By Jeff Risdon
I rated 225 players this year instead of the typical 123. These rankings are not any indication of predicted draft order, but rather represent my opinion on which players will be the best in the NFL over the course of a career. Comments are given on every 5th player. In order to evaluate a player, I must have seen at least two games on tape or in person, and there are some more prominent players that I just didn’t have time to get to this year. I’d be happy to answer any questions or comments on Twitter @JeffRisdon.
1. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Notes: The second-highest grade I’ve given an offensive tackle in 11 drafts, trailing only Joe Thomas. His feet are impeccable. Can play either tackle spot at a very high level. Lacks elite power but his technique makes up for his minor physical deficiencies. Perennial All-Pro potential.
2. Jadeveon Clowney, Edge, South Carolina
Notes: Physical freak of nature can do rare things as a pass rusher. Impacts the way offenses game plan. Carries some bust factor but could be elite sack artist with major disruptive impact. Deserving of 1st overall pick
3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Notes: Polished receiver with versatility to line up all over the formation. Great runner after catch, has elite traits. High ceiling/high floor talent that is NFL ready out of the box. Safer, more durable version of Percy Harvin.
4. Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Notes: Fits best as 3-4 OLB but can play ILB or 4-3 DE too. Strong, dynamic all-around football player with great explosion and nose for the ball. His natural ability in coverage separates him as a linebacker prospect.
5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Notes: Has the arm strength, poise, intelligence, vision and confidence to become an above-average starter quickly. Has the “it” factor. Smallish frame and spotty downfield accuracy are legit knocks, but his all-around skills elevate him well above the other QBs in this class.
6. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Notes: Mauling, explosive run blocking force with outstanding strength. Needs some technical work in pass protection, might need to play on the right side. Not a sure thing, but has a higher ceiling than even Matthews. One NFL scout compared him to Titans guard Chance Warmack playing tackle.
7. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Notes: Unbelievably athletic, rangy backer with great quickness in reacting and blitzing ability vs. both the run and pass. Ideal 4-3 WLB a la Lance Briggs or Lavonte David, better athlete than either. Needs to clean up his work in avoiding traffic and his instincts need development.
8. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Notes: Speedy flex/slot weapon more of a hybrid WR/TE in the Vernon Davis or Jimmy Graham mold. Has some drop/concentration issues and his exuberant confidence won’t work everywhere, but can do things down the field that few TEs can even consider.
9. Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
Notes: High-ceiling left guard prospect with the added ability to start right away at right tackle. Great technique, unleashes core power exceptionally well. Very light on his feet. I grade him higher than either top 10 guard from last year.
10. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Notes: Tough as nails, strong-armed and athletic. Great upper-body mechanics with the ability to accurately drive the ball all over the field. Has some bad habits (back foot throws, unnecessary altered arm angles) that need correction. Will need time to adjust to level of competition in NFL and to a pro-style offense. Maturity a real plus. Compares as “not quite” Matthew Stafford.
11. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
12. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
13. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
14. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
15. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Notes: Interior pass-rushing force with a barrage of moves and a great first step. Shorter and lighter than ideal, but uses his leverage extremely well. Run defense is not great but passable. Works best as 4-3 3-technique, where he could be great.
16. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
17. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas A&M
18. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
19. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
20. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Notes: Solid, intelligent all-around backer that can play inside in a 3-4 or make a very good SAM in a 4-3. Won’t be a superstar but should be a high-quality starter for years. Has superb diagnostic skills and closes with controlled speed and sudden force. Has durability concerns in part due to an overmuscled frame.
21. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
22. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
23. Anthony Barr, Edge, UCLA
24. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
25. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Notes: Long (6’), long-armed athlete with two brothers in NFL already. Best in off-man and zone, lacks functional strength in press-man and has tight hips that cause struggles vs. quicker receivers. Natural fit and immediate starter for zone-heavy teams, though he’s not great vs. the run. Confident and professional.
26. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
27. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
28. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
29. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
30. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Notes: Very athletic, creative gunslinger with outstanding mobility. Throws well on the run and creates outside the pocket. Plus arm strength. Still developing vision, pocket presence, and patience. Polarizing personality and improvisational style is not for everyone. Lack of height and bulk are serious issues. Extreme boom/bust prospect.
31. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
32. Dee Ford, Edge, Auburn
33. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
34. Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
35. Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Notes: Gritty, intelligent center with guard experience too. Great functional strength, good agility, sound technique. On the lighter side and not the best athlete at the position, but is NFL-ready with a very high floor.
36. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
37. Demarcus Lawrence, Edge, Boise State
38. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
39. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
40. Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Notes: Impressive size and physicality, often looks dominant. Explosive athlete with massive catch radius. Strong hands, Wildly inconsistent, has some clunker games cloaked with apathy. Compares favorably to Mike Evans vs. common competition not named Alabama. Could be a star if he wants to be.
41. JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee
42. Trai Turner, G, LSU
43. Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
44. Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
45. Jeremiah Attaochu, Edge, Georgia Tech
Notes: Lightning fast edge rusher with great first and second steps. Flattens to the QB or RB very well. Lacks instincts and quick diagnostic skills, often winds up doing lots of nothing. Needs to use his power better, but has the body to pull it off. Arrow pointing up, but will be limited to situational duty early on.
46. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
47. DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
48. Kony Ealy, Edge/DT, Missouri
49. Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
50. Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Notes: Heads-up mauler of a blocker who handles power rushes and anchor-type DTs very effectively. Doesn’t have great lateral range but has outstanding arm length and upper body strength. Needs to develop some peripheral awareness but could be very good for power-oriented teams. Won’t be drafted near this high.
51. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
52. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
53. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
54. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
55. Kareem Martin, Edge, North Carolina
Notes: Big, strong, heavy-handed closed-side end in the mold of Everson Griffen or Carlos Dunlap. Can win with power or a quick burst, but doesn’t have much refinement if his first idea fails. If he learns to keep his pads down and get more in concert with his teammates, he could be very good. Best fit for a 4-3 team like Dallas or Chicago with a strong defensive coaching presence.
56. Carl Bradford, Edge, Arizona State
57. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
58. Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
59. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
60. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Notes: Outstanding athlete who dramatically improved as a football player in ’13. Has great length and speed, also an accomplished return man and special teams cover unit fixture. Doesn’t play big until the ball is in the air and is often weak vs. run. Struggles badly when receivers break inside or cross him, his hips are a tight mess. Won’t be able to recover as quickly against NFL talent, but arrow is pointing up.
61. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
62. Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State
63. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
64. Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
65. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Notes: Small-school gunslinger with compact, quick release. Natural leader with high football IQ who does all the little things well. Needs mechanical work, tends to fall off his throws and close his hips too early. Average arm, ball velocity really tails off down the field. At least a year away from being NFL ready, but got better every day in Shrine Game/Senior Bowl practices.
66. Marcus Smith, Edge, Louisville
67. Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
68. Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
69. E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
70. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Notes: Massive (331 pounds) 0- or 1-technique who looked like a legit top 20 prospect in 2012 but fell off badly in ’13, in part due to a knee injury. Has a big personality to match, reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s Cam Thomas. Very good at using his bulk to plug gaps and knows how to finish at the ball. The ’12 version will be a good starter for years, the ’13 version won’t get a 2nd NFL contract for more than the league minimum.
71. Brandon Thomas, OL, Clemson
72. Dion Bailey, S, USC
73. Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
74. Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
75. Marcus Martin, C, USC
Notes: Ideal build for the interior line and has experience at both guard and center. Very light on his feet. Has consistently outstanding hand usage, which helps compensate for a lack of strength. Lots of developmental upside, needs to learn how to engage and sustain blocks in space. Would greatly benefit from a year as a reserve before taking over in ’15.
76. Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
77. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Note: I rate him here on potential, but if I were a GM he would be removed from my draft board due to separate torn ACLs, which is a serious issue for an undersized, pass-rushing tackle.
78. Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
79. Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
80. Christian Kirksey, LB, Iowa
Notes: Rangy, instinctive, intelligent outside backer best suited to play WLB in a 4-3. Has some natural feel in coverage and closes to the ball quickly. Not very strong and wasn’t much more than a clean-up tackler in college, average athletic traits are maxed out already. Great guy to pair with a dynamic playmaker-type. Can play right away as nickel backer in any scheme.
81. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
82. Khyri Thornton, NT, Southern Miss
83. Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State
84. Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
85. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Notes: The best in-line TE prospect in this draft, has more of a traditional game than the trend towards speedier receiving specialists. Solid at every aspect but doesn’t have any standout characteristics.
86. Billy Turner, OT, South Dakota
87. Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
88. Jon Halapio, G, Florida
89. Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State
90. Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Notes: Scrappy, instinctive playmaker with a great nose for the ball and a keen sense of timing. Quicker than fast and his speed is slower than ideal, but he has a very good understanding of what he can do and how to handle all sorts of offensive challenges. Fits best in the role Detroit uses Glover Quin, a man-cover short-area safety.
91. Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
92. Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
93. Dakota Dozier, G, Furman
94. Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami FL
95. Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Notes: Lanky, long, experienced man-cover corner that projects better to zone or off-man in the NFL. Better with ball in the air than before throw, average instincts but quick reactions. Slight frame that will always lack strength and missed games in 4 of his 5 seasons at Rice with injuries. Opportunistic and smart.
96. Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana
97. Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
98. Jemea Thomas, S, Georgia Tech
99. Terrence West, RB, Towson
100. Preston Brown, LB, Louisville
Notes: Long, high-cut backer with decent speed and strength. Sporadically great but quite inconsistent. Has solid cover skills. Can play inside or outside depending on scheme. Could blossom with a coach that reaches him. Impressed with his range during Shrine Game week.
101. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
102. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill
103. Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut
104. Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
105. Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame
Notes: Technically proficient bulldog of a left guard with very good hands and excellent awareness. Not the greatest athlete, gets by on toughness and savvy. Will not be outworked or outmuscled. Coming off a knee injury that could wipe out his rookie year, was never very agile to begin with.
106. Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
107. Shaq Barrett, Edge, Colorado State
108. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
109. Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
110. Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
Notes: Functionally strong 1-gap interior presence with good initial burst. Technically raw but flashes impressive skills as both a pocket collapse agent and an aware run stuffer. Compares to Tennessee’s Sammie Lee Hill with higher upside.
111. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina
112. Trent Murphy, Edge, Stanford
113. Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
114. Jordan Zumwalt, LB, UCLA
115. Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
Notes: Agile, top-heavy pivot that thrives on the move but lacks anchor strength in tight quarters. Has guard experience, might be better as a pulling left guard. Coming off some injuries that raise durability questions, as he’s not overly big by NFL standards.
116. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina
117. T.J. Jones, WR, Notre Dame
118. Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State
119. Jackson Jeffcoat, Edge, Texas
120. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Notes: Compactly built slasher with fast feet and great vision. Finishes his runs with power and can bounce off hits. Needs to work on his hands, as he is not a good receiver and struggled with fumbles. When he attacks the hole he’s really good, but Mason will dance at times.
121. Cameron Fleming, T, Stanford
122. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
123. Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
124. A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
125. Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Notes: Giant for the position at 6’3” and 211 but also has great explosive athleticism. Plays physical but is almost too big, struggles badly vs. agile receivers due to a long stride and tight ankles. Might be a better safety, though his instincts are only average. Poor hands. Overaged at 25. Needs to play press man or else he’s wasted.
126. Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
127. Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
128. Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
129. James Gayle, Edge, Virginia Tech
130. Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
Notes: Opportunistic, aggressive cover safety with strong length/speed package. Got kicked off Florida and has a rep for being uncoachable, though he did mature as a senior. Has the skills to be a hybrid corner/safety and already has strong special teams experience. Boom/bust of a 4th-5th round pick.
