[The blog has been a little slow with William’s slacking so here’s a little writeup I did when I was bored.]
I was watching the Lions preseason game the other night, and seeing Calvin Johnson catch his first couple passes in a Lions uniform had me thinking. Who are the best college players I have seen over the last five years? I’m picking five years because that’s how long I have been deeply entrenched in college football and the NFL draft. So I’m going to write it up in list form for the USS because everyone loves a list. Some players came to mind right away. These are guys that I watched personally and was blown away by. All of them were on a different level than other college players and would dominate games on the reg.
8. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma– AD was just power and explosiveness. Hard to describe unless you saw how angry he ran at Oklahoma. He was dominating the land as a freshman. I wish he stayed healthier so we could have seen more highlights. He is the best pure runner to come out of college since Tomlinson.
7. Terence Newman, Kansas State– You’re saying huh? Newman was that good? Oh yea he was. I thought Cincinnati should have taken him at number 1 overall. ESPN showed a K-State game one night and I was amazed. Newman was the best receiver’s shadow. He wasn’t even tested at corner and when he was he would pick it for six. Newman also played offense and was an amazing kick returner. Its hard for a DB to take over games but Newman did. Pay attention to Newman this year. He is the most underrated corner in the game if you ask me. The guy doesn’t make probowls, but at one point last year he was on a streak of one touchdown allowed in 2 entire seasons.
6. Terrell Suggs, Arizona State- They started showing ASU games nationally just because of Suggs. He was this muscled up speed freak with the scary neck roll just burning off the edge and eating quarterbacks. Suggs was literally unblockable in college. He ran a crap 40 time and was a little undersized so his draft stock slipped. Now he has settled in nicely as an all pro pass rushing LB for the Ravens.
5. Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh- Fitz grew up as the ball boy for the Vikings. The kid has been running routes since he could walk. Fitz might not have been as gifted athletically as the others on this list in terms of burst and raw strength but he made up for it with a polished skill set. He was running better routes as a sophomore in college than most professionals. Teams couldn’t keep him out of the end zone even though they knew where it was going. 36 touchdowns in 26 career games, and at one point caught a TD in 18 straight games
4. Carson Palmer, Southern California- Palmer played in a great offense and he just diced college defenses for a living. Leinart played on better teams and was definitely great, but Palmer was more impressive. He had a golden arm and threw the best looking ball I might have ever seen.
3. Sean Taylor, Miami- Taylor was literally bigger than a lot of linebackers. He ran like a corner. He hit harder than anyone in the country. He just roamed and picked off anything in his area code due to great instincts and ball skills. And when he intercepted the ball he was probably bringing it to the house since he was one of the best RB in the country in high school. Taylor was flawless as a prospect besides character. He was expected to be the best safety in the NFL within a year. If he stays out of jail and is used right in Washington then watch out. Players polled in SI just voted him as the hardest hitter in the game.
2. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech- Calvin Johnson is the truest. He is a dream. Definitely the most complete prospect on this list. Size? He’s got 2 inches and 15 pounds on Terrell Owens. Speed? He ran a 4.3 laser time 40 yard dash in someone else’s shoes at the combine which makes him one of the fastest guys in the NFL at 240 pounds. Leaping ability? Um, he has a 45 inch vertical leap. To put that vertical in perspective, Lebron’s is 44 inches. Those are just Calvin’s measurables though. The kid runs good routes even though he could cruise on his athletic ability. His hands are unbelievable too. On top of all that, he is a big time character guy, very smart and humble. He might not dominate right away as the number 2 in Detroit, but this kid has no ceiling.
1. Reggie Bush, Southern California- Reggie is not the prospect that some of these guys are on paper, but he was the most electric player I’ve ever seen. Calvin was somewhat limited in terms of individually dominating games because he was just a WR with a terrible quarterback throwing to him. USC used Bush as the ultimate offensive weapon and it allowed him to take over games. A threat to go the distance with every touch and an ability to make people miss like we hadn’t seen since Barry Sanders on Turkey day in the 90’s. Reggie put up 2,611 all purpose yards and scored 18 touchdowns in his Heisman winning 2005 season.