The off-season is always an exciting time for dynasty owners. This goes double if your league also has a devy aspect. Between depth-chart shuffling, recruiting season, and spring ball, there is a lot going on in the college football world.
This comes with the disclaimer reiterating fantasy football is an inexact science. This is exacerbated when you throw college talent into the mix. Many guys not on this list are sure to breakout and become notable NFL prospects. But these are in my estimation the individuals with the most next level potential.
40 – RB Elijah Holyfield, Georgia Bulldogs
It is upsetting we did not get to see more of Elijah Holyfield during his true freshman season. He made huge strides between his junior and senior year in high school and the late progression was encouraging; seeing it come to fruition in Athens would have made him an elite prospect. As is, he is a thickly built and smooth runner who displays few weaknesses and is tailor-made to be a collegiate workhorse. Without any sort of body of work at the college level, I am reticent to place him any higher, especially since I viewed him as a good, not great prospect out of high school.
39 – WR Jhamon Ausbon, Texas A&M Aggies
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Jhamon Ausbon could sneak into a NFL OTA and nobody would blink an eye. He has an NFL body out of high school and will be one of college football’s most physically imposing receivers from day one. His ability to manhandle defensive backs and make plays at the catch point gives him an excellent opportunity to complement Christian Kirk from day one. An early enrollee, he has already impressed and the Aggies have little established talent beyond their number one receiver. If he can make nominal strides as an overall athlete he can be one of college football’s elite receivers.
38 – WR Jester Weah, Pittsburgh Panthers
One of college football’s true “where did he come from” players in 2016, Jester Weah thrived in a rather talent-laden Pitt offense, notching ten touchdowns and posting an absurd 24.2 yards per catch after recording as many catches as I did in 2014 and 2015. A large human being with excellent long speed and some power and wiggle after the catch, Weah has much to prove with Nate Peterman moving on, though transfer Max Browne at least has enough talent to keep the offense afloat. I don’t know exactly what to make of him at this point, but the positive attributes make him a high upside prospect.
37 – RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama Crimson Tide
A rather unheralded recruit by Alabama standards, Josh Jacobs at times looked like the Tide’s best back. A slippery and determined runner with soft hands, his all-around game may make him the most versatile player in Nick Saban’s backfield. This should help him earn touches despite as many as six players rotating in 2017, and after Bo Scarbrough it may be Jacobs who is best suited to earn tough yards in tight ballgames. We may never get to see what he does as a lead back given the talent he is competing with, but I am pretty bullish on Jacobs long-term.
36 – WR Jauan Jennings, Tennessee Volunteers
Jauan Jennings could slide in right next to Ryu in the next installment of Street Fighter. The former quarterback brings the fight to the defense, winning with sheer determination and a physicality few can match. Not yet 20, Jennings has seamlessly transitioned to his new position and despite lacking explosive physical tools he has quickly become a potent redzone weapon and jump ball extraordinaire. With another step in his physical maturation, Jennings could flirt with round one in 2018.
35 – WR Nick Westbrook, Indiana Hoosiers
The unfortunate season for Simmie Cobbs was Nick Westbrook’s gain, as the true sophomore receiver just barely missed posting a 1,000 yard season, utilizing his impressive frame and strong hands to help a surprisingly entertaining Hoosiers’ offense keep pace without its top receiving weapon from 2015. The development of his game will be one of the better devy storylines in the BIG.
34 – WR Demetris Robertson, California Golden Bears
A do-everything prospect in high school, Demetris Robertson effortlessly took on his receiver role and stood out as a true freshman despite a late arrival to campus. He has true sprinter speed and accelerates effortlessly. Despite limited route running exposure at Cal, he dazzled in redzone drills at the Army All-American Bowl in 2016 and has the feet and overall quickness to become a technician in this area. He can struggle in tough areas of the field – something you’d hope improves as he matures as both a player and person – but his elite athleticism and RAC skills portend an elite collegiate career and big-time NFL potential.
33 – RB Bo Scarbrough, Alabama Crimson Tide
Bo Scarbrough seems like a mirage. We see him display inhuman brute strength and burst in spurts then watch as he limps off the field or disappears as Nick Saban rotates in his horde of other backs. There are plenty of surreal parts of Scarbrough’s game yet what we do see is so enticing we’re forced to be enthralled. A behemoth of a man who sends defenders scurrying back to their barracks, the former five star recruit is often used as a late game hammer as the Tide close out opponents. While his body of work in the passing game is extremely limited (four receptions over two seasons) the fact he likely could have played receiver out of high school mitigates those concerns to a degree. Physically, few backs are as blessed as Bo, though his extensive injury history and inability to produce consistently (in part due to injury) have me fading him a bit in comparison to the consensus.
32 – QB Sam Darnold, USC Trojans
Sam Darnold revived a USC program on life support, turning a 1-3 team on the brink of major changes into a Rose Bowl winner appearing to be back in the mix as an annual college playoff contender. He was a revelation after pushing Max Browne for the starting job in fall camp and eventually usurping the incumbent en route to positioning himself as a potential number one overall pick in 2018. Despite a goofy and elongated release, the ball gets out quickly and Darnold has the innate ability to make plays when the pocket breaks down; he’s mobile enough to escape danger yet seldom just tucks and bails. A high-end passer with above-average athleticism and competitive swagger, it is easy to see where the hype comes from, though there’s certainly a need to see a much larger body of work.
31 – QB Josh Rosen, UCLA Bruins
One of the most bulletproof quarterback prospects in recent memory, Josh Rosen was the textbook high school recruit. His 6’4”, 215 pound frame was picture perfect and his mechanics were as flawless as an 18 year old’s could be. During his freshman season, all went to script, as Rosen demonstrated poise beyond his years and an ability to make NFL throws all over the field. 2016 was less kind to the former five star recruit, as the Bruins sputtered to a 3-3 record before Rosen succumbed to a shoulder injury which appeared to potentially have some long-term ramifications. Off-season rumors later circled indicating NFL teams were less than comfortable with Rosen’s persona, though the NFL tends to be leery of anyone who does not fit into their rather simple box of what is expected from prospects. There are certainly more question marks than there were at this time last year, but Rosen remains a highly intelligent, highly skilled quarterback who has plenty of good film. He should be treated as one of devy’s best quarterbacks.
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