How to decide between and offensive tackle prospect who would make the Scout team's all-time Top 5 lists at his position and a wide receiver who would do the same?
Arik Armstead (6'7/280) of Pleasant Grove, Calif. and Dorial Green-Beckham (6'6/220) of Springfield, Mo. are two of the most physically gifted players at their positions in the modern era of internet recruiting.
Physically, Armstead has it all. He's got the feet of a power forward on the ideal offensive tackle frame with long arms, broad shoulders, and excellent flexibility.
Likewise, Green-Beckham possesses the total package at wide receiver. He's big and fast, strong as a tight end, and has the ability to adjust to the ball in the air like a much smaller receiver.
Unlike last year with wire-to-wire No. 1 prospect Jadeveon Clowney, the Scout managers were torn on which player to put in the No. 1 position with players like safety Shaquille Thompson of Sacramento, Calif. and Mario Edwards of Denton, Texas getting into the discussion. But in the end, it was the superman at wide receiver who got the nod.
Green-Beckham possesses the size and speed that will make him an immediate impact player as soon as he steps on his campus of choice. He is bigger than several of the tight ends listed in the Scout 300 and is the closest receiver I've seen to Calvin Johnson since Calvin Johnson. There are no glaring holes in his game and very few questions about his ability to move produce on the next level.
Typically the offensive tackles are more highly coveted by college and NFL
While much of the year focused on how deep and talented a year it was for offensive tackles, at times as many as 11 offensive tackles were rated 5-Stars by Scout, it was the defensive ends who took center stage during the national all-star games of January.
Florida State and Ohio State in particular are bringing classes that warrant "best ever" discussions on paper. The Seminoles trio of Edwards, Dante Fowler of Saint Petersburg, Fla., and Chris Casher of Mobile, Ala., may only be matched by the Buckeye's haul of Noah Spence of Harrisburgh, Pa., Adolphus Washington of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Se'Von Pittman of Canton, Ohio.
Ole Miss commitment Channing Ward of Aberdeen, Miss. proved to be unstoppable during the Under Armour All-America Game from his defensive end spot, and Georgia commitment Jordan Jenkins of Hamilton, Ga. moved inside to play tackle during the same game and made play after play.
Edwards ended up the No. 1 defensive end in the nation, but whether he was the best defensive end in the country took second stage to the debate on whether he'd be the top defensive tackle in the country.
National Manager Greg Powers of the Midland region overseeing Texas had a tough decision to make.
"After seeing Mario Edwards Jr. in person it is easy to just look at him and say that at 290+ that he will likely make the move to the interior in
The running back position was relatively unsettled going into the final rankings, but in the end, it was Keith Marshall of Raleigh, N.C. who held on to the No. 1 spot. National Manager Chad Simmons oversees the South where Marshall resides.
"We discussed who the top running back was for a couple of weeks, and at the end of the day, we saw no real reason to name a new one at the top," said Simmons. "Keith Marshall has been the top running back from start to finish on Scout, and he showed great speed and solid inside running in the Under Armour All-America game last week. Jonathan Gray and Trey Williams out of Texas, Rushel Shell of Pennsylvania, and Duke Johnson of Florida were all in the discussion. It really came down to Marshall, Gray, and Williams in the end, but with Marshall's combination of speed, big-play ability, versatility, and production, he ended up as the top back in the country in 2012 for Scout."
Quarterbacks seem to get most of the headlines and there was a strong and split decision on who should be the No. 1 quarterback for the Class of 2012. Gunner Kiel of Columbus, Ind. held off Jameis Winston of Hueytown, Ala. for the No. 1 spot, and National Manager Allen Trieu has seen Kiel from start to finish.
"It was a close race between Jameis Winston and Gunner Kiel, and Winston may have had the better All-Star performance, but at times too much emphasis can be placed on a single performance disregarding the entire body of work," said Trieu. "With these two, it's an age old debate though between potential (Winston) and production and steadiness (Kiel). Kiel is the safer pick. He's got the big arm, is consistent, accurate and smart, even if he's not the most flashy or spectacular guy. Winston is a fantastic athlete who lacks the polish of Kiel, but his upside is high. Winston may also go the baseball route, which we've seen several other top quarterbacks go over the years. In the end, we went with the safer pick and the guy we've had pegged as the top guy all along in Kiel, but Jameis made it an interesting debate and a split decision amongst the Scout team."
In the end though, this was still the year of the offensive lineman. No region epitomized that more than the West. National Manager Brandon Huffman had the luxury and the unenviable task of moving so many top linemen into the Top 50, and at times, having to drop others to make room for new prospects.
"The offensive linemen are as strong out West as they've ever been," said Huffman. "It's evident in that it's home to the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country, Arik Armstead, and the No. 1 offensive guard in the nation, Isaac Seumalo. While Zach Banner and Andrus Peat slipped out of the Top 50, it lends more to the fact that the region is so deep on the offensive line than anything. Southern California's top prospect is traditionally a skill position prospect, but this year it's Kyle Murphy, an offensive tackle. In fact the West put 10 offensive linemen into the Top 100 for Scout."
National Manager Bob Lichtenfels oversaw a top heavy East region that had several players knocking on the door for No. 1 at their respective positions.
In the East, there is not really one dominant position amongst the members of the Top 300. There are however three players Noah Spence, Rushel Shell and Olney (Md.) Good Counsel wide receiver Stefon Diggs who could have a case for being a top five player nationally.
Diggs is talented enough to be the No. 1 wide receiver in most classes not containing Dorial Green-Beckham. He still may be the most electric player in the nation with the ball in his hands. Not too mention Diggs could very well be one of the top safeties in the country if he chose to play defense in college.
Shell was very much in the debate for nation's top running back position in the rankings. He is coming of a record setting year and a solid showing at the Semper Fidelis Marine Bowl. We felt any of the top five guys at that position had the ability to be the top player. it will be interesting to seee how they all turn out in college.
Spence is a player we have been touting since his freshmen season at Bishop McDevitt former home of Ricky Watters and LeSean McCoy. He is undersized compared to most of the defensive end prospects on this list, but he can get after the quarterback.
Norfolk (Va.) Christian middle linebacker Kwontie Moore is the one new player who found his way into the Top 300 from the East Region. He is a player that grew on us a little bit more everytime we saw him. He checks in at No. 271.
The Scout 300 is comprised of the 5-Star and 4-Star Players on Scout.com. Scout
will continue to update its rankings beyond the Scout 300 in the next week.
For questions or comments, please visit us on the Scout Recruiting Message Boards: