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Ranking College Football's Top 50 Players for 2014

Winston takes the No. 1 spot for 2014.

Ranking the best college football players in the nation is an impossible task, but that’s exactly what Athlon Sports has set out to do with the start of the 2014 season less than 10 days away.


Florida State’s Jameis Winston takes the No. 1 spot in the player rankings, with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota a close No. 2. Winston and Mariota headline a deep group of quarterbacks in 2014, while there’s also a strong cast of options returning at defensive end, including USC’s Leonard Williams, Nebraska’s Randy Gregory and Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun.

The criteria for the top 50 player rankings includes a variety of factors. Performance from previous years, pro potential, recruiting rankings, projection on 2014 and value to a team. While running backs are a key part of any team, they are not as important as a standout quarterback, left tackle, defensive end or shutdown cornerback.

With the variety of factors in mind, it’s also important to consider what’s ahead in 2014. Every year is a different case study. Expecting a player to replicate his output from one year to the next is unlikely, as each team has personnel losses, scheme changes or new coaches on the staff.

As with any list, there will be plenty of disagreement about Athlon’s top 50 players for 2014. However, keep in mind, the criteria includes a variety of factors and is not strictly based on last year’s stats. Projecting what’s ahead in 2014, position importance and pro potential should be weighed more than stats from previous years.


Projecting CFB's Top 50 Players for 2014
1Jameis Winston, QBTough to repeat '13 stats, but Winston the No. 1 QB in nation.
2Marcus Mariota, QBBack to full strength after late-season knee injury.
3Todd Gurley, RBNeeds to stay healthy after limited 2013 season.
4Andrus Peat, OTAnchors rebuilt Stanford OL - top OL in CFB.
5Leonard Williams, DLHas 14 sacks over the last two seasons.
6Bryce Petty, QBThrew only 3 picks on 403 attempts last year.
7Brett Hundley, QBStill developing as passer, best yet to come.
8Melvin Gordon, RBAveraged nearly eight ypc on 206 carries in 2013.
9Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CBHas earned back-to-back 1st team All-Pac-12 honors.
10Vernon Hargreaves III, CBBright spot on Florida's disappointing 4-8 2013 season.
11Cedric Ogbuehi, OTThird straight A&M LT to be selected in first round of draft?
12Brandon Scherff, OTExpected to be a first-round pick in 2015.
13Vic Beasley, DELast year's 23 TFL is No. 1 among returning defenders.
14Randy Gregory, DELed Big Ten with 9.5 sacks last season.
15Shilique Calhoun, DEEarned Big Ten DL of the Year honors last year.
16Christian Hackenberg, QBRising star in Happy Valley.
17Myles Jack, LBExpected to focus mostly on defense in 2014.
18Amari Cooper, WRExpected to bounce back after quiet 2013.
19Landon Collins, SKey presence with inexperienced Alabama CBs.
20Ameer Abdullah, RBTopped 100 yards in 11 out of 13 games last year.
21Nelson Agholor, WRShould have big season under new coach Steve Sarkisian.
22Mario Edwards Jr., DEThe nation's most underrated defender?
23Duke Johnson, RBSuffered broken leg in early November last season.
24Chris Jones, DLSettled at DT last year and got better as year progressed.
25Nick Marshall, QBExpected to improve as a passer in second year under Malzahn.
26Cameron Erving, OTConverted DL is one of top offensive tackles in nation.
27Eric Striker, LBPrimed for big season after recording three sacks vs. Alabama.
28T.J. Yeldon, RBNo question about talent. Expect more Derrick Henry in '14.
29Derrick Henry, RBExpect a bigger role for Henry in 2014.
30Kendall Fuller, CBIntercepted six passes as true freshman.
31Michael Bennett, DTOne of three potential All-Americans on OSU's DL.
32Mike Davis, RBRushed for 100 yards in 6 out of first 7 games in 2013.
33Jaylon Smith, LBStarted all 13 games as true freshman in 2013.
34Robert Nkemdiche, DTOle Miss expecting big things from Nkemdiche this year.
35Taylor Kelly, QBAccounted for 4,243 total yards last season.
36Stefon Diggs, WRElectric all-purpose threat for Terps.
37Tyler Boyd, WRCaught 85 passes in standout freshman campaign.
38Shaq Thompson, LBAlready All-Pac-12 LB. Could see time at RB.
39P.J. Williams, CBNation's No. 1 secondary resides in Tallahassee.
40Nick O'Leary, TEShould see more passes his way in 2014.
41O.J. Howard, TEAveraged 19.2 yards per catch in 2013.
42A'Shawn Robinson, DLVersatile lineman coming off breakout freshman year.
43Joey Bosa, DETeams with Noah Spence to form dynamic DE combo.
44Tre Jackson, OGStarted 28 career games for Noles.
45Tyler Lockett, WRAll-purpose threat is No. 1 WR in Big 12.
46Rashad Greene, WRShould be Winston's favorite target once again.
47Antwan Goodley, WRAveraged whopping 18.9 ypc in 2013.
48Taysom Hill, QBDangerous dual-threat, improving passer.
49Leonard Fournette, RBCould have huge season behind stellar OL.
50Rakeem Cato, QBHas 91 TD tosses in three seasons.

Next Up: Florida State CB Ronald Darby, Florida State S Jalen Ramsey, Oregon C Hroniss Grasu, Texas DE Cedric Reed, Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil, Oregon State QB Sean Mannion, South Carolina OG A.J. Cann, Michigan State QB Connor Cook, Auburn C Reese Dismukes, LSU OT La'El Collins

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