The 2018 NFL Combine is in the books, and after checking boxes and going back to the tape to reevaluate some key prospects, I have come up with and stacked a top-100 big board as we head into the Pro Day cycle. Keep in mind that this is my personal ranking in a vacuum of where I value these players, not where I think they will be drafted. With that being said, sit back, read, and bookmark this baby. Also, feel free to yell at me on Twitter because of how egregious my rankings are.
- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson might be the closest thing to the perfect prospect I’ve ever scouted. He is Zack Martin-esque with his power and fluidity in both the run game and in pass protection. Rarely do you ever see him get beat, and if I had to pick one prospect to bet my career on, it would be Nelson; he is that good.
- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
With his freakish athletic traits and all-around skill set as both a runner and receiver, I’m not sure the NFL has ever seen someone like Saquon Barkley. If he were a wide receiver in this class, he’d still be a first round pick. At the same time, he has the power and blow-by speed to tear up opposing defenses snap by snap. He does get cute sometimes by trying to dance and bounce instead of bursting through the hole, but his unparalleled ability to play anywhere on the field and give elite production makes him worthy of this slot.
- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
At 6’1, 236, Roquan Smith effortlessly flies around the field and makes plays in the backfield on a consistent basis. His size, play style, skill set, and projected fit at the next level as a 4-3 WLB makes me think of Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David, who has been one of the NFL’s best linebackers over the last five years. He made the biggest plays in the biggest games, and I think he will be a long-time captain and difference maker for an NFL team.
- Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Injured most of the year, Jaire Alexander was not able to quell concerns about his long-term durability at the next level, but when healthy, he was able to show why many were so high on him to begin with. When I watched him on film, Alexander checked every box that I look for in a cover corner. He can play press man, off man, different variances of zone coverage, come up in run support, attack the ball in the air, and stay attached on the hip pocket. The way he is able to close separation and make plays on a consistent basis in either man or zone from either the outside or the slot is what reminds me of Chris Harris Jr. His size won’t be for everybody, but he has true shutdown cornerback potential.
- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
USC quarterback Sam Darnold is one of the most polarizing draft prospects in this class. Some love him, some hate him. I tend to fall on the side of the former because of what I think he can become. He was able to show the most promise on tape from the quarterback position. Whether it was the arm talent to make plays at all three levels of the field, the ball placement to drop those passes in, the pocket presence and accuracy on the run, or his mobility inside and outside of the pocket, Darnold showed that he can be the real deal with continued development. I feel as if some analysts are too blinded with his handful of bad decisions that they can’t see the forest through the trees, or in other words, the big picture. If he can get his lower body mechanics refined, specifically his footwork and balance, he has the makings of a future franchise quarterback.
- Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
Bradley Chubb tore up the ACC all season in 2017, earning him the conference’s defensive player of the year with 10 sacks. At 275 lbs., Chubb still has the ability to bend, flatten, and close off of the edge as a pass rusher, reminding some of Everson Griffen. He is also a monster at setting the edge and disrupting the backfield in run support. All in all, I don’t really see a major flaw to his game.
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Some say he’s a cornerback, some say he’s a safety, but from my point of view, it would be wise to not box Minkah Fitzpatrick into either spot. He is a hybrid defensive back who can play anywhere in the secondary. Although I believe Fitzpatrick is a step-in starter in the slot or in the back end as a safety, I do think he would need further development in his back to ball technique in man coverage as a boundary cornerback. Combine this versatility though with his incredible athleticism and play strength, and you might have a souped-up Tyrann Mathieu on your hands.
- Derwin James, S, Florida State
Derwin James is one of those toolsy prospects that scouts will jump on the table for because of his traits and what he could become at the next level. He is not yet a finished product, and I think his cover skills need a lot of refinement, regardless if it is Zone or Man. Right now, he is a box safety with excellent physicality and elite downhill explosiveness. His angles and instincts are also underdeveloped, but the more you play him forward as a strong safety instead of backward as a centerfielder, James will be more productive. He is a freak athlete who has his best football ahead of him. While there is a slight bust factor here, James undoubtedly has superstar potential.
- Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
After having a 16.5 sack junior season, Harold Landry endured through an injury-crippled 2017 senior year. Yet, he still attained five sacks in eight games and showed the explosiveness and bend around the corner that was on display in that breakout junior year. Landry is one of the most explosive pass rushers in this class and is a threat to get to the quarterback on each play. Even with the dip in production, I feel confident that Landry can be a double-digit pass rusher and three-down edge defender at the next level.
- Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Taven Bryan showed dominant flashes in 2017, especially with his patented and absolutely filthy push-pull move. He creates disruption on almost every snap with his unreal quickness, as he became a pass-rushing phenom this season. In fact, he bends better than most defensive ends in this draft, as quantified by his 7.12 three cone time. Bryan does need refinement in lane discipline and his overaggressive style of play, but he has all the tools to be a double-digit sack guy at the defensive tackle position, a feat that is reached by only a handful of players. When you look how he tested in the 95th percentile or better in the three cone, vertical jump, and broad jump, it is clear that he has the explosiveness to be a dominant player at the next level if he improves his consistency.
- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
There are already some people who are afraid of taking a 23-year old wide receiver who will turn 24 in his rookie season, as well as others who don’t like that he is a bit light at 190 pounds, but Calvin Ridley is still the most complete wide receiver prospect in this draft. He is NFL-ready with his advanced route refinement, reliable hands, competitive toughness, and after the catch explosiveness. His numbers in the jumps were underwhelming, but he wins with lateral and vertical separation, not catch point separation, which is quantified with his 4.43 40-yard dash and 6.88 three cone. Don’t overthink this one. Trust the tape.
- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Denzel Ward really helped himself at the Combine by measuring in at almost 5’11. He is as sticky and feisty as they come in both off and press man coverage. Ward can get up in a receiver’s grill, or he can just sit on top of routes because of how gifted he is athletically. I don’t think it matters where Ward plays at the next level because whether it is inside or out, he is going to shut down wide receivers in man coverage. His reactionary quickness in Zone is not as developed as a player like Jaire Alexander, but he can close ground in a hurry with his elite speed. I would be shocked if he fell out of the top half of the first round at this point.
- Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Isaiah Wynn was Georgia’s left tackle this season, but as steady as he was, he has guard written all over him at the next level. His big, squatty frame and power as a run blocker will translate inside at the next level. In terms of reliability, I’d bet Wynn becomes a 10-year starter with Pro Bowl potential because of his ability to move, get to the second level, stay on balance, and anchor in pass protection.
- James Daniels, C, Iowa
I was intrigued in my casual viewings of Daniels during the regular season, but when he decided to declare as a true junior, I started a deep dive into his tape. His mobility to get to the second level on sweeps and combo blocks is outstanding. He also puts on a clinic with his reach blocks and overall power in the run game. In fact, I think he could also have big-time value at guard in a zone blocking scheme. He needs better pad level in pass protection, but considering his reliability, traits, and production at only 20 years of age, I think Daniels has the traits of a player with multiple Pro Bowls in his future as a step-in starter, comparable to Raiders’ center Rodney Hudson.
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield is known for his ability to work magic in the midst of chaos with his mobility and downfield awareness, but he truly became a first-round talent this season with his improvement as a pocket passer for the Sooners. Whether it was his eye manipulation, ball placement, or footwork, Mayfield improved leaps and bounds as a pocket passer in the details this season. Despite his confidence and daredevil mentality to throw darts into the tightest of windows, he still second-guesses himself too often on open, easy throws underneath, constantly looking for the big play. Given the demand for the position and that he has improved in each season of his collegiate career, I would be surprised if Mayfield makes it out of the first seven or eight picks.
- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The confidence and velocity Rosen puts on his well-timed, accurate throws will get anyone’s adrenaline pumping. He is cool, calm, and collected in the pocket with his reads and ball placement, showcasing his fundamentals and overall mechanics as a passer. Once out of structure though, he gets a little inconsistent with his accuracy and decision making, but that is not to say he is a statue in the pocket. He doesn’t have the trump card of improv or mobility to fall back on when pressured or in need of a check down, but he is unequivocally the most gifted thrower in this class when given time and a clean pocket.
- Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
At someone his size and length, you just don’t see press cornerbacks as fluid or smooth as Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver. He makes a lot of mental and footwork errors at the LOS, but he has the catch-up speed and length to make up for what he lost at the beginning of routes. His ball skills are at the point to where he can compete for any jump ball regardless of where the play is, whether it is in the middle of the field or the goal line. Zone awareness and run support are big question marks in my notes, but in terms of press and off man coverage, Oliver has the athleticism and length to potentially be a shutdown corner in this league.
- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Tremaine Edmunds does not turn 20 years old until May, making him the youngest player in this draft class, as well as the youngest player to enter the draft since Amobi Okoye. Edmunds has a long way to go with his gap intelligence and instincts as an off-ball linebacker, but when he is in space, he can fly. Regardless if he plays off-ball or as a situational pass rusher, Edmunds is a chess piece with as much athletic ability and potential as any defensive player in this class.
- Vita Vea, DT, Washington
What else is there to say about Vita Vea other than the fact that he just mauls dudes at the LOS? I mean, he will take on double teams and throw them to side to make the tackle in the backfield. He is that strong and powerful as a run defender in the middle. As a pass rusher, he moves better than anybody at his size that I can recall. The problems I have with Vea stem from his underdeveloped technique and backfield awareness, but he has all the tools to be one of the league’s most dominant nose tackles.
- Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
Many see Ronald Jones’ slight frame and think he is just a scat back or change-of-pace player at the next level, but I think he has the skill set of a three-down runner at the next level. For how many plays he makes as an outside runner with his speed and shiftiness, he is just as good in between the tackles, believe it or not. He has better patience and vision than given credit for, and he will wait for the crease to open up before bouncing outside. It is cliché, but he does have some Jamaal Charles in his game with a sprinkle of Willie Parker quickness.
- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Boise State’s version of Sean Lee is the best way to describe the uber-talented linebacker prospect Leighton Vander Esch. His uncanny combination of instincts, stopping power, and reliability in space makes him one of favorite prospects in this class. His best fit is at WLB because of his production in space, but he has the stack and shed ability to play the Mike spot as well. The way he chases down plays from the backside, as well as his reactionary quickness to turn and run with slot receivers mid-route, is something that will get scouts jumping on the table for him in board-setting meetings. The numbers he put up at the Combine for someone 256 pounds were unreal, and you can bet his stock is going way up after what he showed in Indianapolis.
- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
If Guice did not battle an injury-plagued junior season in 2017, there might be more hype to him being a slam-dunk top 10 pick. Nonetheless, he was able to show off his well-rounded skill set of power, speed, and quickness late in the year against the will of opposing defenses. He is a nasty finisher who invites contact, but unlike his former teammate Leonard Fournette, he can also make people miss whenever he wants, wherever he wants. This unpredictable running style is what will make Guice a very productive running back at the next level for years to come.
- DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
DJ Moore was one of the most feared wide receivers in all of college football in 2017. Moore gets open at will, might have the strongest pair of hands at the catch point, and is a blur in the open field. He was also one of the biggest winners of the Combine by measuring in two inches taller than people thought and running a 4.4. Whether he plays on the outside or in the slot, I just want to get the ball in his hands and let him do the rest.
- Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
I’m going to put this as plainly as I can: Will Hernandez is the 2018 NFL Draft’s offensive lineman version of King Kong. He ragdolls opponents at the LOS at will with his brute strength and powerful mitts, proving to be a wrecking ball in the run game. Once he gets his hands on you, it is flat out over. He is a phone-booth guy who will struggle in space, but he has the potential to be one of the best run blockers the NFL has to offer.
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Lamar Jackson is another name in one of the most polarizing quarterback classes in recent memory. Many just see Jackson for what he does with his legs outside of the pocket, but he has steadily improved as a pocket passer throughout his career at Louisville. Jackson has the arm talent to effortlessly fling the football downfield, whether in the pocket or on the run, and he was much more consistent in 2017. Still, he did not have a single season where he completed more than 60 percent of his passes, a threshold that is often used by evaluators to judge whether or not a college quarterback can be consistently accurate at the next level. His long-term durability is also a risk because of how often he runs the ball, but his upside is intriguing enough to take a chance on in the mid-late first round.
- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
Ronnie Harrison is a baller in the box as a strong safety and downhill enforcer. The closer you keep him at the LOS, the better. While not a centerfielder type of safety, he can scream off the edge and become an instant difference maker in the run game for a team with his athletic tools and contagious physicality. With his value as a physically-imposing enforcer and sneaky-good man coverage athlete, Harrison will be a long-time starter in this league.
- Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State
Talk about Combine risers? Josh Sweat put up absolutely ridiculous numbers in Indianapolis. With a 4.53 40-yard dash, 39.5-inch vertical jump, and 124-inch broad jump, Sweat confirmed the athletic profile he showed on tape. The biggest news, however, was that he wasn’t red flagged for his medical. That was the primary concern surrounding his draft stock, and now that it looks like he is in the clear, his tape shows a player with first round traits who just needs a little bit more consistency as a rusher. His upside is through the roof as a three-down defensive end.
- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Alabama’s Rashaan Evans is one of the most difficult players to evaluate because of where he lines up in that defense as compared to what he projects as in the NFL. I think he is an inside linebacker at the next level, but he played more of a SAM for the Crimson Tide, rushing the passer on third down, while playing off ball and pursuing as a freelancer on early work. Nonetheless, Evans is a missile coming downhill who can be a tone setter at inside linebacker at the next level.
- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
With a short, but filled-out frame, James Washington looks more like a running back than a wide receiver on the hoof. Nonetheless, he was the Biletnikoff award winner this season, which is awarded to the top receiver in college football. Washington knows how to get behind a defense without having blow-by speed, he has mitts for hands that catch anything in his radius, and he is absolutely electric after the catch. If Washington ran more crisp routes in the short to intermediate game, we’d be talking about a first round playmaker.
- Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford
I said it seven months ago in my in-depth preseason report on him, and my mind has not changed much since: Quenton Meeks is arguably the smartest and most crafty cornerback prospect I’ve ever scouted. At 6’2, 200 lbs., he can turn and run both vertically and laterally really well for his size. His length and patience at the LOS will give teams goose bumps about his press man coverage potential, but his calling card is in Zone. Whether it is Cover 2 or 3, Meeks is incredibly manipulative and baits quarterbacks into throwing interceptions, which ties into his advanced eye discipline and ball skills. Because of this cerebral ability to be a step ahead in press man, off man, and Zone, as well as his ability to build off of his mistakes, I think he will be an instant contributor at the next level.
- Connor Williams, OT, Texas
If the 2016 version of Connor Williams was in this class, I would take him top 10 without question. The problem is that his production and reliability fell off a cliff, both before and after his knee injury in 2017. He was not the same fluid pass protector or nasty finisher in the run game. It is almost as if he was content with his 2016 tape and tried to not get injured, which is exactly what happened, unfortunately. He is going to wow scouts with his athleticism and movement skills in Indianapolis at the Combine, but his mixed, conflicting tape will also leave them wondering if he is worth the price of admission, which seems to be the mid to late first round. I know some teams are considering putting him at guard, but he is still my top tackle because of the traits he flashed on tape.
- Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
UCF cornerback Mike Hughes declared after a stellar 2017 season that saw him rise up as one of the best man coverage cornerbacks in all of college football. His recovery speed to get back on the hip pocket might be the most impressive in this loaded class, and even when he gets beat, he finds a way to get back in position for the PBU or interception. Zone coverage is a different story, however, as his reactionary quickness is not where it needs to be. His Combine performance was just okay, but he is a better football player than the numbers show, and I’m going to trust the tape on this one.
- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Alabama junior defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne is a freak of nature when he wants to be. It seems as if he plays up and down to his competition, and he will go invisible for long stretches of games. But his flash plays are evident of one thing: he can be a special player at the next level. Whether it is at the one or three technique, Da’Ron Payne could be both an elite run stopper and productive pass rusher. If a team is willing to bet on his traits and overlook his inconsistent production, he could be one of the steals of this draft.
- Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
Anthony Miller is another player who will turn 24 during his rookie season, but his play speaks for itself and should not scare off teams. He is fluid before and after the catch, makes plays that 6’4 guys make at the catch point, and has an energy to his game that is contagious. His competitive toughness and confidence to go over the middle and make tough grabs will earn the respect of his teammates. Don’t sleep on his deep speed either to beat cornerbacks over the top. Just a solid, well-rounded player who can make an instant impact at the next level.
- Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest
Jessie Bates is a fun prospect because he can play deep middle, in the slot, or at the LOS. He is an interchangeable safety prospect who is reliable against the run and in coverage. Ideally, I want him to have a bigger frame, but his multi-dimensional skill set with cornerback-like traits in man coverage makes him one of my top safeties and an instant contributor at the next level.
- Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Mike Gesicki is an absolute freak. No other tight end or player, for that matter, has ever tested that athletic at the Combine since Vernon Davis. We’re talking about a player who ran 4.5 and jumped 40-plus in the vertical jump at 250 pounds. He is a mismatch nightmare in the pass game, and I think he is an instant red zone weapon with substantial upside, but his lack of production as a blocker will cause some teams to shy away.
- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
On many draft boards, Courtland Sutton is the second receiver behind Calvin Ridley, but I have serious questions about how his game will translate before the catch at the next level. Similar to Josh Doctson, Sutton is an above-the-rim receiver who has enough speed to get vertical and make plays after the catch, but he is still trying to earn his undergraduate degree in route running. He lacks nuance at the LOS and in his routes, rounding off at the stem and getting away with it because of the subpar competition. Sutton will struggle against press coverage and getting away from the quicker cornerbacks at the next level mid-route, but if you throw a jump ball his way, he is coming down with it.
- Justin Reid, S, Stanford
Stanford’s Justin Reid is another one of these interchangeable safety prospects who can play anywhere from the box to the centerfielder spot. He is an excellent man coverage defender with his anticipation and reactionary quickness in mirroring slot receivers. His instincts and ball skills stand out on tape as well. I wish he were a more reliable tackler at his size, but I think he will be one of those players who will give quiet, consistent production at the next level.
- Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers
In terms of pure talent, Kemoko Turay has all the traits you look for in a pass rusher at the next level. He has the athletic profile with his size, length, and bend, the hand technique, and counters to be a double-digit sack guy. This talent was left in the cage at Rutgers, and we are still waiting to see if his shoulder was red flagged at the Combine. There are a lot of questions about his production and durability, but his on-field traits are undeniable.
- Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
While he may be undersized, Maurice Hurst was almost unblockable in his career as a Michigan Wolverine. His quickness and hand technique gave interior offensive linemen fits. His motor is always running hot, chasing down plays and screens from the backside on a consistent basis. If Hurst is drafted early, it will be because of his pass rush potential. The caveat here is that he was flagged with a heart issue at the Combine, and it could jeopardize his potential NFL career. This is something that will be monitored very closely over the next month.
- Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada
When you look at Austin Corbett’s versatility to play guard, center, or tackle at the next level, he reminds me of a player like Mitch Morse for Kansas City. He is reliable in both space and a phone booth, plays with heavy hands and consistently finishes blocks. I think people are going to look back and wonder why he wasn’t drafted higher.
- Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
Jordan Whitehead is another player I will be higher on than the consensus, but it is mostly because of his translatable athleticism and position flexibility. He is a defensive back chess piece who I think can play anywhere in the secondary. He has a cornerback skill set in man coverage, but he also plays with an edge in run support like a strong safety. Whitehead has also proven to be a difference maker as a centerfielder, flying sideline to sideline to disrupt passes over the top. He was Pittsburgh’s best weapon on both offense and defense, and if he goes to a team with a plan in mind, Whitehead could be a special player in today’s base nickel NFL.
- Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
Dallas Goedert’s draft process has been plagued by a hamstring injury that he suffered in Mobile on the first day of the Senior Bowl week. While he has not tested yet, you can see how athletic he is as a vertical field stretcher on tape. Goedert can separate vertically, laterally, and at the catch point as a receiver. He may not have the upside of someone like Gesicki, but I think he is a long-time starter at the next level.
- Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
Crosby is one of the nastiest and meanest blockers I saw on tape this season. He finishes every block and his strong, heavy hands can really expose opposing defensive linemen. In pass protection, the play is over when he gets his hands on the rusher, but his struggles against speed and quickness are noteworthy. Nonetheless, I think Crosby is a starter at the next level with considerable upside as a run blocker.
- Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State
Sam Hubbard really helped himself at the Combine, despite not running the 40-yard dash. He ran a 6.8 three cone at 270 pounds, showing that he has the foot quickness and change of direction to threaten the corner as a pass rusher. His relentlessness off the edge is what draws me in, and I think he will have a long career in the NFL despite the fact that he may never be a double-digit sack pass rusher.
- Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
Dante Pettis did not do much in Indianapolis, but his tape is the only thing he needs on his resume. He is a great route runner with strong hands and explosive playmaking potential each time he touches the ball. His versatility to play inside or out and help in the return game will also appeal to plenty of teams.
- DJ Chark, WR, LSU
After running a 4.34 and jumping 40 inches in the vertical jump, I would not be surprised to see a team take DJ Chark in the late first round because of his traits as size/speed specimen. He is painfully inconsistent on tape, but his flashes are undeniable, and I think he is a very similar player to Will Fuller in terms of how they win vertically.
- Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
Rashaad Penny is the most mentally advanced running back in this draft class. Whereas most ball carriers would bounce runs outside when there’s a mess inside, Penny has the patience and vision to read and find a crease in the midst of traffic. Once he finds the crease, he explodes through the hole with better than advertised speed and change of direction. His production as a receiver does not jump out, but he showed traits of being a reliable option out of the backfield on numerous occasions. Penny’s size and all-around skill set of power, quickness, and mental processing is reminiscent of Thomas Jones.
- Genard Avery, LB, Memphis
With parallels to Haason Reddick, Genard Avery has the versatility as both an edge rusher and off-ball linebacker that should appeal to both 3-4 and 4-3 teams. He is the best player no one is talking about, and after putting up big-time numbers at the Combine, I could see the NFL catching up and realizing that his tape is just as good.
- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
If Carlton Davis were better at the catch point, I would have him a lot higher than this spot. The problem is that those ball skills are not teachable. Davis struggles to find the ball over his shoulder, fights the ball in the air when he does see it, and is conservative in his plan of attack in jump ball situations. Everything he does before the catch is technically proficient, especially at the LOS as a press man corner, but he is not going to be every team’s flavor.
- Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Other than the 40, Nick Chubb had comparable numbers to Saquon Barkley at the NFL Combine. He is a bowling ball bruiser of a running back who gets better as the game goes on. He may not offer the suddenness or change of direction that his teammate Sony Michel brings to the table, but I could see Chubb being an immediate workhorse back for a team like Detroit in the second round.
- Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
The best looking edge defender on the hoof in this class is undoubtedly UTSA’s Marcus Davenport. At 6’6, 265, he is able to convert speed to power unlike anyone else in this class. His explosiveness and bend around the arc at that size is something you just don’t find often. The problem is that he is as raw with his technique as you can get. He terrorized opponents with his length and heavy hands as a rusher, but his pad level is atrocious. The same goes for the run game as an edge setter. There is a risk-reward label here, but there is no doubt that he will go in the top 20 picks because of his ridiculous traits.
- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The more I watched Mike McGlinchey, the more I appreciated his game. He is not flashy with overwhelming power or fluidity, but he gets the job done consistently in both the run game and pass protection with solid technique. He can play on either the left or right side at tackle, and I think he starter written all over him.
- Rashaan Gaulden, S, Tennessee
Despite putting up uninspiring numbers at the Combine, I’m going to trust the tape on Rashaan Gaulden. He has the man coverage skill set to play in the slot and the physicality to play at the LOS. I compare him to John Johnson, who had a spectacular rookie season for the Rams as a hybrid safety/slot cornerback, and I think Gaulden can have a similar impact.
- Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Sony Michel has both breakaway burst and quickness inside and out to be a nightmare for defenses to contain. He also runs extremely hard and physical when he needs to churn out yards on short-yard situations. Michel would be battling for first round consideration on my board if he had more production in the receiving game (only nine catches in 2017), but I have no doubt that he will carry over his success as a ball carrier at the next level because of his multi-dimensional skill set.
- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
Talk about size and speed upside. Equanimeous St. Brown ran a 4.48 40-yard dash time at 6’5. He is a freak who will draw comparisons to Martavis Bryant because of his ability to fly down the field at his size, but I think he is much more refined route runner. He has great feet and hips, and I believe he has a ton of upside despite not playing up to his size at the catch point too often on tape.
- DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
I am going to be higher on DeShon Elliott than most draft evaluators, but I strongly believe he can be a big time playmaker at the next level. He is a modern-day strong safety at the next level who can cover tight ends in man coverage, play close to the LOS, and be as reliable as they come in run support. From a mental processing perspective, Elliott is one of the most NFL-ready prospects in this class. I have questions about his long speed, but he plays faster than he tests because he puts himself in position to make plays on a snap to snap basis.
- Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma
This behemoth of a human being at 6’8, 345 plays like a ton of bricks as a run blocker. He is my biggest faller after the Combine though. All he needed to do was show that he wasn’t the worst athlete there. Not only did he fail in doing that, but he also became arguably the worst athlete in Combine history. I thought he moved better that what he showed in Indianapolis when I went back to the tape, and I’ve come to the conclusion that he is just someone you have to trust the tape on. He has a lot of upside with his base power, length, and heavy hands, but where he goes depends on how comfortable a team is willing to take an outlier in terms of his athletic profile.
- Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
I have no problem saying Michael Gallup is one of the most well-rounded receivers in this draft. He has good size, nice athletic tools, strong hands, and creates separation both before and after the catch. There is not this one major flaw with Gallup, and that’s why I compared him to a player like Amani Toomer. Gallup may never be the top option for an offense, but if you put him in a secondary role, he will give you consistent production with his ability to beat you in almost any way, whether it is over the top with his speed, or underneath on a slant.
- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
If you throw the ball in Joshua Jackson’s vicinity, expect that ball to be coming the other way. The physical part of the game is really lacking for Jackson, especially at the LOS and in run support, but in Cover 2 or 3, he will be an instant playmaker in coverage with his ball skills and ability to attack forward. The problems I have stem from his raw LOS technique and inexperience playing with his back to the ball. I could see him having a major learning curve at the next level, and I am worried he has a little too much Artie Burns in his game. Nonetheless, he will go early because of his production and traits as a ballhawking boundary cornerback.
- Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia
Andrew Brown did not test as well as I thought he would, but it does not change the fact that he is a high-upside player at the next level who has his best football ahead of him as a one-gap attacking three technique. Virginia played him out of position as a defensive end, but with his quickness and burst, he is going to do his damage inside at the next level. He reminds me a lot of Jonathan Bullard coming out of Florida, despite not being as polished against the run.
- Billy Price, C, Ohio State
I’m not as high on Price as others, but I still think he has starter-level traits at the next level as either a guard or center. He is a mean, nasty player in the run game, but his overaggressive nature in pass protection gets him off balance and in trouble too often on tape. In addition, he suffered an unfortunate injury at the Combine where he partially tore his pectoral muscle. It is something that he will be able to return from before training camp, but it will be in the back of the minds of evaluators.
- Duke Ejiofor, EDGE, Wake Forest
The Emmanuel Ogbah clone of this class is Wake Forest’s Duke Ejiofor. He has similar size at 6’4, 275, but it is his skill set that reminds me of the up and comer for the Cleveland Browns. Ejiofor plays with violent, quick hands and is able to get underneath offensive tackles to create pressure, but he also has a spin move, a cross-chop, and inside rip in his arsenal to get there. His toolbox of pass rush moves is one of the most impressive parts of his game, but it makes up for his lack of speed and burst off of the edge. He’s not the crazy athletic or overwhelmingly physical edge defender like some of the guys on this list, but he finds a way to get the quarterback with his savvy, technician-like rush skills. In addition, he is a reliable edge setter in the run game, proving he can be a three-down strong-side defensive end in a 4-3 if given the opportunity.
- Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
Kerryon Johnson is another player I liked the more I watched his tape. You grow to appreciate his game because of how crafty he is as a ball carrier. Whether it is his vision and patience to read and capitalize off of his blocks, or his subtle jump cuts, Johnson has the skill set of a starting running back at the next level.
- Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is going to get dinged by NFL teams for his size to play defensive end or on the edge at the next level. But if given the opportunity, Okoronkwo will produce. His pass rush production for the Sooners speaks for itself, and on tape, he is a load to handle. Not just because of his speed and burst around the corner, but also because he is possibly the most refined technician with his wide array of inside counters and moves. He consistently manipulated offensive tackles to get to the quarterback, and I think it would be a missed opportunity if a team moves him off ball.
- MJ Stewart, CB, North Carolina
MJ Stewart is the ideal nickel in the NFL. He is tough against the run, quick and feisty at the LOS, closes any separation in man coverage, and has natural ball skills with his back to the quarterback. He does struggle with long speed, but I have doubt he can mirror and match laterally with some of the quickest slot receivers in the NFL.
- Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State
I did not know who Nathan Shepherd even was before the Senior Bowl, but in the short time he was able to compete in Mobile, he asserted himself as the most dominant defensive player there. No one could block him. His active hand usage and athleticism for someone his size is difficult to contain in pass protection. He is an older prospect, but he has the body, profile, and skill set of a starting under tackle at the next level.
- Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State
Want an anchor in the middle of your defensive front? Look no further than Florida State senior defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. He is an elite run defender who can step in right away and become an instant contributor on early downs. His pass rush potential is limited but with his power and sound gap discipline, he is one of the most NFL-ready defensive linemen in this class.
- DJ Reed, CB, Kansas State
While only 5’9, DJ Reed is one of the best pure cover corners in this class. He has natural ball skills and playmaking ability, and his surprising length also helps him compete at the catch point and disrupt receivers at the LOS. He plays bigger than his size, and I could see him having a Brent Grimes-like career in the NFL.
- Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
Kyzir White played that strong safety/spur linebacker role for the Mountaineers, but I think he there is a misconception surrounding his translation to the next level. He is not Jeremy Cash. He is a much better athlete, man coverage defender and space player than given credit for. In the few shots he had at centerfielder, he showed the range and instincts necessary to be a threat in the back end. I think he can play free or strong, it is just going to take a team with conviction to trust that he can do it because West Virginia really limited what he did in coverage.
- Fred Warner, LB, BYU
Fred Warner is a bit of a projection because of how BYU played him, but he has the range and reactionary quickness of a starting off-ball linebacker at the next level. He is stronger than his size indicates and is an effortless mover in space. There will be a learning curve here, but I think Warner could make a big impact once he gets the chance.
- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Christian Kirk is arguably one of the biggest overall playmakers in this draft, regardless of position. Whenever the ball touches his hands, every play has a legitimate chance of reaching the end zone. At his size at about 5’10-5’11, you wish he ran a full route tree, but his foot quickness and eye manipulation could translate into more crisp routes with more practice. The problem is that he tested like a big receiver who has only played in the slot throughout his collegiate career, and I think teams will have questions as to if his game will translate.
- Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State
I have a lot of trouble with Jamarco Jones’ evaluation because his tape and measurables do not match up at all. He had no problem shutting down some of the best pass rushers in the nation, but he tested like one of the worst athletes in this draft. His technique is advanced as a pass protector, but I don’t think his foot quickness or fluidity is as good as I initially thought. Nonetheless, he has the skill set and production of a starter, and I think at worst, he is a dependable swing tackle.
- Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
Harrison Phillips tested like a much better athlete than I thought he was on tape, and it makes him more appealing as a prospect because he is not as limited as I first thought. He plays with great leverage and hand technique, but he gets carried away with his aggressiveness and run discipline as a nose tackle. The production speaks for itself though, and I could see Phillips being a solid contributor for a long time in this league.
- Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia
Lorenzo Carter is an intriguing prospect in several ways. The first thing that jumps out is his freakish athleticism. His speed to run sideline to sideline and/or close around the corner for a sack is his calling card. This unique skill set of production as a pass rusher, but also reliability in space makes me think he can be a hybrid player at the next level. Whether he serves as a situational pass rusher, off-ball linebacker, or as a potential LEO, ala Bruce Irvin, Carter is going to appeal to creative teams.
- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Does Josh Allen have all the tools as a quarterback prospect? Yes. He has the arm strength, athleticism, and intangibles you look for when drafting the position, but his tape and production is worrisome. He is not a 60-percent passer, and you have to wonder if his inconsistent accuracy and ball placement will ever get better. I’m not convinced it will, but his traits are undeniable and will get him drafted in the top 10.
- Deadrin Senat, DT, USF
USF’s Deadrin Senat is a bull, no pun intended. He bench presses offensive linemen in the backfield and has stretches where he just dominates in the run game. As a pass rusher, he wins in flashes, but his athletic profile is not that of a guy who will ever be a big-time threat in this aspect of the game. Nonetheless, his tape is incredibly impressive, and I think he will be one of the steals of the draft if he falls out of Day 2.
- Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
The Combine was really important for Florida cornerback Duke Dawson, and he passed with flying colors. A 4.48 surprised me because he looked like a player who struggled with speed in man coverage, but his physicality and competitive toughness will get a team to fall in love with him as a potential nickel starter.
- Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
Josey Jewell’s 4.8 in the 40-yard dash was not surprising, but his 6.8 three cone was. That should help him since the linebacker position is really predicated on reactionary quickness and change of direction in terms of moving in space. He has the instincts and production of a starter at the next level despite his limitations in coverage, and I’d be shocked if he fell out of the top 100.
- DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
In my opinion, DaeSean Hamilton is the most nuanced route runner in this draft class. He wins with foot quickness, eye manipulation, and natural hands. His lack of elite speed may handcuff him to the slot, but he will outplay his draft spot because of how he wins as a quarterback-friendly receiver.
- Foley Fatukasi, DT, UConn
Foley Fatukasi is an athletic, interchangeable defensive tackle prospect who can play either the nose or under tackle spot. His flashes of quickness and disruption off of the snap shows his potential as a pass rusher, but the consistency is lacking. He is raw, but Fatukasi’s traits translate, and I could see him being one of those guys we wonder why he didn’t get drafted earlier.
- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
If Donte Jackson had longer arms, I think the Adoree’ Jackson comparison would make a lot of sense, but that lack of arm length really handcuffs his ability to compete at the catch point. He stays in phase and closes separation in off man coverage with great feet and vertical speed, but he gets lost in Zone and bullied at the LOS. There is upside here because of his athletic profile, but he is a much bigger project than people want to admit.
- Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
Mark Andrews is basically a wide receiver because of how little he played in-line at Oklahoma. His home in the slot translated into big-time production in the passing game as the safety blanket for Baker Mayfield. He ran much faster than I thought, and while he may never be a true tight end, there will be a home for Andrews as a field-stretcher.
- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
If teams drafted purely on talent and untapped potential, Malik Jefferson would be a top 10 selection. His size/speed combo and physical traits as an off-ball linebacker are undeniable, but he is so raw as a football player right now. He guesses too much reading blocks and is slow to react in coverage. Ideally, I want him playing the WILL to get him thinking as little as possible and moving in space, but he is going to take time before reaching his potential.
- Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
We’ll see how teams feel about Ragnow’s injury history, but on the field, he is a reliable option in both the run game and pass protection. He doesn’t move as well as James Daniels, and he is not as mean as Billy Price in the run game, but consistently gets the job done when healthy. I think he also has the position flex to play any interior spot on the offensive line. At the very least, he is a valuable swing player who offers position flex in a pinch.
- Dane Cruikshank, S, Arizona
Dane Cruikshank is another one of those late risers because of how well he did at the Combine. His numbers forced me to go to his tape, and while he played all over the place for Arizona, I think he is going to be a slot defender/strong safety type of player at the next level. His man coverage skill set and physicality is very similar to Tennessee’s Rashaan Gaulden, but he is not as polished or technically sound. His versatility as a defensive back who can cover and come downhill warrants Day 2 consideration on my board.
- Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
Chukwuma Okorafor is one of the most interesting prospects in this class because of what I think he could be, but he is just not a finished product yet. He has the athleticism to be a fluid pass protector, but he showed inconsistency against speed all season. As a run blocker, he has flashes of overwhelming power both at the first and second level, but on other snaps, he looks like he doesn’t know what is going on. Okorafor is a project, but he has traits worth developing that I can see a team reaching for early in this draft.
