Heisman hype is no NFL guarantee

Updated: October 18, 2011, 3:12 PM ET
By Steve Muench

The Heisman Trophy race is starting to heat up and there will be no shortage of talent on the ballot this year, but we all know winning the most coveted award in college football hasn't always translated to success at the next level.

That's what makes this year's candidates so intriguing. The consensus No. 1 draft-eligible prospect is atop most lists at this point, and two other certain first-rounders are close behind, but that doesn't guarantee anything. Finally, there's a fourth candidate who has quickly emerged this season but whose NFL draft prospects are quite a bit murkier.

Here's how I see this group of four at this point in the college season, and how they project to the next level. They are listed in order of Scouts Inc. draft grade, and nonseniors are noted with an asterisk.