Yes, yes, I know it's NFL time but the months of August to January are my favorite of the year because of the college and NFL football overlap. As most of you know I love and spend a great deal of time trying to cover as many future NFL players as possible close to draft time. This article is meant to give you an overview of talent on offense to watch this college season. There will, of course, be a defensive version and my aim is to bring you, at least one but hopefully two players, each week that should be highlighted and could be possible fits for this team. The list below is not meant to be an extensive list of who I think is good. There will be plenty more to come. Now to the general overview!
Of course, you should watch the top 3 (Darnold-USC, Rosen-UCLA, and arguably Allen-Wyoming) but it's likely the Redskins won’t be picking in the top 15 to acquire any of those guys. A few options in the back half of the 1st and 2nd and 3rd rounds right now are:
Mason Rudolph | Oklahoma State | 6-5 | 230 lbs
Rudolph will start the season with plenty of Heisman buzz. The Senior QB has already thrown for 7,800+ yards alone in the past two seasons along with 49 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. I know he plays in the BIG12 but that is an outstanding ratio. Add to that he is a great athlete at the position but still operates within the pocket. He will likely continue his prolific production but a key to his improvement and NFL readiness this year is if he can consistently go through his progressions and improving his accuracy as well as adjusting to a pro-style offense.
Luke Falk | Washington State | 6-4 | 225 lbs
Falk returns to WSU to lead the Cougars and add to an already prolific air attack. I think he is solid (projected) mid-round option to run west coast offense or specifically a Jay Gruden offense. Falk has helped lead the Cougars to two straight bowl games and shows great composure and rarely makes foolish decisions with the ball. He won't come with all the bells and whistles of the top guys at the position but he has what I’ll call “Alex Smith” potential and could possibly be a solid NFL starter with the right team and coach. Check out this great article on him from the Phinsider.
The running back position can arguably return a group that is as equally talented as this past years.
Saquon Barkley | Penn State | 5-11 | 223 lbs
There is little room for argument that Barkley enters this year as the best all around back in college football. He is a threat on the ground with his unique combination of speed, power, vision, and balance and can hurt you through the air with his catching ability and burst upfield. The Penn State offense should run through him and expect his name in Heisman conversations.
Royce Freeman | Oregon | 5-11 | 231 lbs
Freeman was one of my top 4 backs last year before he announced he was returning to school for his senior season. Freeman is a stoutly built back but displays an impressive combination of elusiveness, speed, and vision/cutting ability. He should be looking to get back on track this year as last year he played banged up and lost a significant amount of production.
Derrius Guice | LSU | 5-11 | 212 lbs
All eyes were on Leonard Fournette the last two years at LSU but the Tigers potentially have another star in the making in Derrius Guice. He is fast, shifty, and has power to boot. He is a danger in the run game, as a receiver, and on special teams as a returner. Without much of a true threat at QB LSU will once again depend on their running game this year.
Jordan Scarlett | Florida | 5-10 | 213 lbs
Give Florida backs a chance! Scarlett had a breakout season his sophomore year last year and ran for 5 yards per carry. He should have gotten more but at certain points last year Florida was trying to force field their dismal passing game using Del Rio and Appleby. Hopefully, now that Malik Zaire has transferred to Florida the coaches will be able to spread the ball around and feature Scarlett on the ground and in the passing game. Watch him it's fun. He is like a pinball banging off defenders and has the breakaway speed to take it to the house.
Ralph Webb | Vanderbilt | 5-10 | 202 lbs
I mentioned Ralph Webb last year in a midseason player to watch article before he decided to go back for his senior season. I think he is still a highly underrated player. Webb has some great skills and is a hard runner. On a terrible Vanderbilt offense, Webb is one of the few bright spots. Last year on a 6-7 team he had his best year statistically yet running for over 1200 yards and 13 TDs. I look for him to build off that mark again this year.
Worth Mentioning: Nick Chubb (Georgia), Ronald Jones (USC), Myles Gaskin (Washington)
Equanimeous St. Brown | Notre Dame | 6-5 | 203 lbs
After watching St. Brown last year I was chomping at the bit to write something on him but I figured I wouldn't since he wasn't draft-eligible. What can I say? He will enter the season as my #1 receiver his size length speed and ability to play/run outside or inside make him very dangerous. Last year the connection between him and DeShone Kizer was unmistakable at the beginning of the season but cooled down as the Notre Dame team began to struggle. St. Brown ought to develop a good rapport with new QB Kevin Wimbush immediately and I look for him to get over the 1000 yard receiving mark and possibly enter double-digit TD territory.
