Let’s start off with a clarifying statement, this is not an NFL Draft big board. I repeat, this is not a big board. This is a list of the 25 best college football players in 2019. Some of the players are not even draft eligible; hell one of them is a freshman. But these players have been playing incredibly well and yes, most of them will be walking across the stage of the 2020 NFL Draft.
1. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Chase Young has owned this season and has been the most dominating defensive player since Ndamukong Suh at Nebraska. Suh was able to finish fourth in the 2009 Heisman voting and I hope to see Young finish even higher. After his four sacks and two forced fumbles against Wisconsin, Young has earned himself a trip to New York for the Ceremony.
2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Joe Burrow continues to impress the nation with his ability to compete and have the “it factor.” Take the Auburn game for example. Burrow completed 32 of 42 passes for one touchdown and one interception – not a great stat line. But the stat line doesn’t show that Burrow was constantly avoiding pressure and completing passes with Derrick Brown breathing down his neck. At this rate Burrow has to be the 2019 Heisman frontrunner.
3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The second Ohio State player on the list has actually been receiving more attention than the first. Fields burst onto the scene in week one with impressive throw and runs and hasn’t slowed since. Fields looks like a legitimate Heisman contender and NFL prospect. I’ve been trying to come up with a comp for Fields, but the truth is, he might not have one. Quarterbacks like Cam Newton have wowed us before with a big arm and athletic ability, but Fields is different. He is beating people with adjustments at the line and touch passes to all levels of the field. Fields is the ideal quarterback…for any offense.
4. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
After a huge upset to Kansas State on Saturday I’m sure Jalen Hurts is still in the gym. His four touchdowns, one passing and three rushing, were not enough to fight off the Wildcats, but were enough to keep him in the top five. Hurts doesn’t have the biggest arm but he finds ways to win and keep his team going. Even while playing from behind Hurts’ leadership was very evident on the sideline. It may not translate to the NFL, but Hurts can play on my team any Saturday.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Despite not playing against Arkansas, Tua Tagovailoa comes in at number five. And before every Alabama fan tries to kill me, he is still the number one quarterback on my NFL Draft big board, and remember this is not a big board! Tua has been exceptional in his three years at Alabama but I don’t think he has ever taken over games or dominated the position like the guys ahead of him. Tua is still a favorite for the Heisman and first overall pick, but he will need to get healthy to make those happen.
6. Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Simmons is listed at linebacker but honestly he’s a utility player. Lining up at corner, safety, edge rusher and his usual home, linebacker. If it weren’t for his 6’4” height he would be nearly impossible to find. The easiest way to spot Simmons is to find the football. If he isn’t there by the time you find the ball, he will be shortly. Simmons covers like a corner, has the range of a safety, sheds like an edge and hits like a linebacker. I’ve yet to find a true weakness in his game.
7. Chubba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
The nation’s leading rusher through week nine and even though he isn’t receiving much national attention, you might recognize the name from my preseason list of breakout players, #HumbleBrag. Hubbard is quietly on pace to rush for over 2000 yards the season and has become the focal point of the OSU offense.
8. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
From acrobatic catches to insane runs after the catch, Lamb is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the entire nation and the first receiver on the list. CeeDee Lamb doesn’t have the stats that other receivers do but not many receivers have the highlight package that he does. Enjoy him while you can OU fans, he is probably gone after this season.
9. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Despite having his worst game of the season against Ohio State, Taylor still deserves a spot near the top. No team has relied more on a non-quarterback than the Badgers have Taylor, and so far he has rushed for over 1000 yards and 15 touchdowns. With a possible six games left, Taylor could be looking at ANOTHER 2000 yard season.
10. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Defensive tackle love coming at you at number 10! Derrick Brown made the decision to return to Auburn for his senior season and it looks like me made a great choice. As a junior Brown looked good – big, athletic, productive. As a senior, he is dominating the SEC and looks like a lock to be a top 20 pick in the NFL Draft.
11. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
It’s no secret the Oregon offensive line is great and they are led by the best tackle in the nation. Sewell started his first game on campus and performed at an All-American level while committing zero penalties and only allowing one sack his freshman year. The level of success has continued in his sophomore season and Sewell already has scouts gushing at his size and athletic ability.
12. JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
After a sophomore slump in 2018, Dobbins is back to his freshman form and averaging over seven yards per carry for the Buckeyes. Dobbins has rushed for over 120 yards in six of the eight Ohio State games and is making his own case for why he should be a Heisman contender.
