Draft week is here. We’ve had an unprecedented amount of coverage this year and it continues all week with articles and podcasts. Here’s the finally of my top-100 prospects. A couple of things to remember when viewing the list;
- Positions – Players are listed at their current college position. Players will shift throughout the process and their rank will be changed when that information comes light.
- Movement – As the process continues there will be movement and likely major moves as we get a more accurate measurables and intangible reports.
- Grades – grades are best on a scale that is detailed below the top-100. It is inspired by the Scouts Inc. Model and I thank them once again for their time and share of resources.
- Opinion – Remember these rankings are MY opinion and mine alone. Feel free to share your opinion but abuse based on a draft ranking is unwarranted.
Williams remains atop my board as he has since midway through the collegiate year (his game against Stanford was the best tape of the year). He’s elite against the run. With great short area speed and power. He has explosive hands and can shed blockers at will. Williams is a monster and near unstoppable in the run game. There are some concerns about his ability as a pass rusher and I share some of those. He’s not a twenty sack a season player but he certainly shows the ability to generate pressure on the quarterback and collapse the pocket from the interior (rare).
He has a lot more quarterback pressures than sacks. Williams biggest strength is his versatility. He’s best suited to play 5-techinique in a 3-4 but he can play inside at nose or as a 3-technique in a 4-3. He can play wherever depending on the situation. Williams’ models his game after JJ Watt and he’s certainly as versatile as Watt and draws constant double teams. He can be moved all over the formation depending on the down and distance and the offensive formation. The other thing I love about Williams is the intangibles. He’s a fighter, a grafter, a hard worker and he wants to be a great football player. He doesn’t want to be the first pick in the draft he wants to go to the hall of fame. For me he’s the best overall prospect and the most ‘sure thing’ in this class.
It’s been a ride along the Winston roller coaster throughout the draft process. I moved him slightly ahead of Marcus Mariota a few months back and he remains there as we head into the draft. I love a lot about Winston. He has elite arm talent (one of the best of the past ten years), he makes anticipation throws (gets the ball out before his receiver breaks), he’s already shortened his release from a winding throw to a more tightened efficient motion, has elite football IQ.
He understands defenses, their tendencies and how to break them down. At Florida State he ran a pro-style offense. Not only playing from under center, the route combinations and the progressions, but in protections. Winston set protections, reset protections and then reset them again. He had complete command of an offense that most struggle with on Sundays. He’s a vocal leader and a teacher. Not only does he command the offense but he teaches it to his lineman, receivers and running backs. He demands perfection. I love all that about Winston. He’s an A prospect on the field.
For all the positive there are some striking negatives. I have trust issues with Winston on and off the field. He doesn’t protect the ball nearly as well as he should for someone of his ability. Some were tipped INTs, some were ‘I’m better than all of you’ throws, but some were just bad and ugly.
There are excuses for some of the eighteen picks he threw last year but some were just poor decisions he made two or three teams in each game. Then there’s the off the field trust issues. You don’t have to be a vocal leader to win in the NFL (contrary to former players) quiet guys always win; Montana, Eli Manning, Flacco etc. But you have to commit to being the best you can be. Maximise your talents and those of the people around you. Be the CEO of the club. Be the first one in the building and the last one out. I have concerns about all those things with Winston, though I do believe football is his first love. My evaluation takes into account the serious accusations levelled against Winston and the dumb, immature, actions he showed while in school. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply don’t have enough information to knock too many points off. There will be some analysts with greater connections (like teams) and have more information and a more accurate report.
Here’s the final key question. Does Winston make those around him better on a daily basis? Coaches, players, office workers, the equipment workers. He certainly makes players around him better and that’s why I’d bank on him as the number one quarterback.
Amari Cooper is the most ready to play receiver to enter the league in some time. Everything Cooper does is to the highest level. He creates natural separation as a crisp route runner and using fakes, dummies and stutter steps. Cooper has exceptional ball skills tracking and high pointing the ball, he shows an ability to explode with the ball in his hand and he can stretch a defense vertically as a deep play threat. Cooper’s also an isolation threat. At Alabama he was used as the primary read regardless of his route and its combination in the scheme. Whether it was a short, intermediate, deep route, screen or sweep Cooper was the number one read and target. He can carry an offense.
Kevin White is a fascinating prospect who burst onto the scene in game one of last year after transferring from junior college in 2013 and not being much of a factor in his first year at West Virginia. In 2014 he was a stud and he has a chance to be really special. White’s a legit deep-threat who dominates at the POA and makes spectacular catches effortlessly. His ability to win one-on-one down the field is second to none in the class and he’s a dominant red zone threat with his combination of height-weight-speed and sudden agility. He’s improving as a route runner but doesn’t create natural separation. He relies on his physicality and body to catch the ball and it’s an area that needs to be more polished going forward. The biggest blemish on his resume is the ‘one year wonder’ concept. I think he has a chance to be a star from week one of the 2015 NFL season. But you can’t ignore that he had only one year of star like performance in college.
Mariota is the most widely debated prospect of the entire draft. I love Mariota. I have since he stepped on campus in Eugene Oregon. Former ukendzone.com editor Josh Hunt and I would watch tape at all hours of the day and would rave about Mariota as a freshman.
Mariota has all the tools to be a pro bowl calibre quarterback at the next level. He has a B+ arm and can make all the pro throws, with a smooth, quick, over the shoulder release getting the ball out extremely quick. He’s a world-class athlete with elite top-end speed, with unbelievable ball security (14 INTs entire career) and a great, quick, decision maker. Everything Mariota does is done well and quickly even his workouts and off field habits. The knock on Mariota is his readiness to play. Despite it being covered horribly in some quarters there are transitional elements to Oregon’s system and Mariota’s play. There are plenty of pro concepts in Oregon’s scheme with a huge emphasis on attacking the seams on both sides of the field with the deep shot being either on a double move outside or a skinny post. Mariota hit those throws often with good ball location. He can drive the ball downfield when needed but also shows touch and accuracy downfield.
The biggest issue is his feet and that’ll take time to learn. He hasn’t dropped from under center, he’s poor resetting his feet and he often throws without marrying his eyes to his feet and loses some velocity. That’s fine when you have track stars at Oregon but if you’re throwing against an NFL defensive back and you mean it to be a fastball it has to bring some heat. Throughout the draft process Mariota has shown great progress with his footwork but it’s impossible to evaluate without having him on the field either working out for you or having him in your training camp for two solid weeks. He’s going to take some work. He has to know the entire playbook, command (and teach) the huddle, improve his footwork, anticipate throws (flashed in college). It’s all a question of coaching. The raw tools are there for Mariota to be great, he just needs time and to land with a coaching staff who can develop some of the raw aspects of his game.
Dante Fowler Jr. is my premier edge threat. He doesn’t flash the elite first step of Shane Ray or Vic Beasley but he moves extremely well and is a more versatile, powerful, player. Fowler has played all over defensive fronts as a DE in a 3-4 and OLB in a 3-4. He’s best suited as a DE in a 4-3 and he can kick inside on obvious passing downs. He’s a great run defender who sets the edge well, has great range and controls tackles at the POA. As a pass rusher he is powerful, with long arms, violent hands and great instincts. He may be the least polished of the top edge threats but he’s the most versatile with the best raw skills to be a pro bowl, every down, impact player at the next level.
