2017 NFL Draft Big Board: Prospect Rankings
2017 NFL Draft Big Board updating prospect rankings leading all the way up to April’s events.
In a sport that never truly experiences an off season, the post-Super Bowl NFL world now turns its attention squarely to the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. Teams will now begin the intensive vetting process done for hundreds of prospects, with the first step arriving at the NFL Scouting Combine beginning on Feb. 28.
The areas of relative weakness and strength for the class have already become apparent, with a massive talent injection due on the defensive side of the ball. Teams with need in the defensive backfield or edge positions are sure to find excellent value on Day 2 of the draft. The depth of this safety class is especially intriguing, due to the recent drought of talent at that position the past few seasons.
On the offensive side, skill players reign supreme. The wide receiver class offers a hugely diverse skill set, and a group of running backs with pass catching ability is sure to interest pass-happy teams at the next level. An underwhelming group of quarterbacks is sure to disappoint teams picking in the top 10, although no position sees more reaching and overvaluing on an annual basis.
This NFL Spin Zone is a collaborative effort between site expert Cody Williams and myself, combining our individual boards and creaing a composite ranking in an effort to average out possible inconsistencies. The value and rankings of these players will undergo drastic change within the next three months in addition to growing in size. For now, let’s take a look at the top 50 prospects pre-combine.
Last Updated: Feb. 13
50. Cordrea Tankersley, CB – Clemson
Weight: 200 pounds
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Tankersley looks the part of a prototypical NFL cornerback, with ideal size and wingspan. He uses these attributes excellently downfield by taking away aerial angles to the football and tipping passes, making up for a lack of top end closing speed. Press man coverage is the area he shines, where he is given the opportunity to dictate wide receivers off the line of scrimmage and use his length. In off coverage, he displays sloppy footwork, making it too easy for him to get crossed up and unable to make timely breaks on comeback and underneath routes.
49. Christian McCaffrey, RB – Stanford
Weight: 202 pounds
Arguably the most electrifying player at the college level the previous two seasons, McCaffrey is effective as a runner, receiver and return man. He displays excellent agility, foot speed, and balance to consistently keep would be tacklers whiffing. A smart runner that trusts his vision and allows his blocks to develop, letting him explode to the second level. McCaffrey is even better receiver out of the backfield, creating mismatch problems on underneath routes and showing soft hands at the catch point. His lack of bulk will more than likely prevent him from becoming an every down back in the NFL, as teams will have to manufacture touches for him. As a blocker, he shows willingness and high levels of awareness, but again is betrayed by his size and is unable to sustain for long.
48. Caleb Brantley, DT – Florida
Weight: 297 pounds
Brantley possesses some of the best gap penetration and finishing ability in the backfield of the entire class. He shows excellent snap anticipation and initial quickness off the line of scrimmage, and is disruptive against both the run and pass. His powerful hands allow him to rip blockers and get them off balance, finishing them off with a rapid swim move. Brantley doesn’t have top end athleticism and struggles with back end pursuit and towards the sidelines. A slight frame for the position occasionally leaves him locked out by offensive lineman that beat him off the snap, and makes it difficult to project him as a three down lineman in the NFL.
47. Dede Westbrook, WR – Oklahoma
Weight: 175 pounds
A highly versatile receiver that can play both inside and outside, Westbrook was effective downfield and underneath on screen plays and reverses. He creates his separation with quick footwork and short area agility, making up for the lack of a diverse route tree. Westbrook shows reliable hands and is better than average on contested catches for a player of his stature. His small frame doesn’t allow him to offer much as a blocker, and will also raise durability concerns. A history of domestic violence issues makes him a wild card, with a handful of teams surely to remove them from their board entirely.
46. Jarrad Davis, ILB – Florida
Weight: 238 pounds
Davis is a highly instinctive run defender that consistently punishes ball carriers at the point of attack. When given a free release, he takes excellent pursuit angles and covers ground in a hurry. A deceptive blitzer that knows when to time his delay or attack when the quarterback has his eyes glued downfield. Occasionally he will over pursue on runners when gunning for a big hit instead of relying on technique to bring them down. A raw player against the pass that bites hard on play action and doesn’t yet look natural backpedaling into coverage. Davis certainly possesses the athletic ability to grow into that role, however.
45. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR – USC
Weight: 220 pounds
Physical in nature with broad shoulders and a huge wingspan, Smith-Schuster looks every part of a prototype wide receiver. Shows fearlessness and consistency catching the ball over the middle, and wins on jump balls with great body control. The USC product is reliable as a hands catcher and snatching the ball at its high point and away from his body. He’s also effective as a blocker by shielding his man towards the sideline and out of the play. The area of concern for Smith-Schuster will be his ability to create separation, as he isn’t a twitchy athlete and doesn’t display explosion out of his breaks.
44. Garrett Bolles, OT – Utah
Weight: 296 pounds
Bolles displays natural left tackle ability with excellent quickness to kick off the snap and move laterally. His agility makes him an effective run blocker on the second level, with his foot speed and acceleration allowing him to arrive at the point of attack quickly. Scouts will love his tenacity, showing a good motor once he latches onto defenders, playing through the whistle and driving them completely out of the play. He has his struggles with consistent technique as erratic hand placement leaves him vulnerable to inside counter moves. Bolles will need to become more patient on pitch plays and stacking up at the line, often overrunning his spot instead of allowing defenders to come to him.
43. Adoree’ Jackson, CB – USC
Weight: 185 pounds
The only player in the draft that can stack up next to Jabrill Peppers in pure athletic ability, Jackson has a multitude of elite physical tools. Jackson was USC’s jack of all trades, making a high impact as a cornerback, wide receiver, and return man. He looks most natural in off coverage, allowing him to tempt quarterbacks and break on underneath throws. A combination of straight line speed, recovery ability, and agility makes him able to cover vertically. As an offensive threat or return man, he shows the vision and patience to follow his blockers. However, he’s still a raw prospect at cornerback, often biting to easily on stop and go routes and pump fakes. If teams believe they can coach some of his reliance on natural ability out of him, expect Jackson to only rise up boards leading to the draft.
42. DeMarcus Walker, DL – Florida State
Weight: 273 pounds
A workhorse defensive end that is capable of taking snaps on the edge and at defensive tackle, Walker has a highly effective swim move to quickly slip by overmatched offensive guards on the inside. He also stacks up against the run and holds contain well against more mobile quarterbacks. His relentless motor allows him to take advantage of worn down offensive lines late in games. Walker doesn’t flash much bend off the edge, sometimes looking sluggish and limits his impact. He will occasionally bite to hard and overextend on play fakes. Despite not having top end athletic ability, teams will surely fall in love with Walker’s versatility and consistency he offers.
41. Dan Feeney , OG – Indiana
Weight: 304 pounds
Feeney is a technically sound lineman, matching it with a strong upper body, thus allowing him to lock out defenders. His powerful punches disrupts the timing of defensive lineman and gets them off balance, consistent with getting underneath to gain leverage and drive off the line of scrimmage. He will occasionally overset in his stance, letting rushers get around his edge too easily. A highly aware and aggressive blocker when pulling, but he may be limited in this aspect by his lack of agility and foot speed.
40. D’Onta Foreman, RB – Texas
Weight: 249 pounds
Last season, Foreman eclipsed the 2,000 yard mark while vaulting himself onto school rushing record lists alongside players like Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell, and Jamaal Charles. A highly physical runner that wears down defenses to exhaustion and consistently runs through tacklers. He’s a deadly runner between the tackles even against a stacked box, and has a good feel on where to find space and gain every yard possible. For a back of his size, he has excellent agility and acceleration to make larger lineman miss near the line of scrimmage. This ability doesn’t translate downfield, as he is purely a north-south runner at full stride. Teams will view Foreman as a true bell cow runner and, despite his limitations, should become a starting running back quickly in the NFL.
39. Carl Lawson, Edge – Auburn
Weight: 253 pounds
Battling injury issues during his time at Auburn, Lawson never quite fulfilled the expectations that were placed on him early. The athletic ability is quite evident, however, as he displays some of the best burst around the edge of the entire class. He uses powerful hands to bounce off the initial punch from offensive tackles and close on the quarterback quickly. Lawson understands how to quickly disengage to tackle runners off the edge, and can hold his own when stacking up at the line. The frustration with Lawson comes with his inconsistent motor. For every snap of dominance, there are multiple others where his pad level is far too high, leaving him locked out of the play immediately. He also needs to improve his backside pursuit, often not bothering on run plays that don’t come towards his side of the line.
38. Gareon Conley, CB – Ohio State
Weight: 195 pounds
Conley possesses a long, tapered frame and was trusted with covering man-to-man, in zone coverage, and in the slot. While excellent in every area, he shines most in zone by undercutting out routes to tip passes and knows when to drop his man to provide help over the top. His flexibility allows him to stay at the hip of the receiver in man coverage, but he struggles with contested catches. Conley needs to trust his instincts and back pedal more, sometimes anticipating instead of reacting. He plays the run downhill but lacks the top end strength to shed blocks and finish consistently at the point of attack.
