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2017 NFL Draft Awards: Dalvin Cook, Corey Davis clean up

Get a load of these fellas.

Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports

With the college football regular season sadly coming to a close, there are weeks of awesome games to look back on and, more importantly, fantastic individual performances. At the end of the college football regular season, it is customary to hand out a series of awards to accolade players for various aspects of football and awarding guys at different positions... I thought it would be fun to do the same, but focusing on players who are specifically eligible for the NFL draft this season. So let's hand out some internet trophies!

  • Doak Walker Award for Best Running Back- In a class loaded with truly awesome and highly productive running backs, this award still goes to FSU's Dalvin Cook. Cook finished the regular season with over 2000 yards from scrimmage with 19 total touchdowns while averaging six yards per carry. Cook was a big play threat on a young FSU team where defenses knew the ball was going his way. Despite a slight dip in rushing production from last season, it could be argued that Cook became a more complete back this season, making more consistent down to down plays while also becoming an awesome passing game threat.
  • Fred Biletnikoff Award for Best Wide Receiver- Though he somehow was not nominated for the real award, it seems silly to give this honor to anyone but Corey Davis, who finished his four year career at WMU as the leading receiver in NCAA history. After posting almost 1300 yards this season and an outstanding 17 touchdowns, Davis is up to 5068 yards and 50 touchdowns for his entire college career. The 6-3, 215 pound star made plays in every way for the Broncos during his career and he looks like a prototypical NFL receiver poised to make an impact the moment he makes the league.
  • John Mackey Award for Best Tight End- Despite a down season for Ole Miss, Evan Engram seems like the obvious choice after going for over 900 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Though Engram is undersized by tight end standards (6-3, 230), he still has the dependability of a tight end with the ability to block. He is an outstanding athlete for the position and will be a match up nightmare in the NFL.
  • Rimington Award for Best Center- With the success of their running game, Pat Elflein runs away with this honor. The Ohio State center switched to center before this season after a successful few years playing guard and played even better at the center position. His athletic ability, consistency and intelligence made him so valuable for the Buckeyes and he looks the part of a long time NFL starter.
  • Outland Trophy for Best Lineman- With the option to go with offensive or defensive lineman, there was a wide range of talent to go with. However, considering it is a weaker offensive line class, I wanted to recognize Jon Allen's outstanding career at Alabama playing all over their defensive line. Allen is a versatile defender who has played inside and on the edge for the Crimson Tide and his motor, technique and athletic ability makes him a pain in the ass for offenses. He is one of the safest players in this class and deserves recognition for his productive career and bright future.
  • Lombardi Award for Best Front Seven Player- Just for the sake of changing it up and spreading the love, I want to go with different names and Harold Landry deserves recognition for his awesome season at Boston College. The 6-3, 250 pound defensive end led the nation in sacks, but was also one of the best run defenders in the country. Landry has flown under the radar due to his team not having great name recognition, but I would not be surprised if he went on to have a very strong NFL career.
  • Butkus Award for Best Linebacker- On an undefeated team in the most popular conference in the country, it is still surprising how little we have heard Reuben Foster's name. The Alabama linebacker has been an absolute star for the Tide, using his incredible sideline to sideline speed and football intelligence to be an asset on defense. He looks every bit of an NFL star.
  • Jim Thorpe Award for Best Defensive Back- This was a tough choice because there is an insane amount of draft eligible defensive back talent, but in the end I had to give it to LSU's Jamaal Adams. Though Adams does not have the gaudiest stat sheet, he is an incredible athlete with great size and versatility. His skill set made him LSU's biggest impact defender both as an intimidator and a cover guy. I expect him to be a star NFL strong safety sooner than later.
  • Bronco Nagurski Award for Best Defender- As for the best defender int he draft, that honor goes to none other than Myles Garrett. The Texas A&M defender battled through some injuries this season and did not enjoy his normally productive season. However, with 8.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and 10 QB hurries, Garrett still had a strong year. However, it is his incredible potential married to his overall production in college that make shim such an attractive NFL prospect and the best defender in this draft.
  • Paul Hornung Award for Most Versatile Player- The obvious choice here would be Jabrill Peppers, but after much deliberation, it is hard not to give this honor to Adoreé Jackson. The outstanding USC defender had four total return touchdowns, a receiving touchdown, four interceptions and 11 passes broken up  this season. For his career, Jackson has 15 touchdowns coming on offense, defense and special teams. This season, Jackson progressed into an outstanding perimeter defender for the Trojans, making him not only a legit threat on special teams, but also a very good NFL cornerback prospect.
  • Spirit Award for Most Inspirational Player- Though this is not consequential to NFL prospects necessarily, it felt important to honor Pitt's James Connor for an admirable fight against cancer and miraculous return to be one of the more productive running backs in the country. Connor averaged 5.1 yards per carry on his way to almost 1100 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. On top of that, he added a new component to his game, gaining nearly 300 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Connor was impressively productive on a Pitt team where he was one of the only options to score. His character and emotional strength propelled him to return so strongly after enduring cancer treatment for all of the 2015 season. I have a feeling he will be a special NFL player with that character and wish him nothing but the best.
  • Davey O'Brien Award for Best Quarterback- In a year where some people are decrying the quality of quarterbacks, this was a harder choice than many folks would thing. However, Deshaun Watson deserves the recognition for being the best draft eligible quarterback. Though Deshone Kizer is a good prospect and Patrick Mahomes' numbers and potential make him a consideration, Watson's potential, production and on the field product is hard to ignore. Though Watson will likely not match his incredible total yardage numbers from last season, he is poised to break his passing numbers from last season and is on his way to the Playoffs for the second year. Watson started the season slow, but consistently came on at the right times in games and he seems to have a special "it-factor" that has given Clemson a chance every week. I am excited about what he is going to do in the NFL.
  • Heisman Award- This is a tough choice because quantifying the best prospect is a bit different than doing so with the best player in college football. Though it would make sense to give this award one of the two players I think would be first overall picks (Myles Garrett or Deshaun Watson), I want to give this award to the player that is not only outstanding, but is also so much better than the next best player at his position. That is why I believe the most outstanding player is Dalvin Cook. Although Cook will not be a first overall pick or maybe even a top 10 pick, he is far and away the best running back this year and his complete game and consistent production at the college level are mind boggling. I am ecstatic about seeing his athletic ability on display at the combine and I am sure he will be a dangerous player at the next level.

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