Scherff is a monster and the most pro ready offensive lineman in the draft. At worst Scherff is a pro bowl guard at best he’s an all pro right tackle. Scherff is a mauler in the run game with a great first step, powerful initial blast and an ability to control defenders at the POA. He regularly pancakes huge defensive ends and he may be the toughest player in the entire class. I love his attitude on and off the field. He’s an NFL team leader and he’s going to be great for a long time.
I’ve had Collins in my top-ten for a long time and I’m sticking with him here. He’s a top-ten prospect with a unique skill set that might see him slide as far as the top of the second round. Collins is built like a weakside linebacker and he plays as an in the box run stopper. He has elite instincts as a run defender. He’s quick to diagnose and attack the play. In pass coverage his instincts are questionable, he often gambles and is beaten by double moves. Collins is an elite athlete and may be the very best athlete in the entire class with great straight line speed, sideline to sideline range and the physique to matchup with tight ends and wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. Stopping the run is where Collins will make his name and I think he needs to play with another good safety to have the career I think he can. Playing with Collins’ unique skill set will force DC’s to play a lot of single high safety coverage and that’s going to rely on having a talented coverage free safety. It’s tough to find him a landing spot but if he finds the correct one he’ll be a big difference maker.
Todd Gurley is one of the best running back prospects to come in the league in some time. He has an exceptional blend of size-weight-speed. Gurley’s a physical, downhill, runner in the ilk of Marshawn Lynch. He’s powerful and plays with great balance with a good burst and elite top-end speed. The key to Gurley’s game is his vision. He has rare physical traits and constantly makes the correct decisions. Gurley’s best fit is in a power-run offense but he could truly fit any offense. Now that the medical has checked out I’d be shocked if he didn’t go in the top-fifteen. Watch the tape below and tell me behind a good offensive line that wouldn’t be one of the scariest sights in all of pro football.
Gregory is the best 3-4 OLB in the class though he comes with major trust concerns. Gregory has consistently failed drug tests and has fluctuating weight problems that may be tied to the drug concerns. On the field Gregory converts speed-to-power better than anyone in the class and has elite hands. Gregory’s blend of athletic ability and pass rushing instincts make him a rare prospect. The weight and drug concerns are major issues and I’d be wary of drafting him in the first round but as a prospect he’s a top-ten player.
Armstead is a physical freak who is still adding bulk to his huge frame. He’s long and powerful with good first step quickness and a surprising ability to bend the edge. He shows great instincts against the run and has the athletic ability to disengage and redirect to find the ball. His best fit is as a 5-technique in a 3-4 where he can collapse the pocket from the edge. He doesn’t have the natural pass rushing ability to create consistent pressure on the quarterback he relies too much on power moves as an edge rusher. But he does flash the ability to pressure the pocket and get to the quarterback. There’s also some work ethic concerns but the tools are there for him to be a stud.
Shelton is the top defensive tackle on my board. He’s a prototypical two-gapping defensive tackle with a huge frame and an ability to anchor a defense. He’s surprisingly quick for someone of his size and is a shutdown run defender. He’s another player who needs to work on his pass rush ability. He has good instincts and improved immensely in 2014. His size, bulk and power give him the ability to penetrate double teams and collapse the pocket. Shelton’s a ‘high-floor’ player who’ll be a solid pickup for any team in the league.
Ereck Flowers is a physical freak with an outstanding blend of size, length, weight and power. He’s an elite athlete for the position with a great first step, pad level and pop at the POA. He’s an anchor in the run game and continues to improve as a pass blocker. His biggest issue is his hands, he relies on a powerful punch and often over-commits and misses his target. Another player with great physical tools, ability and instincts who needs good coaching to be special.
Erving may be the most versatile lineman in the class. He has experience at tackle, guard and, his best position, center. Erving excels in pass protection. He sets quickly, can mirror pass rushers and reset with great feet. He’s quick in run blocking and is a good pull player with a powerful upper body. He made a seamless transition from tackle to centre after struggling at tackle early in the season.
DeVante Parker is a big play threat waiting to happen on every single play. He’s a huge target with a large catching radius and an elite leap. He has good separation skills and gets physical at the line of scrimmage to shake of defensive backs and create throwing lanes. When the ball is in the air he high points and attacks the ball as well anyone in the draft. Parker compares favourably to AJ Green and he can have that kind of year one impact.
Ray has slid down boards, mine included, and taken knocks throughout the draft process. The latest being a toe injury. But Ray remains an elite prospect with the best first step in the class. He destroys tackles at the line with his first step and speed.
He’s a relentless rusher with a great motor.
The biggest issue with Ray is power. He’s not a speed to power player and he struggles if he doesn’t win off the snap. If Ray doesn’t bulk up some he’ll have to learn a variety of counter moves.
Dupree is a true power player who’s extremely versatile and he could end up being the best edge rusher from the class. He’s not a polished pass rusher and he can be inconsistent but he flashes rare athletic ability and range against the run. He’s scheme versatile and has the bulk to line up as a DE in 4-3 and athletic ability to play as an OLB in a 3-4. Dupree is a great speed to power player and if he refines his pass rushing ability and consistency he’ll be the best of a good group.
Peat is a raw tackle prospect with elite/prototypical size and length for a left tackle prospect. Though raw he has elite feet and he’s 6’6 / 6’7. That’s uncoachable. Players of his size, with his feet, don’t come around too often. Peat’s a natural pass protector using his reach and length to mirror and keep edge rushers at bay. He’s proven to be vulnerable to inside moves from bigger defensive ends and he needs to continue to work on his hands. As a run blocker Peat grades fairly well. He flashes the ability to drive players off the ball but too often he lunges and is caught off-balance. Peat is an exceptional talent but he’s raw and needs to be refined in the technical aspects of the game.
Todd Gurley has been grabbing all the headlines of late but Melvin Gordon remains a legit first round talent who has a chance to be a star. Gordon is more of a zone runner with a devastating jump cut that will break ankles in the league. He has elite size-weight-speed for the position and is taller/leaner than Gurley but an equally outstanding runner. Gordon has a great feel for creases and when he finds a hole he’s gone. The main knocks on Gordon are his fumble rate (1.8%) and his deficiencies in the passing game. But as a runner he’s lethal and will be a superstar if he lands in a zone-stretch system.
Beasley has been all over the place in pre-draft rankings. I’m comfortable having him as the fifth edge rusher in this class. Beasley’s an elite athlete with unbelievable physical tools, an elite first step and range. As a pure athlete and football player he’s elite but I worry about OLB specific traits. He has poor hands, average instincts and a lack of power. Beasley could be a Ziggy Ansah type who’s moved all over the defensive formation and makes unbelievable athletic plays. But as a pure edge rusher who’ll put consistent pressure on the pocket I don’t think he’s in the same league as Randy Gregory and Dante Fowler and I have him a notch below Shane Ray and Bud Dupree is a pass rushing technician.
