Live betting considerations are in flux right now for Texas A&M, given the many controversies that are swirling around troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Aggies could suffer a massive blow on the field in 2013 if Manziel is ruled ineligible by the NCAA for pocketing money connected to the sale of autographs. (Giving money to his parents would also qualify as a violation; income generated from an activity such as autograph signing must go entirely to the member school and cannot stay within or flow to other outlets.)
However, the extent to which Texas A&M thrives on the field in 2013 is a different question from this one: Which three players are the team’s best NFL prospects? Manziel, only a sophomore, is not yet worthy of being seen as a top-three NFL prospect on this team. He would likely not come out after his sophomore season. You have to look at other players in other positions to identify the foremost NFL hopefuls on coach Kevin Sumlin’s roster.
Tackle Jake Matthews stands head and shoulders above his brother Aggies. It is important to note that Matthews was joined on A&M’s offensive line last season by Luke Joeckel, who was drafted second in the 2013 NFL Draft. Matthews stands to be a top-10 pick if he performs anywhere close to the standards he set for himself in 2012. Matthews is looking at a fat paycheck and a very successful professional career as long as he can stay healthy. If Manziel does indeed play this season, no Aggie will be more instrumental to preserving Johnny Football’s physical health than Matthews.
Receiver Mike Evans is another top NFL-level talent on the Aggies’ roster. His sure hands put him at the forefront of receivers in the Southeastern Conference. An ability to minimize drops is his best and most outstanding football virtue. Evans is also blessed with above-average speed; he regularly gets open so that his hands are able to catch plenty of passes. Evans should have a big year this year if Manziel is allowed to play, but even if Manziel is ruled ineligible, it has to be emphasized that Evans’ contributions to A&M in 2012 offered NFL scouts a substantial (and telling) glimpse at his level of potential. This is a pro in the making, whether Manziel plays this season or not.
Linebacker Steven Jenkins also makes the short list of NFL prospects for Texas A&M. Jenkins is merely this team’s leading returning tackler from last season. Texas A&M’s defense got overshadowed by the offense in 2012, but one has to realize that the Aggies defeated Alabama on the road last November precisely because their defense rose up in the fourth quarter, making multiple stops, including one in the red zone in the dying moments of regulation. Jenkins was at the heart of that defense, a central reason the Aggies were so resilient on that side of the ball. A&M’s defense played well enough to win against LSU and Florida, but the offense didn’t carry its share of the load. Jenkins was and is a greater defensive leader than a lot of college football fans realize.
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