College and pro football are right around the corner. Let’s get ready by counting down the top 50 pro prospects for the 2017 class.
#20 Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA
UCLA fans shared a huge sigh of relief when Conor decided to come back for his senior year this fall. McDermott’s job is to protect UCLA’s prized possession, QB Josh Rosen. With his long reach, McDermott is a proven blind side pass protector and is also effective as a run blocker.
#19 Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
Walker is tough to gameplan against as he he holds his ground at the point of attack when you go at him and breaks plays up before they begin if you try to pass or run away from him. 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss last season is all you need to know. His best position at the next level will probably be as a strong side DE in a 43.
#18 Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
After suffering a scary neck injury in last year’s opener Mike Williams is back in 2016. He is big, fast, and dangerous all over the field. It is crazy how good Clemson’s offense was last year without Williams who is their top playmaker not named Watson. Look for Williams to get better every week as he gets back into his groove.
#17 Tim Williams, Edge Rusher, Alabama
If this list was created before Alabama’s spring game Williams may not have even made the top 50. Williams absolutely ruined Alabama’s offense when he was on the field during the Crimson vs White game. Williams had 10.5 sacks in a limited role last season. He is very light at 237 lbs for a full time role in the NFL as a DE but he will get a chance to prove he can play OLB this season in Alabama’s base 3-4. He is lethal as a pass rusher in sub package personnel.
#16 Desmond King, CB, Iowa
With the premium that there is placed on CBs in the NFL it was shocking to see the reigning Thorpe winner, King, return to school for his senior campaign. King was very productive last year with 8 interceptions and 13 passes knocked down. He is a complete CB and doesn’t miss too many tackles either. Is also an effective return man.
#15 Christian McCafrey, RB, Stanford
McCaffrey’s 2015 campaign has to be considered one of the best that did not result in a Heisman Trophy. Saying someone is a threat to score every time he touches the ball might be the most over-used cliche in football-but not with Christian. He runs between the tackles, he runs outside, and is a matchup problem when asked to contribute in the passing game as well. Christian plays in a pro-style offense and is as dangerous in the return game as they make them.Fair or unfair, the productivity or lack-there-of from similar style backs such as Reggie Bush and CJ Spiller keeps him out of the top 10.
#14 Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan ST
McDowell anchors the line of scrimmage for the Spartans defense and sets the tone up front. He is long, quick, strong, and disruptive. McDowell had a good JR year and will need to be even better this year for Mich ST as he is the only returning starter to the DL. He often plays over the center in college but at 280 his best position in the NFL projects to be as an end in the 3-4 or as a tackle in a 4-3.
#13 Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Defensive coordinators in the NFL are losing sleep at night trying to defend this new influx of big and athletic TEs. When they keep their base defense in, offenses move these TEs outside or in the slot and isolate a less athletic LB in space. When defenses go smaller by adding an extra CB or S, offenses keep the TE in and run. In comes Peppers. Peppers lined up at S, CB, and LB last season and even made cameo appearances at RB, WR, and QB in the wildcat formation. His best NFL position will be as an in the box S and a nickel LB. Ask Bruce Arians how valuable S/LB Deone Bucannon is for his Cardinal defense. Peppers is going to be better.
#12 Charles Harris, Edge Rusher, Missouri
Harris is an exceptional pass rusher who has made big strides in the run game as well. He is lining up against superior offensive lines every week in the SEC. Look for Harris to build on a strong sophomore season which saw him with 7 sacks, 10 QB hurries, and a scary 18.5 tackles for loss. Most college pass rushers use speed or power exclusively. Harris can beat you in multiple ways and looks natural doing it.
#11 Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Cook ran for 1,691 yards and compiled 20 touchdowns last season. What is scary is that he put up those numbers with a hamstring injury that kept him out one game and lingered down the stretch. Very few RBs can match Dalvin’s elusiveness, quickness, and deceptive power. Cook will play all 3 downs in the NFL as he is a complete running back capable of staying in to block and is electric out of the backfield in the passing game. Exciting to watch.