Peters is the number one corner on my board. There’s a lot of concern with Peters particularly off the field. Here’s the list of transgressions on Peters’ resume;
– Admitted to a failed drug test in 2011.
– Suspended for the first quarter of the 2013 BYU bowl game.
– Banned by coaches from working out with the team for four weeks before the 2014 season.
– Suspended for Illinois game in 2014 after head-butting an opponent against Eastern Washington.
– Missed practice in November 2014 and was kicked off the team.
That’s a lot of issues and it’s a leap of faith to select Peters. His talent is undeniable. He has good size and bulk with great feet and short area quickness. He’s a natural press corner with great change of direction skills and punch at the POA. Peters is a natural playmaker and is great in contested situations high pointing the ball. Outside of the off the field concerns I do worry about Peters in off man coverage sometimes getting stuck and burnt by more athletic receivers. Peters is a stout run defender and at times reckless with his body. His technique is somewhat lacking but he’s willing. There’s a lot of negatives but the new age NFL is all about corners who can win at the line, put there hands in a receivers chest, track a receiver downfield and make plays on the ball. Peters ticks every box.
Trae Waynes is the best athlete at corner in the class. There’s little to nothing between the top-three cornerbacks Peters, Waynes and Johnson. It’s really splitting hairs. Waynes is an elite athlete and sprinter but can be stiff in his hips and getting out of his backpedal, though he often makes it up for it beating players at the punch. He’s best as either a press corner or in zone playing one half of the field (Michigan State system). He has the top-end speed to stick on any receiver in the game and good enough hands to beat receivers at the line. Waynes is a willing run supporter who’s physical and sets the edge. cornerbacks in 2015 have to be able to hold the edge and tackle in space. We now live in a bubble screen era. cornerbacks have to be able to break down in space and wrap up. Waynes is a good tackler who breaks down extremely well.
Johnson is the most fluid, natural, cornerback in the class with the best cornerback movement skills. Johnson’s tall and lengthy but lacks some of the bulk you’re looking for if the corner doesn’t have elite speed. He’s already added fifteen pounds but he has to continue to add weight. His cover skills may be the best of any of the top corners. He’s fluid in his hips and getting out of his backpedal and has great short area burst. He’s a good press corner and a very good off man corner. His instincts are good but he can sometimes gamble too much and be beaten downfield. His ball skills are average and although he has receivers in his pocket downfield he can be beaten at the jump and high point of the ball. He has great raw tools and is a player who needs coaching.
Strong is a physical, big-bodied receiver with a large catching radius and long arms who can stretch the field and stress a defence vertically. Strong does a lot of his work in the post. He doesn’t create natural separation and instead relies on his body and physicality to win and attack the ball. Strong’s a constant one-on-one threat and is an elite red zone target.
He’s not a burner but he does have good top end speed and can do serious damage after the catch. He may not be a true number one as he’s not a ‘move the chains’ wide receiver but he can be the difference between a good offense and a great offense.
Odighizuwa is an effective pass rusher who is not as explosive as some of the edge threats in this class but who has an array of pass rushing moves and is a really good run defender. Odgihizuwa is powerful at the punch and has great instincts in the run game, he’s flexible and can bend the edge. He’s versatile and can line up in a 3-4 or 4-3 as a DE but I think he’ll struggle if converted to be an OLB in a 3-4. He just isn’t good enough in space or in coverage. I love Odighizuwa’s emotion, motor and aggression. He gets after every play and is determined to chase down the quarterback.
TJ Clemmings is an unrefined tackle with huge upside. Clemmings is extremely athletic with a powerful strong frame. He’s only played right tackle at college and is extremely raw (former defensive tackle) but he displays the footwork and pivot ability to play left tackle at the next level. His athletic ability allows him to move effortlessly to the second level and he maintains his eye level better than I thought he would at this stage in his development. He’s a project, long-term, left tackle but he can play as a guard from day one. He’s going to struggle early on against NFL calibre rushers but given some time he could be a really good lineman given his natural abilities and his development on limited time thus far.
Malcolm Brown is another player who could see a huge leap on my board. I’m currently three games through my evaluation and he’s moving up after each and everyone. He could end up being a top-ten selection. Brown’s a star against the run and can be a true anchor of a defensive line. he consistently wins in one on one situations and has shown the ability to penetrate against double teams. As a pass rusher he’s pretty average. Everything is based on power. He can thump initially and disengage quickly when needed but if he doesn’t win at the punch he struggles to generate any pressure. His extra dimension is his versatility. He’s had experience playing every position in every base front. NT, DT, DE in a 4-3 and NT and DE in a 3-4.
I continue to get back and forth on the inside linebackers in this class. The best talent in the class all grades closely between 84-81 and I still believe Kwon Alexander (LSU) is the better value selection for when you can grab him and his talent compared to Kendricks, Perryman and McKinney. Kendricks is a vocal leader who’s slightly undersized and has been plagued by injuries throughout his college career. He’s an outstanding ‘diagnose and attack’ player. He reads and reacts well, shows quick reactions and does a great job in coverage. He shows good range against the run and is an above average tackler. His major advantage is his ability in space and in coverage. He has good enough spacial awareness and speed to match up against running backs and tight ends. He’s a better fit in a 4-3 than a 3-4.
Green-Beckham is the ultimate boom or bust player in this year’s draft. My buddy Bryan Perez at DraftBreakdown put it best ‘top-ten talent on the field. Undraftable off it.’ Green-Beckham’s character is a major concern. I’m sure several people have heard this many times as we build to the draft but I’ll list the perceived red flags below;
– Difficult upbringing moving from multiple foster homes before being adopted by his football coach.
– Suspended for one game in 2014 as a freshman at Missouri after being arrested for marijuana possession.
– Arrested in January 2014 for possession of marijuana. Chargers were later dismissed.
– In April 2014 he was questioned after allegedly forcing his way into an apartment and pushing a woman down stairs. He was not arrested but was dismissed from Missouri.
– Tried to transfer to Oklahoma but the NCAA turned down his waiver to play.
There are some serious issues there, including consistently being in the wrong place at the wrong time regardless of his actions when he was in those places.
On the field he is a top-ten talent. He has an otherworldly leap and is a physical freak with long arms, long strides and elite speed for his size. He’s not in his league but he is in the ilk of Calvin Johnson. He frequently breaks tackles after the catch and makes a lot of tough catches in traffic. He’s an inconsistent route runner and needs work in the area, but creates natural separation with his size, length and speed. He’s a big time red zone threat with a huge catching radius, an ability to elevate and an ability to contour his body in the air. He has huge hands and a large wingspan.
When his mind is right he can be unstoppable but the question remains if he can ever get his mind right. Josh Gordon provides a cautionary tale not of players smoking weed but being consistently in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Carl Davis is another player who runs hot and cold within games. Though Davis’ issues seem to be more physical (looking gassed) than mental (effort) and in a pro training regime you’d expect that to change. Davis is a versatile lineman who can play one-technique or three-technique in a 4-3 front or with his athletic ability can even play five-technique in a 3-4 front. He’s a disruptive pass rusher he wowed coaches at the Senior Bowl after having a lack of production in college. His pressure is formed mainly of his step and violent hands. He needs to learn more effective moves (bull rush, swim etc.). In the run games he can stun people and has really good range and initial burst from the DT spot. You’ll hear it often through this process. There’s lots of really good DT prospects. They all have a very good initial jump, but none penetrate as well as elite prospect Aaron Donald last year.
