Klatt’s NFL Draft Big Board: Who rose after Combine?
The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is over, and, as is the case every year, some players were able to help their draft stock in Indianapolis.
However, some hurt their stock, and momentum, regardless of direction, is hard to turn in this process. Both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota threw in Indy, and they stole the spotlight from the other QBs who are falling down the board. No clear-cut favorite has emerged between the two, but Mariota still holds the advantage on my board while Winston is gaining ground moving from No. 6 overall to No. 4.
Dante Fowler Jr. was a star at the combine and not just for his impressive performance in the on-field drills, as many NFL evaluators were buzzing about what an impressive interview he was.
Kevin White has capitalized on his pre-combine momentum with a blazing 40 time and smooth routes on the field. He has catapulted past Amari Cooper as the top wide receiver in the draft. The wide receiver group is as strong as ever, and the depth continued to grow at the combine with a potential to get eight to 10 picks within the first 50 selections of the draft.
The offensive line as a group has been a letdown this year, and it starts at the top with Brandon Scherff, who many thought was going to be the top tackle on the board.
The players now have limited time to impress their future employers, as we are down to private workouts for the top prospects and Pro Timing Day.
* — Junior who declared for draft early
** — Redshirt sophomore who declared for draft early
Note: Players’ previous rankings in parentheses.
1. *Leonard Williams, DT, USC
Williams is everything that an NFL team would want in a defensive tackle or end. He is 300 pounds and can carry it well. Provides quickness, especially from the interior, but transitions it to power with ease. He can be a prototype 3-tech for a 4-3 defense, and he also can set as a 5-tech on passing downs. This type of versatility is exactly what the game has turned into on the defensive side. He won’t get taken No. 1, but he is the best overall player available in the draft.
2. *Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Knocking Marcus has become the fashionable thing to do, which has solidified my evaluation even further. Every year, the QB who is the best prospect is picked apart by every outlet trying to make a splash. Mariota has great size, weighing in at 222 pounds and standing 6-3 3/4 at the combine, the exact same height as Jameis Winston. Strong and accurate down the field, yet most will say that he didn’t make NFL throws. Nothing could be further from the truth. He made these throws every week, and he showed anticipation, velocity and accuracy while getting through his entire progression on a regular basis. Tampa Bay needs a QB, and it should look no further than Marcus.
3. *Dante Fowler Jr., OLB/DE, Florida (11)
While he doesn’t have the explosiveness of Shane Ray or Vic Beasley, he is probably the more complete defender. Good in almost any role that Florida put him in, he can get get to the passer and is also stout against the run. Because of his ability to do everything well, he has a higher ceiling as an every-down player in the NFL. He was explosive and moved really well in space at the combine, and he weighed 260 pounds while doing so. He had one of the best weeks of anyone in Indy.
4. **Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (6)
His ability to come up with critical plays is uncanny, and that should translate to the next level, but he has to clean up his feet. Jameis threw 18 interceptions, which is way too many, but he should be able to clean that up by creating a more stable foundation before the throw. Regardless of any on-field evaluation, the big area of focus will be off-field for Winston. He has to prove himself a changed person from the college version that struggled with judgment. He was universally praised by scouts and GMs in Indy for his football IQ on the board and interview ability.
5. *Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska (3)
The game has made a shift toward long, lean athletic players that can be versatile on the defensive side, and that is exactly what Gregory is. Should be a dynamic pass rusher as either a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. He moves down the board, however, because there are whispers that his interviews didn’t go well and teams are finding some baggage with Randy. Also, he was under 240 pounds, which is far too light for a defensive end in the NFL. His skill is undeniable, but his stock is starting to take a bit of a turn after the combine.
6. Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (13)
Most of the players on this list were expected to be here before the season, but that is not the case for White. His size and strength are difficult to defend, but it’s his ability to win the contested catch that is truly fantastic. For a big player, he runs after the catch as well as any WR in this year’s class, and can blend power and elusiveness to do so. He was the star of the combine as the strongest WR and clocking the third-fastest 40 time in the WR group weighing 215 pounds. He has almost limitless potential, and most teams that I talked to have put Kevin atop their WR board and I am no different. Pick 4 to the Raiders seems inevitable.
