Big Board, Version 5: New faces break into Klatt's Top 50
The NFL Draft is right around the corner and there is very little, if any, time for these players to change perceptions that have been created over the last year.
Two players make their debut on the Big Board as UCF wide receiver Breshad Perriman and Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson slide into the top 50. Perriman was previously inconsistent with his hands and that's why I shied away, however he has had some stellar workouts and should be a top-tier wide receiver next season. Johnson has excellent cover ability, but is so light that he has an inability to be physical, but he should be able to gain some weight in the next couple of years.
Two other players fell a bit on Version 5 after finding some trouble. Randy Gregory failed a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine and PJ Williams is dealing with an issue after he refused a roadside sobriety test last week in Tallahassee. Both players had concerns from previous issues and this is just going to cement that thought. USC's Leonard Williams and Oregon's Marcus Mariota remain at the top, and that is not going to change before we get to Chicago.
* -- Junior who declared for draft early
** -- Redshirt sophomore who declared for draft early
Note: Players' previous rankings in parentheses if different from current ranking.
1. *Leonard Williams, DT, USC
Williams is everything an NFL team would want in a defensive tackle/defensive end. He's 300 pounds and carries it well. Provides quickness especially from the interior, but transitions it to power with ease. He can be a prototype 3-technique 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. Tennessee has a major decision to make at No. 2 with Williams looming and yet their quarterback situation in flux. If I was forced to put money on one player to become an All-Pro within his first three seasons, Williams would be the guy.
2. *Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Knocking Mariota is the fashionable thing to do, but most of the criticism revolves around the system he ran at Oregon and the quiet nature with which he carries himself. His talent is only surpassed by the person he is, and to most NFL franchises that is a huge positive. However, there is risk due to the fact he must learn how to operate a pro-style system, including calling plays in the huddle for the first time since high school. This should not be overlooked, but Mariota is very intelligent, and learning an offensive system is essentially just learning a new language. His learning curve is steeper than Jameis Winston's, but his risk is much lower. Mariota has great size, weighing in at 222 pounds and standing 6-foot-3 3/4 at the Combine -- the exact same height as Jameis -- which surprised some that do not follow college football regularly. He possesses a strong and accurate arm down the field, yet most will say that he didn't make NFL throws. Nothing could be further from the truth. He made those throws every week and he showed anticipation, velocity and accuracy while getting through his entire progression on a regular basis. Tampa Bay needs a quarterback and they should look no further than Marcus Mariota.
3. *Dante Fowler Jr., OLB/DE, Florida
While he doesn't have the explosiveness of Shane Ray or Vic Beasley, Fowler is probably the more complete defender. Good in almost any role or situation that came up at Florida, who put him in several different roles including rushing the passer and being stout against the run. Because of his ability to do everything well, he has a higher ceiling than the other pass rushers in this class 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, which was heavier than most of his counterparts. He had one of the best weeks of anyone in Indy, and nothing has changed since then. Fowler is sure to be drafted in the top 10 and likely in the top 5 when all is said and done.
4. **Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
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 last season, which is way too many, but he should be able to clean that up by creating a more stable foundation before the throw, and playing more within the system rather than forcing the issue, which was a major flaw last season for the Seminoles. Regardless of any on-field evaluation the big area of focus will be off the field for Winston. He has to prove himself a changed person from the college version that struggled with judgment time after time. He was universally praised by scouts and GMs in Indy for his Football IQ on the board and interview ability, and that continued in a private meeting with Tampa. He was "flawless," as one source put it, and handled everything with flying colors. They also tested Winston with an NFL install (gave him some of their concepts and language) but did not give him a playbook. Two weeks later he was able to fully communicate what the install was, which blew most of the staff away. It looks like Tampa is the place for Jameis -- even if I would go in a different direction.
5. Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Most of the players on this list were expected to be here before the season, but that's not the case for Kevin White. His size and strength are difficult to defend, but it's his ability to win the contested catch that truly sets him apart. For a big player he runs after the catch as well as any receiver in this year's class, and can blend power and elusiveness to do so. He was the star of the Combine as the strongest wideout and clocked the third-fastest 40 time in his group despite weighing 215 pounds. He has almost limitless potential and most teams I talked to have Kevin atop their WR board, and I'm no different. He will face a steeper learning curve than Amari Cooper in the NFL due to the system he is coming out of at West Virginia, where he was asked to do about four things. I think he is up to the task and should be the top wide receiver taken in the draft. Oakland has to find some outside weapons for Derek Carr, and White should be the pick at No. 4 to the Raiders.
6. *Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
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 coverage, giving the quarterback a defined look. This is an attribute not many posses these days because the air raid or spread offense often don't require the receiver to adjust his route based on coverage. In every NFL offense, the WR will be required to both adjust his route based on structure and also create the proper spacing by sitting against zone and running vs. man coverage. This unspoken communication between QB and WR will be seamless for Cooper. His value to an NFL team can't be overstated because they will have to spend little time with him in development and he will likely be able to play all over the field. While I have moved Kevin White ahead of Amari it should be said that Amari was tremendous at the Combine. He is only 20 years old, but he is so refined it's 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.
7. Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Undersized for 4-3 defensive end, but is a perfect fit for 3-4 outside linebacker with his speed and explosive first step. Beasley lit up the Combine with a blazing 4.53 time in the 40, which was the fastest of any linebacker. Tom Brady was in the shotgun 80 percent of the snaps of Super Bowl XLIX and that is a trend that has made its way across the league. Rushing the passer is of the utmost of importance and Vic can do just that. Athletic and flexible, he's a nightmare on the speed rush, but can get caught in the wash against a strong offensive tackle in tight spaces. He has a lot of work to do in run defense, but his upside as a pass-rusher is too enticing. It won't surprise me at all if he is able to get eight or nine sacks as a rookie playing primarily in passing situations because of that explosive first step.
8. Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Remarkable production for a defensive tackle and is as active as any I can remember. He should have a huge impact for his next team very similar to what Ndamukong Suh or Star Lotulelei 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 at the Combine, which is just staggering. I see him as a prototype 3-4 nose tackle because of his ability to play a two-gap technique with a strong lower half. He also has value pushing the middle of the pocket with his strength and motor on passing downs. Most quarterbacks have no answer for a pocket collapsing in his face and Shelton will be able to do that immediately. He was the best player in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and he carried that momentum to Indy with a strong Combine. The spot that seems logical for Shelton is Chicago as he can solidify what has been a disappointing defense since the retirement of Brian Urlacher.
9. Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky (Prev 11)
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, clocking a 4.56 in the 40. Only concern for me is how high his ceiling is as he may not have much room for improvement. He should be able to develop further as a pass-rusher, which will get him selected in the top 15 in Chicago.
10. *Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (Prev 12)
Some have speculated that the running back position has been devalued, but I would argue that we haven't had many great backs to evaluate in the last couple of years. Melvin is a surefire 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 can do for a team what DeMarco Murray did for the Cowboys this season in that he can be a home-run guy while also getting 25-30 carries. It's 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. He is a net gain rusher, meaning he always gains more yards than the play should have based on how well it was blocked. He has tremendous vision and patience in any blocking scheme which should shallow out his NFL learning curve.
11. *Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (Prev 15)
Cover ability is rock solid down the field as he moves exceptionally well against downfield routes. Waynes is very aggressive against the run and quick to diagnose, but his lack of size needs to be addressed. Waynes ran well at the Combine and has started to separate himself from the rest of the corner group due to Ifo Ekpre-Olomu’s injury and the questions surrounding Marcus Peters and his dismissal from the team at Washington. Waynes is the type of competitor you would want on the island at the cornerback position and that mentality should allow him to become a top-line No. 1 corner in the NFL.
