We're All Idiots, But I Have Proof: '13 Offensive Stars
By Joe Coughlin
This piece shouldn’t even be written. It’s embarrassing.
I’ll unwrap the surprise for you: Five of the Top 20 offensive FBS players in 2013, I didn’t rank in my preseason Top 100 — including the top two.
Check out the preseason Top 20:
1. Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
2. Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
3. Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
4. Braxton Miller (QB, Ohio State)
5. Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
6. T.J. Yeldon (RB, Alabama)
7. Lache Seastrunk (RB, Baylor)
8. Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
9. Taylor Lewan (OL, Michigan)
10. Aaron Murray (QB, Georgia)
11. AJ McCarron (QB, Alabama)
12. Tajh Boyd (QB, Clemson)
13. Ka’Deem Carey (RB, Arizona)
14. Jake Matthews (OL, Texas A&M)
15. De’Anthony Thomas (RB, Oregon)
16. Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
17. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington)
18. David Fales (QB, San Jose State)
19. Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA)
20. Dri Archer (RB, Kent State)
Injuries knocked some talent (Lee, Gurley, Murray) out of the final rankings. For the most part though, the list is just further proof that preseason ranks don’t mean squat. Of course, it’s our job to analyze, criticize and dissect things we can’t possibly know; so, next year, you’ll again see a Top 100 players for 2014.
Luckily, I’ve found some peace of mind in many of my missteps. As for Jameis Winston, though, there’s nary an excuse to be found. He wasn’t an unknown. Winston had a reputation. No one predicted a Heisman, but many thought greatness could be the future. Some thought he was more a talent-filled project — I was one of those.
Hey, mistakes happen, but what’s done is done, and the final product of the FBS season features Winston as the top offensive player of the year. As for the rest of the Top 20, have a looksee at these 2013 stars, their stats and how I had them ranked preseason.
1. Jameis Winston — QB, Florida State freshman
Preseason rank: N/R
Stats: 66.9%, 4,057 yards, 40 TDs:10 INTs
Come on! Give me a break. Who would predict a rookie as the best player in all the land? That was Winston, however. Wire to wire, Winston assertd himself as top dog on the football field. Winner of dozens of postseason awards, including the grand poobah Hesiman Trophy, Winston is No. 1 for 2013.
2. Andre Williams — RB, Boston College senior
Preseason rank: N/R
Stats: 2,177 yards, 6.1 ypc, 18 TDs
Talented, yes. This dynamic? Wow. Williams about quadrupled his yardage (584) from his junior season, while upping his ypc from 4.5 to 6.1. He put pressure on the FBS record and earned his seat among Heisman finalists. Williams totaled 1,235 yards and nine scores in a five-game stretch.
3. Jordan Lynch — QB, Northern Illinois senior
Preseason rank: 22
Stats: 62.6%, 2,892 yards, 24 TDs:8 INTs; 1,920 rush yards, 23 TDs
Competition normally matters, but in the case of Jordan Lynch, ignore it. This guy was electric in 2013 finishing second in FBS in rush yards and accounting for 47 TDs. Since Lynch may not be a good NFL fit, soak in his highlights. They could be the last we see of him.
4. Johnny Manziel — QB, Texas A&M sophomore
Preseason rank: 1
Stats: 69.9%, 4,114 yards, 37 TDs:13 INTs; 759 rush yards, 9 TDs
While he didn’t run wild like his debut year, he threw like a madman — and with great accuracy. His 4,114 yards were 400 more than 2012 and he missed a half in Week 1. He proved something to NFL draft analysts, who almost across the board have him in the Top 5.
5. Marcus Mariota — QB, Oregon sophomore
Preseason rank: 8
Stats: 63.5%, 3,665 yards, 31 TDs: 4 INTs; 715 rush yards, 9 TDs
Without injuries, this is your No. 1. With all the early entrants in the 2014 NFL draft, Mariota decided to stay. He’s your Heisman favorite in 2014.
6. Teddy Bridgewater — QB, Louisville junior
Preseason rank: 5
Stats: 71%, 3,970 yards, 31 TDs/4 INTs
As consistent as they come, Bridgewater actually got better from his breakout 2012 campaign, when he completed passes at 69 percent for 3,700 yards and 27 scores. Missed the Heisman because of loss to Bortles-led Central Florida, but proved himself in a big bowl win.
7. Ka’Deem Carey — RB, Arizona junior
Preseason rank: 13
Stats: 1,885yards, 15.4 ypc, 19 TDs,
His junior-year numbers actually show a regression from 2012 (1,929/6.4/23), but that doesn’t mean he’s undeserving of this spot. More than 4,000 yards in a college career is darn good.
