I really like this upcoming draft class. Perhaps the names at the top of the draft aren’t quarterbacks, but there is plenty of talent to be found. Specifically, defensive line and center are the strongest positions.
So much of the process is still left. The same goes for teams, so don’t read too much into rumors of teams “loving” a certain prospect. My process with quarterbacks includes placing them after all first-round worth prospects, unless I believe they are quality starters. Obviously I do not see one in the class.
1. UCLA LB Myles Jack
Where He Wins: The complete package at the position, and a complete linebacker is as valuable as it has ever been. Jack’s movements are uncommon. His lower half swivels when adjusting to what is in front of him, and his first steps are explosive and springy, quickly eating up ground to make a play others cannot. Jack is equally as aggressive between the tackles as he is in coverage. At UCLA, he was even asked to play opposite receivers and did not look out of place in coverage. Jack is a foundation piece to build with and around.
2. Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
Where He Wins: A foundation piece of an NFL offense and a complete back. Zeke’s eyes and feet are so in tune that he seamlessly shifts his line to accommodate blocking strengths and positioning. Elliott turns plenty of three yard gains into eight yard carries with balance, agility and power. He might be the best pass protecting running back I’ve seen out of college, on top of being a solid receiving option.
3. FSU DB Jalen Ramsey
Where He Wins: “What position will he play?” will be a question frequently asked throughout the process. Ramsey has the tools to succeed at multiple positions. Some teams will evaluate him at just one spot. A few will see a versatile playmaker with the size, athleticism and aggression to move around and make an impact at a variety of alignments. Ramsey can win at the catch point, make tackles in the box, blitz and even return kicks. Likely the top athlete in the class.
4. Ole Miss T Laremy Tunsil
Where He Wins: Most games Tunsil shows you everything you want. Balance, functional strength, posture, length, hands, nastiness, etc. The game against Auburn might have been his most challenging, but Carl Lawson plays like a future first round pick.
5. Ohio State EDGE Joey Bosa
Where He Wins: Explosion to power is the name of Bosa’s game. Don’t expect an edge bender when watching Bosa. Instead admire his burst off the line and powerful hands to jolt his opponent, then press and walk them back or shed to make a play in the backfield. I would not ask him to drop into coverage. Why waste the pass rushing potential more than it is necessary? Bosa is also an outstanding run defender, shedding one, two or even three blocks at times to make a play at the line of scrimmage.
6. Baylor WR Corey Coleman
Where He Wins: Functional athleticism helped Coleman win both “small” and “big” while at Baylor, and the latter is difficult to find with a 5’11/194 lbs receiver. Coleman will win contested catches, elevating over corners or adjusting with body control to haul in targets. Add that on top of vertical speed, quickness in and out of breaks and yards after catch ability, and Coleman has the tools to be an all-around receiver.
7. Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell
Where He Wins: Obviously I would not argue with anyone who ranks Treadwell as the top receiver. I love both prospects. Treadwell displayed his physical dominance in college both before and after the catch. Treadwell fits the template for a focal point of an offense at 6’2/221 lbs. His game did not slow down in 2015 after returning from a horrific leg injury. Treadwell can win at every level of the field with position and agility for someone of his size. He is used to catching erratic targets away from his body.
8. Louisville DL Sheldon Rankins
Where He Wins: A true interior disruptor. Rankins was asked to play next to the center, guard and outside of the tackle this year. He’s at his best getting upfield off the snap with explosion and agility, then uses a variety of moves to win one on one. He’s quite strong for a compact defensive tackle. Disruptors like Rankins can be difficult to find in any class. Rankins was on the field for 79.4% of the school’s snaps.
9. Notre Dame T Ronnie Stanley
Where He Wins: Many will question Stanley’s strength and/or power. By this I think they mean anchor versus power. I believe Stanley combination of length, frame, footwork and athleticism is enough of a combination to get by with possibly adequate strength. I’ve seen him display an aggressive temperament on multiple occasions.
10. Baylor DL Andrew Billings
Where He Wins: Billings might be labeled as a nose tackle by some, but he is so much more. I expect Billings to play multiple gaps and alignments, similar to Star Lotulelei early on with the Panthers. Billings can will at the line of scrimmage and also behind it. He is nimble for a big man with athleticism to gain initial ground and power to press his opponent backwards. An injury slowed down Billings for a few games. He was on the field for 77.9% of the school’s defensive snaps this season.
