The Top 10 Players Florida State will face in 2017

Last year, Florida State had to face some of the best players in the entire country en route to their eventual Orange Bowl win. They faced off against Deshaun Watson, Chad Kelly, Mitch Trubisky and Lamar Jackson, four of the best quarterbacks in the entire country. That’s not even to mention elite players at other positions, like Clemson receiver Mike Williams, Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis or Ole Miss pass rusher Marquis Haynes.

With the Seminoles’ 2017 schedule unraveled for us, who are some of the best players that Florida State will face next season? The quarterback talent might take a step down, but there are a host of elite players that FSU will need to battle against if they want to get back to the College Football Playoffs.

Honorable mention: Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, Alabama defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, Miami receiver Ahmmon Richards, Louisville offensive tackle Geron Christian, Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow, Florida receiver Antonio Callaway, Florida defensive lineman CeCe Jefferson.

10. Bo Scarbrough, running back, Alabama

The first of a few Alabama players on this list, Scarbrough burst onto the scene last year in the College Football Playoffs. He rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns versus Washington and scored another pair against Clemson in the title game before an injury sidelined him. The 6-2, 228-pound running back is everything you’d think an Alabama back would be: big, strong, and with the ability to shake off arm tackles. The Seminoles will have their work cut out for them in their opening matchup versus the Crimson Tide.

At 6-2, 223-pounds, Bo Scarbrough is not easy to bring down.

9. Bradley Chubb, defensive end, North Carolina State

He could have declared for the draft this year, but Bradley Chubb decided to return to NC State for one more year. The 6-4, 275-pound edge rusher is the complete package at defensive end. In 2016, he racked up 21 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Florida State had difficulty containing him in their matchup and he will only get better with another offseason under his belt. The Seminoles will need to get their offensive tackle situation sorted out before Chubb and the Wolfpack visit Doak Campbell Stadium on September 23rd.

8. Mitch Hyatt, offensive tackle, Clemson

For two years now, Mitch Hyatt has been a brick wall at left tackle for Clemson. A five-star recruit out of high school, Hyatt quickly won the job at left tackle and has not looked back since. Even with Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams and others moving on from their offense, the Tigers will be grateful to have a their franchise left tackle back. A First-Team All-ACC selection, Hyatt should be a top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft if he declares and a player that will give Josh Sweat and Brian Burns fits as they attempt to get to the quarterback.

7. Jaylen Samuels, tight end/H-back, North Carolina State

Jaylen Samuels is kind of a jack-of-all-trades for the Wolfpack. Sometimes he’ll line up in the slot, other times he’ll be an H-back, and sometimes he’s in the backfield to take carries. Regardless, the 5-11, 223-pound Samuels is a great player for NC State. In 2016, he caught 55 passes for 565 yards and seven touchdowns, while also rushing 33 times for 189 yards and six scores. With several of their offensive weapons moving on, expect Samuels to become a bigger part of NC State’s offense next season.

Jaylen Samuels is a jack-of-all-trades for the Wolfpack.

6. Jonah Williams, offensive tackle, Alabama

He doesn’t get the hype that fellow Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson got last year, but Jonah Williams might have been the Crimson Tide’s best offensive lineman as a true freshman. The five-star recruit stepped in right away at right tackle and looked like an NFL-caliber player. Next season, he could stay at right tackle or Alabama could kick him to left tackle to replace Robinson. Regardless, Florida State will have difficulties getting around him in their opening matchup against the Tide in Atlanta.

5. Christian Wilkins, defensive lineman, Clemson

Last season, Clemson needed to move 6-4, 310-pound Christian Wilkins to defensive end because of depth issues. To the surprise of no one, Wilkins was awesome as an edge player, earning third-team AP All-American honors. Despite being north of 300-pounds, Wilkins displayed elite quickness off of the edge, as well as a surprising use of his hands to get into the backfield. He posted 13 tackles for loss as well as 10 passes broken up. Despite where he plays next season, be it at end or tackle, Wilkins will be a force to be reckoned with.

4. Harold Landry, defensive end, Boston College

For the past two seasons, Harold Landry has been a thorn in Florida State’s side. In 2015, he posted 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks against the Seminoles. Last season, he racked up six tackles for loss and four total tacks in their matchup. For whatever reason, the Seminoles have not found an answer for Landry coming off of the edge. He was the nation’s leader in sacks last year with 16.5, narrowly edging out FSU’s DeMarcus Walker (16.0 sacks). Although Florida State should be able to handle Boston College overall, there is no doubt that Landry is one of the best individual players that Florida State will face in 2017.

Harold Landry has terrorized Florida State over the past two years.

3. Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Louisville

The last time Florida State saw Lamar Jackson, he was running over, through and around them en route to a 63-20 beat down of the Seminoles. Jackson racked up 362 total yards and five total touchdowns in their early-season matchup last year and the Seminoles will have their hands full containing Jackson once against next year. Florida State has historically struggled to stop mobile quarterbacks, and Jackson epitomized everything about that statement. Last year, Jackson scored 51 total touchdowns en route to winning the Heisman trophy. If Florida State wants to stop a mobile quarterback, they’ll have to figure out how to do so before Jackson and the Cardinals visit Doak Campbell Stadium on October 21st.

2. Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive back, Alabama

There was a time when Minkah Fitzpatrick nearly signed with Florida State. Late in the recruiting process, the Seminoles were on the New Jersey product hard, but he decided to remain with his Alabama commitment. Nearly three years later, Florida State will have to face him. Fitzpatrick has turned into a turnover-machine for the Crimson Tide, posting eight interceptions, four of which have been returned for touchdowns. At 6-1, 203-pounds, Fitzpatrick has the athleticism to play cornerback at a high level, but the most damage is done when he lines up at safety and gets a chance to make a play on the ball in the air. Regardless of where he plays, Deondre Francois will be in dangerous waters with Fitzpatrick patrolling the secondary on September 2nd.

1. Dexter Lawrence, defensive tackle, Clemson

A consensus Freshman All-American, Dexter Lawrence was the best player on the field in many of the games that Clemson played last year. At 6-5, 340-pounds, Lawrence simply man-handles the offensive linemen in his way. He plays with a strength that rivals most NFL-caliber starters. He broke a Clemson record with seven sacks and had 23 total quarterback pressures. Pro Football Focus voted him the national Defensive Rookie of the Year and both coaches and media voted him the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. The sky is the limit for this guy. If you want to talk about Heisman-like performances for defensive players, it would not be a surprise to see Lawrence have a season like that as a sophomore for Clemson.

Dexter Lawrence was among the best defensive linemen in the country as a true freshman.

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