12. *Shane Ray, OLB/DE, Missouri (Prev 9)
Hasn't played a ton of football as he had to sit behind Kony Ealy and Michael Sam at Missouri, but he is the type of player with 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. His Pro Day didn't go as well as some thought it might, but he's still a guy with great momentum coming off of a sensational season that ended with him being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
13. *Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
Came back from a knee injury this year and proved he could play through adversity. Solid size and power, but I don't see him as a left tackle in the NFL as he will likely have to play guard early in his career before a transition to right tackle. 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. The thing that he doesn't have to work on is run blocking as he is one of the most powerful road graters available. This is overall a very weak class of offensive tackles and that is going to help Flowers get selected in the top half of the first round.
14. *Landon Collins, S, Alabama
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 against the run and in the alley so strong safety would be a better fit early in his career. Has to show an improvement covering the short-to-intermediate zones between the hashes and the numbers. Also, there are concerns about the health of his shoulders which he struggled with at Alabama, so proving himself healthy is very important in the next month-and-a-half. Demand for safeties in the NFL this offseason was high and there were not many solid free agents, which should get Collins selected high.
15. *Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska (Prev 10)
The game has made a shift towards 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 alarming baggage. Also, he failed a drug test at the Combine so teams have dropped Gregory significantly in the last month. He was under 240 lbs pounds as well, 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, which will make his private workouts that much more important.
16. *Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (Prev 20)
Obviously, health is a big question 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 there was no reason to have that many doctors "poke and tug" on his knee after a surgery. However, if he wants to get drafted in the first round, like his talent suggests, he is going to have to prove a substantial improvement in the health of that knee for a team to take the chance. Now less than a month to the draft, I am hearing good things about his health. 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 to gain the hidden yardage. The injury still makes me a bit nervous, but I won't be surprised if he is actually the top running back taken.
17. *Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State (Prev 21)
Great size and strength make him a nightmare matchup and he also wins the contested catch more often than not due to his large frame and unique ability to locate the ball on his back shoulder. So, it's 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 quarterbacks 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 which further solidifies his standing as a first-rounder. He may not have the overall potential of Kevin White but the two are very similar in the way that they play and dominate games. He will make an impact next year for some team very similar to how the receiver group from last year's draft impacted the league in a positive way.
18. Cameron Erving, OT/C, Florida State (Prev 16)
Erving is the most versatile offensive lineman available this year as he moved from left tackle to center 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 defensive tackle at FSU so he will likely succeed regardless of where his next team puts him. I doubt he gets selected as high as I have him ranked, but any team looking for interior line help will take a long look at Cameron. He is the type of guy that could have a very long career and go to a number of Pro Bowls, but will get overlooked a bit in the draft because nothing jumps off the page or tape about him. Denver needs help on the o-line and it wouldn't shock me at all to see Erving with the Broncos.
19. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma (Prev 23)
Off-field issues 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 the 40 at Indy. He answered the character questions very well in interviews, taking responsibility and showing genuine remorse for his actions which ultimately led to his dismissal from the Missouri football team. Most believe his red flags won’t be an issue. 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, even after sitting out last season.
20. *Shaq Thompson, OLB/S/RB, Washington (Prev 18)
Likely the most physically gifted player available this year. He could probably succeed in the NFL at any number of positions, but his ability as a hybrid safety/weakside linebacker is where he would have the most impact. His technical ability is a mess, but that is expected from any two-way player that doesn't have time to focus on the technical details of one position. It's more impressive that he can play at such a high level on pure football ability and raw skill. His biggest challenge is narrowing his focus on one position although having backup plans is a valuable commodity. He has the type of ability to project as an elite defender.
21. La'el Collins, OT, LSU (Prev 19)
Great in the run game as he is powerful and regularly wins at the point of attack. He would fit very well at guard as he is still too raw and aggressive to play on the outside as a pass protector. His week in Indy at the Combine was very similar to his week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl: average. While that isn't a ringing endorsement, he didn't struggle with anything, but he didn't excel anywhere either. He will likely be a fairly consistent, but never great player that could have a long career on the right side once he gains the necessary skills to play tackle.
22. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (Prev 17)
Love his aggressiveness and strength at the point of attack in the run game, and his nasty nature is something that every NFL offensive line coach would love to have in his room. However, I have some serious questions about his ability to play tackle at the next level. His stock, which was as high as the top five at one point, has dropped fast and he must have great individual workouts to remain in the first round. He moves easily for a big man and his athleticism should help in his development in pass protection, but he is destined to be a guard in the league and guards generally don't get taken any earlier than late in the first round at best.
23. DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (Prev 24)
After a foot injury took the first half of his season away, he was a monster in the back half, and it did not slow him at all at the Combine as he ran a sub-4.5 time in the 40. Not as physically dominant as other receivers on this board, but he has an exceptional catch range and quality hands. He and Jaelen Strong are very similar as 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 and he will make some NFL quarterback very happy early in his career. Watch for Minnesota in the first round to grab Parker and reunite him with his college QB Teddy Bridgewater.
24. *Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (Prev 22)
Great player that has the ability to create interceptions 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 defensive backs, including his former backup, trying to help him with the game plan. That type of behavior is not consistent with a player that has questionable character. If anything, you could say Marcus cared too much, and that was his downfall with a new staff that was trying to create a new culture which clearly clashed with the passionate corner. He has first-round skill all day long, but it remains to be seen if a team will take a chance that early. My guess would be that they do because of the value of the corner position in today's game.
25. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA (Prev 26)
The Senior Bowl was a good week for Odighizuwa and the same can be said for the Combine after putting down a 4.62 in the 40. He is natural and fluid but also has the strength to hold the point against the run. At UCLA he played 3-technique in passing situations which made it hard for him to accumulate sack numbers, but he has the skillset that's good enough for 4-8 sacks a year in the NFL. 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 the medical issue is his biggest hurdle in this process and would be a big reason that he could fall into the second round.
26. Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA (Prev 29)
Incredible production over three years as a starter and his ability to pursue the ball jumps off of the tape. His athleticism and balance make him incredibly difficult to block and he is much more powerful than his frame suggests, which all allowed him to set the record for career tackles at UCLA. This season's Butkus Award winner has an NFL pedigree and instinctually, is the best inside linebacker in the draft. He surprised many with a quick 40 time at 4.61, although he was battling a sore hamstring and felt he should have run faster. Whoever pulls the trigger on this guy is going to be thrilled once camp starts and they see him making plays right away, which he absolutely will.
27. *Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Brown has great get-off and with his size at 320 pounds, he can overwhelm the offensive guards before the play has really begun. Like Danny Shelton, he had wonderful production with 15 tackles for loss and NFL teams will love his high ceiling due to his natural athleticism. He is versatile and won't be limited based on system as he can play nose tackle for a 3-4 team or defensive tackle for a 4-3 team. Nothing too flashy with Brown, but he will be a very good NFL DT and should play for a long time. If anything, he is being overlooked right now, which normally leads to a team at the back end of the first round getting a big steal.
28. Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
Prototype 3-4 OLB and is best when he is in a two-point stance and has time and space to create a rush vs. an offensive tackle. He needs to show improvement when the run comes in his direction and must get stronger at the point of attack. Showed flashes of dominance and the ability to be disruptive, which is a great trait for a player on the outside who needs to get to the passer.
29. *D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida (Prev 35)
Making another big jump on the Big Board, Humphries has great potential but struggled with consistency last season. Full disclosure, I wasn't looking for Humphries while watching tape but he did such a good job against Shane Ray from Missouri that it was obvious 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 and the value of a having future tackle.
30. *Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
While he played his worst game at the most inopportune time against Ohio State in the national championship game, he has shown solid growth since he started focusing on football rather than playing basketball for the Ducks as well. Once that happened, he became much better against the run just because he became more physical at the point of attack and stronger in the weight room. He's not a great pass-rusher, which makes him a better fit for the 3-4 scheme, but his size is too hard to pass up at 6-8 and 290 pounds. If he develops an ability to disrupt the passer he will be a special pro. His potential is off the charts, so expect him to get picked somewhere between 20-27 in the first round.