11. Oregon DL DeForest Buckner
Where He Wins: Has the tools to be extremely disruptive versus the run and rushing the passer. Right now Buckner shines against the run thanks to his size, length and strength to shed. Those tools can work as a pass rusher, but right now the awareness to shed and create space is not there on a consistent basis. He could play a variety of alignments up front based on personnel packages. He played on 85.5% of the school’s snaps this season.
12. Louisiana Tech DL Vernon Butler
Where He Wins: Butler moves differently than most interior defensive linemen. He can be slippery on counter moves or off the snap, even at 6’4/325 lbs. Butler has displayed the ability to win through his opponent and around them. Don’t go too far with this comparison, but Butler can win in the same ways as Mo Wilkerson. A “leap of faith” candidate due to poor athletic testing.
13. TCU WR Josh Doctson
Where He Wins: Doctson produced so many highlight reel, acrobatic catches in the end zone and along the sideline. He can get open when working back towards the quarterback after winning vertical, resulting in easy separation. A better route runner than I think many expect, specifically with minimizing wasted movement. A very good athlete.
14. Ohio State WR Michael Thomas
Where He Wins: On the Michael Crabtree - Demaryius Thomas spectrum. He can take short passes and surprises with acceleration and balance to pick up yards after the catch. A large portion of Thomas’ catches were made within ten yards of the line of scrimmage, but he can also win vertically and adjusts to the football while it is in the air.
15. Eastern Kentucky EDGE Noah Spence
Where He Wins: The former Ohio State Buckeye is an outstanding talent. Most pass rushers win one way, either with speed or power. Spence has the potential to win in both areas. A lot will be made about Spence’s past and “character concerns,” but what if they aren’t concerns any longer?
16. Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Where He Wins: 2014 was far better for Hargreaves than 2015. Still, I don’t think talent just disappeared. The corner can be aggressive at the catch point, closing on receivers after the catch when in off coverage and when playing the run. He allowed separation on deep routes this season. When he’s on, Hargreaves plays with intensity and fights for positioning to beat receivers to their point. A ridiculous athlete.
17. Clemson EDGE Shaq Lawson
Where He Wins: Shaq Lawson shows a variety of moves to win versus his opponents, displaying intent and awareness as a pass rusher. Lawson will take advantage of linemen who overextend and win around the edge. Then he can win inside after tackles compensate on the edge. He even displayed a successful spin move. He is just as successful against the run as he is rushing the passer.
18. Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith
Where He Wins: Jaylon is very athletic, capable of covering gaps and plenty of ground. Like most linebackers, Smith is at his best against the run and looked more aggressive at the point of attack this season. He is above average in coverage and has even shown the ability to rush the passer as a blitzer. I have no comment on the injury, and teams likely won't until re-check in April.
19. Ohio State LB Darron Lee
Where He Wins: A true run and chase linebacker. Lee missed a few tackles this season, but he also puts himself in position to make plays other linebackers cannot. Played a hybrid safety/linebacker role in 2015. Lee is also an adequate blitzer.
20. Georgia LB Leonard Floyd
Where He Wins: Evaluators have been able to see Floyd play from practically every linebacker alignment. He lined up at the second level more often this season and was still an effective pass rusher when asked to be. He lacks strength when getting upfield, but Floyd can bend around the corner, which some staffs prioritize despite its scarcity.
21. Florida DL Jonathan Bullard
Where He Wins: Bullard tested like a great athlete, which was a bit surprising. I love his ability to win as a defensive end against the run and impact passing downs when lining up inside. Bullard can win with power immediately or can win with length to shed and make the tackle.
22. Cal QB Jared Goff
Where He Wins: Produced some of the best touch, bucket throws we’ve seen in the last few years. There are a number of throws that clearly show he is willing to work to his second option, so “progressions” might not be a leap. Converted from a number of unclean pockets. Seemingly mastered Cal’s system.
