key cog (LBs DeMeco Ryans and Fredie Roach, S Roman Harper, et al.) from last year's dominant defense. Four returning starters from the O-line, which allowed 37 sacks in 2005, have shown improvement.
    23 -- Arizona St. Sun Devils (7-5)
    Key returnees: QBs Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter, WR Terry Richardson, TE Zach Miller

    Spring star: LB Mike Nixon. The 22-year-old walk-on and former Triple-A catcher has made a push for major playing time.

    Lowdown: There's little question the offense will be explosive regardless of which QB starts. As for ASU's oft-maligned defense, transfers Michael Marquardt (BYU) and Loren Howard (Northwestern) figure to beef up the line, while speedy WR Rudy Burgess is also playing cornerback.
    24 -- Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2)
    Key returnees: DE Chris Ellis, LB Vince Hall, LB Xavier Adibi, K Brandon Pace

    Spring star: CB Victor Harris. After spending part of spring at tailback, the athletic sophomore leapt to first-string corner.

    Lowdown: The Hokies should field one of the nation's stingiest defenses yet again. The offense, however, is in a state of flux, with sophomore Sean Glennon claiming a tenuous hold on the QB job, while graduation (Mike Imoh, Cedric Humes) and injuries (Branden Ore) have depleted the backfield.
    25 -- Utah Utes (7-5)
    Key returnees: QB Brett Ratliff, WR Brian Hernandez, CB Eric Weddle, S Casey Evans

    Spring star: RB Daryl Poston. The oft-injured USC transfer has finally ascended to No. 1 tailback.

    Lowdown: The Utes' offense took off at the end of last season after Ratliff took over for the injured Brian Johnson. He'll have the benefit of a deep receiving corps and veteran O-line. Eight starters return from an already solid defense, though DT Steve Fifita and LB Spencer Toone are big losses.


    On the cusp: Fresno State, Texas Tech, Tulsa, Boise State, Boston College



    Can't really complain about Iowa

  • #2
    Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

    It is good to see my Louisville Cardinals in the top 15. This should be Brian Brohm's year.
    Then again, I do have his jersey, so I am kinda biased.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

      Lots of love for my Mountaineers after an amazing season. Hope they can repeat the success in 2006.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

        Come on WOLVERINES!!!!
        Come on BULLDOGS!!!!
        Come on MOUNTAINEERS!!!!

        Hey Nick..... That was a great SugarBowl Game last season!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

          I like where the Longhorns are lurking. This wasn't just VY and a cast of 21 others.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

            texas will be alright, but don't look to make it a streak of beating the Sooners....... It won't happen!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

              O-H-I-O!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!this is the year!!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

                i dont think OSU will do good next season cuz they lost great players in the draft... Ohio State lost like their whole starting D-fence in the draft

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

                  The SEC looks like it will be tougher than ever this year. LSU should be great, Auburn is really good and If GA can find a QB, they should be strong.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

                    Yea UGA needs a new QB ive seen their backup play and he aint good

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

                      And LSU should be set at QB.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

                        Originally posted by RamsFan4ever
                        i dont think OSU will do good next season cuz they lost great players in the draft... Ohio State lost like their whole starting D-fence in the draft

                        OSU isn't getting recognized for their D this year it's the O.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

                          Oh yea your QB is back right? he didnt get drafted?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

                            Originally posted by RamsFan4ever
                            Oh yea your QB is back right? he didnt get drafted?
                            Yeah Troy Smith is back and we have the explosive Teddy Ginn Jr. who by some was considered better than Santonio Holmes.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Sportsline and SI Pre Season Top 25 teams

                              OSU has to come to Austin this year. THAT won't be easy, as Texas has just reloaded.

                              Comment

                              Related Topics

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                              • Nick
                                Top prospect on each team in CFB Playoff Top 25
                                by Nick
                                Top prospect on each team in CFB Playoff Top 25
                                By Kyle Crabbs
                                Published on October 31, 2017

                                It is officially the heart of college football season. The CFB Playoff committee debuted their first Top 25 rankings of the 2017 season, a barometer of where the heavyweights across the land stand with their playoff resumes.

                                The battle for a spot in the final four has just begun, as November and conference championships in early December will prove essential in sorting out the quagmire of teams slotted 3 through 13 (all with 1 or 0 losses).