7. *Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (4)
While he has explosive ability, it was his route running that impressed me above anything. Very smooth at the catch point and has solid recognition of both zone and man, giving the QB a defined look. While I have moved Kevin White ahead of Amari, it should be said that he was tremendous at the Combine. He is only 20 years old, but he is so refined as a WR it is hard to see room for growth. Regardless, he will be a Day 1 contributor for his team and will not leave the top 10 in the draft.
8. Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson (5)
Undersized for 4-3 DE, but is a perfect fit for 3-4 OLB with his speed and first step. Beasley lit up the combine with a blazing 4.53 40, which was the fastest of any LB. Rushing the passer is of the utmost of importance, and Vic can do just that. Athletic and flexible, he is a nightmare on the speed rush, but can get caught in the wash against a strong OT in tight spaces. He has a lot of work to do in run defense, but the upside as a pass rusher is too enticing.
9. Danny Shelton, DT, Washington (10)
Remarkable production for a DT and is as active as any DT I can remember. He should have a huge impact for his next team very similar to what Ndamukong Suh or Star Lotulelei have had early in their careers. Officially, he weighed in at just under 340 pounds, and he was still able to run well and vertical jump 30-plus inches. I see him as a prototype 3-4 NT because of his ability to 2-gap with a strong lower half, also he has value crushing the middle of the pocket with a bull rush on passing downs. He was the best player in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and he carried that momentum to Indy with a strong combine.
10. *Shane Ray, OLB/DE, Missouri (7)
Hasn’t played a ton of football, having to sit behind Kony Ealy and Michael Sam at Missouri, but he is the type of player that has an extremely high ceiling. He was dealing with a foot injury at the combine, so he was unable to compete in drills, which was disappointing due to the hype of his athleticism. Like Beasley, he must get better in run defense or the 4-3 teams will likely pass on him in the draft.
11. *Landon Collins, S, Alabama (9)
For safeties, the game often comes down to how you can perform in space, and that is where Landon excels. Great tackler and has natural instincts for the ball. Better in a downhill mode, so SS would be a better fit early in his career. Has to show an improvement covering the short to intermediate zones between the hash and the numbers.
12. *Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (10)
Some have speculated that the RB position has been devalued, but I would argue that we haven’t had many great RBs to evaluate in the last couple of years. Melvin is a sure-fire first-round pick, but has to show a better ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Gordon had a strong combine showing the type of speed that suggests he can be an explosive player at the next level. He could do for a team what DeMarco Murray did for the Cowboys last season. It is rare to find a player that can create so many explosive plays, but Gordon makes people miss and wins the edge on a consistent basis.
13. *Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (17)
Came back from a knee injury last year and proved he could play through adversity. Solid size and power, but I don’t see him as a LT in the NFL, as he will likely have to play guard early in his career before a transition to RT. Flowers had a strong combine and was the strongest offensive lineman in the bench press. His frame is perfect, and once he works on technique in pass protection, he will be a quality RT for a long time.
14. Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
Versatile player that was solid in everything that Kentucky asked him to do, including drop into coverage at times. Was a team captain and a high energy player. He was also a star at the combine, performing as well as any front-seven player on defense, clocking a 4.56 in the 40. Only concern for me is how high is ceiling is, as he may not have much room for improvement.
15. *Shaq Thompson, OLB/S/RB, Washington
Likely the most physically gifted player available this year. He could likely succeed in the NFL at any number of positions, but his ability as a hybrid safety/outside linebacker is where he would have the most impact. Technically he is a mess, but that is expected from any two-way player that doesn’t have time to focus on the details of one position. To me, it is more impressive that he can play at such a high level on pure football ability and raw skill.
16. Cameron Erving, OT/C, Florida State
Erving is the most versatile OL available this year, as he moved from LT to C last season for the Seminoles. However, he didn’t just move, he dominated at both positions as the best blocker in the ACC each of the last two seasons. Oh, by the way, he was originally a DT at FSU, so he likely will succeed regardless of where his next team puts him. I doubt he gets selected this high, but any team looking for interior line help will take a long look at Cameron.
17. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (8)
Love his aggressiveness and strength at the point of attack in the run game, and his nasty nature is something that every NFL O-line coach would love to have in his room. However, some serious questions have risen about his ability to play tackle in the NFL. His stock, which was as high as top five at one point, has dropped fast, and he will have to have great individual workouts to remain in the first round. For a big man, he moves easily and his athleticism should help in his development in pass protection.
