July has arrived. Thus, it is officially speculative college football post season. Here is a ranking of the Top 50 college football players heading into the 2015 season. Before we begin, a few caveats.
* Comparing unlike things is an inexact science.
* This list probably won’t match your exact list. That’s okay. People may hold differing opinions on the Internet.
* This list is not a 2016 NFL Draft prospect ranking.
50. Dadi Nicholas [DE – Virginia Tech] Disruptive pass rusher. Back as a fifth-year senior. Had two sacks and three TFL against Ohio State last year.
49. James Conner [RB – Pittsburgh] He’s a 6-foot-2, 250-pound workhorse. Slowed a bit by injuries. Still ran for more than 1,700 yards and 26 touchdowns. Was initially a three-star linebacker.
48. Devonte Fields [DE – Louisville] Big 12 defensive player of the year as a freshman at TCU. Then he was injured. Then he left TCU amidst a domestic assault investigation. After a year at JUCO, he’s at Louisville. Presumably, he can still play.
47. Rashard Higgins [WR – Colorado State] Led the nation in receiving yards (1,750) and receiving TDs (17) as a sophomore last year. Some uncertainty with new head coach and new QB.
46. Christian Hackenberg [QB – Penn State] Potential to be No. 1 pick in the draft. Whether he gets to show more than flashes with the shallow pool of offensive line and skill talent around him is another matter.
45. DeForest Buckner [DE – Oregon] He’s 6-foot-7 and 290 lbs. He’s athletic. He’s versatile and he makes plays. Impressed late last season. Some scouts think he may be better than Arik Armstead.
44. Vonn Bell [S – Ohio State] Started slow after knee injury. Finished as one of the standout figures on Ohio State’s national championship defense.
43. Jared Goff [QB – California] Threw for 3,900 yards with a 35-7 TD-INT ratio as a sophomore. Should be in for a strong third year in the Bear Raid. Getting NFL-Draftnik attention.
42. Josh Doctson [WR – TCU] Came on strong last year with 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns. You know what they say about wide receivers with big hands.
41. Jordan Jenkins [LB – Georgia] Came back for senior year. Doesn’t quite have Leonard Floyd’s upside (see #28). Should still be one of the best in the SEC.
40. Reggie Ragland [LB – Alabama] Next in the lineup of great, NFL-ready Alabama linebackers. Should have huge year playing behind that defensive line.
39. Pharoh Cooper [WR – South Carolina] Receiver, runner, wildcat QB. Just get the ball in his hands. One of the only reasons to be excited about South Carolina football next year.
38. Adoree’ Jackson [DB – USC] Pac 12 defensive freshman of the year last year. Also dabbles in the long jump where he has a chance to be an Olympian in 2016.
37. Dalvin Cook [RB – Florida State] Strong freshman season. Became a focal point at the business end of Florida State’s season. Preseason stories will center on his Heisman chances … and his disastrous semifinal game against Oregon.
36. Cody Kessler [QB – USC] Padded his numbers against bad defenses. But, a 39-5 TD-INT ratio remains impressive. When USC dropped games last year, Kessler was not the reason why.
35. Samaje Perine [RB – Oklahoma] Went over 200 yards three times as a freshman. Broke the FBS single-game rushing record. Had 925 yards and 10 touchdowns over final four games.
34. Tyler Boyd [WR – Pittsburgh] Pitt’s No. 1 and more or less only option in a shaky passing game. Still produced, with 1,261 yards and 8 TD on 78 catches as a sophomore. Underage drinking arrest probably won’t scar him long-term.
33. Derek Barnett [DE – Tennessee] Had 10 sacks and 20.5 TFL as a freshman in the SEC. Relentless.
32. Dak Prescott [QB – Mississippi State] Threw the ball 396 times last year, ran it 210 times and produced about 4,500 yards of total offense and 41 touchdowns. Will need to carry Bulldogs even more this year. Hopefully not affected by being attacked at a concert.
31. Cam Robinson [OT – Alabama] Good enough to start on the line as a true freshman for Alabama, which is saying something. Held his own against many of college football’s best defensive ends last year, which is also saying something.
30. Cameron Sutton [DB – Tennessee] Has been slightly under the popular radar at Tennessee. Should break out as a junior.
29. Leonard Floyd [LB – Georgia] Athletic pass rusher. Gets to play in same defense two years in a row. Should be a terror if healthy coming off shoulder surgery.
28. Su’a Cravens [S/LB – USC] Safety/Linebacker/Hybrid/Whatever. He makes plays, and led USC with 17 TFL in 2014.
27. Connor Cook [QB – Michigan State] NFL scouts love him. Track record, tools and a 24-3 record with transition around him give them little reason not to. He’s one of the reasons the Big Ten has been on an upswing.
