NFL Draft rankings: Joel Klatt’s top five players at each position

As we get started in the 2015 NFL Draft process, I am struck by how many quality players are available. This class is again deep at wide receiver and offensive tackle, but the quarterbacks will get all of the attention. 

The thing that makes this process so difficult is rarely do you see a player that is truly independent of needing the right NFL fit. Every year we see rookies that are drafted late in the draft make rosters and make an impact mostly because they strike the lottery and get with an organization that is a perfect fit for them.

With that being said, here is my initial rankings of the top five players at each position. I am sure this will change a bit during the process, but what I love about this version more than others is that it is purely based on what I see from these players on the field and around their college programs. These rankings are not inflated because someone runs fast or jumps high in a pair of shorts. So here we go!

In addition to the rankings below, check out my top 50 overall players in the Big Board.

* — Junior who declared for draft early

** — Red-shirt sophomore who declared for draft early

QUARTERBACKS

1. Marcus Mariota* — Oregon

2. Jameis Winston** — Florida State

3. Sean Mannion — Oregon State

4. Bryce Petty — Baylor

5. Brett Hundley* — UCLA

On Deck: Garrett Grayson — Colorado State

RUNNING BACKS

1. Melvin Gordon* — Wisconsin

2. Tevin Coleman* — Indiana

3. Ameer Abdullah — Nebraska

4. Javorius Allen* — USC

5. TJ Yeldon* — Alabama

On Deck: Todd Gurley* — Georgia (when healthy, he will be number No. 2)

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Amari Cooper* — Alabama

2. Kevin White — West Virginia

3. Jaelen Strong* — Arizona State

4. DeVante Parker — Louisville

5. Devin Funchess* — Michigan

On Deck: Ty Montgomery — Stanford

TIGHT ENDS

1. Maxx Williams** — Minnesota

2. Jeff Heurman — Ohio State

3. Nick O’Leary — Florida State

4. Clive Walford — Miami

5. Wes Saxton — So. Alabama

On Deck: EJ Bibbs — Iowa State

Note: Devin Funchess may be evaluated as a tight end and would immediately be vaulted to No. 1 on this board. He played the entire year at wide receiver for Michigan and would be a fine NFL player at that spot, but he has drawn comparisons to Jimmy Graham if he were to move to tight end.

TACKLES

1. Brandon Scherff — Iowa

2. Andrus Peat* — Stanford

3. La’el Collins — LSU

4. Cedric Ogbuehi — Texas A&M

NFL SUPER BOWL CENTRAL

5. Ereck Flowers* — Miami

On Deck: Ty Sambrailo — Colorado State

GUARDS

1. AJ Cann — South Carolina

2. Josue Matias — Florida State

3. Arie Kouandjio — Alabama

4. Tre’ Jackson — Florida State

5. John Miller — Louisville

On Deck: Jarvis Harrison — Texas A&M

CENTERS

1. Reese Dismukes — Auburn

2. Cameron Erving — Florida State

3. BJ Finney — Kansas State

4. Hroniss Grasu — Oregon

5. Andy Gallik — Boston College

On Deck: David Andrews — Georgia

 

SAFETIES

1. Landon Collins* — Alabama

2. Cody Prewitt — Ole Miss

3. Gerod Holliman* — Louisville

4. Derron Smith — Fresno State

5. Kurtis Drummond — Michigan State

On Deck: Jaquiski Tartt — Stanford

CORNERBACKS

1. Trae Waynes* — Michigan State

2. Marcus Peters* — Washington

3. PJ Williams* — Florida State

4. Jalen Collins* — LSU

5. Alex Carter* — Stanford

On Deck: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu — Oregon (will be No. 2 once healthy)

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

1. Benardrick McKinney* — Mississippi State

2. Eric Kendricks — UCLA

3. Denzel Perryman — Miami

4. Ben Heeney — Kansas

5. Ramik Wilson — Georgia

On Deck: Stephone Anthony — Clemson

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

1. Vic Beasley — Clemson

2. Shane Ray* — Missouri

3. Dante Fowler Jr.* — Florida

4. Shaq Thompson* — Washington

5. Hau’oli Kikaha — Washington

On Deck: Paul Dawson — TCU

DEFENSIVE ENDS

1. Randy Gregory* — Nebraska

2. Alvin Dupree — Kentucky

3. Nate Orchard — Utah

4. Arik Armstead* — Oregon

5. Danielle Hunter* — LSU

On Deck: Eli Harold* — Virginia

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

1. Leonard Williams* — USC

2. Danny Shelton — Washington

3. Malcom Brown* — Texas

4. Eddie Goldman — Florida State

5. Michael Bennett — Ohio State

On Deck: Jordan Phillips** — Oklahoma

 

1. WR

2. S

3. RB

4. OLB

5. CB

6. QB

7. C

8. DT

9. OT

10. DE

11. OG

12. ILB

13. TE