It's that time again. We've wrapped up the 2016 NFL Draft, so it's time to start getting familiar with the guys you'll be seeing playing on Saturdays this fall. Unlike the 2016 class, this group appears loaded at edge rusher and running back. Here are ten names that you'll need to know going forward, along with several additional guys that I'll be studying over the summer months.
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson *
Watson will enter the year as the presumptive favorite for the next number one overall pick. He made some ridiculous throws last season and nearly knocked off Alabama for a national title in the process. He gets his number one target back this season (Mike Williams) so expect an even better Junior campaign for Watson.
Texas A&M EDGE Myles Garrett *
After a class that really didn't offer us a can't miss pass rusher, the 2017 class appears loaded. At 6-5, 260 pounds, Garrett is scheme versatile. He has some of that quick twitch freaky athletic ability that teams love at the top of the first round. I'd be surprised if Garrett wasn't a top five guy next spring.
LSU RB Leonard Fournette *
Fournette really broke out last season, thrusting himself into the front of the Heisman race by mid-season. The 6-1, 230 pounder has some real burst and wiggle, which makes him an absolute nightmare in the open field. Expect LSU to ride Fournette's back in 2016 as they try to dethrone Alabama.
Alabama OT Cam Robinson *
Robinson stepped in as a freshman and immediately looked like a future top ten pick. A rising junior, Robinson already has amassed 29 career starts on Alabama's left side. He seemed to take a step back last season, but will easily be considered the top offensive tackle prospect heading into the college football season.
USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster *
The 6-2, 215 pound dynamic threat will be just 20 years old if he declares next season. Juju was the guy for USC's passing attack last season, putting up nearly 1,500 yards and ten scores.
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook *
If not for Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook's hype train would be coming off the rails. He isn't big (5-11, 206) but he's got great feet, agility and burst. Look for Cook to make a real run at the Heisman this season coming off a 1,600 yard season in 2015.
Iowa CB Desmond King
King was expected to declare this season, but shocked everyone when he returned. King had a shot at the top 20 in the 2016 draft, but has a shot to rise even higher next season. He posted eight interceptions last season which ranked second in the NCAA.
Michigan S Jabrill Peppers *
The number one athlete in the 2014 recruiting class made plays all over the field for the Michigan Wolverines. He fits into that hybrid role that's getting so much play in today's football world. He's actually playing on both sides of the ball, but fits best in a safety role at the next level.
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett *
Barnett has posted two ten sack seasons in his first two years at Tennessee. He's thick, athletic and can turn the corner as a pass rusher. Barnett will lead a very talented Tennessee front seven this season.
Auburn EDGE Carl Lawson *
Health, health, health. That's the constant knock on Lawson. If he stays healthy this season he's a likely top ten pick. He was one of the only guys that really got past Laremy Tunsil last season.
Other names to learn:
USC CB Adoree Jackson, Alabama EDGE Tim Williams, LSU CB Tre'Davious White, Tennessee CB Cam Sutton, Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis, Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley, Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillan, Virginia Tech TE Bucky Hodges, Alabama LB Reuben Foster, Alabama DE Jonathan Allen, Miami QB Brad Kaaya, Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly, Ohio State OG Pat Elflein, Alabama S Eddie Jackson, Louisville S Josh Harvey-Clemons, Louisville EDGE Devonte Fields, Alabama TE OJ Howard, Florida CB Jalen Tabor, Tennessee RB Jalen Hurd, Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey, Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine, USC OT Zach Banner, Florida State OT Roderick Johnson, LSU WR Malachi Dupre, LSU S Jamal Adams, LSU WR Travin Dural