Top NFL Draft Prospects' Most Memorable College Moments

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IApril 28, 2014

Top NFL Draft Prospects' Most Memorable College Moments

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    The 2014 NFL draft is just weeks away, and discussions will continue heating up until the clock starts for the Houston Texans.

    This is an incredibly deep class with its fair share of big stars. Those top players obviously had some amazing moments in college, and now is as good of a time as any to look back on them.

    With these prospects officially becoming professionals in a few weeks, let's reminisce a bit and revisit what has made them such special players over the past few years.

    Here is the most memorable college moment for each of the top NFL draft prospects.

Lee Puts Up Historic Numbers

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    Marqise Lee's draft stock has been all over the place recently, but at no point was it higher than after his sheer dominance of Arizona in 2012.

    Lee was simply uncoverable. Once he had the ball in his hands he was gone. When it was all said and done, he pulled in 16 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdownsand had 469 all-purpose yards.

    The 345 receiving yards shattered the previous Pac-12 record. His performance will go down as one of the best of all time.

Bridgewater's Unbelievable Heave

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    Teddy Bridgewater has been so good for so long that it seems like some people are bored of himand that sentiment has carried through to the draft.

    But with one of the most impressive individual plays of the 2013 season, Bridgewater reminded everyone just how dynamic he can be.

    On 3rd-and-long with his team down halfway through the fourth quarter, the quarterback escaped a tackle, ran around a bit and then delivered a perfect sidearm throw into the end zone while falling to the ground. He also took a clean lick and walked it off on his own.

    Roll this tape the next time someone says Bridgewater isn't an exciting prospect.

Watkins Carries Clemson in Orange Bowl

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    The 2014 Orange Bowl featured a number of star players on both sides of the ball. Tajh Boyd, Braxton Miller, Bradley Roby (who was injured for the game), Ryan Shazier and Carlos Hyde were all phenomenal college players who will have great careers.

    But none of them could do anything to match what Sammy Watkins did in that game, which was the biggest of his life up to that point.

    Watkins caught an absurd 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns to pretty much single-handedly will Clemson past a strong Ohio State team.

    He'll be the first receiver taken this year, and this game is one of the big reasons why.

'The Hit'

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    On paper, it doesn't look like much. Vincent Smith rush for loss of eight, fumble forced and recovered by Jadeveon Clowney. 

    But "The Hit" became something of a legend, a play that somehow evolved into something more than just a play. It was an announcement, of sorts, that Clowney was a physical specimen that we have not seen in a long time.

    In some ways, it may have actually been bad for Clowney. The play became so notorious and boosted his status so high that it was almost artificially elevated to an unrealistic extent and led to some of the issues that abounded early this past season.

    But it's a hit that will live on forever.

Manziel Takes Down No. 1 Alabama

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    It seems like forever ago, but Johnny Manziel was a nobody when the 2012 college football season began, and he was still mostly unknown to the general public for the first month or two of the season.

    But then everything changed on Nov. 10 as the kid known as "Johnny Football" led Texas A&M (in its first season in the SEC) into Tuscaloosa to face defending national champion Alabama, then ranked first in the nation.

    Manziel carried the Aggies to an absolutely stunning 29-24 upset with the eyes of the nation squarely on him. And as they say, the rest is history.

    This particular play was really when everyone realized Manziel was something special, but the entire game was spectacular and will be remembered by football fans for a long time.

Benjamin's Catch Wins the BCS National Championship

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    Jameis Winston may have grabbed all the headlines leading up to (and following) the BCS National Championship Game, but it was Kelvin Benjamin who made the catch to win the title.

    He wasn't being talked about much as a top draft pick then, but he sure is now. His huge frame and impressive athleticism should make him one of the first receivers taken.

    And he made himself one amazing college memory with 17 seconds left in what would end up being his last game as a Seminole. 

    With the clock quickly ticking down and the game on the line, Winston lobbed a pass toward the middle of the end zone that Benjamin fought for and somehow came down with to send Florida State's sidelines and fans into a frenzy and seal a fantastic victory.

Bortles Topples Baylor

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    No. 6 Baylor came into the 2014 Fiesta Bowl with one of the most lethal offenses in college football history, and were clear favorites over No. 15 Central Florida.

    For the first time in his career, Blake Bortles had the bright national spotlight clearly beaming on him, and he more than excelled under pressure.

    Bortles somehow outgunned Baylor, accounting for four touchdowns and leading the Knights to a 52-42 upset of Art Briles' gang. The win cemented Bortles' first-round stock and earned him one of the best moments of the season.

Evans Takes It 95 Yards

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    Johnny Manziel's most memorable moment was in the 2012 victory over Alabama, but his main target Mike Evans had an unforgettable play in a tough loss to 'Bama this past season.

    With the game seemingly sliding out of reach, Evans took a long pass from Manziel and somehow took it 95 yards all the way to the house.

    With a stiff-arm and then some impressive open-field speed, Evans brought Texas A&M back in the game and gave everyone a heck of a highlight video. 

Mason Goes over 300 in SEC Championship

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    The SEC may be considered a defensive conference, but Tre Mason made an absolute fool of that reputation during the 2013 SEC Championship game.

    Mason absolutely ran all over Mizzou, racking up a ridiculous 304 yards and four touchdowns to carry Auburn into the BCS National Championship.

    The game officially put Mason on the map to be a high pick in the NFL draft, but his performance will be a wonderful longtime memory for Auburn fans.

Robinson at the 1

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    In one of the best games of the 2013 college football season, Penn State and Michigan had a crazy back-and-forth battle that ended up going into four overtimes.

    But just to get to that first overtime, Penn State needed a little miracle of its own. Down a touchdown with 35 seconds remaining and stuck on its own 37-yard line, freshman Christian Hackenberg put up a long prayer toward the sideline.

    Somehow, Allen Robinson appeared under the ball, jumping impossibly high to meet the ball, and came down with it in bounds at exactly the 1-yard line.

    That phenomenal grab was made all the more memorable by Penn State scoring to force overtime and then coming away with a wild victory.

Mack Bursts onto National Scene

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    Khalil Mack was pretty much unknown to the entire population (other than Buffalo Bulls fans) heading into the 2013 college football season, but that all changed right away.

    In the biggest game of his career up to that point, on national television against Ohio State, Mack put on an unbelievable show that thrust him into the first-round discussion.

    Mack was the best player on the field for either team, finishing with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception that he took back for a touchdown.

Hyde Runs Through Michigan

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    In one of the best games in the classic Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, Carlos Hyde stole the show and literally dragged the Buckeyes to victory.

    Devin Gardner had the best game of his career, but a failed two-point conversion with 32 seconds left in regulation sealed an Ohio State victory in the Big House.

    Hyde had been the workhorse all day for Urban Meyer, taking 27 carries and racking up an incredible 226 yards and a touchdown. 

Ebron Makes Catch of the Year

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    Eric Ebron is the top-rated tight end in this draft, and should be one of the first offensive players selected in the first round.

    This unbelievable catch he made against Georgia Tech fully displayed Ebron's speed, coordination and fantastic hands.

    He certainly has a flair for the dramatic. North Carolina fans will remember this play every time they see Ebron's name on an NFL box score.