Top 50 Big Board 1.0
- The running back position might be devalued in the NFL these days, but Barkley is the best player in the draft, no questions asked. He has no major flaws in his game and can make an impact as a silky smooth runner or as a receiving threat.
Pro Comparison: Marshall Faulk
- Let’s not become obsessed with Darnold’s turnover numbers this year and just watch the actual tape. A lot of the interceptions aren’t on him. I got burnt by fixating on Deshaun Watson’s interception numbers last year and had him as QB2. I won’t make that mistake again. Darnold has throwing motion issues, but he can flat out ball, he has the “It Factor.”
Pro Comparison: Tony Romo
- Williams sprained his MCL and PCL, as well as tearing the meniscus in his left knee earlier this season. This doesn’t bring my grade down on him yet, and here’s to hoping he gets back on the field soon and works out at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. Williams is the most dominant tackle prospect in a long time and has the tools to be an All-Pro.
Pro Comparison: Joe Thomas
- A true football player is how Fitzpatrick should be described. He does everything for Alabama. In one game he’ll play corner, nickel, safety, and hybrid linebacker, but I’ve decided to pencil him down as a safety. Fitzpatrick is versatile and aggressive with great ball skill, the ideal free safety.
Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins
- If Derwin James was exactly what he was expected to be this season he would be higher on my board. James hasn’t been the explosive freak that was expected and that could be due to the knee injury he’s coming off of from last year. He’s still a great player that can be used as a defensive chess piece. James need to be more consistently aggressive and return to the athletic form seen in his Freshman year.
Pro Comparison: Kam Chancellor
- Few quarterbacks have done more with less than Josh Rosen. He carries UCLA every week and they live and die by him, something not all QB prospects have to shoulder. Rosen has some of the most beautiful mechanics you’ll ever see and is more pro-ready than the other QB prospects. He needs to learn to throw less “lasers” and with more touch.
Pro Comparison: Eli Manning
- A classic 3-technique defensive tackle, Wilkins is going to be a dominant gap shooter in the NFL. He spent last season playing out of position at defensive end, despite being 300+lbs. Wilkins is a freak athlete and the type of interior defender coveted in the NFL today.
Pro Comparison: Gerald McCoy
- One of the most important college production positions is edge defender. If a guy can’t get to the quarterback frequently in college, why would he in the pros? Well, Landry led the country in sacks last season and bends the edge like no other player in the class.
Pro Comparison: Cameron Wake
- LSU produces defensive backs and running backs, and this year is no different. Guice runs harder than any player in the draft. He’s violent and wears down defenses, but has the burst and long speed to breakaway for big runs. Insert him into a running back needy offense and he can break games wide open.
Pro Comparison: Devonta Freeman
- A couple knocks on Ridley are his age, his lack of size, and drop off in production from his freshman year. Throw those negatives out the window. He’s as clean a receiver prospect as they come. His hands are fantastic, he runs good routes, and he’s explosive. Ridley may not be the big athletic freakish receiver we’re used to, but neither were Antonio Brown or Stefon Diggs.
Pro Comparison: Stefon Diggs
- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
- If Darnold has the “It Factor” and Rosen has the perfect mechanics, then Allen has the athletic tools. Despite playing at a school in a lesser conference, Allen has mouth-watering ability. He has one of the strongest arms in recent memory as well as the mobility to make plays with his legs. Allen is a project, but the talent is there to be a franchise QB.
Pro Comparison: Carson Wentz
- Arden Key, ED, LSU
- Straight up, Arden Key has one of the fastest first steps you’ll ever see. He’s tall and lean and not built to play a classic defensive end role, but he can be a pass rushing force if he stays healthy. The athleticism and bend are awesome; he just needs the right positon.
Pro Comparison: Jason Taylor
- Interior offensive linemen are rarely taken early, but when a player has Price’s ability, an exception should be made. Price can play all three interior o-line spots and be a difference maker for a decade. He mauls in the run game and is a smart technician in the passing game.
Pro Comparison: Travis Frederick
- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
- Imagine an ideal cornerback for today’s NFL. Tall, fluid, great ball skills, and the ability to handle tall physical receivers and small quicker receivers. McFadden can be that player at the next level.
Pro Comparison: Marcus Peters
- Not every top edge defender prospect is sexy. By that I mean they aren’t all these athletic, lean freaks like Key and Landry. Chubb is quite the opposite. He’s already built like an NFL defensive end and plays mean as hell, he even spits on opposing team’s logos. He’s a great run defender with impressive bend for a bigger edge player.