37. Tre’Davious White, CB – LSU
Weight: 184 pounds
Like Conley before him, White is a highly versatile cover corner that can also travel to the slot. In man-to-man coverage displays the fluidity and agility to match receivers step for step up the sideline. Where he excels however is zone coverage, where his excellent route recognition and timing allow him to go vertical or make quick breaks on the receiver to sway away passes. His highly aggressive nature allows him this ability, but he will also run the risk of penalties at the next level. White also will need to develop a nose for the ball when defending the run, often looking sluggish and disinterested.
36. Haason Reddick, OLB – Temple
Weight: 237 pounds
After a highly impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, Reddick has already begun his ascent on boards. A high-twitch, freakish athlete with great quickness and agility, he displays elite bend on the edge and easily cuts the top off his pass rush. The Temple star uses rip moves to work his way around the edge or back inside, often leaving lineman unable to even engage. His small frame and below average strength sometimes left him overpowered by lineman and shielded out of plays. With a relentless backside pursuit and the athleticism to drop into coverage, Reddick projects best as a 4-3 outside linebacker. Allowing him to play in space and using him as a chess piece as a blitzer, teams will hope for an Anthony Barr like transformation from him.
35. Jourdan Lewis, CB – Michigan
Weight: 186 pounds
Capable of playing both outside and in the slot, Lewis makes up for his small stature with suffocating man-man-coverage, arguably the best in the class. He has the fast twitch agility to mirror wide receivers and stay squarely in their hip pocket on every level of the field. Lewis displays hyper aggressive ball skills and recovery ability, getting his hands on passes that seem too far out of reach. He’s also a much better run defender and tackler than his size would indicate. The nature of his tight coverage makes him more liable to be penalized, something he will have to clean up. Moreover, Lewis, will likely need time to adjust to the much more physical wide receivers in the NFL.
34. Zach Cunningham, ILB/OLB – Vanderbilt
Weight: 230 pounds
Physically looking the part of a 4-3 outside linebacker, the Vanderbilt linebacker boasts a lengthy athletic frame with the room to add another twenty or so pounds. Cunningham looks natural and smooth when wading his way through traffic, and has excellent block shedding ability to match. His high level of ranginess and agility will allow him to be a capable pass defender in the NFL, a trait teams will surely love. Shows inconsistency with his tackling and will need to improve his pursuit angles to not be left reaching for ball carriers.
33. Desmond King, CB – Iowa
Weight: 206 pounds
King is a highly physical defensive back with broad shoulders and long arms. Stout in the run game, he attacks ball carriers with the instincts and strength of a linebacker and very rarely misses tackles. His excellent anticipation and body control allows him to make plays on underneath passes, getting a hand to them more often than not. Though smooth in his technique, he wasn’t tasked often with press coverage. King plays an aggressive zone, but is liable to biting on double moves and getting beat over the top. There’s a chance teams will view him as a safety in the NFL, with his excellent run defending and ability to play the field in front of him.
32. Jabrill Peppers, OLB – Michigan
Weight: 205 pounds
A Heisman finalist this past season, Peppers is an exceptional athlete in every sense, and played a multitude of positions at Michigan. He possesses good strength for his size and accelerates with tremendous speed in the open field. Teams will be able to utilize him as a lethal return man and as a wildcat weapon. Limited mostly to being a downhill player, Peppers struggles in coverage and with plays that get behind him. When given a free release, he plays the run aggressively, although this sometimes leads to him overextending and attempting to arm tackle. His defensive projection will be one of the largest points of debate leading to the draft. However, we see him fitting best as a 4-3 outside linebacker. While not likely the top-10 prospect he was previously viewed as, teams across the league will love his natural ability and will believe they can mold him as they see fit.
31. Cam Robinson, OT – Alabama
Weight: 310 pounds
Robinson is a mountain of an offensive tackle with a huge frame and excellent upper body strength. His strength rarely leaves him losing leverage at the line of scrimmage, and his violent use of his hands makes him nearly impossible to beat with bull rushes. The Alabama standout displays above average bend and balance, but his lack of foot speed leads to him struggling with twitchy rushers coming around the edge. He has the agility and aggression to pull, lead block, and get to the second level. Robinson will need to clean up his technique and decisiveness once arriving to his spot upfield. Initially Robinson best projects as a left guard, and will need to be given time if he is to develop into a true left tackle.