Jordan Phillips is an unbelievable athlete for his size. He has great size, a huge frame and elite mobility. Phillips is a big bodied nose tackle who can be extremely violent against the run and has great range for someone playing at his weight and often played, and penetrated, double teams in college. As a pass rusher he’s inconsistent. He fires out of stance and flashes the ability to collapse the pocket, single-handedly, while facing double teams. A has a bunch of ‘wow’ plays that leap of the screen. His tape against Clemson was one of the best I’ve seen all year.
His biggest issue is his effort. It comes and goes not just week to week, or quarter to quarter, but down to down. He often looks uninterested and particularly frustrated when facing double teams. Now, will that frustration go if he’s one on one at the pro level? possibly, he is just a redshirt sophomore entering the draft. But it’s a huge gamble to take on a first round pick. He’s a boom or bust type player. I grade him extremely well in all categories and if the intangible effort was there he’d be a 90 player. But it’s not. It’s huge a gamble and one, personally, I would take the upside is just too great. But there are plenty who wouldn’t spend a high pick on a player with question marks over his interest in the game and someone who plays immaturely.
Perriman is a big physical receiver who’s gathering momentum as we get closer to the draft and has a chance to sneak into the bottom of the first round. He’s a strong vertical threat who struggles with precise timing routes but does extremely well high pointing and fighting for the football. He gains easy leverage with his combination of speed and size and flashes after the catch speed. He’s a constant big play threat waiting to happen through the air though he is an inconsistent catcher. He’s extremely good outside the hashes (rare) and that’s immediately going to catch the attention of teams with elite quarterbacks picking at the back-end of the draft; Green Bay, New England, New Orleans etc. Obviously it can be said for any receiver that playing with an elite quarterback is important for the player, but some wide receivers can thrive regardless; Sammy Watkins, Josh Gordon, Mike Evans etc. I think Perriman has to land with a good signal caller.
Williams is a versatile tight end who doesn’t have elite big play ability but does stretch the seams vertically. Williams moves all over the formation and is an adequate blocker who can play off the line, in the slot or split out as a wide receiver. As a catcher he attacks the ball, displays good concentration in traffic and makes extremely difficult catches effortlessly. He plays really hard and shows a nasty streak. He’s a typical ‘someone you want to play with but not against.’
La’El Collins is another offensive tackle (though likely to play guard at the next level) who does nothing to leap off the screen but does everything well. He’s a physical player who flashes a mean streak and is a very good finisher. He’s athletic, so naturally has been played outside, but may be a better pro prospect on the interior. He’s scheme versatile and can play in either a man or zone scheme and will likely be a good player for some time.
Funchess is a tight end converted to wide receiver, though his skill set is exactly the same. He’s tall with thigh end size, a tight end catching radius and above average speed for his size. He has a huge catching radius and quarterbacks just have to place the ball in his area code and he’ll grab it. He flashes the ability to make acrobatic, one-handed catches as well. He has outstanding big play ability down the field and is a mismatch nightmare in the red zone. He’s going to catch touchdown passes. I have no doubt in my mind. I still question whether he can be anchor a passing attack as an isolation player drawing double coverage.
Funchess still struggles on contested balls and in traffic. But he’ll certainly catch red zone balls and can make splash plays downfield. He’s best suited to go to a versatile offense like in Denver, New Orleans or New England rather than be the go to number one or two guy in an offense.
I recently drafted him to the Patriots in my ‘What I’d do if I was GM’ draft 1.0 where he could be a ‘Y’ move tight end in a twin tight end offense with Rob Gronkowski or be a mismatch nightmare in a stacked formation that features Funchess, Gronkowski and Edelman. He has an intriguing skill set and I’m fascinated to see where he’s going to land.
Jackson is yet another Florida State player (and Florida State lineman) on my top-100 board. Jackson is a reserved player off the field who turns into a run-blocking monster on the field. He’s powerful and can anchor the interior of the line. You can anchor him inside and run pull and power plays off him. He’s best suited for a man blocking system. He’s good enough in the pass game to hold his own but absolutely needs to land with a run dominant team.
Thompson is another player whose island I’m on as he falls down others boards. He can legitimately played outside linebacker, safety or even running back and I love scheme versatile players. He has good speed for a linebacker and below average for a back and safety and it’s likely he’ll play linebacker at the next level and a 3rd down safety hybrid. Thompson has spectacular range against the run and covers sideline to sideline effortlessly. He has great instincts and high football IQ, displayed by his ability to play either linebacker or safety. He’s an extremely good tackler, breaks down well, wraps up and can, when needed, deliver a blow. Thompson’s biggest issue is as an edge rusher. He lacks the ideal size and weight to rush the passer from the outside. He gets off the ball very well and can win at the POA by getting off the snap first but he regularly loses against bigger blockers. He’s an intriguing prospect but if he lands with an elite defensive mind; Bill Belichick, Todd Bowles or Rex Ryan he can be a very special hybrid player.
Ekpre-Olomu has been dropping and dropping down several draft boards as we go through the draft process but I remain one of five people with residence of Ekpre-Olomu island; his mother (queen), father (Josh), Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, Oregon defensive coordinator Dom Pellum and myself. I still think Ekpre-Olomu is an elite prospect with a chance to be a star. He has elite coverage skills and instincts with football IQ off the charts. He transitions in and out of breaks quickly and with an explosive closing burst. He’s confident and plays with swagger and an edge. He tracks the ball well and has the production to show for it.
Olomu is underrated in the run game and is a willing, physical tackler who continues to get stronger. The only issue with Ekpre-Olomu is his health. He suffered a devastating knee injury that has seen many people write him off. But as we continue to rave about Todd Gurley’s recovery let’s remember that Ekpre-Olomu suffered the same injury and visited the same doctors. He can’t participate in pre-draft workouts so it’s absolutely a gamble to take him but it’s a gamble that’s absolutely worth taking. If healthy he’s at least the second corner back taken in the draft sole due to his lack of size. Unhealthy, he may slide and that will be to the benefit of whoever lands him.
Another LSU defensive back with first round potential. Collins is an elite press-cover corner prospect. He has great natural size and speed and is as fluid as any corner in the draft. He beats people at the line and wins at the line more often than he loses. He’s a decent recovery defender, due to his length, if he is beat but does not have a second or third gear to keep up with receivers who do. He displays good route recognition and patience when playing off man, but has below average instincts and rarely, if ever, jumps the ball. He’s hard working in the run game, has linebacker like diagnostic skills and can really deliver a blow when he lowers his shoulder. Given how much press the league is now playing he’ll likely be a first round pick but I worry if he’s beat at the line consistently by the historically good level of receivers around the league.
