Top Five Defensive Players Heading Into the 2017 College Football Season

By Bob Gaughan


With the different schemes it’s getting harder to put players into categories. What I’ve decided at this point is to simplify the categories.


1-Harold Landry, Boston College- had 16.5 sacks and an amazing seven forced fumbles in 2016.
2-Arden Key, LSU- may have more upside than Landry but currently I think Landry is a better pass rusher. Could miss opener with injury.
3-Marquis Haynes,Ole Miss- pure pass rush specialist. 24.5 sacks in 3 years.

4-Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State- Ohio State just loaded on defense. He’s a three year starter.
5-Bradley Chubb, NC State- brother of Nick (RB Georgia). Like his versatility, could slip inside in some pass rush schemes too.


1-Christian Wilkens, Clemson- played DE too, but think he’s best at a 3 technique.
2-Vita Vea, Washington- light on his feet, was a wildcat QB in high school.
3-DaShawn Hand, Alabama great at taking on double teams and allowing other to roam in Saban’s system.
4-Derrick Nnadi, Florida State- great nose tackle with more pass rush skills than you usually see from that position.

5-Maurice Hurst, Michigan- one gap player that lives in opponents backfields. Only 280 lbs, which is a concern.


1-Malik Jefferson, Texas- a tackle machine with high upside. Guys two and three on this list might be better players right now.

2-Cameron Smith, USC -will not wow at the combine, but a great football player with great instincts.
3-Azeem Victor, Washington- he’s the key to the Huskies defense. Always in the right spot.
4-Jerome Baker, Ohio State- think of Darron Lee, former Buckeyes player.
5-Tremaine Edwards, Virginia Tech- long and rangy could play inside or outside.


1-Iman Marshall, USC- can pound people in press coverage. Big, strong can play safety as well.
2-Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State- led nation with 8 INT’s. Torn labrum in ’16.
3-Anthony Averett, Alabama- reminds some of Bills Tra’Davious White.

4-Adonis Alexander, Virginia Tech- better of the two good Tech corners.
5-Denzell Ward, Ohio State- sat behind Lattimore and Conley last year, this is his year to shine.


1-Derwin James, Florida State- nicknamed ‘The Freak”. Team leader, love this guy.

2-Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama- long line of Alabama corners. Versatile, can play safety or corner.
3-Marcus Allen, Penn State- made 22 tackles in one game last year against Minnesota.
4-Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern- stands out every time you watch a Northwestern game. Three year starter.
5-Quin Blanding, Virginia- 358 tackles in first three years. That’s not a mis-print, 358 tackles!C

Bob Gaughan

Bob Gaughan has worked in Buffalo media for over 25 years. He spent 15 of those years as a staple on WGR radio as a talk show host and sports director. Currently, Bob works for UB Athletics on the radio broadcast of football and women’s basketball. Off the air, he has been an adjunct professor for over 20 years at Buffalo State College where he developed and has taught a class on how to be a talk show host.

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