1. Derwin James (Florida State)– As a freshman, he was a standout player and recorded 91 tackles and was expected to take that next step in his sophomore year. Unfortunately, a knee injury in week two ended his season. This year, he’ll be looking to pick up where he left off in his first year. He could be the most versatile player in the country this year. He’s a true magnetic force to the football. Wherever the ball is, you’ll see number three right there ready to make a tackle in open space. He plays the safety position with a linebacker’s mentality because he can come into the box, show blitz and drop back in coverage and pick up a receiver and make a play in the passing game. I see a lot of Landon Collins in him with the way that he plays and he’ll look to have a big impact for Jimbo Fisher this year.

2. Ed Oliver (Houston)– He’s another guy to really keep an eye on this year. We always hear about the guys on the edge wrecking havoc, well, how about the guys in the middle? They can do some damage too and this young man is a prime example of that. As a true freshman in 2016, he had an immediate impact and was basically unblockable. It’s one thing to see the defenders on the edge maneuver themselves through traffic, Ed does it frequently and it’s rare to see an interior defensive linemen do that. He’s 6’2, 290 pounds with nice speed to bullrush, run in open space and has the quickness to get his hands up and knock the ball down. I love his motor on the field. He’s very relentless and plays until the whistle blows and that’s exactly how it should be. This is the next star to make it to the NFL when he decides to make himself eligible for the draft.

3. James Washington (Oklahoma State)– The last few seasons, we’ve heard about receivers such as Dede Westbrook, Mike Williams, Corey Davis and Calvin Ridley. Don’t forget to throw James Washington in that conversation and if you don’t want to take my word for it, look at the tape because that won’t lie. When you look at him, he’s almost built as a running back, but he plays on the perimeter but is able to do a wide variety of things on the field. At 6’0 and 205 pounds, he has the ability to stretch the field from a vertical aspect and he loves the contact when trying to get the football. He has the burst to get away once he has the ball in his hands (which is always important). His first step at the line of scrimmage is another thing that stands out to me. He runs his routes hard and feels he can score anytime he touches the ball. He’s Mason Rudolph’s go to guy for a reason and I expect him to have a big year.

4. Arden Key (LSU)– Although the Tigers lost some pieces from last year’s defensive unit, I really don’t see them slipping too much under coordinator Dave Aranda. One of the pieces coming back is Arden Key who returns for his junior season. I saw a few of his games last year and I was impressed immediately. He’s a nightmare for any offensive line trying to prepare for him. He does any and everything to get to the quarterback. He can be in a one on one battle with the offensive linemen and still affect the play by pushing the blocker into his own teammate. He seems to be unblocked a good portion of the time and once he gets started, he doesn’t stop. I see a lot of Aldon Smith in him with the ability to play defensive end and linebacker.

5. Derrius Guice (LSU)– There were times when Leonard Fournette missed some time and even when that happened, their ground game never missed a beat. Now that Fournette is playing professionally, Derrius Guice is now the full-time starting running back in Baton Rouge. He’s an angry runner that loves to make contact with anyone trying to tackle him. He has the ability to get out of any situation where it looks as if he’s going to be taken down, but he somehow stays on his feet and keeps going. This Tigers offense will be just fine if he’s on the field.