Agholor is a Nigerian born, pro-ready receiver who’s been overlooked through the process for more glamorous, explosive, receiving prospects. He has natural separation skills, particularly against press, and is clean and polished in and out of his breaks. He’s a pro-ready player running the kind of combination routes at his school (USC) that he’ll be running on Sunday’s. He has some physical limitations; catching radius, elite speed and the ability to win contested deep balls against lengthy defensive backs. But he’s already ahead of a lot of prospects in his route running, understanding of defensive concepts, play-recognition and versatility. All necessities at the next level.
Harold is one of the quickest risers on my board and In all honesty could be ten to fifteen spots too low by the next time I do this list. Harold is a player who completely incubuses one of my favourite terms ‘take the brain out player.’ Some edge rushers get completely over evaluated. Sure Harold’s instincts are adequate and he doesn’t show great range as a tackler in the run game. But he’s a pure edge rusher and that’s what he should be. Take the brain out, take out any complications in the scheme and let him go rush the passer on each down. There’s no need to get too smart and stop dropping him into coverage, though he can certainly hold his own in coverage, let him get after the offensive tackle and chase the passer. He plays stronger than he weighs, jars blockers and can bend the edge. He disengages quickly and packs a strong inside punch at the POA. He still has room to improve, but has a great engine and initial pass rushing instincts. Just let him go play.
Perryman is the second inside linebacker on my board. Perryman has equal diagnose and attack instincts to Eric Kendricks, though Perryman is a superior tackler. He plays low to the ground and covers the field like a true defensive field general. He displays the art of tackling like no one else in the draft and barely, if ever, misses. Perryman makes tackling look simple even against players with superior, elite, speed (Ameer Abdullah). He breaks down perfectly nearly every time and when he arrives he delivers a forceful blow (7 forced fumbles). He’s a good player in coverage and again can diagnose and attack in passing situations. He can hold up against running back motioning out and can handle tight ends over the middle. He’s not CJ Mosley but I have him graded between Mosley last year and Manti Te’o the year before (top two ILB last two years).
Cann has a chance to be a second round steal. He’s an unbelievable worker in the weight room and film room. He has really good athleticism for the position and thrives at the second level and as a pulling guard. His fundamentals are flawless. He does not wow you with elite athletic ability or overwhelming power but he’s consistent in all categories and every game.
McKinney is another player who’s solid to above average in all major categories but not elite in one particular area. He has good ‘diagnose and attack’ skills and seems to have a natural feel for the game. He’s always around the ball despite not having elite speed, range or coverage skills. He has a powerful upper body and is a better blitzer than Eric Kendricks but struggles in coverage against running backs.
Dorsett is a lethal speed threat. He ran the second fastest time for wide receivers at the combine and is easily the quickest player in the draft in pads. He comes with durability concerns due to his size and history (torn MCL in 2013) and his focus and production comes and goes within games. He’s an unbelievable catcher of the ball with stats of the charts. You can argue his catching radius and some of his mechanics but the results are too good to have any real valid argument. His biggest plus is the speed.
he’s a legit homerun threat any times you get the ball in his hands. He can play from the slot as an after the catch guy, be used in motion, jet sweeps and can play outside the numbers to draw safety help.
Humphries is a raw player with the prototypical size and frame for an NFL tackle. He has excellent foot speed, good upper body strength and lands more ‘kill shots’ than any of the tackles in the class. Though he has some unbelievable physical qualities he is extremely inconsistent on tape. He lunges far too often, is regularly unbalanced and can be beaten at the snap by quicker edge players. That said you cannot teach his size and physical gifts and he flashes enough on tape to get any coaching staff very excited.
Jones is a former safety who converted to corner in 2013 and was considered the “co-leader” of the UConn program in 2014. He’s lengthy and uses his length in coverage to win at the line, swat balls and press off bigger receivers. He flashes elite ball and location skills and can match up one on one with virtually anyone. Jones is average in the run game with below average recognition skills and propensity to get stuck in traffic.
Devin Smith is an elite vertical threat who commands double teams time and time again. He has an outstanding burst and glides effortlessly down the field. He’s a terrific threat after the catch, though is below average in traffic, and he can not only stretch the field vertically with speed but with skill and separation skills. Smith utilises head bobs and dummies as well as anyone. In shorter timing routes Smith can be somewhat of a liability. He has a propensity to duck his head going over the middle and struggles getting in and out of his breaks. There’s questions about his ability to learn pro-style concepts but as a sole deep threat isolated on one side of the formation, he could be elite.
Mike Bennett is a quick, explosive, 3-technique from the National Title winning Ohio State. He’s above average of the snap and a plus player in the explosion category. He doesn’t match an elite 3-tech prospect like Aaron Donald but he’s more than explosive enough (shoots gaps) to play the position at the pro level. He’s powerful inside, with good instincts, plays with a decent pads level and can control blockers one on one. He doesn’t possess many pass rushing moves but he does find a way to create pressure and he can occasionally collapse the pocket.
Trey Flowers is an outstanding, intelligent young man and a physical, violent edge rusher. He’s absolutely relentless playing DE in 4-3 front, he never stops moving, talking or walking. In his life as well as on the field. He’s built to be an outstanding team-mate, professional and contributor at the next level and beyond. He’s strong in the pass game and has played above his size, beating bigger, more physical, tackles to the punch. He has a quick first step and is quick enough of the line. Against the run he shows good discipline both with his eyes and setting the edge, though too often he gets caught up in his block and doesn’t disengage quick enough. He’s a high-floor/low-ceiling type of player who can contribute from day one for most organisations on the field and in the locker room.
Smith is a sensational prospect with outstanding physical traits. He had elite top-end speed and does a good job of converting speed to power. He has huge hands and makes use of them in the run game combining them with a strong upper body to shed blockers and manoeuvre the interior of the line. At Mississippi State he lined up all over the formation but at the next level he’s best suited to be a LDE who kicks inside on 3rd downs and in obvious passing situations. He isn’t a good enough pass rusher or good enough in space to play OLB in a 3-4.
His tape against Texas A&M is the best tape to evaluate him where he went up against a legit NFL tackle in Cedric Ogbuehi. He displays a constant motor but gets a worryingly low amount of pressure on the quarterback on passing downs.
Ogbuehi is one of the best pass protectors in the entire draft. He has a huge frame and uses every inch and pound of it. He couples his size with athleticism and is one of the most mobile tackles in the class. In pass protection he sets himself quickly and is rarely beaten purely for speed, when he is, he’s able to reset and maintain his block through the play. The biggest issue is that ability to reset at the next level. Is he strong enough to reset against elite NFL pass rushers? I have my doubts and that’s my biggest knock on him. You also have to question how his skills in the A&M zone scheme translate to the pro-game. If he lands in Washington, Philadelphia etc, he has a change to be a Pro Bowl player.
I recently bumped Ajayi just above my former #3 back Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah. Ayaji is a physical back with a long off the field history both with a long discipline record and injury record. On the field Ajayi may be the best pass catching running back in this year’s class. He’s solid in pass protection, is a crisp/clean route runner and has the size to move fearlessly all over the field. In the running game he’s a shifty runner who continuously bounces off players. He has elite balance, good overall vision and is a patient enough runner to wait for creases and his blocks. Overall he reminds me a lot of his fellow Boise alumni, Doug Martin, who went in the first round.