                                In the meantime, this is a great excuse to introduce the country to the best eligible 2018 draft prospect on each team in the CFB Playoff committee’s Top 25.

                                1. Georgia Bulldogs (8-0) – RB Nick Chubb. Chubb gets notable competition from fellow RB Sony Michel and LB Lorenzo Carter. But Chubb has returned to form this year and brings balance, power and vision as a runner that in almost any other class would be widely regarded as a top talent.

                                2. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0) – DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is a true junior and widely regarded as one of the top overall players in the country. His size (6’1, 202 lbs) is notable for a Free Safety prospect, and Fitzpatrick pairs it with tremendous ball skills.

                                3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1) – OG Quenton Nelson. Nelson is one of the 5-10 best players in this class hands down. But because he plays a non-premium position, the odds are he’ll slip into the teens. A middle of the road franchise looking to take the next step would love nothing more.

                                4. Clemson Tigers (7-1) – DE Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell and fellow DE Austin Bryant (junior) have eclipsed double digit sack totals on the season and lead the way for a defensive line that may be comprised of four future first round picks. Ferrell is the best blend of traits out of that group.

                                5. Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) – QB Baker Mayfield. LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was close. But Mayfield’s ascension as a prospect is one of the most impressive improvements I’ve seen this year. Losing Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine might have been the best thing to ever happen to Mayfield, who now puts the load on his shoulders alone.

                                6. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1) – CB Denzel Ward. Do the Buckeyes ever run out of defensive backs? Ward follows in the footsteps of rookie sensation Marshon Lattimore as the latest Buckeye to emerge as a top prospect at the position.

                                7. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-1) – RB Saquon Barkley. I mean…come on. Barkley is a national sensation and the favorite for the 2017 Heisman Trophy for a reason. A true generational talent who does wonders for a Penn State team that would be high and dry without him.

                                8. Texas Christian Horned Frogs (7-1) – LB Travin Howard. He’s a bit undersized, but Howard is a fast, twitchy hybrid player that fits Gary Patterson’s fast flowing style...
                                -11-01-2017, 05:20 AM
                              • Nick
                                Kiper's final 2018 NFL draft Big Board
                                by Nick
                                Kiper's final 2018 NFL draft Big Board and position rankings
                                7:48 AM ET
                                Mel Kiper Jr.
                                Football analyst

                                The 2018 NFL draft is here -- and now we can finally figure out where all of these quarterbacks are going.

                                Below are my "final" Big Board and "final" position rankings for the class of 2018. I'm putting "final" in quotation marks because I'll be making a few tweaks up until the draft begins (Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN app, in case you were wondering). I'll be talking to more sources and adjusting my rankings based on what I hear. And remember, my Big Board is not a prediction of where prospects will be drafted, only where I have them ranked.

                                Notable: My Big Board goes to 300 prospects, and my position rankings cover more than 700. But it's important to note that the cutoff for undrafted free agents starts around 35 for positions like wide receiver. That means approximately 90 wide receivers have grades that are nearly identical. In short: Players ranked from 150 to 250 on my board are similar. It's splitting hairs.

                                1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
                                Previous rank: 1
                                Barkley is the best prospect in this draft. His testing numbers at the combine -- 4.40 40-yard dash and 41-inch vertical -- were elite at any size, much less a 6-foot, 233-pound back. Barkley plays with tremendous balance, a great lower body and quick feet. He's a stellar runner both inside and outside the tackles, and he showed in 2017 that he's a true three-down back. He had 54 catches after having 48 combined in his first two seasons at Penn State. Barkley is a special talent.

                                2. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
                                Previous rank: 2
                                Chubb could have entered the 2017 draft and been in the first-round discussion. At 6-4, 269 pounds, he shows good takeoff from the edge, and he has an excellent mix of speed and power. You saw some of that speed and explosion at the combine, where he ran a 4.65 40 and had a 36-inch vertical. Chubb had 10 sacks and 25 tackles for loss (tied for second in the FBS) in 2017 and had 10 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2016. Chubb doesn't have quite as high of a grade as Myles Garrett did last year, but he's in that same tier.