131. Bo Lokombo, LB, Oregon
132. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
133. Tre Boston, S, North Carolina
134. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
135. Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB/FB, Coastal Carolina
Notes: Thickly built pounder from a zone-read scheme. More of a hybrid RB/FB at 229 pounds. Best quality is his work in the passing game, both as a receiver and pass protector, best in class at both facets. Lacks great speed and wiggle. A better, younger version of Green Bay’s John Kuhn or a lower-end Joique Bell.
136. Dontae Johnson, CB, North Carolina State
137. Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
138. Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Boston College
139. Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
140. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Notes: One-time top prospect who never progressed despite starting right away for a major program. Catch blocker with heavy feet, but he’s very effective when he squares up his target. Great natural strength, creates movement as a run blocker. Chronic knee issues raise major durability flags, is off the board for several teams.
141. Rashaad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State
142. Craig Loston, S, LSU
143. James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
144. Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma
145. Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame
Notes: Overhyped hybrid end/tackle who flashes a great shoulder dip move and quick feet, but too often pops straight up from his stance and is easily blocked. If a team can get his motor running hot and his conditioning a priority, he’ll make this rating look foolishly low. Big “ifs” there.
146. Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane
147. Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
148. Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
149. Bene Benwikere, DB, San Jose State
150. Wade Keliikipi, DT, Oregon
Notes: Stoutly built but has good one-step burst. Locates the ball quickly and can shed blocks, great effort in pursuit. Scheme-diverse, fits best as a 5-technique inside a dynamic pass rusher. High-floor prospect for a later-round guy.
151. Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
152. Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
153. Avery Williamson, LB, Kentucky
154. David Yankey, G, Stanford
155. Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State
Notes: Four-year starter with great size and anchor strength. Smart, patient blocker who can shuffle and redirect in tight spaces. Lacks agility and range and doesn’t always bring the pain. Has had back issues which could be a lingering issue. Throwback style of center.
156. Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State
157. Bruce Gaston, DT, Purdue
158. Michael Schofield, OT/G, Michigan
159. James Stone, C, Tennessee
160. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Notes: Fiercely intense attack dog of an inside backer with great functional power and real pop to his hits. Very good playing downhill, but has poor lateral agility and almost no ability in coverage. Major knee injury in ’12 is a flag. Poor man’s Brian Cushing.
161. Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
162. Chris Smith, Edge, Arkansas
163. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
164. Wesley Johnson, OT/C, Vanderbilt
165. Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida
Notes: Powerful one-cut thumper who dishes out punishment to tacklers. Quick feet and has very soft hands. Runs straight up too frequently and doesn’t have breakaway speed. A less sudden Ben Tate without the durability issues.
166. Howard Jones, LB, Shepherd
167. Zack Hocker, K, Arkansas
168. Shamar Stephen, DT, Connecticut
169. Marqueston Huff, S, Wyoming
170. Zach Fulton, G, Tennessee
Notes: Big, overly physical mauler with a great initial punch. Plays with legit nastiness and aggression, which also leads to sloppy technique and missed assignments. If he can harness his energy, could be an above-average starter. Compares favorably to Shawn Lauvao.
171. Aaron Lynch, TE, Georgia
172. Ryan Carrethers, DT, Arkansas State
173. Dri Archer, WR/RS, Kent State
174. Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
175. Chris Boswell, K, Rice
Notes: Comes off an erratic senior season but has a great leg that extends to 55+ yards on field goals. Has a unique, lethally effective onside kick.
176. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
177. Justin Britt, T, Missouri
178. Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota
179. George Uko, DE, USC
180. Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest
Notes: Consummate slot receiver. Quicker than fast, diminutive receiver that works well in short and intermediate areas on slants, outs, and hooks. Has small but strong hands. Not overly elusive after the catch but doesn’t go down easily.
181. Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State
182. Adrian Hubbard, Edge, Alabama
183. Brent Urban, DE, Virginia
184. Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State
185. Nat Behre, S/CB, San Diego State
Notes: Classic strong safety in a corner body, but has enough range and quick reaction to get the job done. Instinctive and very tough. Plays with infectious passion. Small frame and average athleticism likely relegate him to third safety duty but could be a special teams wonder. Future fan favorite a la Bryan Braman in Houston.
186. Ethan Westbrooks, Edge, West Texas A&M
187. Trevor Reilly, Edge, Utah
188. Jonotthan Harrison, C, Florida
189. Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
190. Donald Hawkins, T, Texas
Notes: Athletic, lithe left tackle best-suited for a zone team. Plays almost too fast at times, doesn’t sink his hips or balance himself consistently. Very good in space, can mirror and also get out in front of screens. Has sleeper value that could blossom at the next level.
191. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
192. Chris Davis, CB, Auburn
193. Xavius Boyd, LB, Western Kentucky
194. Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse
195. David Fales, QB, San Jose State
Notes: Very accurate inside 20 yards, outstanding ball placement and anticipation. Quick release, consistent mechanics. Lacks athleticism and arm strength is average at best from a clean pocket. Cannot improvise. Transferred from Wyoming to avoid competing with Brett Smith. Smart and likeable. Compares to Kellen Moore with a better arm.
196. Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU
197. Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
198. Anthony Fera, K, Texas
199. Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma
200. Quincy Enunwa, WR, Nebraska
Notes: Very physical outside receiver with good size (6’2”, 225) and strength for the position. Not shy about contact and is one of the best blockers at his position. Not much wiggle or subtlety to his game, but reliably catches the ball and isn’t easy to bring down.
201. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern
202. Antone Exum, CB , Virginia Tech
203. Tyler Starr, Edge, South Dakota
204. Deron Furr, S/LB, Fort Valley State
205. Charles Siddoway, T, Mississippi State
Notes: High-effort, energetic right tackle with quick feet and a nice jolting punch. Has been an all-or-nothing type of blocker; either wins or loses right away on the play and doesn’t have the wherewithal to recover. Has developmental tools for a patient team but needs a year on the practice squad.
206. Anthony Steen, G, Alabama
207. Danny Kistler, T, Montana
208. Jerry Boo Boo Gates, S, Bowling Green
209. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
210. Kerry Wynn, Edge, Richmond
Notes: Tall, long-limbed inside-out pass rusher who played tackle at Richmond but needs to move outside in the NFL. Has decent hands and good balance, can get off blocks. Might lack a position but plays smart and always brings high effort.
211. Dustin Vaughn, QB, West Texas A&M
212. Corey Linsley, C, Ohio State
213. Cornelius Lucas, T, Kansas State
214. Christian Bryant, S, Ohio State
215. L’Damian Washington, WR, Missouri
Notes: Has outstanding length and great speed for the position, built like Randy Moss and plays like he runs a 4.40 flat. Really struggles to catch the football and obviously lacks confidence in his hands. If that ever clicks for him, he’s an absolute steal. Big if.
216. Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee
217. Andrew Jackson, LB, Western Kentucky
218. Loucheiz Purifoy, DB, Florida
219. Dezmen Southward, S, Wisconsin
220. Jordan Najvar, TE, Baylor
Notes: Big, lumbering, rocked-up in-line tight end who was a de facto extra tackle and seldom used in the passing game. Flashed strong hands and unexpected athleticism during Shrine Game practices that auger developmental potential. Good candidate for Mr. Irrelevant, arrow pointing up.
221. Tim Flanders, RB, Sam Houston State
222. Deandre Coleman, DT, California
223. Zack Kerr, DT, Delaware
224. Cairo Santos, K, Tulane
225. John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State
Notes: Flashy, speedy small-school burner (legit 4.34 40 time) with big-play ability. Small frame and even smaller hands at 5’10” and under 180. Has quickness and vision, helps him double as a return specialist. Outside receiver in a slot body, could struggle to find a role other than return man, a la Tampa Bay’s Eric Page.
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