The Associated Press released their Pre-Season All American Team and it might as well be a draft watch list. With 25 total positions available on the First Team, only four players listed are not draft eligible.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Purdue all-purpose player Rondale Moore, Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt and Syracuse Safety Andre Cisco were the only non-eligible players who made the top tier of the AP Teams. Unsurprisingly the eligible players named in the preseason honors are all players who have mentioned as potential first rounders.
Travis Etienne and Jonathan Taylor, two of college football’s most exciting running backs were named to the First Team, unsurprisingly. The two backs combined for 40 rushing touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards on the ground last year. Both will vie to be the top back in a potentially deep class.
Wide receivers Tylan Wallace and Jerry Jeudy made the team based on their standout playmaking ability.Jeudy is probably the best Alabama receiver since Julio Jones. Tylan Wallace has over 25 receptions of 20 yards or more last season and scored 12 touchdowns. He will be following in a long line of prolific receiver prospects for the Hokies.
Albert Okwuegbunam is the consensus top tight end prospect. His spot on the AP list is no shock. He has scored 17 touchdowns in the last two years. He’s an offensive mismatch who should see huge numbers this year.
The offensive line is full of first round prospects. Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Stanford’s Walker Little are among the many offensive tackles with first round hype. Lots of people are excited about Oregon guard Shane Lemieux and Michigan guard Ben Bresedon is one of the most experienced linemen in the country. Tyler Biadasz might be the top lineman in the country, period. He will be a highly drafted center in the spring.
AP’s defensive line is loaded with first rounders. Edge defender is a deep position across the country this year and it is appropriate that Ohio State’s Chase Young and Iowa’s AJ Epenesa made the cut. Both are dynamic pass rushers who dominated the Big 10 last year and will battle each other all year for the top pass rusher position in the draft. The SEC is well represented at interior defender with Alabama’s Raekwon Davis and Auburn’s Derrick Brown. Both are massive inside presences and their team’s best front seven players (a little more of a debate for Davis).
Michigan State’s Joe Bachie might be the one draft eligible guy on this list who many will say is a great college player whose game may not translate. The senior linebacker is a tough, smart player who lacks the athleticism to be a three down player at the next level. However, teams could find a place for a player with his on the field attitude. The other linebackers, Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson and Alabama’s Dylan Moses are both athletic linebackers worth attention. Simmons in particular is arguably one of the best linebackers in the country with a rare blend of speed, physicality and football IQ.
Bryce Hall’s strong junior season landed him on the AP first team. The UVA cornerback had two picks, two forced fumbles and 20 PDs last season. At 6’1”, the NFL will be heavily interested in his combo of size and playmaking ability at the cornerback position. He’s joined by Stanford’s Paulson Adebo. Playing on the west coast, his hype hasn’t quite peaked yet but the junior defender was a ball magnet last season; picking off four passes and knocking down 17 more. He’s the top prospect on the Stanford defense and is poised for a great season.
While preseason predictions can be a bit tenuous, there’s absolutely some use in getting to know some of the guys who’ve made their mark at this point in their college careers. It is always interesting to look back at these at season’s end to see how they all turned out.