I’m still working my way through the film from the 2017 season. Every player listed here has been scouted in at least two games. If you see a glaring omission it’s because I just haven’t gotten to enough exposure to have a proper evaluation.
1. Josh Rosen, UCLA
2a. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
2b. Sam Darnold, USC
4. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
5. Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
6. Mike White, Western Kentucky
7. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
8. Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech
9. Luke Falk, Washington State
10. Josh Allen, Wyoming
11. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
12. Kurt Benkert, Virginia
13. Riley Ferguson, Memphis
14. Brogan Roback, Eastern Michigan
15. Tanner Lee, Nebraska
It’s still very undecided in the top-3 and more team- and scheme-specific than most years. Rosen is the most ready to play in a traditional NFL offense right away. Darnold has a higher ceiling but his mistakes and funky mechanics are an issue.
There is a steep drop after Jackson, who should definitely be a first-round pick. I wouldn’t draft anyone else above the third round, not based on what I’ve seen thus far. Shimonek stood out during Shrine Game practices and has a better arm than expected. Falk could be a gem if he adapts from the spread-spray offense. Allen’s overall numbers and ball placement are pathetic but his shining moments, notably the 1st half of Wyoming’s bowl game, are enough to gamble a 7th-round pick.
1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State
2. Ronald Jones, USC
3. Derrius Guice, LSU
4. Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
5. Sony Michel, Georgia
6. Nick Chubb, Georgia
7. Nyheim Hines, North Carolina State
8. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
9. Josh Adams, Notre Dame
10. Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
11. Akrum Wadley, Iowa
12. Justin Jackson, Northwestern
13. Ito Smith, Southern Miss
14. Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
15. Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
After the first six on this list, I’ve broken down less game tape on this position than any other with the exception of Franklin, who I’ve seen in person five times and is better than most people think.
Barkley is No. 1 based on his overall ability, but if you ask me who I think will run for the most yards and highest average of this group, it’s Jones. Barkley’s excellence in the passing game is that much of a boost for him. Jones and Guice are very close in my evaluation, and both are viable top 20 overall picks. There is a decent gap between them and Johnson and the Georgia tandem. I like Hines for his receiving work and open-field speed. Ballage reminds me a great deal of Lions reserve Dwayne Washington, a fantastic big athlete without a lot of actual RB skills.
1. Calvin Ridley, Alabama
2. James Washington, Oklahoma State
3. D.J. Chark, LSU
4. D.J. Moore, Maryland
5. Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
6. Courtland Sutton, SMU
7. Michael Gallup, Colorado State
8. Anthony Miller, Memphis
9. DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
10. Deontay Burnett, USC
11. Simmie Cobbs, Indiana
12. Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
13. Richie James, Middle Tennessee State
14. Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame
15. Cedrick Wilson, Boise State
15a. Auden Tate, Florida State
Not an inspiring class as Ridley is not in my overall top 20 and he’s the clear-cut No. 1 wideout. Everyone has legit warts which keep them from being surefire standouts, though that doesn’t mean NFL teams won’t find valuable contributors. If taken in the proper draft range (3rd-5th rounds) guys like Miller, Hamilton and James can all look very good right away. Teams who desire size will find a lot to like in this class, including with several who aren’t listed here but merit draft consideration in the later rounds.
1. Mike Gesicki, Penn State
2. Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
3. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
4. Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
5. Dalton Schultz, Stanford
6. Ian Thomas, Indiana
7. Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan
8. Cam Serigne, Wake Forest
9. Jordan Akins, Central Florida
10. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
The top-3 here is very fluid. Ask me tomorrow and I might like Goedert the best. Gesicki’s leaping ability and chip/release skills make him the safest bet. I wrote a scouting report on Hurst for Texans Wire which should give an idea of how I value this group.
If the Ian Thomas who played against Ohio State were a full picture, he’s a first-rounder. However, he did not look so dynamic elsewhere. Akins is someone who could rise as I focus more on the underclassmen. Lots of value here in rounds 3-6.
1. Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
2. Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
3. Connor Williams, Texas
4. Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
5. Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan
6. Jamarco Jones, Ohio State
7. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
8. Joseph Noteboom, TCU
9. Geron Christian, Louisville
10. Alex Cappa, Humboldt State
Crosby and Rankin are the only two tackles in my top-30 overall. With a little refinement I can see Crosby being a Pro Bowler. Williams is a solid tackle prospect, but I like him better at guard. Brown and Okorafor can both become excellent NFL starters but have fairly high bust potential given where they are going to be drafted. McGlinchey’s slow feet worry me a great deal more than most analysts.
I have not yet evaluated Brandon Parker, Desmond Harrison or Greg Senat, small-school prospects who are commonly ranked high. I did see Senat at Shrine Game practices and really like his upside.
1. Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
2. Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
3. Austin Corbett, Nevada
4. Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech
5. Will Hernandez, Texas-El Paso
6. Colby Gossett, Appalachian State
7. Tony Adams, North Carolina State
8. Braden Smith, Auburn
9. Taylor Hearn, Clemson
10. Maea Teuhema, SE Louisiana
10a. Sean Welsh, Iowa
This might be the best overall position group in this draft. Nelson is the No. 1 overall player on my board and sure looks like an elite NFL contributor right away. Wynn would have been the top guard in just about any other class and is a top-15 overall talent.
Most pundits are higher on Hernandez than I am, but don’t mistake that for thinking I dislike the Miner standout. I worry about his lateral agility and vision, however he’s still a top 50 talent and ready-made NFL starter for a team which values straightforward guards with brute power. Teuhema stood out in my wandering into SELA film randomly. Welsh would be higher if he had better size.
1. Billy Price, Ohio State
2. Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
3. James Daniels, Iowa
4. Will Clapp, LSU
5. Brian Allen, Michigan State
6. Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State
7. Mason Cole, Michigan
8. Bradley Bozeman, Alabama
9. Erick Wren, Oklahoma
10. Scott Quessenberry, UCLA
Another strong group, and there is some definite overlay with the guards as many here can also play that position. Price checks all the boxes and should be a first-round selection. Ragnow might have achieved that status if not for his unfortunate injury last fall. I’m higher than most on both Allen and Lundblade after seeing them impress during Shrine practices, as well as watching Allen in person a handful of times. He’s a bigger, better prospect than his older brother Jack. Cole could wind up being much better than those above him if he can master moving back to the pivot after playing left tackle for the Wolverines.