Pro Comparison: Michael Bennett
- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
- One of the first things you’ll notice when evaluating a cornerback is their feet. Are they quick? Are they slow? Can they transition with their hips and feet fluidly? Well, Denzel Ward has some of the quickest feet you’ll see. He’s a PBU monster and can play classic outside cornerback or inside as a nickel.
Pro Comparison: Desmond Trufant
- Another receiver whose college stats don’t jump off the page at you, but can be better in the NFL. Cain plays at Clemson and this year they’ve leaned on Kelly Bryant’s legs more than his arm and that’s reflected by the numbers. But Cain is a great athlete with speed to burn. He’ll be a big play threat in the league.
Pro Comparison: Sammy Watkins
- Hercules Mata’afa, ED, Washington State
- Watch a Washington State game and then tell me why they play their best defender as a 3-tech/5-tech when he’s a great edge rusher. Mata’afa is being hidden as a high-end prospect because he plays out of position, but he’s well suited to be an NFL edge rusher. He’s got strength, athleticism, and big time hand skills to beat offensive linemen.
Pro Comparison: Solomon Thomas
- Since before his freshman year even started, Malik Jefferson was hyped as the next great linebacker. It took sometime, but he’s finally beginning to look like a dominant player. Jefferson has sideline-to-sideline speed, exceptional lateral movement, and great instincts.
Pro Comparison: Bobby Wagner
- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
- Another not so sexy guard, but Quenton Nelson is the tough guy every great o-line needs. He plays through the whistle and exceeds pushing defensive linemen around on run plays. Nelson can be penciled in at left guard and become one of the leagues best run-blockers.
Pro Comparison: Richie Incognito
- Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
- The new wave linebacker in the NFL is more like a classic safety. Smaller and far more athletic, and that’s the box Jerome Baker checks. He may not be a devastating run defender, but he’s a perfect fit as a coverage backer. Baker is solid against the run, but teams will covet the athleticism.
Pro Comparison: Telvin Smith
- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
- There was talk of Sutton coming out in last year’s draft and being the top wideout picked. He isn’t quite that good, but he’s a big bodied receiver with a knack for highlight real grabs. Sutton has had a ton of production in college, but drops catchable balls at times and lacks elite speed.
Pro Comparison: Brandon Marshall
- Adam Breneman, TE, UMASS
- Breneman is one of the weirder stories of the draft. He was originally at Penn State, but a knee injury forced him to retire and take on a political career. Now, he’s an All-American at lowly UMass. Breneman has a great all-around skill set. He has reliable hands to go along with solid blocking ability. He’s not an athletic freak, but if he’s healthy he seems close to a sure thing.
Pro Comparison: Jason Witten
- Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
- The younger brother of Bears’ receiver and former first-round pick Kevin White, Kyzir plays on the defensive side. He’s a terror around the line of scrimmage and does his best work in the box. White plays all over the field for WVU and could be a major draft steal.
Pro Comparison: Harrison Smith
- Despite battling a handful of injuries this season at Louisville, Jaire Alexander is still one of the best corner prospects in the nation. He has a nose for forcing turnovers, and despite lacking size, he doesn’t shy away from contact. Alexander might be better suited for nickel, but can play outside in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Chris Harris Jr.
- Gumby is similar to Dorance Armstong Jr, just a bendy dude who will give stiff offensive tackles all kinds of trouble in the NFL. Not only does Armstrong Jr. bend the edge well, but he uses his length to shed blocks and has the motor to finish plays.
Pro Comparison: Robert Quinn
- Matthew Thomas, LB, Florida State
- Another new wave linebacker, Matthew Thomas is at his best in coverage. He’s a great athlete with explosion most linebackers don’t possess. Thomas needs to be a better tackler to help his run defense.
Pro Comparison: Kwon Alexander
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
- Rule #1 of someone telling you Lamar Jackson isn’t an NFL QB: call them out for not watching the tape. Jackson isn’t a prototypical QB, but he’s a stud playmaker with unbelievable running ability. That’s a positive, not a negative. He also has an impressive arm and has progressed with his accuracy and decision making from last year.
Pro Comparison: Michael Vick
- Need a tight end that can block? Troy Fumagalli is your guy. Not only is he a fantastic run-blocker, but he’s a solid and consistent receiver. He’s often been Wisconsin’s biggest receiving threat and has a higher floor than any tight end in the class
Pro Comparison: Heath Miller
- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
- Alabama has two of the best safety prospects. Fitzpatrick is a corner-safety type while Ronnie Harrison is more of a safety-linebacker. Harrison is big and athletic, the ideal guy to play strong safety. He defends the run well in the box, but can also handle tight ends in coverage.