Stephone Anthony is a thumping linebacker with way below average diagnose and attack instincts. He struggles at the snap of the ball to react to the quarterback but makes up for large parts of it with impressive sideline-to-sideline quickness. He’s good enough in pass coverage to never come off the field and he really can deliver a punch. However, the instincts scare me and the more I watch the more he’s sliding.
Abdullah has long been considered the third running back in the class and in years gone by he’d have been a bottom of the first round draft choice. Although I love his elite top-end speed, his ability to make people miss and his explosive jump cut I’m worried by his frame. He lacks the size you’re looking for in an every down back and has yet to take a real shot for us to see how he reacts. His lack of length – short arms and hands – will make him ineffective in pass protection. However as a runner he’s a 90 talent. Great, great vision, the explosive jump cuts I mentioned and huge big play ability. He’s a risk with tremendous upside.
Tomlinson is a Jamaican born guard who played in all 52 games while he was at Duke. He’s a powerful run blocker who plays with good balance, a decent initial punch and who really can explode people off the ball with pure size. He’s an ideal fit in a power run scheme where he can duck his head and power people downfield. He plays with good aggressiveness on tape, and demonstrates strong football instincts in the passing game. He’s a negative athlete in pass protection but has enough short area quickness to survive long-term at guard, again, in a power run scheme.
Johnson is an explosive junior college star with real durability concerns (averaged 8.3 touches per game, most in the FBS) and a shaky frame. He’s shorter than a prototypical back but is a lethal home run threat with elite speed in pads. His combine 40 performance was worrying but it really is a case of watching a player’s tape and seeing them run in pads rather than shorts and a t-shirt.
As a runner Johnson plays above his size, he’s tough and competitive. He displays good vision but can get impatient and often looks to bounce the play outside too often rather than letting his blocks materialize a clearer north-south path. His biggest weakness is in the pass game. His blocking technique is all over the place and he has shown little to no progression from his first game to the last. He lacks the size or length to be an elite running back in pass-pro but even with that said he hasn’t shown a want to improve the less glamorous area of a back’s game.
Coates is a bigger bodied receiver than all the receivers previously listed who has the perfect frame for the position. He has good separation skills and can beat corners at the line with his straight line speed and dummy skills. His overall route running ability is poor. He’s not crisp or sharp in or out of breaks and I lost count of the number of times he looked confused or was barked at after being in the wrong spot. He’s an elite vertical threat who forces cornerbacks back off the line and has true ‘go up and get it’ ability with an elite vertical jump. His biggest weakness is in catching. He’ll likely have to land with a Pro Bowl calibre quarterback. Despite his large frame he does not use it effectively and take advantage of his catching radius. He ended his career with a high drop rate which is a concern. Overall he’s inconsistent with tremendous upside.
Kikaha is a talented edge player who played opposite another exceptionally talented prospect, Shaq Thompson. Kikaha’s a tweener who lacks the size or strength to play DE in a 4-3 and there’s real concerns about his ability in space and lateral quickness to play OLB in a 3-4. He’ll more than likely be a sub-package edge rusher. He’s a physical tackler who isn’t afraid to get into an opponent’s face. He has a relentless motor and ‘efforts’ his way to pressuring the quarterback. He plays with quality leverage and good hands but struggles at the point of attack due to his lack of size or elite speed.
I’m much higher on Golden than most. He’s an impressive individual on and off the field and is a true workout warrior. Considered a ‘tone-setter’ by the coaching staff and was named a team captain in 2014. He’s an ‘effort’ player who gets a lot of his production on pursuit plays and second/third efforts. He has a slight ‘tweener’ build (converted from linebacker to defensive end in 2014) but he’s best suited to play DE in the 4-3. Golden can get blown of the ball when kicked inside at five-technique. As a pass-rusher he’s extremely violent with his hands and bends the edge well enough to be productive at the next level. He can get pushed back in the run game, but as is the theme with Golden, he efforts his way through a lot of plays and has good instincts. He’s slated as a 4th/5th round pick most place but I’d be comfortable taking him in the second.
Alexander is listed as an OLB but he played a good chunk of time inside and I think he can be a star inside. He has decent enough diagnose and attack instincts, good enough to play Mic linebacker. He’s a flat-out stud against the run with some of the best sideline-to-sideline range in the entire draft. He can stop and drive in a flash and is able to turn on a dime. He’s undersized as an edge rusher who struggles against longer tackles with a lack of counter moves or an elite jump off the line. He’s good in space and holds tight coverage on running backs and tight ends. Alexander’s a sleeper.
Walford’s the second tight end in what’s a really weak class. He’s a big tight end with huge hands a massive catching radius. He struggles to create natural separation, instead relying on head bobs and dummies. He’s not quick enough to drag linebackers out of coverage and stretch the seams but he is quick enough to make some big plays after the catch. He’s a solid blocker and can block from all over the formation. He’s a ‘move’ TE and would be a great number two alongside an elite tight end.
Dawson is a strong college performer who outperformed his negative height, weight and length but did so with an off the charts IQ. He’s below average as an edge rusher and rarely wins at the point of attack due to his lack of length and size. His IQ gets him around the ball on all plays and he continually makes great plays against the run. He has elite range sideline-to-sideline and takes great pursuit angles to the football. He’s a candidate to get moved inside as he’s an elite coverage and space player.
Goldman is another defensive tackle who is a monster against the run and he may have the best motor of the group. He has terrific hands and sheds blockers for fun. The downside with Goldman are again, off the field concerns. He’s been suspended multiple times in his college career.
Williams and Darby are teammates and came out dead even in my scouting report. I put Williams one click ahead of Darby because I love him as an on field competitor. He plays fierce and angry particularly in the run game. He’s not afraid to put his body on the line taking on much bigger blockers. Williams has decent recognition skills and reads the quarterback well in zone, however when in man coverage he struggles to turn his head and locate the ball. He still has extra weight to add to his body and help his press man game.
Darby is an instinctive ‘gambler’ from the cornerback spot. He’s simply sensational in zone coverage and makes reading and reacting look effortless. He’s got solid ball skills and is able to track and high point the ball to a good level. In press coverage he’s made major strides since going up against Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene in practice each day. He does come with major off the field red flags and teams need to do deep research into internal charges that he and fellow teammates created a ‘hostile and intimidating environment with conduct of a sexual nature.’
Randall is a coverage safety who has corner like coverage skills. He can match up against running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in coverage. He’s light and I worry if he’s physical enough for the next level. But he’s an elite athlete, a ball hawk and he covers the entire field.
Sambrailo is every bit of an NFL tackle with great range and weight who’s a monster at the second level. He gets off the ball pretty well and does an exceptional job of locating and picking blitzing linebackers turning on screws and twists. He’s a functional zone blocker in the run game but operates much better in a kick step power run game. He’s long enough to play tackle but could also perform inside if needed in year one.