23. North Dakota St QB Carson Wentz
Where He Wins: Unafraid to throw to receivers in contested, one on one matchups downfield, giving them an opportunity to make a play on the ball. Displays great placement on sideline throws. Has plenty of arm to make the longest of throws. Can get “stuck in the mud” at times with his base and can be hesitant to throw to receivers before their breaks, but also shows mobility when necessary.
24. Alabama C Ryan Kelly
Where He Wins: Everything you want at the anchor position. So good at reaching gaps on crucial and difficult blocks resulting in a play’s success. Can hold up against all types of interior rushers 1 on 1, but is also active in helping when left uncovered. Able to restart momentum on his second push and effort.
25. Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard
Where He Wins: Perhaps the best route runner in this class. Shepard is already precise in some of his breaks, creating separation and sustaining it. On top of that, Shepard looks like an above average athlete for the position and can come down with circus like grabs. He seems like a sub-six-foot receiver who wins outside or in the slot.
26. Alabama RB Derrick Henry
Where He Wins: A great athlete for a 6’2/242 lbs ball carrier. Defenses will need to slow him down behind the line and attempt to tackle him low, because once he is up to speed Henry is a monster. When allowed the second level, Henry has long speed to outrun defenders or power to gain a few yards after contact, if not run over them completely.
27. Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon
Where He Wins: Has three down running back ability. Will maximize the yards blocked for him and then create on his own with strength or elusiveness. Also a good receiver out of the backfield, displaying sideline awareness and body control to adjust to difficult catches.
28. Alabama DL Jarran Reed
Where He Wins: An extremely stout run defender who can play from outside or over top of the center, guard or even tackle on some snaps with a specific role. The question is if he can be more than just a run defender, or if that strength can be coupled with upfield ability to be an asset as a pass rusher.
29. Notre Dame WR Will Fuller
Where He Wins: Big plays. Big plays. Big plays. Yes, I know there are drops (like there are with Corey Coleman). But any team that draft’s Fuller will understand he will let a couple plays slip away in order to produce some major, potentially game changing, sequences. Fuller has easy speed and can use that to his advantage to create separation on breaking routes.
30. UCLA DL Kenny Clark
Where He Wins: Clark was one of the more dominant players in the country to open the season. He combines power with balance and is very good at creating separation at the line of scrimmage to make a play on ball carriers for minimal gains. He displays enough slipperiness and plays within his strengths to impact as an upfield disruptor on passing downs as well.
31. Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander
Where He Wins: Highly competitive corner despite his size 5’10/195 lbs. Plays with confidence at the line of scrimmage or off, and wants to attack the catch point. Seems aware of the football as well as his receiver/assignment. Can limit yards after the catch due to his tackling skills, and is not just a force player on the outside on runs.
32. Kansas State OL Cody Whitehair
Where He Wins: Many expect Whitehair to be the next tackle to guard transition. Why can’t he succeed at guard? The answer I point to is his wide base that has been and might be an issue against edge rushers with speed. It was the same for Zack Martin. Whitehair has powerful hands and will control you in tight spaces when in proper positioning. Guards can be just as important as tackles.
33. South Carolina State DL Javon Hargrave
Where He Wins: Squatty, powerful interior defensive lineman who also has upfield ability thanks to explosion and even displays flexibility in his hips. Far from rigid. A better prospect than many “big school” names, and more advanced with his hands, too.
34. Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche
Where He Wins: Production was definitely minimal, but Nkemdiche offers plenty of disruption potential. After playing outside early in his career, Nkemdiche looks at his best inside. His natural athleticism is an advantage there, winning around heavy footed offensive linemen off the snap or through weaker opponents. He lacks backfield vision and awareness.
35. Illinois DL Jihad Ward
Where He Wins: Ward fits the outside to inside mold very well. The 6’5/295 lbs defensive lineman can win with length and strength on the outside (if he understands who he is as a rusher). Then he can win with hand use, power and quickness inside in sub package downs. Jason Jones, Malik Jackson come to mind. A “leap of faith” candidate due to poor athletic testing.
36. Utah State EDGE Kyler Fackrell
Where He Wins: Reminds me so much of Connor Barwin. Can be a starting caliber drop end/linebacker for a team opposite a designated pass rusher. His safety background shows in his comfort in space. Still growing as a pass rusher, but has a foundation for hands and lateral moves.