30. Quincy Wilson, CB – Florida
Weight: 209 pounds
Wilson, the other half of Florida’s excellent cornerback tandem along with Teez Tabor, possesses a physical and fully developed frame that makes him difficult to beat off the line in press coverage. He has excellent ball skills downfield and an ability to catch up when beat, flashing these abilities mostly on plays over the middle. Wilson excels when he can force his receiver towards the sideline, as his hip fluidity sometimes allows guys to gain inside leverage. He will need to become more willing to play downhill against the run and utilize his size and potential physicality.
29. Budda Baker, FS – Washington
Weight: 192 pounds
Baker consistently played bigger than his measurables would indicate, showing no fear of the line of scrimmage and coming up to make a play. He plays with a high level of instinct, is rarely caught out of position, and is consistently somewhere around the ball. The Huskies stud is an excellent blitzer with good timing and masking ability by sitting just behind his defensive ends. If asked, he has the foot quickness and agility to play man-to-man. Occasionally Baker is caught trusting his instincts too much, allowing receivers to create horizontal separation while looking for the ball. His smaller frame may prevent some teams viewing him as a full time safety and may see him more as a nickel cornerback.
28. DeShone Kizer, QB – Notre Dame
Weight: 230 pounds
A big armed, big bodied quarterback with an effortless throwing motion. Kizer looks comfortable throwing to all parts of the field with minimal effort. He has decent athleticism for someone of his size and allows him to be a threat in the open field. Kizer possesses excellent arm strength and fits throws between defenders into tight windows. However, he will need to improve his mobility and awareness in the pocket to give himself better space, often throwing with defenders at his ankles or taking unnecessary sacks. He can be inconsistent with his reads, but flashes the ability to make his way through progressions and understand a high level offense.
27. David Njoku, TE – Miami
Weight: 240 pounds
Njoku is an impressive athlete that offers rare speed and physicality at tight end. Often split out wide into the slot for receiving duties, he has a good feel for finding holes and creating separation in the secondary. Miami’s former standout is excellent after the catch and often makes tacklers miss. He’s solid, if not spectacular, as a run blocker and seals the edge of the offensive line nicely. Njoku will need to learn to throw his weight around more if he’s to improve in this area in the NFL. When lined up as an in line tight end, he occasionally struggled to get off press coverage and disrupting his timing. Strong hands to pluck the ball away from his body but suffers from concentration blocks, looking upfield before reeling the pass in.
26. Takkarist McKinley, Edge – UCLA
Weight: 258 pounds
McKinley is ideal athletically with good twitch and burst off the edge. He can be overwhelming for tackles that can’t keep up with him laterally, making quick work of blocks and getting to the quarterback with speed. The UCLA product stays honest and plays contain well against scrambling quarterbacks and finishes in the backfield. His inconsistent pad level occasionally takes him out of plays completely, he looks more natural and avoids this more often when rushing from a two-point stance. However, he lacks an ideal bull rush and may prevent him from being an every down lineman until he can improve his strength.
25. Charles Harris, Edge – Missouri
Weight: 255 pounds
Harris has a full repertoire of pass rush moves, the most effective of which is a rapid counter spin move he uses across the face of offensive tackles. He has excellent snap anticipation and the bend to get around the edge quickly. The Missouri standout finishes the quarterback off with consistency and is relentless in backside pursuit and towards the sidelines. An improvement in his pad level will help him stack up and defend the run with more effectiveness, rather than being pushed off his spot and out of plays.
24. Deshaun Watson, QB – Clemson
Weight: 215 pounds
Watson is a lethal dual threat player with patience and vision on designed runs. He has a tight throwing motion that allows him to dump the ball quickly while improvising. Throws a beautiful deep ball, showing the arc and timing to hit his receivers in stride. An excellent passer when rolling out of the pocket or once the play breaks down, making it difficult for teams to hold contain against him. He struggles with footwork consistency, often not stepping up in the pocket and having intermediate throws sail on him while struggling with ball placement on underneath routes. The quick read offense of Clemson won’t do Watson many favors translating to the NFL. As he showed too much pre-determination with his throws, and will have to improve his eyes to look off lurking safety’s at the next level.
