Jadevon Clowney, DE, South Carolina 6’6”/247
I am not sure Clowney fits on this list because he already has broken out. The #1 high school recruit a year ago has not disappointed. Clowney was the most impressive defensive freshman in college football last season and aside from Clemson WR Sammy Watkins the most impressive FR bar none. If you watched college football last year you already know who he is. He appears to be well on his way to being a dominating pass rusher and play maker. By his Junior season he should be a top 5 pick. It has been a long time since a freshmen has had as big of an impact as Clowney had for South Carolina last season.
Ray Drew, OLB/DE, Georgia 6’5/263
Drew has an excellent size/speed combination. He should get significant playing time this year. Don’t be shocked if he ends up at DE. Drew has illustrated his versatility and with Georgia returning several key players on defense next season he should prove to be a major bonus added to that already impressive and savvy defense.
Nico Law, S, Iowa 6’1”/180
Nico Law will battle for a starting job this spring with the Hawkeyes and I fully expect him to win a starting safety spot. Nico was a stand out on special teams this year and has the ideal size/speed combination to excel at the college and NFL level. Nico was an underrated 3 star prospect coming out and Iowa loses Senior Jordan Bernstine this year freeing up a starting position for Nico. Law is the most talented safety on the Iowa roster and you should remember this name because by his Junior season he could be an elite safety in college football. Nico is perhaps the most talented physically gifted safety Iowa has had under the Kirk Ferentz era. That is saying a lot too because Iowa has put a decent amount of safeties into the NFL under Kirk. He has all the physical tools to succeed and he is loaded with potential. Keep an eye on this kid starting next year because you will hear about him a lot.
It is rare to find a safety anymore in the NFL who can cover both the pass and the run. Nico is a mutli- dimensional player that NFL teams are drooling in a safety at the next level.
Jordan Lomax, CB, Iowa 5’10/185
Jordan is in line to see a lot of playing time at Iowa this year. An impact contributor on special teams this year Jordan should win the nickel role as a Sophomore and start as a Junior. Shaun Prater’s departure likely means B.J. Lowery will start opposite Micah Hyde next year leaving the nickel spot open to Lomax. Lomax is a strong/physical cornerback who likes to mix it up. He has good speed and is very fluid in his technique. He saw action late in a few games this season at cornerback and I was really impressed with his footwork and hip movement. Something that most Freshmen cornerback do not have right away until later on in their college career. Iowa has been rolling cornerbacks into the NFL in recent years after Prater you should have Hyde, followed by B.J. Lowery, a junior and then Jordan Lomax. Lomax tackles well and really excels in man to man coverage with terrific technique in both areas.
Avery Sebastian, S, California 5’10”/192
Avery gained a lot of valuable experience at safety for California this year. The Golden Bears graduate both starting safeties this season (D.J. Campbell and Sean Cattouse) freeing two starting safety spots. Based on talent alone Avery is sure to win one of those starting positions and contribute heavily. Avery is solid in coverage and hits like a ton of bricks. He will strike fear in any WR daring to go across the middle of the field. Combine a terrific recruiting class by California, Avery Sebastian will be on everyone’s radar after next year. He reminds me a lot of former California and Atlanta Falcons S Thomas DeCoud but even a bigger hitter/tackler.
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State 6’3/215
Shazier gained valuable playing time this season. Shazier once an Urban Meyer recruit at Florida switched his commit after Meyer departed from Florida. Shazier has to excited to get the coach he wanted to play for all along after having two coaches (Meyer and Tressel) leaving after he had committed to those schools. He must add some bulk but he has great physical tools. He runs well and gets from point A to point B very well. He sheds blocks well and is about as athletic as you can hope for in a safety. He should be in line to start next year. He is a bit raw but with excellent coaching I fully expect him to get every ounce out of his ability to succeed and move on to the NFL level. A very bright kid who works hard and will continue to get better. I really like his ability in pass coverage as well.
Michael Taylor, LB, Florida 6’0”/227
Taylor has been stuck in a deep LB corpse the last two seasons. However, he Red shirted his first year on camps which gives him 3 more years. Jon Bostic is likely to return for his Senior season but Taylor should see his playing time pick up next year. He could challenge for a starting LB spot this year as he has the ability to play inside or outside. Taylor has shown that he has the ability to make plays. The nation woke up to him in the Under Armour game two years ago. He runs well and is very strong. If he fine tunes his skill in pass coverage which I fully expect he should be a legit NFL draft prospect at the next level. He plays the run very well.
Nick Waisome, CB, Florida State 5’10/175
Waisome appears to be in line for significant playing time this year. Xavier Rhodes is coming off an injury and recently announced he will return to school for his Senior season. If Rhodes misses time Waisome should be the guy next in line with Greg Reid opposite. Waisome is one of the smartest Freshmen DB’s I have seen. He understands the game well and his assignments, combine that with his natural ability and he has a very bright future with the Seminoles. He reads and reacts well, is not afraid of contact and has the ball skills to may teams paying when throwing his way.
Other to keep an eye on:
(Check back as I will continue to add names to this list)
Marquis Anderson, DT, Oklahoma (Excellent run stopper)
Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson (You will know this kid by next year)
Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami (This guy has freak like ability)
Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (Talented S who will start with Robert Lester and Mark Baron’s departure. May be the most talented S under Saban at Alabama)
Blake Countess, CB, Michigan (Won a starting job last year. Proved to be pretty dependable)
Quadre Diggs, CB, Texas (Started as a Freshmen, great ball skills)
Steve Edmund, LB, Texas (Does it in every phase)
Curtis Grant, LB, Ohio State (Premier LB who should see the field a lot next year)
Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina (With Gilmore graduating he could win a starting job, also a great return man)
A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee (Good speed/size combination)
Andrew Johnson, CB, Louisville (Impressive late in the year, provides play making ability to an improving defense)
Peniel Jean, CB, Wisconsin (Wisconsin loses a lot of key players in their secondary, Jean should win a starting job)
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida (The most impressive Freshmen DB last year after winning a starting job with Florida)
Deaunta Saunders, S, Florida (Reminds me a bit of Ahmad Black, which is saying a lot)
Tim Scott, CB, North Carolina (Saw starting time last year as a FR and held his own.)
Tony Steward, LB, Clemson ( With Anthony and Steward, Clemson will have one of the best LB cores in the Nation in a year or two)
Anthony Wallace, LB, Oregon (Will cause havoc in the PAC-12)
Karlos Williams, S, Florida State (Big hitter)
Follow newerascouting.com contributor Scott Porter on twitter @blitzingdog3