Pro Comparison: Keanu Neal
- Maurice Hurst, ID, Michigan
- The days of not taking supremely talented defensive tackles due to lack of size are over, thank you Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, and Grady Jarrett. This is great news for Mo Hurst who is undersized, but an athletic interior pass rusher. Hurst can play 3-tech, 5-tech and even on the edge.
Pro Comparison: Geno Atkins
- There are so many quarterbacks coming out of pass-happy spread systems these days that we can’t let that blind us during evaluations. Rudolph is one of those guys. He’s got a solid arm and impressive deep accuracy, but comes out of a hard to evaluate system. Rudolph looks like a class big pocket passer who just needs a coach like Bruce Arians.
Pro Comparison: Carson Palmer
- Dre’Mont Jones, ID, Ohio State
- Ohio State has a loaded defensive line, so at times it’s hard to tell how good a player actually is, but Jones flashes consistently. He has nice athleticism and the quickness coveted for a 3-tech or 5-tech.
Pro Comparison: Chris Jones
- Vita Vea, ID, Washington
- If you watch Washington play you’ll notice almost right away how bizarre they use Vita Vea. He looks like a nose tackle, but will line up everywhere from 0-tech to outside linebacker. That’s a testament to his quickness and football sense. Vea probably won’t be a huge numbers guy in the league, but he will be a starter for a long time.
Pro Comparison: Danny Shelton
- Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC
- No player plays as out of control as Uchenna Nwosu. No matter what he’s doing he’s going 100 miles per hour. Nwosu plays as an edge defender at USC, but could be this year’s Haason Reddick. He’s better suited to be an off-ball linebacker using his supreme speed.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Shazier
- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
- Some believe McGlinchey to be a top pick in the upcoming draft, and he could be due to team needs at tackle. McGlinchey looks like a stiff, not so incredible, athlete playing left tackle. He’s a good run blocker and better suited for the right side.
Pro Comparison: Nate Solder
- When a receiver looks like a running back with the ball in his hands it’s always fun. That’s what Christian Kirk looks like. He may not be a dominant downfield threat, but his YAC ability is intriguing.
Pro Comparison: Golden Tate
- Josh Sweat, ED, Florida State
- Just another long, lean, athletic edge guy. This draft is edge heavy, and Sweat could be a second-round steal because of it. He’s raw and not much versus the run, but when he pins his ears back, he gets after the QB.
Pro Comparison: Jerry Hughes
- Rarely do running backs run with a similar patient style to that of Le’Veon Bell, but Kalen Ballage does. It makes him so intriguing despite a lack of college production. He’s a big back with major patience, breakaway speed, and experience at receiver.
Pro Comparison: Le’Veon Bell
- Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
- This year’s jack of all trades is Bama running back Damien Harris. He does everything well, but nothing exceptionally. Harris is a plug and play running back with the elusiveness and vision needed in the pros.
Pro Comparison: Lamar Miller
- Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame
- Anytime Notre Dame plays, Josh Adams flashes. Usually with big plays and breakaway touchdowns. He’s big, explosive, and runs hard, but lacks the vision to be a first-round pick.
Pro Comparison: Todd Gurley
- He may be the Bulldog’s number two running back, but Sony Michel looks like a future dynamic pro. Michel is elusive, an effective receiver, and he’s dealt with a lighter workload than most in college. He’ll be a nice add for a duel headed backfield.
Pro Comparison: Gio Bernard
- Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
- The most elusive back in the draft is Ronald Jones. He’s dynamic in the open field and could be a game changer at the next level. Jones just isn’t that big and has dealt with injuries in college.
Pro Comparison: LeSean McCoy
- Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
- Yes, another running back. It’s a deep class. Scarbrough is an odd case. He’ll have games where he’s dominant and others where he does next to nothing. The size and power are there, but he needs to be more consistent. A power scheme in the NFL will do him well.
Pro Comparison: Jordan Howard
- Lorenzo Carter, ED, Georgia
- Georgia has a stacked defense, but Carter stands out. He’s a 3-4 edge linebacker with a quick first step, natural speed rush ability, and good hand use. However, Carter lacks strength and struggles to set the edge. He may find a home as an off-ball linebacker.
Pro Comparison: Anthony Barr
- Da’Ron Payne, ID, Alabama
- The early favorite for most bench press reps at the NFL Combine is Da’Ron Payne. He’s a big run plug and as strong as any college player. Payne isn’t a dynamic pass rusher, but he can play nose tackle or 1-tech right away.