31. *Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
He was having a strong day at the Combine when a dislocated finger ended his day, but he came back strong at his pro day and showed off his trademark soft hands and easy catch style. As you would expect from a WR out of USC, he is polished and runs cleans routes. Clean at the catch point and effective after the catch makes him a fringe first-round pick, but that will be determined by how quickly 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. Agholor should be ready Day 1 because of his shallow learning curve coming from a pro-style offense in college.
32. *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 and gave people pause about his standing as one of the top inside linebackers. He has the ability to play all over the field, but is best suited for ILB with sideline-to-sideline pursuit ability. McKinney has to be more consistent identifying and diagnosing the play, which is my only concern on the field. Recognition is not often learned late in one's career as you either have the instinct or you don't, which is the biggest concern for NFL executives.
33. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Played both defensive end and defensive tackle in the last two seasons, and his ceiling is very high. For a guy 320 pounds, he's a knee-bender which is rare and leads to improved balance on the interior. Power is the name of the game with Goldman and while he has a long way to go when it comes to rushing the passer, he can play against the run in the NFL tomorrow.
34. *Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Displayed solid coverage ability, but the thing that stands out about Jalen is his size at 6-2 and 195 pounds as he's the prototype modern cornerback. 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, which makes you wonder if it will ever show up. With the right coach and system he could be one of the better corners in the NFL in the near future, but the floor is very low and that will keep many teams away come draft time.
35. Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke (Prev 37)
The momentum was created in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and continued to Indy at the Combine. Tomlinson was the only player who could handle Danny Shelton in 1-on-1 drills in Mobile, which had everyone buzzing. Plus, he performed well in Indy to back it up. He's a strong player with solid leverage and instincts and will carve out a spot for himself in the first half of the second 2nd round -- with an outside shot at getting picked up in Round 1. Duke has had such a fantastic run the last couple of years and that generally means the program has NFL talent. Tomlinson is going to be a solid pro from Day 1 in the NFL.
36. Nate Orchard, DE, Utah (Prev 38)
Orchard is a playmaker with a knack for the ball and the quarterback. He can go missing at times on film, which leads me to question his motor and conditioning, but when engaged he's 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. That was important as some teams think he is more of an outside linebacker than a defensive end. In the right system with the right coach he could be quite a surprise in the early-to- middle second round.
37. Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State (Prev 44)
An impressive Combine solidified Smith's status as a second-round receiver. His best trait is the ability to stretch the field and high point the ball, which comes naturally to him because of his background as a high jumper for Ohio State track and field team. 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 skillset suits a guy like Joe Flacco, who likes to take chances down the field, so watch for the Ravens in the second round to snag Smith.
38. *Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF (Prev NR)
This is the first time I've included Perriman in the Big Board. He's excellent as a big-play guy and he, like others in this draft, has a rare talent to high point the ball down the field. His hands were not consistent which is why I had stayed away from him to this point, but he had some solid workouts, which put some of that concern to rest. The wide receiver group is the deepest group in the draft in large part because of guys like Perriman.
39. *Danielle Hunter, LSU, DE
Ran an incredible 40 at the Combine, clocking a 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 inside shoulder around the edge but he can do it and he plays with solid pursuit from the back side. He replaced Barkevious Mingo at LSU and while I don't think he will be that good in the NFL, he has good potential. For his talent level and athletic ability he should have produced more at LSU, totaling only 1.5 sacks which is a major concern just like his teammate Jalen Collins. It's hard to project that he will suddenly learn how to produce, so this is a guy that may look much better than what a team is actually getting.
40. Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan (Prev 36)
Hard to project exactly how teams will evaluate Devin. He has great size and strength as a receiver but at 6-5 and 230 pounds he could easily be a split tight end and become a nightmare for defenses to match up against. He must clean up a drop issue, but is perfect for the red zone in the NFL once he's able to do so. His Combine wasn't anything to write home about and a slower-than-expected 40 time means the split tight end conversation is picking up steam. This might be the best thing that ever happened to him, because that is where I see his future.
41. **Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma (Prev 40)
One of the most intriguing players in the draft because his size and athletic ability don't match up with his production level. For his size, he is one of the most agile and athletic players I have seen, however he has a history of back issues which caused him to opt for season-ending surgery in October, 2013. Even more concerning is that it was not a singular injury, but rather a nagging "pain" that caused the need for surgery. Things like that tend to linger with big individuals and leads me to believe it's 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 (Prev 41)
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 before unexpectedly retiring, but there is no reason that Perryman can't follow suit on the field as a short inside linebacker next year.
43. Tre' Jackson, OG, Florida State (Prev 42)
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. He wasn't great in Indy, but he was good enough to stay on the this list among a group of poor linemen in 2015. The fact that the depth of the offensive line class is not there is a huge plus for Jackson. I thought Erving was the better player and Jackson may be getting the bump from playing with other great players, but right now Jackson seems a lock to be drafted in the second round.
44. Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State (Prev 43)
Needs to improve his overall strength on the interior, but is very quick to diagnose what is going on. I love his motor as he is incredibly hard to block for extended times -- the best way to describe him is that he's slippery. Leverage and quickness are his game and he uses them very well.
45. *PJ Williams, CB, Florida State (Prev 25)
Love his combination of size -- 6-0 and 195 pounds -- 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 to be physical is impressive, which for a corner is half the battle. Played primarily into the boundary (short side of the field) for FSU, which gives me some concern because fit becomes much more important for a team that plays right/left 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 at the NFL level (because of the wide hash marks) that his adjustment to the pro game may take a bit longer than others. He is now also battling concerns over an arrest in Tallahassee last week when he refused a roadside sobriety test.
46. *Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State
Edwards has to show the ability to get to the quarterback on a consistent basis if he wants to stay at defensive end. If he can't, then he will stay bulky and move down to defensive tackle, 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. I think another year at FSU would have helped his stock, but he should be a good depth piece for some organization.
47. Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (Prev NR)
I love his speed and instincts, but there are a couple of things that are a concern. His is very light and has an inability to be physical at the line of scrimmage with wide receivers. Also, he played almost all of his snaps on the short side of the field and the adjustment to the NFL with all of the extra space created by the tight hash marks can be a hard adjustment for guys like Johnson. He should be able to gain some weight, but he already has the ability to cover down the field and a good long frame.
48. Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (Prev 47)
He had a wonderful week at the Senior Bowl, showing excellent explosiveness and pass-catching ability. He was the wide receiver getting open with the most regularity and he also proved that he can be a valuable player on the special teams at the next level. The buzz around the Combine was that he would post the fastest 40 time, but that wasn't the case. He clocked a 4.33, which is the exact same time we saw Brandin Cooks run last year. The question with Dorsett is about his ability to catch the ball consistently, which is something that should improve.
49. Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
While small in stature, Lockett plays much bigger than his size and shows an uncanny ability to create space in small windows. Another thing I love about Lockett is his ability to create with the ball in his hands as a runner, which will lend itself to special teams early in his career. He is a smart player and one of the best people in the draft. He was a finalist for the William Campbell Trophy, otherwise known as the academic Heisman.
50. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Sean struggled last season but still leaves Oregon State as one of the most prolific passers in Pac-12 history. He lost Brandin Cooks to the NFL and lost his best offensive lineman, which hurt his production in a major way. However, he did increase his completion percentage and cut down on the interceptions, which is a good sign. He is as smart as any young NFL QB or backup right now on the chalk board and his velocity is better than expected. Mannion is the safest QB in the draft and like Derek Carr last season, will be a great pickup in the second round.