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Syracuse Football Will Face Some of the Nation’s Best Players in 2016

Pro Football Focus has produced a list of their 101 Best Players in College Football and 17 of them will face SU.

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Syracuse v Florida State
Florida State’s Derwin James is one of CFB’s Top Players
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

As we continue to look ahead to the 2016 Syracuse Orange football season, Pro Football Focus has produced a list of their 101 Best Players in College Football. While PFF's list isn't about NFL potential, there is a good chance many of these guys will also appear on draft boards in the future.

Let's take a look at the players from next season's Orange opponents who made the list. Some of these players you've already seen in John's ACC Position Previews, but the top name on the list might be as much of a surprise to you as it was to me. As you head down the list, you can also see why Syracuse's road to a bowl win won't be easy.

5. Derwin JamesFlorida State Seminoles Safety

The name might be surprising to many, but PFF thinks that James "may be the best all-around defensive player in the nation heading into 2016". FSU moved James all over the place last season and in his second year, he'll be a player to focus on when the Seminoles come to the Dome.

6. Deshaun WatsonClemson Tigers Quarterback

The top QB on this list is probably the player Syracuse fans fear the most in 2016. Watson's at the top of a lot of pre-season QB lists and he's a potential #1 NFL pick.

11. Dalvin Cook - Florida State Seminoles Running Back

Mr. Dalvin (props to any of you 90s R&B fans out there) was at the top of John's RB List and his big-play ability is the reason he grades so highly.

25. Devonte FieldsLouisville Cardinals Linebacker

Fields posted one of PFF's best all-around grades for linebackers in 2015. He was especially effective rushing the passer and will provide an early challenge for the Orange offensive line this fall.

36. Mike McGlincheyNotre Dame Fighting Irish Offensive Tackle

McGlinchey posted PFF's highest grade for a RT last season and we should expect the Irish to run the ball to his side of the line.

49. Harold LandryBoston College Eagles Defensive End

Landry has been stronger against the run in his BC career, but his emerging pass-rushing abilities could make him tough to contain.

57. Cordrea Tankersley - Clemson Tigers Cornerback

Tankersley was one of the top corners in CFB last year, allowing a passing rating of 44.4 which was 8th-best in the country.

58. Mike Williams - Clemson Tigers Wide Receiver

62. Isaiah FordVirginia Tech Hokies Wide Receiver

Both of these guys appeared on John's Top 5 WR List and it's no surprise that they rank highly nationally. Keeping them under control is going to be easier said than done.

68. Jaylen Samuels - NC State Wolfpack H-Back

Samuels was a versatile threat last season and he'll be the focal point of the Wolfpack attack this year.

70. Jordan WhiteheadPittsburgh Panthers Safety

Whitehead's freshman season saw him establish himself as one of the best safeties. He as often used to provide extra run support for the Panthers.

75. Wyatt Teller - Virginia Tech Hokies Guard

Teller had PFF's 7th-best grade for run blocking in 2015. If you enjoy watching interior line play, then keep an eye out for him against Syracuse's Chris Slayton and Stephen Clark.

78. James Conner - Pittsburgh Panthers Running Back

No one's saying they want to see Conner dominate the Orange next fall, but I think we can celebrate his return to the field this season.

92. Wayne Gallman - Clemson Tigers Running Back

Gallman's an underrated player thanks to the talent on the Clemson offense, but he's shown an ability to elude tackles.

94. Quenton Nelson - Notre Dame Fighting Irish Guard

His 1st season as a starter showcased a strong ability in the running game. If Nelson and McGlinchey are on the same side this Fall, that's where ND is running the ball in short-yardage situations.

95. DeAngelo Brown - Louisville Cardinals Defensive Tackle

Brown graded as one of the better all-around DT's last season, but with the departure of Sheldon Rankins, he should see more attention from opposing offenses.

101. Folorunso FatukasiConnecticut Huskies Defensive Tackle

Fatukasi's been a strong player for the Huskies and is one of the top returning linemen in the country.

Check out Pro Football Focus for the complete list, and more analysis on college football.

Which Syracuse players do you think could end up on this list in the future?