Pro Comparison: Brandon Williams
- Clelin Ferrell, ED, Clemson
- Another Clemson defensive lineman with big time athletic ability. Ferrell is built well with a good first step and speed rush. He lacks strength and bend, but is a better run defender than a lot of other options.
Pro Comparison: Danielle Hunter
- Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
- Most tight ends play on the line of scrimmage a fair amount. For a big tight end, Gesicki spends a surprising amount of time as an H-back. Maybe it’s the system at Penn State or maybe it’s because he’s a poor blocker. Gesicki will be a good receiving threat with good athleticism, size, and hands, but it doesn’t look like he loves contact.
Pro Comparison: Zach Ertz
- Sam Hubbard, ED, Ohio State
- A high-motor defensive end like Hubbard will be playing early and often in the NFL. He isn’t a dynamic athlete, but he’s big, works hard, and knows how to defend the run. As a secondary pass rusher, he’ll be big.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Kerrigan
- Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
- Need a running back? This is the draft to go get one. Penny is a big back with great balance and vision. He lacks burst and elusiveness, but he can bang inside the tackles and do some damage out the backfield.
Pro Comparison: Melvin Gordon
Top 5 Quarterbacks
Highest Ceiling: Josh Allen, Wyoming
Highest Floor: Sam Darnold, USC
Best Bet: Josh Rosen, UCLA
Value Pick: Ryan Finley, North Carolina State
Wildcard: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Biggest Arm: Josh Allen, Wyoming
Most Accurate: Sam Darnold, USC
Best Scrambler: Lamar Jackson, Louisville
|1.||Sam Darnold||USC||Tony Romo|
|2.||Josh Rosen||UCLA||Eli Manning|
|3.||Josh Allen||Wyoming||Carson Wentz|
|4.||Lamar Jackson||Louisville||Michael Vick|
|5.||Mason Rudolph||Oklahoma State||Carson Palmer|
Top 5 Running Backs
Highest Ceiling: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Highest Floor: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Best Bet: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Value Pick: Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Wildcard: Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Most Elusive: Ronald Jones II, USC
Best Power: Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Best Receiver: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Best Scatback: Akrum Wadley, Iowa
|1.||Saquon Barkley||Penn State||Marshall Faulk|
|2.||Derrius Guice||LSU||Devonta Freeman|
|3.||Kalen Ballage||Arizona State||Le’Veon Bell|
|4.||Damien Harris||Alabama||Lamar Miller|
|5.||Josh Adams||Notre Dame||Todd Gurley|
Top 5 Wide Receivers
Highest Ceiling: Deon Cain, Clemson
Highest Floor: Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Best Bet: Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Value Pick: Dante Pettis, Washington
Wildcard: Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana
Best Hands: Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Best Routes: Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Best Slot: Deontay Burnett, USC
Best Deep Threat: Deon Cain, Clemson
|1.||Calvin Ridley||Alabama||Stefon Diggs|
|2.||Deon Cain||Clemson||Sammy Watkins|
|3.||Courtland Sutton||Sothern Methodist||Brandon Marshall|
|4.||Christian Kirk||Texas A&M||Golden Tate|
|5.||Deontay Burnett||USC||Victor Cruz|
Top 5 Tight Ends
Highest Ceiling: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Highest Floor: Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
Best Bet: Adam Breneman, UMASS
Value Pick: Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
Wildcard: Jaylen Samuels, North Carolina State
Best Hands: Adam Breneman, UMass
Best Blocker: Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
Best H-Back: Mike Gesicki, Penn State
|1.||Adam Breneman||UMass||Jason Witten|
|2.||Troy Fumagalli||Wisconsin||Heath Miller|
|3.||Mike Gesicki||Penn State||Zach Ertz|
|4.||Mark Andrews||Oklahoma||Kyle Rudolph|
|5.||Dallas Goedert||South Dakota State||Zach Miller|
Top 5 Offensive Tackles
Highest Ceiling: Connor Williams, Texas
Highest Floor: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Best Bet: Connor Williams, Texas
Value Pick: Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh
Wildcard: Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
Best Pass-Blocker: Connor Williams, Texas
Best Run-Blocker: Connor Williams, Texas