                                3. Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
                                Previous rank: 4
                                Smith is getting buzz as a potential top-eight pick. His tape is too good, and he's too athletic -- he ran a 4.51 40 at the combine -- for teams to be worried as much about his size (6-0, 237). He can get sideline to sideline in a hurry. A season after recording 95 total tackles and five tackles for loss, Smith had 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2017. He can blitz up the middle or off the edge, and I think he could play inside or outside linebacker. He's just a fun player to watch, and he was one of the best players on the field in both of the Bulldogs' College Football Playoff matchups.

                                4....
                                -04-24-2018, 05:08 PM
                              • Nick
                                2015 NFL Draft: Week 2 Prospect Preview
                                by Nick
                                2015 NFL Draft: Week 2 Prospect Preview
                                By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst
                                September 4, 2014 12:16 pm ET

                                Although the slate of action for week two of the college football season isn't as monumental as last week, there are a handful of pivotal match-ups that will help shape the college playoffs, led by Michigan State traveling west to play Oregon. These two programs have played four times in the past with the home team winning each match-up, another factor that favors the Ducks. However, the Michigan State defense is comparable to Stanford's, which has shut down the Oregon offense the past two years.

                                FIVE PROSPECTS TO FOCUS ON:

                                QB MARCUS MARIOTA, rJR, Oregon (6-4 | 215 | 4.52 | #8)
                                The early favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Mariota is the ideal quarterback orchestrating the Oregon offense with his intelligence, athleticism and tools as a passer. He is a quick thinker and diagnoses the action with a calm demeanor, swift eyes and light feet in the pocket to feel his way around the noise, extending the pocket or picking up yards on the ground with his gazelle speed. Mariota has a tendency to stare down his targets at time, but he throws well on the run with excellent field vision and the arm talent to spray passes to all levels of the field. Michigan State's aggressive defense will be an excellent test for Mariota's anticipation and ability to manipulate defenders.

                                DE SHILIQUE CALHOUN, rJR, Michigan State (6-4 | 257 | 4.72 | #89)
                                A year ago at this time, the Spartans pass rush was a question mark, but Calhoun emerged as one of the top up-and-coming defensive ends in the country in 2013. He finished with a team-best 7.5 sacks last season and notched his first sack of the 2014 campaign last week. Calhoun bends well off the edge with natural flexibility and coordination in space to easily change directions, something that will be tested when Oregon threatens the edges. Calhoun needs to develop a functional power element to his game and his snap anticipation and technique are both underdeveloped, but the unpolished skill-set shows a lot of promise and facing an athletic and versatile offense will be an excellent test.

                                CB IFO EKPRE-OLOMU, SR, Oregon (5-9 | 195 | 4.46 | #14)
                                Arguably the top cover cornerback in all of college football, Ekpre-Olomu is widely considered the top senior defensive NFL prospect by several in the scouting community. He has many of the requisite skills to survive in both press and off-man, displaying quick diagnose skills, twitchy reaction time and the athleticism to break on the ball. Ekpre-Olomu shows swivel hips, smooth footwork and explosive lower body skills to close in a hurry on the ball. He lacks ideal strength and build and can be easily tied up by blockers on the perimeter, but he doesn't shy from throwing his body around in run defense. Ekpre-Olomu vs. Michigan State's Tony Lippett will...
                                -09-04-2014, 04:23 PM
                              • Nick
                                NickSeiler's Pre-Super Bowl Mock Draft v3.0
                                by Nick
                                ONE

                                1. Houston: Reggie Bush, RB, USC
                                -As the draft draws closer and closer, this pick makes too much sense. The Texans seem to feel comfortable with David Carr at QB, and despite pressure to take hometown-hero Vince Young first overall, Reggie Bush is the kind of electrifying player that will fill the seats in Houston.

                                2. New Orleans: Matt Leinart, QB, USC
                                -Sean Payton, the new Saints head coach, served as the primary mentor for quarterbacks in Dallas. What better person for him to bring in than the top passer in this draft class? Leinart will be the future of the New Orleans offense, and give the Saints the star signal caller they've been missing.

                                3. Tennessee: Vince Young, QB, Texas
                                -The relationship between Vince Young and Steve McNair is a strong factor in this selection. There are rumblings that Norm Chow has fallen in love with Jay Cutler, but there's no way the Titans take Cutler over Young, who capped off a championship season with an outstanding performance in the Rose Bowl.