23. Forrest Lamp, OG – Western Kentucky
Weight: 305 pounds
A highly technical offensive lineman that latches onto pass rushers and uses a powerful lower body to gain and hold leverage. Stays on his spot and remains patient for defenders to come to him, allowing him to stay balanced and consistently engage within his chestplate. Has a high level of awareness to counter pass rush moves and when picking up extra blitzers. Lamp has the quickness to play tackle, but lacks the height and arm length to deal with edge rushers in the NFL and will be projected as a guard.
22. Mitch Trubisky, QB – North Carolina
Weight: 220 pounds
Leading the crop of quarterback prospects, Trubisky is an impressive athlete that can escape the pocket and also provide a threat on designed runs. For only having one year of starting experience, he is savvy in the pocket and knows how to avoid pressure, reset his feet and throw under duress. He is capable of making throws to all three levels of the field with excellent ball placement to match. His lack of quality on offensive line and overall inexperience led him to having happy feet in the pocket, sometimes rolling out of clean areas or anticipating a non existent pass rush. A long throwing motion and tendency to stare down his receivers will also need to be cleaned up in the NFL.
21. Tim Williams, Edge – Alabama
Weight: 252 pounds
Williams is a devastating pass rusher that succeeds both around the edge and coming back inside across the face of offensive lineman. A twitchy athlete that utilizes a dip move to get underneath the pads of blockers, and quick feet to move back inside and upfield. He has an excellent motor, relentlessly chasing scrambling quarterbacks and finishing them in the backfield. Williams has the strength to disengage blocks, but needs to improve his play recognition and contain to put himself at the point of attack more often. His issues with failed drug tests will make him an unknown on boards across the league.
20. Marlon Humphrey, CB – Alabama
Weight: 196 pounds
An imposing, physical with size and great length at the corner position. Humphrey is extremely physical as a run defender, he plays downhill and dispatches ball carriers easily. He shows good instinct on pitch plays and screen passes, avoiding blockers and taking quick pursuit angles. Flashes rare straight line speed downfield to close space and make up for ground lost. This ability also masked his struggles in deep coverage, combined with the elite pass rushing ability of Alabama’s front seven. A refinement of his technique, especially his backpedal and hip fluidity will help him not get beat off the line. NFL teams will salivate over Humphrey’s rare physical tools, even if he is a decently large projection.
19. John Ross, WR – Washington
Weight: 190 pounds
Ross is a high twitch speedster that is devastating deep downfield. His short area quickness, top end speed, and footwork are unmatched in this wide receiver class. Using a quick studder step he is able to beat press coverage off the line, downfield he sets defensive backs up and gets them off balance with rapid stop and go ability, creating separation in a hurry. He has the ability to play in the slot and outside, where he tracks the ball very well over his shoulder and looks natural reeling in deep throws without breaking stride. His slight frame usually means he comes down by first contact, and he will certainly face durability concerns along with a torn ACL suffered in 2015.
18. Taco Charlton, Edge – Michigan
Weight: 272 pounds
Charlton has highly desirable size and length to be an every down lineman in the NFL. A powerful lower body makes him consistently disruptive with his bull rush and makes it difficult to gain leverage against him. Shows high awareness to react to how offensive tackles are attempting to stifle him, he knows when to deploy counter-spin moves back inside, or rip moves to get off blocks and around the edge. He will need to improve his play recognition in the run game, often being sealed off the edge and unable to stack up or fill gaps. The consistency of his snap anticipation also needs work, cycling between being the fastest or slowest off the line of scrimmage.
17. Malik McDowell, DT – Michigan State
Weight: 276 pounds
Possesses a massive frame and highly athletic makeup at the defensive tackle spot, carrying tons of muscle mass with room to add more. Flashes a multitude of pass rush moves including a spin when shooting too far upfield, and a nasty swim move to slip past mismatched guards and through double teams. McDowell’s knock is the level of inconsistency he plays at, seeing massive up and down swings from game to game. In the run game he will have to impose his will more consistently to control gaps and re-route runningbacks into less desirable lanes. NFL teams are going to love his immense upside, with a refinement of his technique and focus McDowell has all the ability to become a force.
16. Sidney Jones, CB – Washington
Weight: 181 pounds
Jones has a fundamentally sound style of play and has the ability to slot into man-to-man or zone heavy schemes. In off coverage, he possesses a high level of awareness and anticipation to break on comeback and underneath routes. Displaying good timing and ball skills on every level of the field, he should have no issue translating as a ballhawk at the next level. His slender frame may lead to struggles in bringing down larger ball carriers. This is an issue that will be easily correctable, as Jones shows a willingness to play downhill. A full season within a NFL conditioning program will help immensely in developing his frame to become a complete corner. His tendency to open his hips quickly in off coverage is his the only knock on his coverage ability, as it leaves him susceptible to underneath throws.