Sweetest Feet: Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan
Meanest SOB: Orlando Brown Jr., Oklahoma
|1.||Connor Williams||Texas||Joe Thomas|
|2.||Mike McGlinchey||Notre Dame||Nate Solder|
|3.||Chukwuma Okorafor||Western Michigan||Terron Armstead|
|4.||Mitch Hyatt||Clemson||Eric Fisher|
|5.||Orlando Brown Jr.||Oklahoma||Rodger Saffold|
Top 5 Interior O-line
Highest Ceiling: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Highest Floor: Billy Price, Ohio State
Best Bet: Billy Price, Ohio State
Value Pick: Mason Cole, Michigan
Wildcard: Braden Smith, Auburn
Best Pass-Blocker: Billy Price, Ohio State
Best Run-Blocker: Billy Price, Ohio State
Best Pull/Trap: Martez Ivey, Florida
Meanest SOB: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
|1.||Billy Price||Ohio State||Travis Frederick|
|2.||Quenton Nelson||Notre Dame||Richie Incognito|
|3.||Will Hernandez||UTEP||Mike Iupati|
|4.||Braden Smith||Auburn||Kyle Long|
|5.||Martez Ivey||Florida||DJ Humphries|
Top 5 Interior Defenders
Highest Ceiling: Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Highest Floor: Vita Vea, Washington
Best Bet: Maurice Hurst, Michigan
Value Pick: Derrick Nnadi, Florida State
Wildcard: Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
Stud Pass Rusher: Maurice Hurst, Michigan
Space Eater: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
Most Athletic: Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Most Versatile: Christian Wilkins, Clemson
|1.||Christian Wilkins||Clemson||Gerald McCoy|
|2.||Maurice Hurst||Michigan||Geno Atkins|
|3.||Dre’Mont Jones||Ohio State||Chris Jones|
|4.||Vita Vea||Washington||Danny Shelton|
|5.||Da’Ron Payne||Alabama||Brandon Williams|
Top 5 Edge Defenders
Highest Ceiling: Arden Key, LSU
Highest Floor: Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State
Best Bet: Harold Landry, Boston College
Value Pick: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
Wildcard: Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
Stud Pass-Rusher: Harold Landry, Boston College
Best Run-Defender: Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State
Most Versatile: Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State
|1.||Harold Landry||Boston College||Cameron Wake|
|2.||Arden Key||LSU||Jason Taylor|
|3.||Bradley Chubb||North Carolina State||Michael Bennett|
|4.||Hercules Mata’afa||Washington State||Solomon Thomas|
|5.||Dorance Armstrong Jr.||Kansas||Robert Quinn|
Top 5 Linebackers
Highest Ceiling: Malik Jefferson, Texas
Highest Floor: Cameron Smith, USC
Best Bet: Malik Jefferson, Texas
Value Pick: Roquan Smith, Georgia
Wildcard: Uchenna Nwosu, USC
Best Coverage: Matthew Thomas, Florida State
Best Run-Defender: Malik Jefferson, Texas
Best Pass-Rush: Uchenna Nwosu, USC
|1.||Malik Jefferson||Texas||Bobby Wagner|
|2.||Jerome Baker||Ohio State||Telvin Smith|
|3.||Matthew Thomas||Florida State||Kwon Alexander|
|4.||Uchenna Nwosu||USC||Ryan Shazier|
|5.||Cameron Smith||USC||Christian Kirksey|
Top 5 Cornerbacks
Highest Ceiling: Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State
Highest Floor: Jaire Alexander, Louisville
Best Bet: Denzel Ward, Ohio State
Value Pick: Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
Wildcard: Anthony Averett, Alabama
Best Man Coverage: Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State
Best Zone Coverage: Jaire Alexander, Louisville
Best Nickel: Denzel Ward, Ohio State
|1.||Tarvarus McFadden||Florida State||Marcus Peters|
|2.||Denzel Ward||Ohio State||Desmond Trufant|
|3.||Jaire Alexander||Louisville||Chris Harris Jr.|
|4.||Quenton Meeks||Stanford||Sean Smith|
|5.||Jordan Thomas||Oklahoma||Morris Claiborne|
Top 5 Safeties
Highest Ceiling: Derwin James, Florida State
Highest Floor: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Best Bet: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Value Pick: Marcus Allen, Penn State
Wildcard: Kyzir White, West Virginia
Best Free Safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Best Strong Safety: Derwin James, Florida State
Biggest Hitter: Kyzir White, West Virginia
Best Coverage: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Most Versatile: Derwin James, Florida State
|1.||Minkah Fitzpatrick||Alabama||Malcolm Jenkins|
|2.||Derwin James||Florida State||Kam Chancellor|
|3.||Kyzir White||West Virginia||Harrison Smith|
|4.||Ronnie Harrison||Alabama||Keanu Neal|
|5.||Armani Watts||Texas A&M||Devin McCourty|