- Justin Jones, DT, NC State
While the production or Combine numbers do not stand out, Justin Jones is a really good player who will be a better pro than college player. His disruption on tape comes in flashes, and when he wants to, he can be a dominant interior player at either under tackle or nose. He reads the backfield better than any run defender in this class and is an explosive pass rusher in one on one situations. His stock is under the radar, but his game reminds me a ton of Tim Jernigan.
- Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
On the surface, Deon Cain looks like a prototypical Z receiver at the next level. He has the speed to burn cornerbacks on the outside, the quickness to separate in and out of breaks, and the playmaking ability to create after the catch. However, the nuances of his game are underdeveloped. He has mental lapses catching the football and will go quiet for long periods of time. If he can reach some sort of consistency at the next level, he will be a steal on Day 2.
- Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
I know I’m not as high on Hayden Hurst as other draft analysts, but I do appreciate what he brings to the table as a well-rounded Y-tight end. He is one of the best in-line blockers in this draft with natural hands at the catch point. He won’t ever be the explosive weapon that Gesicki or Goedert have a chance to be, but I think he could make an impact similar to a healthy Dennis Pitta.
- Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian State
Colby Gossett is someone who caught my eye during Senior Bowl practices in the one on one periods, and his tape matched up as a quick, nasty finisher at the first and second level. He has the foot quickness and mobility of a zone-blocking starter, but he does get a little too ambitious and overaggressive from time to time. Nonetheless, some team is going to get a starting-caliber guard at a bargain with this Appalachian State gem.
- Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt
The best testing linebacker at the Combine was former safety Oren Burks, who has the production and traits you look for in an off-ball linebacker. He put up a 4.59 40-yard dash, 39.5-inch vertical jump, 131-inch broad jump, 6.82 three cone, and 4.15 short shuttle at 6’3, 233 pounds. He moves like a strong safety in space and it shows when he moves from sideline to sideline in a chase and attack role. I think his stock will rise when people match the measurables with his tape as a move linebacker at the next level.
- Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana
I love Tegray Scales’ tape as an instinctive, rangy linebacker with proven production and skills in both man and zone coverage, but I initially overestimated his athletic ability. He ran a 4.77 40-yard dash at 230 pounds, and for someone his size, I expected to see him land somewhere in the 4.6’s. I went back to the tape and found that he was indeed quicker than fast, but it is going to be interesting to see how teams value someone his size and lack of special traits. I trust the tape though, and I’m confident he can work his way into a starting WILL linebacker spot if given the opportunity.
- Marcus Allen, S, Penn State
Marcus Allen is a lot like Ronnie Harrison in that I want him as close to the LOS as possible in order to get the best production out of him. He is an enforcer and excellent open field tackler, but I just don’t have a feel of where he fits as a cover guy in the NFL. He’s a decent man coverage athlete, but can he play over the top and run sideline to sideline? I just haven’t seen him do it. If you remember Josh Jones from NC State last year, he is almost a duplicate version of how he plays the game as a strong safety-outside linebacker hybrid.
- Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
I want to fall in love with Armani Watts because of his flashes as both a downhill missile and rangy centerfielder with ball skills, but his tape is also littered with a ton of throwaway plays. Whether it is missed tackles or missed assignments, Watts’ consistency is all over the place. In that regard, he has a lot of JJ Wilcox to his game, but his talent is obvious. It is just going to require a team with conviction to believe they can get the best out of it.
- Byron Pringle, WR, Kansas State
Byron Pringle is another old prospect who has some baggage that he needs to sort through with NFL teams, but his talent and skill set is attractive as a potential Z at the next level. His advanced route refinement, foot quickness, and ability to separate laterally, vertically, and at the catch point makes him a multi-dimensional weapon on the outside.
- BJ Hill, DT, NC State
BJ Hill is a load to handle. His presence on the interior is clear as a run defender, as he eats up space and can effortlessly take on double teams. He may not be flashy like his teammate Jones, but he consistently does his job and stays disciplined in his plan of attack. His upside is capped because of his limitations as a pass rusher, but he will be a starting nose tackle at the next level.
- Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College
Isaac Yiadom is a long press corner who won’t impress people with his Combine numbers, but when you watch his tape, you walk away thinking he can be a potential starter in the right scheme at the next level. He has the ball skills in both man coverage and zone to be an instant playmaker at the catch point, as well as possessing solid LOS technique in Press. Yiadom does struggle with speed and lateral separation, but he is at his best when redirecting the receiver with his hands and length. There will be a team like Seattle who believes in Yiadom’s starter potential as a long press cornerback.
- Jeremy Reaves, S, South Alabama
Jeremy Reaves is the only player on my top 100 big board who was not invited to the NFL Combine, but I’m going to trust the tape here. He comes from a cornerback background, and after playing centerfielder for South Alabama in his senior season, he showed that he has the multi-dimensional skill set of the NFL’s modern-day free safety to play deep or in the slot. I have no doubt Reaves will outplay his draft slot as a player who has shades of Lamarcus Joyner to his game.
- Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
If Jack Cichy did not have a durability flag surrounding his draft profile, he would be a top 50 lock. His instincts, range, and physicality as an inside linebacker is similar to former Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland. A team is going to have to bet on his long-term durability going forward, but the reward could be bountiful.