                                4. NY Jets: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia
                                -The Jets may feel comfortable with Adrian Jones at LT, but D'Brickashaw Ferguson would be a serious upgrade at that position, and would protect New York's quarterback for years to come. Jones could either slide over to RT or find another spot on a disappointing line.

                                5. Green Bay: A.J. Hawk, OLB, Ohio State
                                -Hawk seems like a match made in heaven for the Green Bay defense. Besides Nick Barnett, you'd be hard pressed to name another linebacker on the Packers' squad that's proved themselves worthy of a starting spot. Hawk is the kind of player who could come in and make an immediate impact.

                                6. Oakland: Mario Williams, DE, NC State
                                -Oakland has a variety of needs on defense that need to be addressed if this talented team is going to get anywhere. "Super" Mario will not only help the Raiders establish a better pass rush, but also help fix that 25th ranked rush defense.

                                7. San Fransisco: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis
                                -Word is Mike Nolan has been raving about DeAngelo Williams during the Senior Bowl practices. This is eerily similar to Jon Gruden's praise of Carnell Williams during the same event last year. Is that enough to warrant this pick? Maybe not, but the ***** do need help in the running game.

                                8. Buffalo: Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon
                                -Since losing Pat Williams to Minnesota, the Buffalo Bills have had some problems on defense. They went from the 7th ranked rush defense to 31st in 2005. Grabbing a big bodied player like Ngata early in the first round should do wonders for that defensive line.

                                9. Detroit: Winston Justice, OT, USC
                                -One of the biggest problems in Detroit has been trying to find a replacement for Stockar McDougle at the right tackle position. Even left tackle Jeff Backus could use a little competition...
                                -02-02-2006, 06:55 PM
                              • Nick
                                NickSeiler's Holiday Season Mock Draft
                                by Nick
                                Some revisions, and *gasp* a three-round projection this time around!! Enjoy!



                                ROUND ONE

                                1. Houston: Matt Leinart, QB, USC
                                -The Texans would like to add a player like D'Brickashaw Ferguson, as they've been looking for offensive line help for a while now, particularly at the left tackle position. But since first overall would be too high for D'Brick, and with Carr having another poor year, Leinart is the choice.

                                2. San Fransisco: Reggie Bush, RB, USC
                                -After struggling to produce a running game on the legs of Kevin Barlow, the ***** have their sights set on USC's Reggie Bush, and should no one leapfrog them in a trade, Bush looks to be remaining in the California sun.

                                3. NY Jets: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia
                                -The Jets hoped to land either Bush or Leinart, and may be able to come April either by sucking or through a trade. But projected at number three right now, and with Leinart and Bush both gone at this point, the Jets can shore up their offensive line by taking Ferguson.

                                4. New Orleans: A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State
                                -It would be hard for the Saints to not take Vince Young here to begin an era of football that does not include Aaron Brooks. But the Saints desperately need help at linebacker, and AJ Hawk is the best linebacker prospect in this year's class.

                                5. Green Bay: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis
                                -Missing out on Reggie Bush isn't going to cause the Packers to not address their RB situation, especially if Ahman Green isn't resigned. DeAngelo Williams is the top senior running back in this class, and with a good performance at the Senior Bowl, will warrant being taken here.

                                6. Tennessee: Vince Young, QB, Texas
                                -Young's nickname for Titans QB Steve McNair is "Big Papa" because McNair has been a father figure and mentor to the young Texas quarterback. What better place for Young to be mentored as a professional than under McNair in Tennessee?

                                7. Buffalo: Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon
                                -You could point to many things as reasons why the Bills have dropped off this season, but perhaps the biggest is the loss of defensive tackle Pat Williams with no replacement for the season. Enter Haloti Ngata, a top defensive tackle prospect with great size and ability.

                                8. Cleveland: Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota
                                -The Browns could very easily go defense here, but can they really count on Reuben Droughns as their feature back? His contract is up after 2006, and Laurence Maroney provides a nice change-of-pace runner who could be groomed as the future.

                                9. Arizona: Ahmad Brooks, LB, Virginia
                                -The Cardinals need to bolster their run defense, but is there a linebacker worthy of this high a pick with Hawk of the board? It all depends on what happens at the combine. Ahmad Brooks has had a disappointing college season, but his potential...
                                -12-15-2005, 03:28 PM
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