37. Ohio State T Taylor Decker
Where He Wins: Loves to finish plays. His demeanor and blocking intensity can be difficult to find. I’m not an OL coach, but there are holes in his game: aiming points, sustaining blocks, etc. But I think his strength can compensate for those flaws.
38. Houston CB William Jackson III
Where He Wins: There’s a lot to like here. Jackson shows awareness and vision at corner, both when playing the receiver and when playing the ball. He can re-route in press without overextending and has the speed to stick with vertical routes or close when allowing separation. Jackson is comfortable against the run and displays aggression.
39. Michigan State OL Jack Conklin
Where He Wins: Likes to use his length at the position to both stop momentum and carry pass rushers around the pocket. Not a real drive blocker, but has athletic feet and always look to sustain his blocks. Can overcome bad positions or some balance issues.
40. Miss State DL Chris Jones
Where He Wins: The flashes are outstanding, but they are not consistent. Jones has so much ability and typically works around his opponent when winning. Successful snaps from outside the tackle, guard and center. Tough to stop his momentum when he’s aggressive, and then can slip past anchors with fluid movement.
41. LSU LB Deion Jones
Where He Wins: One of the most explosive linebackers in the class. Plays fast and with aggression. I’m not worried about his size at 6-foot-1 and 219-pounds, just like I wasn’t worried about Telvin Smith’s size. Shifty linebackers can scare blockers more than ones who prefer to take on a block. There are multiple examples of assignment sound plays in coverage for Jones.
42. Alabama LB Reggie Ragland
Where He Wins: Is best as a hammer linebacker, meeting blocks as soon as possible in the hopes of disrupting plays. Reminds me a lot of Kevin Minter. I think the “edge rusher on third down” stuff is a nice attempt by his people, but if Ragland is one of your two best edge rushers on obvious passing downs, you have bigger problems.
43. USC LB Su’a Cravens
Where He Wins: Played on the edge for the most part this season, and maximized his size and length to hold up against blockers and force runs back inside. Might be best as a true off ball linebacker in the NFL, covering ground from the backside. Shows on a number of plays that he can get skinny and bend to work around blocks others might not.
44. Clemson EDGE Kevin Dodd
Where He Wins: There is nothing flashy athletically in terms of explosion, but Dodd can be very efficient and maximizes the space he is given. Dodd can match the strength of power blockers and uses his hands to create separation on the outside and flattens out to turn the corner as best he can when rushing the passer.
45. Ohio State WR Braxton Miller
Where He Wins: The big question is if Miller is more than a manufactured touch player early on in his career, and if so can he play on the outside or strictly in the slot. Miller displayed natural receiving skills in his first game against Virginia Tech in terms of contorting his body to adjust for catches. OSU, perhaps because of quarterback play, attempted to force touches to him. Miller can create separation in his breaks (sometimes too many breaks) and is nasty with the ball in his hands.
46. Appalachian State DL Ronald Blair
Where He Wins: Again, movement and explosion are the keys. Blair is extremely explosive and stout on the edge, but then uses a slightly different skill set when moved inside on some sub-package situations. He had a number of great games, including against Clemson. A “leap of faith” candidate due to poor athletic testing.
47. Stanford G Joshua Garnett
Where He Wins: Perhaps the most powerful interior blocker in this class (Landon Turner has a fight for that title, too). Garnett wants to move defenders off their spot in individual matchups and absolutely will on double teams.
48. Michigan State C Jack Allen
Where He Wins: I think every Senior Bowl center will start in the NFL, but Allen is the best of the bunch. Might measure in less than 300-pounds, but he anchors against bigger players (see Jarran Reed). He will fight for dominant positioning.
49. Alabama DL A’Shawn Robinson
Where He Wins: When watching Robinson, I see a defensive lineman who is content to stay at the line of scrimmage and is a strong run defender. The question is if he can be more than a two down player. Athleticism could be a piece to the puzzle. Is he Michael Brockers at best?
50. LSU CB Jalen Mills
Where He Wins: I prefer him at corner compared to safety. Ran receivers’ routes for them during Senior Bowl week. Recognized and anticipated breaks, showed great timing and closed in a hurry to beat receivers to the catch point. An above average athlete for the position.
