Matt Barkley QB USC 6-2, 224 – Has been the leader of the Trojans since stepping on campus 4 years ago. During this time he has been more than impressive emerging into one of the most polished passers in USC’s long lineage of QBs. Although not a physical specimen, Barkley makes up for size with experience, smarts and a great natural touch. If Barkley keeps improving and has a great season he should expect to be the #1 pick taken. Threw for 3,528 yards, 39 TDs, and 7 picks for a 69.1% completion percentage.
Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina 6-0, 232- Despite getting hurt last year Lattimore is a premier running back can punish defenders each and every play with his stocky frame. As the South Carolina passing game was in turmoil during parts of last year, Lattimore showed his durability and knack for the big play. In 2012 expect Lattimore to do it big, as South Carolina should be even better next year. In 7 appearances last year carried the ball 163 times for 818 yards and 10 TDs.
Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas 6-3, 220- After throwing for 24 TDs & 6 picks last year, Tyler Wilson will enter 2012 comfortable and ready to post even better numbers. His receivers must step up in 2012. With a great frame and ability to move the ball against the best defenses in the country it wouldn’t surprise me if after having an impressive season he gives Barkley a run for his money.
Jarvis Jones OLB Georgia 6-3, 241- An all around playmaker with great size for a linebacker. After posting 13.5 sacks last year Jones have proved to be a stout and disruptive rushing force. With Georgia on the rise Jarvis will be fun to watch and atop the draft boards come fall. 70 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles.
Robert Woods WR USC 6-1, 185- Woods has been outstanding since starting as a freshman and statistically last year was off the charts. Extremely polished and makes up for speed with outstanding athleticism despite being injured in the spring expect big things from #2 in 2012. 98 catches, 1343 yards, 6 TDs.
Kennan Allen WR Cal 6-3, 204 – Very athletic, good sized, shifty receiver. Has posted great numbers, however has never had a formidable QB so that’s definitely an issue. Despite a below average team, Allen has been able to shine and should have another great year next year.
Johnathan Hankins DT OSU 6-3, 335 - Is a massive road grater in the middle taking that takes up tons of space. With 66 total tackles in 2011 and room to still grow, opponents will be sure to run to the outside when playing the Buckeyes.
Montee Ball 5-11, 212 RB Wisconsin- Not a burner but is plenty fast and tough. With a great offensive line once again and plenty of other backs to give him rest anything could happen in 2012. Big -10 offensive player of the year. Heisman Trophy Finalist, Consensus First Team All American. Rushed for 1,923 yards on 307 attempts, scored 33 TDs.
Tyrann Mathieu CB LSU 5-9, 175- A ball hawk “Honey Badger”who will be sure to post highlight plays come this fall. Although probably not the best pure DB in the game, Mathieu has earned his way onto this list due to his outstanding performance last season his ability to lay the wood and his knack for making make big plays. In 13 games last year Mathieu posted 71 tackles, 17 assists, 1.5 sacks, 2 int, 2 defensive TDs, 6 forced fumbles, and 2 special teams TDs.
DJ Flunker OT Alabama 6-6, 335- He is the prototypical bookend. At only 21 Flunker still has lots of room to grow and may even get bigger. A great protector however must improve his run blocking skills. Started all 13 games last year and helped pave the way for Heisman candidate Trent Richardson.
Honorable Mentions: Jackson Jeffcoat Texas DE, Sammy Watkins Clemson WR, LeVon Bell Michigan St RB, Dernard Robinson Michigan QB, Barrett Jones Alabama OT, Barkevious Mingo LSU DE, DeAnthony Thomas Oregon RB, Marquis Lee USC WR, Ladry Jones Oklahoma QB, Logan Thomas VT QB, Kenny Stills Oklahoma WR, David Amerson Nebraska CB, Manti Te’o Notre Dame LB, William Gholston Michigan St DE, Ricky Wagner Wisconsin OT, Star Lotulelei Utah DT, Tyler Eifert Notre Dame TE, Casey Pachall TCU QBdiscussion by Sidelines