15. Ryan Ramczyk, OT – Wisconsin
Weight: 314 pounds
For having only one year of starting experience in Division I, Ramczyk looks the part of a natural left tackle. He has fantastic physical tools, with the lateral agility, balance, and bend needed to stonewall twitchy edge rushers. Also a capable run blocker, he uses his lower body strength to explode off the line of scrimmage. He’ll need to become a better finisher in run blocking however, especially on pitch plays and when getting to the second level. In pass protection he sometimes displays inconsistency in extending his arms and locking out rushers, letting them inside and close to his chest plate.
14. Jalen ‘Teez’ Tabor, CB – Florida
Weight: 201 pounds
Another cornerback from this deep class that is capable in press and off coverage. Tabor possibly has the best hip fluidity in the draft to match the receiver stride for stride and stay in his hip pocket. He shows excellent timing in coverage, and is able to make plays on the ball without committing penalties. Tabor is a willing run defender, even against backs with great size advantages. His slight frame still leads to struggles in this area, as his lack of block shedding often leaves him lunging after ball carriers rather than fully wrapping up. Like fellow Gator Vernon Hargreaves, Tabor best projects as a nickel corner in the NFL.
13. O.J. Howard, TE – Alabama
Weight: 251 pounds
Howard is the complete package as a tight end prospect, with a well rounded game as a receiver and blocker. His size and athleticism make him capable in multiple roles both at the H-back position and as an in-line threat. A highly consistent blocker that can maintain his blocks and seal off the edge. An excellent yards after the catch threat, Howard displays the agility and straight line speed to turn out of the flat and upfield. He needs to refine and add some nuance to his route running, often relying on his pure athleticism to find space in the defense. Also, Howard is not quite as overwhelming physically as his size would suggest.
12. Solomon Thomas, DL – Stanford
Weight: 275 pounds
Thomas has excellent snap anticipation and burst, putting him in the backfield quickly to wreak havoc against quarterbacks and runners. His violent hands and upper body strength make it difficult for blockers to gain leverage and lock him out, often bouncing his way through double teams. Thomas displays good play recognition against the run, he quickly assesses play fakes and screen passes as well. This allows him the versatility of lining up at the edge position, despite not having elite bend. He needs to improve his finishing at the point of attack and his block shedding to disengage from lineman and fill gaps.
11. Derek Barnett, Edge – Tennessee
Weight: 265 pounds
Barnett is a complete defensive end, he utilizes his strong upper body to deploy a bull rush and collapse on the quarterback. While not twitchy off the edge, he cuts the top off his pass rush well and finishes with consistency. An effective run stopper, he’s most effective when collapsing inside and taking away gaps up the middle. His versatility allows him to line up as a strongside or weakside defensive end, and even showed competency dropping into underneath coverage. He’ll need to improve his play recognition, often left confused by read option concepts. His snap anticipation will also need some work if he wants to avoid offsides calls in the NFL.
10. Mike Williams, WR – Clemson
Weight: 225 pounds
After a brutal neck injury put his 2015 season and NFL aspirations on hold, Williams returned at full force last season. Uncoverable by most college cornerbacks, he made highlight reel catches all over the field for Deshaun Watson and Clemson’s offense.
With a long wingspan and incredible mi-air body control, Williams fits the prototypical mold for modern day physical wide receivers. This allows him to be lethal on contested catches as he high points the ball with ease, even on throws that are well off target. His overwhelming size makes him unguardable on comebacks and back shoulder throws, effectively shielding out defensive backs.
While he didn’t run a diverse route tree at Clemson, Williams is powerful with his hands off the line in beating press coverage. With such a large strike zone, it doesn’t take much room for him to become a viable target. His physical nature also carries over to the blocking game, but he needs to dial back his aggressiveness to drive through and better maintain his balance. Concentration drops pop-up on his tape, but will be forgiven with the amount of acrobatic catches he makes on a routine basis.
9. Marshon Lattimore, CB – Ohio State
Weight: 195 pounds
During his first two seasons at Ohio State, Lattimore battled constant hamstring issues that prevented him from seeing the field for all but seven games. All of that changed last season however, as he finally fulfilled his potential and broke out in a manner that his coaches were expecting of him.