18. *Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Cover ability is there down the field, as he moves exceptionally well against downfield routes. Waynes is aggressive against the run and quick to diagnose, but he lacks in size, which needs to be addressed. The question for me is in regard to the system he played in at Michigan State, which was very successful. The key for that defense, however, is corner play, and Waynes was a big part of it.
19. La‘el Collins, OT, LSU (36)
Great in the run game. He is a mauler and regularly wins at the point of attack. He would fit well at guard, as he is still too raw and aggressive on the outside as a pass protector. His week in Indy was similar to his week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, average. While that is not a ringing endorsement, he didn’t struggle with anything, but he didn’t excel anywhere either. He likely is going to be a fairly consistent, but never great player that could have a long career on the right side.
20. *Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Obviously, health is a big question mark for Gurley, but when healthy, his combination of size, strength and breakaway ability is as good as any. There were reports flying around the combine that his knee was worse than expected and he didn’t want teams looking at it. That was just not true, and his surgeon, James Andrews, has publicly backed his client’s recovery process and said that there was no reason to have that many doctors "poke and tug" on his knee after a surgery. Gurley has the ability to be his own blocker when needed and can also make people miss in small windows. More instinctual than Gordon in between the tackles and always seems to fall forward, gaining the hidden yardage.
21. *Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State (22)
Great size and strength make him a nightmare matchup, also wins the contested catch more often than not due to his large frame, so it is not as important for him to create separation before the catch. He separates himself after the catch as a physical runner who is hard to bring down. Accuracy from his QBs was an issue in college, but he showed a solid catch radius to bail them out more often than not. He was faster than I expected at the combine, further solidifying his standing as a first-rounder. He may not have the overall potential of Kevin White, but the two are similar in the way that they play and dominate games.
22. *Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (23)
Great player that has the ability to create INTs with his ball skills, but many will question his character after being kicked off the team by the Washington staff. However, the week he was removed from the team, he was texting other DBs, including his replacement, trying to help them with the game plan. That type of behavior isn’t consistent with a player that has "red flags" for character. If anything, you could say that Marcus cared too much, and that was his downfall with a new staff that was trying to build a new culture that clearly clashed with the passionate corner.
23. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma (45)
Off-field issue will be the constant question for DGB during this process, but the physical gifts are endless. He measured 6-5 and 237 pounds, which is comparable to Calvin Johnson, and he ran a staggering 4.49 in Indy. Organizational fit will be so important so he can have mentors and leaders around him from Day 1 in the NFL. He is the best deep threat in the draft, and if his combine workout was any indication, he still possesses the smooth movement and catch ability that allowed him to dominate the SEC in 2013. Listing him at 23 is not an indication of overall skill, as I am still a bit nervous about his off-field problems and overall maturity.
24. DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
After a foot injury took the first half of the season away, he was a monster in the back half, and it did not slow him at all at the Combine — he ran a sub-4.5. Not as physically dominant as other WRs on this board, but he has an exceptional catch range and quality hands. He and Strong are similar in that they don’t need great separation skills because they like to body defenders up for the catch. Parker plays open in tight windows, which is a rare trait for a college receiver.
25. *PJ Williams, CB, Florida State
Love his combination of size at 6-0, 195 and speed, which shows up in all directions and not just in a straight line. Has to become a more consistent tackler, but his willingness is impressive, which for a corner is half the battle. Played primarily in the boundary for FSU, which gives me some concern, because fit becomes much more important for a team that plays R/L corners rather than field/boundary. Also, the short side of the field in college football is so much smaller than the short side of the field in the NFL because of the wide hash marks, so his adjustment to the pro game may take a bit longer than others.
26. *Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
I thought McKinney was going to be one of the stars of the Combine, but that did not materialize, as he ran a disappointing 40, giving some pause about his standing as one of the top ILBs. Has the ability to play all over the field, but is best suited for ILB with sideline-to-sideline pursuit ability. Has to show a better job of identifying and diagnosing the play, which is my only concern on the field. Recognition is not often learned late in one’s career; you either have it or you don’t instinctually.
27. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
The Senior Bowl was a good week for Odighizuwa, and the same can be said for the combine after he put down a 4.62 in the 40. He is natural and fluid, but he also has the strength to hold the point against the run. His performance in Indy seems to have cemented what he was able to create in Mobile, which is a first-round selection. He did miss 2013 with injuries to his hip, so medical is his biggest hurdle in this process.
28. *Malcom Brown, DT, Texas (27)
Brown has great get-off, and with his size at 320 pounds he can overwhelm the OG before the play has really begun. Like Danny Shelton, he had wonderful production with 15 TFLs, and what NFL teams will love is he has a high ceiling based on his natural athleticism. He is versatile and won’t be limited based on system; he can play NT for a 3-4 team or DT for a 4-3 team.
29. *Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford (19)
Didn’t have a great year, however, he has all of the things that you want from an OT in the NFL. Great size and above average athleticism with length that should translate into being an OT at the next level. The biggest issue for Peat is that he doesn’t deal with strength well in pass protection. That is problematic because there is not a technical fix, but rather he needs more development in the weight room.
30. Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia (41)
Prototype 3-4 OLB and is best when he is in a two-point stance and has time to create against an OT. He needs to show improvement when run at and needs to get much stronger at the point of attack. Showed flashes and the ability to be disruptive, which is a great trait for a player on the outside who needs to get to the passer.
31. *Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
While he played his worst game at the most inopportune time against Ohio State, he flashed against an experienced OL vs. Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game. He is not a great pass rusher, making him a better fit for the 3-4 scheme, but his size makes him hard to pass up at 6-8 and 290 pounds. If he develops an ability to affect the passer, he will be a special pro.
32. *Nelson Agholor, WR, USC (Prev NR)
He was having a strong day at the combine when a dislocated finger ended his day. As you would expect from a WR out of USC, he is polished and runs clean routes. Clean at the catch point and effective after the catch make him a fringe first-round pick, but that will be determined by how quickly the others get selected ahead of him. He is a very good player that has the outside possibility to become a No. 1 in the NFL, but he most assuredly is a strong No. 2 WR after putting to rest some concern over his top-end speed.
33. Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
Incredible production and pursuit ability jump off the screen when watching Kendricks. His athleticism and balance make him incredibly difficult to block, and he is much more powerful than his frame suggests. Last season’s Butkus Award winner has NFL pedigree and instinctually he may be the best LB in the draft. He surprised many with a quick 40 time at 4.61 and is gaining some momentum to be the first ILB taken this year. Whoever pulls the trigger is going to be thrilled once camp starts and they see Kendricks making plays right away, which he absolutely will.
34. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Played both DE and DT in the past two seasons, and his ceiling is high. For a guy 320 pounds, he is a knee bender, which is rare, but that also leads to improved balance on the interior. Power is the name of the game here, and while he has lots of room for improvement rushing the passer, he can play against the run tomorrow in the NFL.
35. *Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Displayed solid coverage ability, but the thing that stands out about Jalen is his size at 6-2, 195 — he is the prototype modern CB. His film is not strong, but he has an incredibly high ceiling due to his speed and size. His talent is obvious, but it hasn’t quite showed itself on tape just yet. With the right coach and system, he could be one of the better corners in the NFL in the near future.
36. *D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida (Prev NR)
Making his debut on the Big Board, Humphries has great potential, but struggled with consistency last season. Full disclosure: I wasn’t looking for Humphries, but he did such a good job against Shane Ray from Missouri that while evaluating Ray it was obvious that Humphries had solid talent. I won’t be surprised if a team at the back end of the first round takes a flyer on Humphries due to his high upside.
37. Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
Hard to project exactly how teams will evaluate Devin. He has great size and strength as a WR, but at 6-5, 230, he easily could be a split tight end and become a nightmare for defenses to match up against. Has to clean up a drop issue, but is perfect for the red zone in the NFL. His combine wasn’t anything to write home about, and a slower than expected 40 means the split TE conversation is picking up steam. This might be the best thing that ever happened to him, because that is where I see his future.
38. Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke (NR)
The momentum was started in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and has continued now to Indy at the combine. Tomlinson was the only player that could handle Danny Shelton in one-on-one drills in Mobile, and he performed well in Indy as well. Strong player that plays with solid leverage instinctually, he has carved out a spot for himself in the first half of the second round.
