Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers, Junior
Height / Weight (lbs) – 6’5” / 240
Projected Round – 3
Rutgers @ Washington State – Thursday, 8/28, 10:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Wide receiver Brandon Coleman was the man to watch last season in the Scarlet Knights’ passing game, but it was tight end Tyler Kroft who led the 2013 team in receptions (40) and receiving yards (573). Kroft, who is currently a junior, could easily bolt to the NFL after this season if he has an even bigger season for himself. Last season was his first year as a starter, and college football pundit Phil Steele named Kroft to the 2014 Preseason All-Big Ten second team.
Washington State is led by head coach Mike Leach and he has always put emphasis on a pass-heavy offense. Rutgers, usually very defensive oriented, is traveling across the country once again to open the season (last season was at Fresno State). If Rutgers falls behind early and ends up in another shootout, Kroft will be a guy that will garner many looks from senior quarterback Gary Nova. Kroft is athletic enough to be split out wide against defensive backs, and will also draw looks while in the redzone. With no more Coleman or Quron Pratt, Kroft is arguably the Scarlet Knights’ best pass-catcher if it is not Leonte Carroo.
Adrian Amos, S, Penn State, Senior
Height / Weight (lbs) – 6’0” / 209
Projected Round – 4-5
Penn State vs. UCF (at neutral location) – Saturday, 8/30, 8:30 AM ET – ESPN2
After losing 34-31 to UCF last season at Beaver Stadium, the second game in this series is taking place in Ireland. If you are feeling anxious enough to watch it, this game takes place 8:30 AM ET on the first Saturday of college football. Adrian Amos has seen time at both cornerback along with safety – which has helped him earn the most starts with 25 games (19 at cornerback and six at safety) of any current Nittany Lion. Seeing reps during his time as a freshman has helped his maturation, and given his ability to play the entire defensive backfield he should be able to consistently stay on the field.
UCF’s passing game is likely going to go through some struggles early since quarterback Blake Bortles is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars as their franchise quarterback. With the inexperience, Penn State’s defense may have its way in terms of creating turnovers despite learning a new system under new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.
Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA, Senior
Height / Weight (lbs) – 6’0” / 230
Projected Round – 2-3
(7)UCLA @ Virginia – Saturday, 8/30, 12:00 PM ET – ESPN
UCLA will be headlined by Heisman Trophy-candidate quarterback Brett Hundley, but inside linebacker Eric Kendricks has led the team in tackles for the last two seasons. In 2012, Kendricks’s 150 tackles were the most in school-history since 1978. For what it is worth, Kenricks has bloodlines that also played college football with linebacker brother Mychal, who played at Cal and is currently with the Philadelphia Eagles, and father Marvin who played running back at UCLA.
The Bruins head east to meet up with Virginia, a team that went winless in ACC-play last season. Despite the cross-country trip, UCLA should be able to terrorize the Cavaliers’s offense. Virginia running back Kevin Parks looks to lead the offense after rushing for 1,031 yards last season, with a 4.5 yards per carry average.
David Andrews, C, Georgia, Senior
Height / Weight (lbs) – 6’2” / 295
Projected Round – 7
(16)Clemson @ (12)Georgia – Saturday, 8/30, 5:30 PM ET – ESPN
The Clemson Tigers return their end of the bargain by opening up their 2014 season down in Athens. Georgia’s Todd Gurley is regarded as the nation’s top running back and is likely to be the first back to go during the 2015 NFL Draft if he commits early. This season will be David Andrews’s third season starting at center. Last season, Andrews helped Georgia average 484.2 yards per game. Aaron Murray, who is now with the Kansas City Chiefs, holds the SEC conference record with 121 passing touchdowns and 13,166 passing yards. He is the only SEC quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards in each of four seasons.
Andrews often goes unrecognized due to his smaller physical stature at the center position, but he has been a big reason for Georgia’s offensive production over the last few seasons. Clemson was 13th in the nation, during 2013, in total sacks with 38 so Andrews will also have to help in calling protection for the rest of his offensive line.
Leonard Williams, DE, USC, Junior
Height / Weight (lbs) – 6’5” / 298
Projected Round – 1
Fresno State @ (15)USC - Saturday, 8/30, 7:30 PM ET – FOX
Fresno State plays a spread, pass-heavy offense that should allow the nation’s top defensive end to see plenty of chances to attack the opposing quarterback. Leonard Williams, after 22 starts overall, has 14 sacks and 138 total tackles on his resume. Last season, he led the team with 13.5 tackles for losses and was named to Phil Steele’s 2014 Preseason All-Pac-12 first team.
Williams will likely be the top defensive lineman taken in the 2015 NFL Draft if he commits early. Given is weight, a move to defensive tackle can possibly be in order assuming that Williams will only get bigger physically once in the NFL. But if he is still able to display quickness and attack quarterbacks then keeping him at defensive end would be quite the load for any offensive tackle to defend.