13. Evan Weaver, LB, Cal
Evan Weaver doesn’t carry the name recognition of the players ranked higher than him but he is once again leading the nation in tackles. After a stellar 2018 season in which he had 155 tackles, Weaver eclipsed the 100 tackle mark the year in just seven games and has two games with more than 20 tackles.
14. Antoine Winfield Jr, S, Minnesota
This name is a little more recognizable, but mostly because the play of his father, Antoine Winfield Sr. Junior is definitely making a name for himself this season after being plagued by injuries in the last two years. His five interceptions are tied for second in the nation and but his impact can’t be measured by stats and traits. The leadership Winfield brings may be his greatest quality and already has the eyes of NFL scouts.
15. Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State
Chase Young is having a remarkable season and stealing some of the attention that should be going to Curtis Weaver. Weaver has nine and a half sacks through seven games and has looked unblockable by anyone in the Mountain West Conference. Weaver is a redshirt junior and may want to test the NFL after a great season.
16. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Last year I thought Kenneth Murray made a lot of tackles because no one else on the team could tackle. That is not the case this year. Murray’s teammates can’t make tackles because they can’t beat Murray to the football. The closing speed is real and no one in the nation runs gaps better than Murray.
17. Derrick Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
After the Auburn game on Saturday Stingley might be too low at 17. Corner is the hardest position to play in all of football and rarely do we see freshman or rookies be able at come in a perform at a high level, then there is Stingley. The true freshman has been a day one starter for one of the nations best secondaries and more impressively, he has been the number one corner. On a team with Kristian Fulton and Kary Vincent! If his corner play doesn’t do it for you, just wait until he is a junior and plays receiver too.
18. Douglas Coleman III, S, Texas Tech
The nation’s leader in interceptions with seven, Douglas has been making big plays for the Red Raiders every game. After splitting time between offense and defense Douglas has finally decided to play defense full time and the senior defensive back has looked more comfortable with every game played.
19. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
How is Jerry Jeudy the number 19 player on this list? Because it’s not a big board. And he isn’t leading Alabama in receiving yards or touchdowns. The talent is undeniable though and Jeudy’s route running will make him a top pick in the draft. Defenses are really keying in on where Jeudy lines up and bracketing him in coverage. I still wouldn’t be surprised if Jeudy blows up the state book over the next few games though.
20. Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The number one draft eligible corner in the nation has everything a coach could want in a corner. Size, speed, ball skills and a willingness to play the run. Okudah has already showcased all of those traits and is a vocal leader on a loaded defense. As of right now, Okudah is the number four player on my big board and should be a top ten lock in the draft.
21. AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
AJ Dillon quietly passed Jonathan Taylor in rushing yards this weekend and is fourth in the nation. If his team were winning a few more games he might be getting a little more attention but that hasn’t been so easy this year. The bruising 250 pound back will continue to carry the load for Boston College and rack up yards and touchdowns.
22. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The sophomore linebacker has lived up to the high recruiting praise. After leading Penn State in tackles, as a backup, in 2018, he is now starting and the leader of a great defense. Parsons has been all over the field and shows plus coverage ability for a middle linebacker. Scouts and NFL teams will be all over Parsons next season.
23. Kenny Gainwell, RB, Memphis
A somewhat unknown, but Memphis had a loaded backfield in 2018. With Henderson and Pollard gone to the NFL and Patrick Taylor injured, Gainwell has done more than fill the void. The redshirt freshman has already accounted for 11 rushing touchdowns and 979 rushing yards with six straight games of over 100 yards. Running the ball isn’t all he does well though, Gainwell also has 34 catches and 440 receiving yards with three receiving touchdowns. Coach Mike Norvell has been very blessed in the backfield at Memphis.
24. Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
We all knew this running back class was loaded but after a sophomore slump many people were doubting if Cam Akers would be at or near the top of this group. The junior running back has had a great season so far and has already rushed for a career high 12 touchdowns. Although Florida State is in the middle of a rebuild, Akers already looks back to form.
25. Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
The redshirt sophomore finished third in the nation in passes defended last year with 17 and is already near the top this year with 10. Adebo’s long reach and vision are key in his style of play and PAC-12 teams already know to stay away from his side of the field. His eight career interceptions are more proof that he has elite ball skills and should not be tested.