39. Nate Orchard, DE, Utah
Orchard is a playmaker that has a knack for the QB and the ball. He can go missing at times on film, leading me to question his motor, but when engaged he is a dominant player. Had a solid week in Mobile and did nothing to hurt himself and had a solid performance in the movement drills at the combine, which was important, because some teams think he is more of an OLB than DE.
40. *Danielle Hunter, LSU, DE
Ran an incredible 40 in Indy, clocking in at 4.57. At 6-5, he has a great frame and he is only 252 pounds, so he can carry more weight, which will be needed. At that height, it’s rare to see a guy dip the edge, but he can do it and he plays with solid pursuit from the back side. He replaced Barkevious Mingo at LSU, and I don’t think he will be that good in the NFL, but he has good potential. For his talent level and athletic ability, he should have produced more at LSU, totaling only 1.5 sacks.
41. **Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma (NR)
One of the most intriguing players in the draft because his size and ability level don’t match up with his production level. For his size, he is one of the most agile and athletic people I have seen, however, he has a history of back issues, which caused him to opt for season-ending back surgery in October 2013. Even more concerning is that it was not a single injury, but rather a nagging "pain" that doctors decided to operate on. Things like that tend to linger with big individuals, which leads me to believe is the reason he decided to leave two years of eligibility on the table and try to start his NFL clock immediately.
42. Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
I love his instincts in the middle, and although he is short at 5-11, he holds his 236 pounds well and maintains quickness. Only knock is that he can get in bad positions trying to make up for his lack of height. Chris Borland had a wonderful rookie season in the NFL from Wisconsin, and there is no reason that Perryman cant follow suit as a short LB next year.
43. Tre‘ Jackson, OG, Florida State (NR)
FSU was as dominant as any team in college football over the last two years, and it wasn’t just because of Jameis Winston. Jackson is strong and has ideal size and athleticism to play on the interior. Wasn’t great in Indy, but he was good enough to stay on the list among a group of poor lineman in 2015.
44. Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
Needs to improve his overall strength on the interior, but he is quick to diagnose what is going on. I love his motor. He is incredibly hard to block for extended times. Leverage and quickness are his game, and he uses them very well.
45. Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State (50)
Impressive combine for Smith, which solidified his status as a second-round WR. His best trait is the ability to stretch the field and high point the ball, which comes naturally to him, as he high jumped for Ohio State during his career. However, Smith has to show a better ability to run consistent routes and win at the top of the break in the intermediate zones. His skill set suits a guy like Joe Flacco, who likes to take chances down the field.
46. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (30)
He looks the part with great size, length and athleticism to go with solid quickness. He can be powerful at times, but has to improve his technical ability, as he can get himself into some bad positions. His main issue will be getting cleared medically; he injured his knee in the Aggies’ bowl game.
47. *Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State (NR)
Edwards has to show the ability to get to the QB on a consistent basis if he wants to stay at DE. If he can’t, then he will stay bulky and move down to DT, which is not a bad projection for him. When I watch him play, he reminds me of a lighter Leonard Williams, but he doesn’t disrupt quite enough to garner a higher evaluation.
48. Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (32)
He had a wonderful week at the Senior Bowl showing excellent explosiveness and pass-catching ability. He was the WR getting open with the most regularity, and he also proved that he can be a valuable player on special teams at the next level. The buzz around the combine was that he would post the fastest time, but that wasn’t the case. He clocked a 4.33, which is the same time we saw Brandin Cooks run last year.
49. TJ Clemmings, OT, Pitt (NR)
Clemmings has bounced back a bit from a disastrous week in Mobile when he went from the potential top OT in the draft to off my Big Board altogether. He is athletic and intriguing, but I don’t think it is going to be enough for him to get back up to the first round. His basketball background is a plus, but hasn’t showed a tangible skill set that allows evaluators to project franchise-level OT play.
50. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon (21)
Has to prove that he can come back from the knee injury that kept him out of the college football playoff, but has solid skills as a cover corner. Fluid mover down the field regardless of coverage and not afraid to get involved in run defense. However, he was run over inside the 5-yard line by true freshman RB Nick Wilson in a loss to Arizona. By all accounts, his recovery is going smoothly, and he should be back on a field by late training camp, but his draft stock has taken a massive hit. Once a sure first-round talent at corner, he will be lucky if someone picks him up late in the second.