A truly complete cornerback. he possesses fantastic athletic traits, with the agility, foot speed, and hip fluidity to stay in the hip pocket of receivers all over the field. He displays play recognition and downfield awareness, gaining inside leverage with ease on deep routes, often able to make a better play on the ball than most receivers. Playing with an aggressive mindset he’s capable of shedding blocks and finishing tackles with consistency in the run game.
It’s difficult to find flaws in Lattimore’s game, but the one that sticks out most being his lack of experience in zone concepts, most often being utilized as a man-to-man cover corner. His prior injury history will also be of concern to NFL teams, as they will surely want to screen him medically and ensure his hamstrings have healed properly. In all likelihood, Lattimore will become a No. 1 corner early in his NFL career.
8. Corey Davis, WR – Western Michigan
Weight: 213 pounds
After extensive academic issues and exiting high school as only a two-star recruit, the fact that Davis finds himself in this position is extremely impressive. A highly versatile wide receiver, he is capable of winning at all three levels of the field and lining up at the X, Y, or Z receiving spots.
He shows fantastic ability after the catch, utilizing his trademark spin move out of the flat and turning upfield with regularity. Davis is a highly refined route runner with little wasted movement, showing explosion out of breaks and the ability to separate quickly. In the run game, he displays the proper balance to maintain his block and whenever tasked gives the proper effort.
While largely a well polished prospect, Davis does have a couple areas to clean up on. Possessing strong hands, he does pluck away from his body, but will occasionally bobble passes or suffer from focus drops. Downfield, he needs to use the full potential of his frame to become more of a threat on contested throws, if he ever wants to become a red-zone threat. Wide receiver needy teams in the top 10 will have two fantastic choices between Williams and Davis, with two players that win in very different ways and should experience success quickly.
7. Reuben Foster, ILB – Alabama
Weight: 236 pounds
The centerpiece of Alabama’s swarming defense, Foster is a prototypical middle linebacker with the proper physicality and bubbling with instincts. Against the run he plays downhill and consistently delivers punishing tackles to ball carriers, while showing excellent form and wrap up technique. His instinct becomes apparent on plays out to the edge, where he shows great anticipation to close space in a hurry and stifle potential long gains.
An effective blitzer regardless of where he’s lined up, and can be overwhelming for would be blockers once he has a full head of steam. With the required agility and awareness Foster is very effective in underneath coverage. However, he wasn’t tasked with covering deep very often.
For all of his instinctual nature, it can occasionally backfire on him. While violently crashing downhill, he can leave himself susceptible to overextending on his gap reads, leaving shiftier runners the ability to hit cutback lanes. This is a minor knock however, as teams are sure to fall in love with his natural ability. Foster projects as a true three down linebacker that has transformed defenses in the modern NFL, and possesses the ability to do so very early in his career.
6. Dalvin Cook, RB – Florida State
Weight 206 pounds
A prolific runner both in high school and in his two years of starting at Florida State, Cook broke the school rushing record as a sophomore only to improve upon his own mark one season later. Possessing a plethora of elite physical tools, he flashes a rare combination of vision, balance, and cutback ability, allowing him to easily switch from his primary gap to find more space.
Cook is a lethal runner off tackle and out towards the edge, getting there with blistering speed and makes it difficult for defensive backs to land proper tackling angles. As a receiver, Cook displays natural, soft hands and is consistent in making something from nothing when his blockers are beat.
As a blocker, Cook shows the willingness, but needs to develop the patience to set his feet and allow defenders to him, sometimes lunging or reaching after pass rushers. Not possessing a huge frame, questions will be raised about his ability to punish teams between the tackles and become a true workhorse runningback. Offering a vastly different skillset than Leonard Fournette, a handful of teams will surely have Cook sitting higher on their boards come draft night.
5. Jamal Adams, SS – LSU
Weight: 211 pounds
The next in a long line of prospects from the school now proclaiming itself as “Defensive Backs University,” Adams is a true enforcer at a position noticeably lacking that trait in the NFL. An extremely aggressive and eager run stopper, Adams has the instincts to match and arrives at the point of attack quickly to dispatch ball carriers with big hits.
Not limited to just his bruising mentality, he is an excellent chess piece in coverage with the versatility and anticipation to cover everything from shifty slot receivers to lengthy tight ends. Despite his aggressive style of play, Adams is a smart defender and doesn’t subject himself to unnecessary penalties.