26. Derrick Henry [RB – Alabama] At 6-foot-3, 240-pounds, he can go by people. He can go through them. Will have to carry the load with Alabama’s running back depth problems. Sadly, removed his truck-pushing and tire-tossing workout videos.
25. Laremy Tunsil [OT – Ole Miss] Five-star recruit. Potential top five draft pick. Best lineman in SEC. A bit of uncertainty for 2015 season coming off fractured fibula in the Peach Bowl. Also had an odd off-the-field incident.
24. Shilique Calhoun [DE – Michigan State] Had a bit of a down year last year. Turned down being a probable late first round pick to come back. Should ease the transition with Pat Narduzzi’s departure.
23. DeShaun Watson [QB – Clemson] When healthy and starting, he was putting up Heisman caliber numbers as a freshman last year. He’d be higher if not coming off a knee injury.
22. Myles Jack [LB – UCLA] Dynamic athlete who can play at elite level on defense, offense and special teams? Yes, more of that please.
21. Laquon Treadwell [WR – Ole Miss] Has basically every trait one could want from a receiver. Only question is how he recovers from the broken leg he suffered against Auburn.
20. Shawn Oakman [DE – Baylor] Physically impressive to the point he has become a meme. Production began to match body in 2014, with 11 sacks and 19.5 TFL.
19. Leonard Fournette [RB – LSU] Highly-touted freshman last year. Struggled and showed flashes. LSU fans will hope he’s the guy who ran for 289 yards and 3 TD on 30 carries over the final two games.
18. Taylor Decker [OT – Ohio State] Insert valued offensive line trait here. Could argue he’s Ohio State’s most important offensive player, which is saying something.
17. Kendall Fuller [CB – Virginia Tech] Great athlete. Lockdown corner. Should follow three brothers to the NFL, and most recently Kyle, who went in the first round.
16. Duke Williams [WR – Auburn] Had an interesting offseason, but everything appears to be “Gucci.” The only things that stopped him as a junior were injuries and a suspension. Should be lined up for a dominant senior year.
15. Robert Nkemdiche [DT – Ole Miss] Former No. 1 overall recruit. Has been slowed by injuries and a switch from DE to DT. Should settle in for a strong junior year.
14. Darron Lee [LB – Ohio State] Finished 2nd on Ohio State with 7.5 sacks and 16.5 TFL as a true freshman. He’ll disrupt your backfield and your relatively benign Twitter game.
13. Nick Chubb [RB – Georgia] No Gurley? No problem. Chubb ran for 1,547 yards at more than seven per carry as a true freshman. That was despite not getting regular carries until the sixth game.
12. Jalen Ramsey [DB – Florida State] Best playmaking safety in college football. Does not lack for confidence.
11. Jaylon Smith [LB – Notre Dame] Tremendous athlete. Should have a better idea what he’s doing with a second year in Brian Van Gorder’s defense.
10. Vernon Hargreaves III [CB – Florida] College Football’s closest thing to a shutdown corner.
9. Myles Garrett [DE – Texas A&M] Double-digit sacks as a freshman. Draws athleticism comparisons to Adrian Peterson. Now working with the great John Chavis.
8. Spencer Drango [OT – Baylor] Consensus All-American last year coming off back surgery. Excellent student. Came back for his fifth-year. Sometimes the GameDay features write themselves.
7. Trevone Boykin [QB – TCU] Produced 4,600 total yards and 41 touchdowns last season. Returns with almost everyone else on offense. Scarily, could further improve as a passer.
5. Jones/Barrett/Miller [QB – Ohio State] Does Urban go with the fifth-year senior who was a Heisman favorite before getting injured in 2014, the sophomore who finished Top 5 in Heisman voting or the raw, talented junior who just led Ohio State to a National Championship? Guessing some frightening combination of the three.
4. Scooby Wright [LB – Arizona] Led the nation in tackles (163) and TFL (29). He was a mere third in sacks (14). Not bad for a two-star recruit.
3. Ezekiel Elliot [RB – Ohio State] Zeke got healthy. The offensive line coalesced. He ran for 696 yards and eight touchdowns over Ohio State’s three post-season games. May be to blame for some unfortunate crop top situations in Ohio gyms.
2. A’Shawn Robinson [DT – Alabama] Robinson has the size to play nose, the versatility to play anywhere on a three-man line and the neckbeard of an MLB middle-reliever.
1. Joey Bosa [DE – Ohio State] Bosa had 13.5 sacks and 21 TFL as a sophomore last season. Theoretically, he may get better. The Buckeyes are loaded, and the pressure to repeat will be immense. The POTUS is a fan.