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Mel Kiper Archive

Tuesday, March 8

Top 30 college players for 2002

My list of the top 30 college football players heading into the 2002 season is based strictly on how they've performed in college. This ranking isn't based on their pro potential or how they project as NFL draft prospects.

Some players who aren't on this list will be high draft choices in 2003. But in the meantime, here are the top 30 players as I see it going into the 2002 college football season:

Byron Leftwich
Marshall QB Byron Leftwich had a TD-to-interception ratio of better than 5-to-1 in 2001.
1. Byron Leftwich, senior QB, Marshall -- A gifted and incredibly productive athlete, he completed nearly 67 percent of his passes in 2001, with 38 TDs and just seven interceptions. His production speaks for itself.

2. Rex Grossman, junior QB, Florida -- A great decision-maker with one of the best arms in Florida QB history.

3. Dewayne White, junior DE, Louisville -- A one-man wrecking crew off the edge.

4. Charles Rogers, junior WR, Michigan State -- He could be the next Randy Moss.

5. Dave Ragone, senior QB, Louisville -- A lefty in the Boomer Esiason mold.

6. Lee Evans, senior WR, Wisconsin -- A skilled wideout coming off an unfortunate spring knee injury.

7. Andre Woolfolk, senior CB, Oklahoma -- This year's Quentin Jammer in the Big 12.

8. Reggie Williams, sophomore WR, Washington -- Cody Pickett-to-Williams is one of the top pass-catch tandems in college football.

9. Anthony Davis, sophomore RB, Wisconsin -- The line of excellent Badger backs continues (Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett, now Davis).

10. Roy Williams, junior WR, Texas -- Now at 100 percent physically, it's his year to shine.

11. Jason Gesser, senior QB, Washington State -- A charismatic, multidimensional QB.

12. Andre Johnson, junior WR, Miami -- His physical prowess creates mismatches in coverage.

13. Mike Doss, senior S, Ohio State -- Ringleader of the superlative Buckeye defense.

14. William Joseph, senior DT, Miami -- A collapse-the-pocket style DT.

15. Marquel Blackwell, senior QB, South Florida -- The best QB most haven't heard of (yet).

16. Tommie Harris, sophomore DT, Oklahoma -- A virtually unblockable force in the middle.

17. E.J. Henderson, senior LB, Maryland -- All-American talent coming off a back injury.

18. Nathan Vasher, junior CB, Texas -- Gifted cover man and punt returner.

19. Shawn Andrews, sophomore OT, Arkansas -- He could become the best offensive lineman in school history.

20. Troy Polamalu, senior S, USC -- Led Trojans in 2001 with 118 tackles, including 13 stops behind the line -- he's always around the action.

21. Ken Dorsey, senior QB, Miami -- The ultimate winner at the college level.

22. Rashaun Woods, junior WR, Oklahoma State -- Very underrated star in the Big 12.

23. Onterrio Smith, junior RB, Oregon -- Tennessee transfer has run wild in the Pac-10.

24. Kelley Washington, sophomore WR, Tennessee -- A matchup nightmare for college cornerbacks.

25. Eli Manning, junior QB, Mississippi -- From Archie to Peyton to Eli, the Mannings just pass the baton.

26. Cedric Benson, sophomore RB, Texas -- The perfect rushing complement to QB Chris Simms.

27. Darnell Dockett, junior DT, Florida State -- Spends most of his time behind the line of scrimmage.

28. Vince Manuwai, senior OG, Hawaii -- Explosive combination of strength and quickness.

29. Philip Rivers, junior QB, N.C. State -- Unorthodox delivery, but tremendously effective.

30. Steve Sciullo, senior OT, Marshall -- His pass-protection skills allow QB Leftwich to excel.

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