Mauldin is just a good solid player at everything he does. He typically plays standing up but he can put his hand in the dirt and he’s been terrific for large parts matching up in coverage on tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. He’s a good open field tackler with good instincts and often jumps plays but lacks eye discipline when ball carriers make counter moves. When he gets to the tackler he converts speed to power well. He doesn’t have many pass rushing moves but blends quickness, bend and power to generate enough pressure on the pocket.
Marpet is a powerful, big, lineman who’ll likely play guard at the next level. He’s a fierce, nasty competitor who took great advantage of his opportunity at the Senior Bowl. He gets off the ball well in run blocking and has the potential to be really good inside as a pass protector. His lack of length is a concern and he’ll be unable to play outside but at guard he has a chance to be special.
Grasu is an unbelievable athlete for an offensive lineman. He played every game he was eligible for at Oregon and played center for big portions where he made a lot of the line calls in the Ducks high-powered fast break offense. He has natural football instincts and would fit perfectly into a zone blocking scheme. He has an elite first step, a powerful base and can move about as well as any guard in the league.
Bryce Petty has a shot to be one of the steals of the draft. It’s a frankly terrible quarterback class and personally I wouldn’t be taking any quarterback not named Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. But there are aspects of Petty’s game that could make him a very good pro quarterback. The major downside with Petty is the fear around his back, yet there was little noise showing any concern coming out of teams individual evaluations from the combine.
On the field, Petty has elite arm talent. He can make every throw and make it in a flash. I’d say Winston has the best arm when you factor in touch and release but Petty has the best ‘pure arm’ talent. He needs work dropping from under center but has shown the ability to marry his feet and eyes, drop, set and throw in a pro fashion. His accuracy comes and goes but that seems married to his release. He alters his release and release point on a per play basis in the ilk of Matt Stafford, if he can hone that in and settle on a regular release he can improve his accuracy tenfold.
Coleman is the prototypical running back in most ways and will likely fly up this board as I see more of him. He’s the perfect size – 5-11 – has good bulk – 206lbs – and is a true burner with near elite top-end speed. He’s special getting in and out of creases and has elite vision, patience and can make players miss in space and in the hole. He struggles somewhat in the passing game, he appears willing as a blocker, will lower his shoulder, but he still needs work.
Fisher has an outstanding combination of speed and agility for an offensive line prospect. He’s solid in the passing game and has the potential to be an elite ‘pull guard’ if moved inside. He plays with a decent base but has below-average arm length a major concern if he plays tackle at the next level. Fisher does have a tendency to rise before contact and then look to ‘effort’ his way through the block. He’s good enough climbing at the second level to move inside long-term and he played well against the best defensive line he faced all season in the national championship game.
Hardy is a relentless competitor who uniquely commands his team from the receiver spot. He’s an outstanding young man and student who draws his motivation from his father who he lost in 2013. He brings that competitiveness on the field and dominates at the point of attack. He wins at the line for the most part and is crisp and fluid through NFL routes. He’s a strong player who doesn’t have elite top-end speed and plays more ‘in the post.’ If he doesn’t win at the line separation skills are a small concern but he makes up for a lot of it with his location and catching skills. He has the makings of being a real impact contributor in year one.
Player to watch
Kristjan Sokoli, DE, 6-5, 290, Buffalo
Sokoli is the definition of a freak athlete. He stole the show at his pro day with these numbers; 4.83 forty, 38” vertical, 9’11” broad and 31 bench press reps.
The tape is inconsistent but he’s certainly one to watch. He played defensive tackle in college but projects as either a 3-technique or 5-technique. He gets off the ball explosively and his enough of a dip to compete. There’s clear work that needs to be done and I need to do some more studying, but the athletic measurables are unbelievable.
Harris is the second rated safety on my board and there’s a huge discrepancy between he (ranked #76) and the number one safety Landon Collins (ranked in top-25). Harris is taller than the prototypical safety but he uses his size to his advantage in the passing game to extend and bat balls down but he also uses it to extend as a tackler in the run game. He has outstanding production and takes well calculated gambles. He may be the best ‘ball hawk’ of the safety class and is another player who’ll be an immediate contributor on special teams.
Lockett epitomizes the depth of this year’s receiver class. He has a plethora of injury concerns but has elite big play ability. He could be a stud in the slot. He has fabulous separation skills that come naturally (speed of foot) and excels in the dummy game.
He can catch and move in an instant and as previously mentioned that lends to being a big time contributor in the big play ‘splash play’ category. He doesn’t have a large catching radius and would struggle outside the numbers but he can pluck the ball out of the air if it’s not perfectly located. Lockett does have a long injury record that teams need to delve into but based on the tape he has the chance to be a real nice contributor.
TJ Yeldon is a tall back who was primed to be the next super star Alabama running back. It didn’t really happen at that level for Yeldon but he has all the traits you’d look for to plug a running back into any system. He’s on the tall side with decent bulk (which he continues to add) he has good but not elite top-end speed and he does a terrific job of making people miss in the hole with a sensational jump cut. He’s patient enough and as with most backs out of Alabama is good in the passing game. He could be a great late round steal.
Rollins is an off the charts athlete who was a terrific basketball player and has only one year of college football experience. He plays with a reckless mindset which makes him an elite run defender. He needs work in the pass game and he’s still a work up progress but he has sensational upside.
Golson is duel sport athlete (drafted by the Red Sox) with some maturity concerns. He has elite cover skills as a day one starter as a nickel corner at the pro-level. He lacks the ideal size and weight for the position but in an NFL with less emphasis on the physical aspect of secondary play and a new emphasis on Nickel and Dime defenses he could still be a sub-package star. At the next level he’ll struggle on the outside and that’s why his grade and stock will see him go in the middle rounds.
Heuerman is an interesting prospect who missed plenty of time with injuries and who struggles, technically, in the passing game. Heurerman has poor separation skills, doesn’t sell dummies and can’t create separation outside of the scheme. However he does have a huge catching radius, one of the best in the draft, and has terrific ball skills. He’s able to dominate if teamed up with a quarterback with elite ball placement. He doesn’t have elite speed but attacks the seams well and can create big plays downfield. He’s a good enough blocker to survive at tight end in the modern NFL but he does need work.
Emanuel is a player who I fall in the love with the more I watch. I currently have him graded as a 70 prospect due to the lack of elite competition and some concerns about his ability at the POA. He can become unbalanced and has a terrible reaction time to the snap of the ball.
However, once the ball is snapped Emanuel turns into a complete gem. His recognition skills are off the charts, he can slip and slide in the run game, is a complete tackler and is on the field for every down and every game. His tape against Sam Houston State is dominant.
Prewitt is a fascinating safety prospect. He’s bigger and longer than a typical prospect for the position and he has excellent location and balls skills (13 career interceptions). He’s the perfect matchup for tight ends and could see himself move to the top of day-two due to the current tight-end trend running through the league. He’s a good athlete with adequate top end speed for a safety.
Pullard is the fifth rated inside linebacker on my board in a weak inside class. He has shorter arms than the position requires and he may need to move to outside backer. He has elite sideline-to-sideline speed and is excellent in transition, planting and turning on the jets in a flash. He’s a four down player, good enough in coverage, a strong tackler and a candidate to be a great special teams player. He needs work in the run game but all the raw tools are there.