Calvin Ridley | Alabama | 6-1 | 190 lbs
Ridley has already been compared to current and former NFL starting receivers including Amari Cooper, Stephon Diggs, and Reggie Wayne. The reason is plain to see. At his best Ridley displays great control and catching ability. He can make plays after the catch with his elusiveness and speed. Ridley had a drop-off in production last year due to QB struggles but should get back on track this year.
Christian Kirk | Texas A&M | 5-11 | 200 lbs
Watching Kirk I can’t help but compare him to Golden Tate. Kirk is a tough player and can create opportunities all over the field. Kirk has been the most reliable and consistent player on offense for the Aggies and despite up and down QB play during his career has always been consistent in his production.
Courtland Sutton | SMU | 6-4 | 215 lbs
Sutton may play for a lowly SMU team but he is a great talent. It has been reported that some scouts viewed him as a top-15 pick had he decided to leave SMU last year and enter the draft. This year with similar or better production he can be a top-10 pick. Sutton has size and athleticism and has been compared to Sammy Watkins. Last year Sutton put up over 1200 yards and 10 TDs last year.
Mark Andrews | Oklahoma | 6-5 | 254 lbs
It will be interesting to see what becomes of the Oklahoma offense now that Bob Stoops has retired. Sooners TE Mark Andrews enters the season as one of the top receiving threats at his position. Andrews has great size and athleticism and should put up good numbers with Baker Mayfield at the helm. I haven’t seen much from him in the way of blocking so I will be on the lookout for that.
Mike Gesicki | Penn State | 6-6 | 257 lbs
Gesicki had a breakout year last season and racked up over 600 yards receiving and 5 TDs in Penn State’s offense. The chemistry between him and QB Trace McSorley was obvious and Penn State should look to make a playoff run with these three weapons. Gesicki can make some impressive catches and is a true red-zone threat.
Orlando Brown | Oklahoma | 6-8 | 360 lbs
Brown plays LT for the Sooners but is projected to be more of a RT prospect in the pro’s he was instrumental in helping Joe Mixon and Semaje Perine on the ground by setting an edge offensively. This season will better help determine if Brown has starting or backup potential in the NFL.
Martinas Rankin | Mississippi State | 6-5 | 307 lbs
Rankin is getting buzz because he is a balanced run blocker and pass protector. He is also quite athletic for an offensive lineman. The draft advisory board reportedly gave him a second round grade last year so I’ll be watching to see if he can keep up his consistency and if he can add a bit more quality mass this year.
Jamarco Jones | Ohio State | 6-5 | 310 lbs
Jones clearly has a lot to lose or a lot to gain based on his play this year. It’s been nice seeing him improve during his time at Ohio State but he still needs to get to the next level to really solidify himself as a top tackle prospect. Jones plays on the left side and took over for Taylor Decker. Due to Ohio State’s quick hitting and mobile passing game sometimes it's hard to judge just how well an offensive lineman especially a tackle is doing. I’m going to look for how Jones handles the heavy rush this year.
OG / C
Martez Ivey | Florida | 6-5 | 305 lbs
Ivey is believed to have tremendous upside amongst scouts. They like his raw ability and athleticism and he has improved during his time at Florida. One area he must improve is his ability to lock in on a defender and drive them consistently. He also needs more time in the weight room. He has experience playing tackle but I think he is a guard at the next level.
Billy Price | Ohio State | 6-4 | 315 lbs
Price has effectively and impressively played guard for the Buckeyes for 3 seasons. Count his position as flexible. He will be playing center this year but definitely should enter the season as one of the best G/C prospects in the country. There aren't many weaknesses to his game he has been on the winning side of most battles with former BIG 10 standouts and current NFL defensive linemen.
Frank Ragnow | Arkansas | 6-5 | 319 lbs
Ragnow is another versatile player. He has experience playing guard and center. He is described as a technician and is quite effective as a run blocker. He will play this year at center. Ragnow hasn’t allowed a sack in two seasons.
Mason Cole | Michigan | 6-5 | 305 lbs
Color started his career at Michigan playing LT but moved inside last year and has dominated at the position. Cole is probably the most refined player at the position and is a technician. Cole should look to improve his consistency and strength this year.