It is time for the annual installment of the Devy 100, the third-most ballyhooed set of devy rankings completed within the greater Southwest Minneapolis area. As always, whittling this down to a mere one hundred was no simple task. If there is anybody you believe was omitted erroneously, feel free to pop in the comments and express your displeasure.
85. Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama Crimson Tide
Profile: There is always room in a receiver room for a player who wins at the line of scrimmage, and Waddle is one of the cycle’s best at making defenders lunge for air out of his breaks. A quick-twitch athlete with elite speed and change-of-direction ability, Waddle translates seamlessly as a slot receiver though has plenty of natural receiving ability which allows him to play outside as well. Even if the Tide offense opens up with the expected ascension of Tua Tagovailoa to starter as early as 2018, they have tormented defenses with the intermediate passing game and Waddle excels there.
2018 Outlook: The Tide added four high-profile receivers in the 2017 class in anticipation of losing Calvin Ridley and Robert Foster. All four figure to see significant playing time in 2018, though arguably none possess the skill-set of Waddle. A perfect complement to Alabama’s current pass-catchers, Waddle should see playing time early, even if the numbers are tempered in an offense where targets will be hard to come by.
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84. Jordyn Adams, WR North Carolina Tar Heels
Profile: The term “smooth” is bandied about often when discussing prospects – including by yours truly – but it is a word which was created to describe receivers like Jordyn Adams. From his effortless gait to his hands which seem to be magnetized to footballs, Adams does everything with an ease which can be infuriating to the layman. Adams is one of the more refined receivers in this class and is also a plus athlete.
Said athleticism may actually work against him as a devy prospect, as he is also a highly-regarded baseball prospect and may never actually see the football field for North Carolina. Take baseball out of the equation, and Adams jumps significantly up the rankings. As is, it adds another layer of risk in what is already a risky proposition.
2018 Outlook: The Tar Heels missed Mitch Trubisky in 2017. Chaz Surratt led the team with 1,342 passing yards as they cycled through three passers. Adams game portends an early impact, especially with only Anthony Ratliff-Williams returning as an established producer on the depth chart, though continued quarterback struggles could conspire to keep his production down as a first-year player.
83. Morgan Ellison, RB Indiana Hoosiers
Profile: Morgan Ellison broke his leg during his sophomore season of high school. He broke his other leg the following season. Little went to script during his days as a football recruit, yet despite all the misfortune he was still talented enough to earn an offer from a B1G university and showed lower-body injuries had not sapped any athleticism after posting the Top SPARQ score at The Columbus Opening in 2016. A 6’1”, 225-pound back with elite athleticism is enough to make anyone take notice, and a quality freshman campaign which saw Ellison churn out 704 yards to pace the Hoosiers in rushing has his stock on the rise.
2018 Outlook: Ellison’s impact was immediate, and following the departure of receiver Simmie Cobbs, he may be the most dangerous player on the Indiana offense. He should easily surpass last year’s 143 carries and emerge as one of the better runners in the B1G. Given he is an afterthought in most devy drafts, he is currently one of my favorite values.
82. Justin Fields, QB Georgia Bulldogs
Profile: One of this year’s many mega-recruits at quarterback, Fields dazzled late in the recruiting process and made a late push to usurp Trevor Lawrence’s spot at the recruiting rankings. While it did not happen, many prefer Fields as a devy asset due to his ability to stockpile yards with his legs in addition to a passing prowess which makes him the most appealing true freshman devy prospect at the quarterback position I can recall. As I mentioned with Lawrence, I seldom pay mind to true freshman quarterbacks; Fields is another talent I will make an exception for. He’s special.
2018 Outlook: Fields is ready. There is, of course, one major hurdle: Jake Fromm. Fromm cemented himself as one of college football’s most promising talents as a true freshman in 2017 and has two years of eligibility remaining. Working in Fields’ favor is the fact he can be utilized in certain packages without disrupting the flow of the Georgia offense, and the Bulldogs should be a strong enough team where lopsided affairs allow both quarterbacks to get some run.
In addition, Georgia’s main goal at this point is toppling Alabama as Kings of the SEC. The Tide seldom lose, though they have been given the most issues by dynamic quarterbacks who can give them fits in both the running and passing game while forcing the defense to cover every inch of the field. Fields fits this description better than Fromm, and it could be the ticket to him earning significant playing time in big spots.
81. Brian Robinson, RB Alabama Crimson Tide
Profile: It is easy to get lost in the shuffle of the Alabama backfield, especially when you’re brought in alongside a five star, can’t miss prospect in Najee Harris. Despite a stacked depth chart, Brian Robinson avoided a redshirt and showcased the no-nonsense, north-south style with the never out of style speed-power combination which made him a must-add for Alabama despite positional depth. Even in limited playing time, Robinson earned his spot in this rotation moving forward.
2018 Outlook: Snaps were going to be tough to come by even before Damien Harris announced his intention to return for 2018. At best, Robinson looks to be fourth in line for carries behind Damien Harris, Najee Harris, and Josh Jacobs, and two talented freshmen in Jerome Ford and Slade Bolden are joining the fold. We may have to wait until 2019 to get a true read on Robinson in an extended role.