Geathers is a physical, locker room dominating leader. He’s got above average instincts with solid eye discipline. He’s rarely, if ever, out of position though he does have a tendency to be too aggressive on the ball at the POA. He’s decent enough sorting through traffic to be effective in the run game though, once again, he can be overly aggressive and take pursuit angles that completely take him out of the play.
Edwards is about as versatile as they come. His best fits are as the LDE in a 4-3 or as a DE in a 3-4. He can move inside in obvious passing situations and excelled there throughout his Florida State career. He has the size and experience to play 3-4 OLB and can drop into coverage on occasions. Edwards’ is a powerful player who is tough to push back off the ball. He can hold the line in the run game but doesn’t have the closing speed needed to rack up a number of sacks.
Matias is a gem amongst gems hidden away between the star-studded Florida State teams he helped anchor (ten FSU players in my top-100). Playing alongside Cam Erving, Tre’ Jackson and Bobby Hart has hurt Matias’ draft stock but he is a fine player in his own right. He helped anchor the left side of the FSU line as Erving was moved inside. He has a huge frame and plays every bit of 6-5 with a large base. He’s difficult for any defensive lineman to get around in the run game. He has a propensity to get flat-footed and high in the passing game and has a lot of work to do with his angles and timing as a pulling guard.
To me, Thompson he has more upside than his Sooners cohort, Daryl Williams, but Williams is the safer choice. Thompson is a terrific technician in the run-game. He fires of the ball well with a good pad level, he’s excellent in space and moves easily to the second level. He has active hands in the pass protection and is very infrequently caught out by counter moves or blitzes. Thompson’s major downside is his tendency not to finish, nor does he flash the kind of nasty streak needed at the next level.
Smith is a versatile edge player who can play LDE or RDE in a 4-3 as well as a playing a five-technique in a 3-4. He has an incredible motor and played an exceedingly high percentage of snaps for Kentucky over two years. He’s strong against the run, has good gap discipline, a good eye for the runner and decent initial pop.
Kroft has a chance to be a difference maker at the next level. He exploits the seems as well as anyone in the class and is a consistent big play threat. He’s competitive and works hard in the trenches doing the nasty work that most tight ends these days don’t want to do. He has a large catching radius and will be a year one impact player in the red zone.
Williams is one of two Oklahoma tackles in this year’s class. He has a good first step, adequate speed and a strong ability in pass protection and run blocking. He’s clearly more ‘nasty’ on tape than fellow Oklahoma tackle Tyrus Thompson, but he has a naturally lower ceiling.
Jarrett is an explosive, disruptive three-technique who is a little on the short size and lacking the ideal weight for the position. He is explosive but not to the same degree as an elite interior force (Marcell Darius, Aaron Donald). He has a high motor in the run and pass games, but has a tendency to tire late on and get blown of the ball. He’s a really good prospect who will do his job, but not a great prospect.
Sample has a prototypical NFL safety frame but he struggled in key drills at the combine. He had an excellent season with Louisville but it was his only season at a major college program. He has great eye discipline, is quick to the ball, locates the ball well and does a fabulous job being aggressive and physical in the run game. He’s an ideal ‘in the box’ safety.
Nelson is a really hard-working, smaller, cornerback. He’s dedicated to improving his life and that of his young families (girlfriend, son Steven Nelson III). He takes exceptional pursuit angles to the ball in both the passing game and the run game. He has a lack of elite athletic measurable and it makes him susceptible in one-on-one coverage but as part of a defensive scheme (particularly zonal) he could be a very good player.
Grayson is a true ‘project’ quarterback who’s not yet ready to start at the pro-level. He needs to improve his footwork and learn to play from under center, he struggles with his mental clock and can get down on himself in-play which leads to prolonged periods of poor decisions. He does however possess NFL upside. He can make all the necessary throws, has a willingness to learn and improve (has already made big strides), has a high (quick) release and although it takes too long he is willing to work through all his progressions.
Grayson is also has plus athletic ability which he uses to his advantage in the play-action game, in rollout situations and most importantly to avoid the rush.
Robinson is the #12 rated offensive tackle on my board. He has exceptional size as a former defensive tackle and is a tough on the field performer. He plays with serious emotion and clearly enjoys motoring in the run game. I have real concerns in pass-protection. He showed little to no progress from 2013 to 2014, he has a below average kick step, struggles against blitzes and too often gets lazy finishing on a play before the play itself has finished. He has natural talent, but there’s work needed.
Orchard is an edge rushing DE who’ll convert to OLB at the next level. Orchard did not have a great combine struggling in drills and measuring shorter than expected. He’s a solid run defender with good eye discipline, strong diagnostic skills and an average range against the run. He’s a far superior edge rusher who plays with a great pad level, a good initial punch, converts speed to power, is extremely strong and uses his size to bully unbalanced tackles. He has added value at linebacker as he can play all three downs. He’s been exceptional against read-option plays and is a superstar against play action.
Anderson is a powerful interior playing 3-4 defense end with major durability concerns. He lacks the foot speed to be an every down 3-4 outside linebacker and is too tall to play inside at DT on every down. He plays with good leverage, has fantastic eye discipline and a nose for finding the ball in the run game. He has outstanding effort in his pursuit of the quarterback and although he doesn’t bully tackles at the POA he sticks with the play.
Everett is an outstanding pass protector who plays with a wide base, good toughness and strong technique inside to turn on counter moves and screws. He flashes in the run game with an average first step and he has a tendency to play a little high. He’s grown as a more vocal leader throughout his career and has a sky-high football IQ. He’s the kind of foundation piece that makes a good football team an extremely good team.
Langford is a talented, short area, explosive, back. He’s a tough but not overly powerful runner with great patience and an outstanding ability to make players miss in space. He’s shown flashes in the passing game and although he’s not necessarily a good pass-blocker he’s willing. Age is a slight downside – turns 24 during the 2015 season – but he brings an immediate impact as a special teams player and a change of pace back.
100-88 Rare Prospect: A high first round prospect. Has a rare set of athletic gifts, competitive traits and rates as a top-5 player at their position nationwide. Can takeover, dominate and win College games and should be an immediate contributor at the pro level. Grade Scale
87-80 Outstanding Prospect: Player is consistent at the college level week in week out and coveted by all NFL teams regardless of position. Has the ability to make a pro-bowl early in their pro career. Blessed with special athletic abilities.
79-65 Good Prospect: Elite player on the college level who flashes moments of dominance. Has all the physical measurables to play solidly at the pro level.
64-55 Decent Prospect: Play at a high college level. Lack some of the physical abilities or intangibles. More than likely a late round pick who will fight for a pro roster spot.
How we get the grade
The grade is made up of four main football categories; Heigh-Weight-Speed (Athleticism), Production, Intangibles and durability. Each position then breaks down into individual position specific traits to form the overall grade. e.g. Running Back – patience, power, balance, vision, hands, blocking, agility and competitiveness. Grades are only given after seeing, at least, four tapes of every player with at least one junior/sophomore tape.