8. AJ McCarron — QB, Alabama senior
Preseason rank: 11
Stats: 67.3%, 3,063 yards, 28 TDs:7 INTs
And the lifetime achievement award goes to... Accurate, poised, winner, blah blah — McCarron was a great college quarterback
9. Brandin Cooks — WR, Oregon State junior
Preseason rank: 42
Stats: 128 catches, 1,730 yards, 16 TDs
The star of a prolific offense, Cooks thrived as the go-to guy. His lowest output of the season was six catches. Fewest yards were 80. To put his year in perspective, Larry Fitzgerald was second in Hesiman voting in 2003 with 92 catches, 1,672 yards and 22 scores.
10. Braxton Miller — QB, Ohio State junior
Preseason rank: 4
Stats: 63.5%, 2,094 yards, 24 TDs:7 INTS; 1,068 rush yards, 12 TDs
Fewer rush yards, but more per carry than in his sophomore season. Miller dove off the radars because of injuries and never returned. But he’s also coming back and will get even better behind center. He’ll chase the Heisman with Mariota.
11. Tre Mason — RB, Auburn junior
Preseason rank: N/R
Stats: 1,816 yards, 5.7 ypc, 23 TDs
Hard to see this one coming. He finished with 1,002 rush yards in 2012, but his Tigers were a last-place ballclub. What a difference a year makes, and he was a big reason. But I think his 300 yards on 46 carries made him a Heisman finalist — though awesome, it wasn’t the rest of his season.
12. Sammy Watkins — WR, Clemson junior
Preseason rank: 16
Stats: 101 catches, 1,464 yards, 12 TDs
A special talent, Watkins numbers could have been even better if not for a number of weapons for the Tigers. His Orange Bowl performance — 16 grabs, 227 yards, two TDs — was one for the books. If you haven’t seen it, see it.
13. Carlos Hyde — RB, Ohio State senior
Preseason rank: 26
Stats: 1,521 yards, 7.3 ypc, 15 TDs
Carried Ohio State down the stretch and put up prolific totals after missing three contests. Proved to be one of if not the best at his position.
14. Derek Carr — QB, Fresno State junior
Preseason rank: 27
Stats: 68.7%, 5,082 yards, 50 TDs: 8 INTs
That’s 3.8 touchdown throws a game. Carr lost points for video-game outputs against teams like New Mexico and Idaho, but he is the real deal and can prove it on the next level.
15. Jake Matthews — OL, Texas A&M senior
Preseason rank: 14
He had Johnny’s back. The star tackle is big (6-5, 300-plus), physical and ready for the NFL. Had a standout season giving Manziel plenty of time.
16. Jace Amaro — TE, Texas Tech junior
Preseason rank: N/R
Stats: 106 catches, 1,352 yards, 7 TDs
Where did this kid come from? A star was born in this 6-foot-5 pass-catching tight end who caught the eye of plenty of pro scouts.
17. Bryce Petty — QB, Baylor junior
Preseason rank: N/R
Stats: 62%, 4,200 yards, 32 TDs: 3 INTs
Petty led the most prolific offense in the land and did so safely and efficiently. He averaged 10.4 yards per toss and more than 16 per completion.
18. Mike Evans — WR, Texas A&M sophomore
Preseason rank: 30
Stats: 69 catches, 1,394 yards, 12 TDs
Evans is a home-run hitter with more boom than bust, averaging 20 yards a catch. Thanks to ideal height and impeccable grips, he’s going to be a solid pro, but he disappeared at times — a combined eight catches for 59 yards in back-to-back losses to LSU and Missouri — to be higher on this list.
19. Tajh Boyd — QB, Clemson senior
Preseason rank: 12
Stats: 68.5%, 3,851 yards, 34 TDs: 11 INTs; 400 rush yards, 10 TDs
With all the superstar quarterbacks in college football, this guy gets overlooked, but he finished his career with nearly 12,000 yards passing and 107 TDs to go with another 26 ground scores. His passer rating also got better every single season.
20. Davante Adams — WR, Fresno State sophomore
Preseason rank: 47
Stats: 131 catches, 1,718 yards, 24 TDs
I already mentioned Fitzerald’s stats in his magical 2003 (92/1,600/22). Adams’ blow those out of the water. Like Carr, he gets dinged for crazy numbers against teams like Idaho (16/185/3), but he’s a star. In a three-game stretch to end the regular season, Adams had 31 catches for 678 yards.
Next 10: Nick Marshall (QB, Auburn), Cyril Richardson (OG, Baylor), Bishop Sankey (RB, Washington), Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt), Gabe Ikard (C, Oklahoma), Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA), Connor Shaw (QB, South Caroilna), David Fales (QB, San Jose State), Ameer Abdullah (RB, Nebraska), Aaron Murray (QB, Georgia).