Trying to find holes in his game is a difficult task. However, as excellent of a tackler as he is in space, Adams is still guilty of occasionally trying to come up with the big hit instead of relying on his sound fundamentals to bring down ball carriers. NFL teams are sure to fall in love with his aggressive but controlled style of play, as well as his natural leadership qualities. It will come as a major surprise if Adams is not a starter come Week 1.
4. Malik Hooker, FS – Ohio State
Weight 205 pounds
Much like fellow teammate Marshon Lattimore, Hooker had to wait his chance behind the stockpile of talent that Ohio State had collected in their defensive backfield. Once given the opportunity, he firmly placed himself in the conversation for best ball hawk in the country, nabbing seven interceptions and largely not even being tested by quarterbacks in the latter half of the season.
This didn’t matter much, however, as Hooker has some of the best play recognition skills and ground covering ability of any safety in recent memory. Look no further than his ridiculous interception against Clemson in the College Football Playoff as evidence. A true natural in pass coverage, Hooker has high levels of agility to react to the quarterbacks eyes, making no part of the field unreachable for him. His highlight tape is filled with interceptions coming from seemingly impossible angles coming from all levels of the field.
Like Adams before him, finding true weakness to Hooker’s game is not easy. He’s a deceptively physical run defender that shows good awareness, however he needs to improve the consistency of his tackling angles, often showing up on tape as a big hit or bust type of tackler. Recent labrum and hernia surgery will also raise questions, as well as only having a single season of starting experience under his belt.
3. Jonathan Allen, DL – Alabama
Weight: 291 pounds
While the majority of Alabama’s front seven will eventually become first or second day picks in the draft, Allen was the catalyst of the entire group. After a full three years of starting, he has refined his game while adding more than enough muscle mass to become a three down lineman. Clocking in at 291 pounds, Allen has rare size for someone with a defensive end skillset.
A stud against the run, he displays the best hand usage in the draft, quickly fighting off punches from offensive lineman and keeping his eyes in the backfield to disengage and finish runners. He holds contain with ease and has great play recognition, not biting on play fakes or option runs. His development in the weight room shows up as a pass rusher, with an overwhelming bull rush move to collapse the pocket.
Allen’s game doesn’t lack much, but he doesn’t have elite bend on the edge, opting to go through lineman instead of around them. It’s doubtful his impressive sack numbers will translate completely to the NFL. It’s more likely teams will salivate over his versatility to line up in multiple spots on the defensive front. Allen fits as an end or three technique in a 4-3 defense, and his best spot may end up being a five technique in a 3-4.
2. Leonard Fournette, RB – LSU
Weight: 230 pounds
Exiting high school as a highly touted recruit, three years of starting at LSU has only solidified Fournette’s reputation as an otherworldly runningback prospect. It’s not often you find players with his incredible combination of power, size, and breakaway ability. Fournette can simply lower his pads and run over tacklers, following that up with rare acceleration to daylight, leaving defensive backs chasing and making him a threat to score on any play.
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For a runner of his size he displays excellent balance, and is nearly impossible to bring down upon first contact, regaining speed in only a few steps. He utilizes his size well in pass protection, not content to just allow defenders to him, but knocking them off balance to completely disrupt their pass rush.
As a pass catcher, he shows competency but not overwhelming ability. He displays soft hands but has a knack for focus drops and he isn’t a highly polished route runner. His physical style of play will lead to durability questions in addition to a nagging ankle issue he played with last season. These are minor nitpicks however, as Fournette will immediately become a three down punisher in the NFL, and has an Adrian Peterson type ceiling if everything falls into place.
1. Myles Garrett, Edge – Texas A&M
Weight: 268 pounds
Entering the season at or near the top of most big boards, Garrett didn’t do much to affect his ranking as an elite prospect. A prolific pass rusher all three years at A&M, he leaves with 32.5 sacks and a whopping 48.5 tackles for loss. Garrett has a long, highly muscular build with room to grow, and he certainly possesses the ideal build for a pass rusher.
With excellent body control and truly elite burst on the edge, he can sometimes be completely overwhelming for offensive tackles. While not sporting a plethora of pass rush moves, his huge wingspan and hand usage make it difficult for lineman to latch on. In the backfield he’s a consistent finisher even when he doesn’t have the quarterback dead to rights.
Displaying the play recognition to be an effective run stopper, he needs to clean up his ability to stack up at the line and finish runners on inside gaps. Garrett showed an inconsistent motor on tape this past season, likely due to an injury he suffered early in the year. Like fellow A&M alumni Von Miller, Garrett has all the tools to become a terrifying pass rusher in the NFL.