51. Maryland DB Sean Davis
Where He Wins: The comparison to Eric Rowe makes so much sense. Davis spent time at safety and corner during his time in college and displayed high points at each. An outstanding athlete who also has 32-plus inch arms.
52. Ohio State S Vonn Bell
Where He Wins: An all-around safety who likely fits best on a team that splits their safeties in the back half. There are exposures of quality play as a deep safety and in the box over top of a slot receiver. Steady is the best way to describe Bell’s game.
53. Ohio State DL Adolphus Washington
Where He Wins: When he’s on, Washington can be very disruptive and slippery. In the past I docked interior defensive linemen who did not give full effort or did not fight for position on every snap. That has changed in recent years. Washington played a large number of snaps (82 percent) and shows uncommon movement for an interior defensive lineman.
54. Indiana T Jason Spriggs
Where He Wins: A great athlete at tackle, and that can help him compensate for other potential issues. Had a solid Senior Bowl week. More of a position blocker than a power/drive offensive lineman, but there is nothing wrong with that.
55. Arkansas TE Hunter Henry
Where He Wins: As of now, a true role player as a receiving tight end. If a target is in his catch radius, Henry will bring it in. Will not be a complete tight end, there are very few in the NFL, but Henry needs to be at least willing and adequate as a blocker in order to stay on the field. Has been used from practically every alignment.
56. Penn State DL Austin Johnson
Where He Wins: Best at stopping the run. Tough man to move off of his spot. Uses his strength to get upfield to occasionally win as a pass rusher. Makes his plays at the line of scrimmage.
57. Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller
Where He Wins: Has very good closing speed and is aggressive when closing. Best at mirroring receivers along the sideline, stays in phase but does not always turn and locate the football. “Click and close” is apparent. Dealt with a torn meniscus to open the season then underwent microfracture surgery.
58. Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo
Where He Wins: Makes difficult catches on a consistent basis. Defenses knew he was the only receiving threat on the team, yet Carroo still produced at a very high level. Knows how to create slivers of separation at the catch point. Has played both outside and in the slot.
59. Pitt WR Tyler Boyd
Where He Wins: A longtime headliner at Pitt. Was at his best in 2015 in the slot, using his limited athleticism in that area to create separation thanks to detail and a willingness to make contested catches or grabs in tight spaces. That is where he projects best.
60. Memphis QB Paxton Lynch
Where He Wins: Fulfills and offers many of the buzzwords. Height, arm, mobility, velocity, etc. There are games where he puts all of the tools together, namely Ole Miss in 2015. Then there are other contests where he looks out of sorts. With quarterbacks, unless I think they can be quality starters early in their careers I tier them after the “first-round” worthy prospects.
61. Michigan State QB Connor Cook
62. Ohio State CB Eli Apple
63. Florida S Keanu Neal
64. Boise State S Darian Thompson
65. NC State OL Joe Thuney
66. Boise State OL Rees Odhiambo
67. Washington State OL Joe Dahl
68. Michigan State EDGE Shilique Calhoun
69. WKU TE Tyler Higbee
70. WVU S Karl Joseph
71. Notre Dame RB C.J. Prosise
72. Missouri LB Kentrell Brothers
73. Ohio State LB Joshua Perry
74. Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins
75. Oklahoma State EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah
76. Arizona State G Christian Westerman
77. Notre Dame OL Nick Martin
78. Michigan OL Graham Glasgow
79. Boise State EDGE Kamalei Correa
80. Auburn T Shon Coleman
81. UCLA RB Paul Perkins
82. Ohio State TE Nick Vannett
83. BYU DL Bronson Kaufusi
84. Northwestern DL Dean Lowry
85. Georgia EDGE Jordan Jenkins
86. Oklahoma EDGE Charles Tapper
87. Notre Dame DL Sheldon Day
88. Clemson DL D.J. Reader
89. Auburn CB Jonathan Jones
90. Alabama CB Cyrus Jones
91. Iowa C Austin Blythe
92. USC C Max Tuerk
93. Clemson WR Charone Peake
94. Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell
95. FAU DL Trevon Coley
96. Boston College S Justin Simmons
97. UNC G Landon Turner
98. Indiana RB Jordan Howard
99. Duke S Jeremy Cash
100. Cal RB Daniel Lasco