RB, Penn State.
Previously: 1 Avg. 1.5 per 32
Because of the quarterback-needy teams picking high in the first round, the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft is likely to go no higher than the fourth-overall pick. Barkley has devastating quickness to hit the hole and accelerate downfield. Along with great speed, he has tremendous balance, vision, cutting ability, elusiveness and power. Barkley dominated the first day of the combine, giving proof that he is a physical freak and the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft. The 6-foot, 233-pound Barkley ran a blistering 40-yard dash of 4.40 seconds in Indianapolis. That is an insane time for a running back and especially one with Barkley's build. He also was a star in the weight room at the combine, tying for the lead among all running back prospects with 29 reps. Barkley illustrated that he is a rare physical specimen. Even though he is the consensus best prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley could slide to the middle portion of the top 10 because of teams that are looking for a quarterback.
In 2017, Barkley averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,271 yards with 18 touchdowns. The junior made 54 catches for 632 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver. In his bowl game against Washington, Barkley totaled 137 yards with two touchdowns on 18 carries to go along with seven catches for 38 yards. He had a 92-yard touchdown run that displayed his great speed.
Barkley had a dominant game against Iowa to carry his team to a tough road win and illustrate why he is a tremendous talent and a game changer. Versus the Hawkeyes, Barkley ran for 211 yards on 28 carries with one touchdown. He caught 12 passes for 94 yards to lead Penn State in receiving, too. The junior had 53 return yards on special teams as well. Between all of that, Barkley set a Penn State record for all-purpose yards.
Barkley is a stud running back prospect similar to Ezekiel Elliott coming out of Ohio State. The 5-foot-11, 223-pound Barkley was impressive as a freshman in 2015 when he averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,076 yards with seven touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 161 yards and a score. As a sophomore, Barkley was superb averaging 5.5 yards per carry on the year for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also made 28 catches for 402 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver.
There is a lot to like about Barkley as he has a superb skill set with quick feet and a burst to rip off chunk runs on any carry. He has good vision with quick feet and cutting ability to dart through small seams for positive yardage. For his height and build, Barkley has natural pad level and body lean, plus runs behind his pads. That makes him very tough for defenders to get a hold of. Barkley has a good burst and hits the hole in an instant. He has a fast first-step with explosion to accelerate to the second level downfield. For the passing-driven NFL, Barkley should fit well as a receiving back because he has soft hands and runs quality routes. He could be a nice check-down receiver as he is excellent in space and does well on screens as well. Barkley will need development in his blocking, but all college backs have a lot to learn for pass protection given the value of NFL quarterbacks and that fact that professional defenses field exotic blitz schemes.
G, Notre Dame.
Previously: 2 Avg. 7.3 per 32
In part because he is a guard, Nelson is expected to go in the final six selections of the top 10. He had an excellent combine and an excellent pro day to cement his status as one of the top talents for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Nelson ended his Notre Dame career in impressive fashion as the Fighting Irish cruised over LSU. After the bowl game, Nelson made it official that he would enter the 2018 NFL Draft. Against N.C. State, Nelson had his way with some future NFL defensive tackles. He was superb at opening holes in the ground game and had no issues in pass protection. Previously, Nelson dominated USC's defensive linemen, blowing open holes in the ground game and preventing any pressure on his quarterback.
Earlier in 2017, Nelson dominated against Boston College. He was rock solid in pass protection and destroyed defenders in the ground game. Nelson opened a ton of holes as the Fighting Irish had their quarterback and running back each run for over 200 yards. Notre Dame had seven rushing touchdowns in the game. Nelson even pushed around Boston College defensive end Harold Landry like a rag doll at one point. The Fighting Irish lost a close game to Georgia in Week 2 after rolling Temple in the season opener.
Nelson and Mike McGlinchey helped the Fighting Irish to succeed at running the ball despite loaded defensive fronts. All year, Nelson dominated the competition. He possesses superb strength to blast open holes and is very athletic with balance and quickness to shut down pass-rushers. Some league sources say that Nelson is the highest-graded guard they've ever scouted, which includes the likes of Logan Mankins, Brandon Scherff and David DeCastro.
Sources told me last fall that Nelson (6-5, 329) was receiving first-round grades, and one national scout told WalterFootball.com that they think Nelson is a future Pro Bowler in the mold of Logan Mankins. I'm in complete agreement as Nelson is a fantastic prospect who is NFL-ready and well-rounded with a great skill set. In the ground game, Nelson is a pure bulldozer. He routinely uses his tremendous size and strength to push defensive linemen out of their gaps. Nelson can blast them off the ball and ride them around the field. He is very good in pass protection too. Nelson has quick feet and is able to mirror speed rushers. He gets his hands on defenders quickly and rides them around the pocket. Nelson also has a strong lower body to anchor against bull rushes. Additionally, he is smart about picking up blitzers with good instincts and feel. His pass protection is just as NFL-ready as his run blocking.
DE, N.C. State.
Previously: 3 Avg. 5.9 per 32
Because of the quarterbacks going high in the first round, Chubb will probably go in the middle of the top 10. He is one of the few elite players in the 2018 NFL Draft, however. The 6-foot-4, 269-pound Chubb had a strong combine, putting up a very good 40 time of 4.65 seconds. In 2017, Chubb totaled 73 tackles with 25 for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes batted.
Chubb sat out N.C. State's bowl game to protect his draft stock. Versus North Carolina, he made six tackles with one for a loss. Chubb totaled eight tackles with four for a loss and 2.5 sacks against Boston College. Taking on Notre Dame, Chubb played well with eight tackles, three for a loss and a sack. He had one impressive win over Fighting Irish left tackle Mike McGlinchey, but McGlinchey had a number of one-on-one wins against Chubb as well. Chubb got the better of other Fighting Irish blockers.
Chubb had another solid performance against Louisville, helping his team to the win. He recorded six tackles with two for a loss and one sack for the contest. A week earlier against Syracuse, Chubb continued his tremendous play with two sacks, eight tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss.
Chubb was awesome against Florida State, making some huge plays to lead N.C. State to a road upset. He totaled two sacks, a forced fumble and seven tackles against the Seminoles, dominating their left tackle from start to finish. Chubb notched two tackles and .5 sacks versus Furman. Against Marshall, he had one sack, three tackles for a loss and seven tackles.
Chubb (6-4, 275) is a tough defender for the Wolfpack. In 2016, he had 58 tackles with 22 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one pass batted. As a sophomore in 2015, he collected 5.5 sacks.
Chubb has scheme flexibility along with a nice combination of size, speed, and instincts at the point of attack. While the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder is a thick and sturdy defensive lineman, you see nice flexibility from him to dip and get low through blocks. He isn't too stiff where he has an inability to bend. Chubb doesn't have elite bending ability, but is better than one might expect. For the passing-driven pro game, Chubb looks like a solid base end who would fit really well in a 4-3 defense.
Previously: 9 Avg. 11 per 32
Darnold and Josh Allen are said to be the finalists for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Around the league, Darnold is the consensus top quarterback prospect. I think he is the safest quarterback prospect because of his accuracy, mobility, ability to improvise, and his intangibles. If I were the general manager in Cleveland, I would take Darnold with the No. 1-overall pick and hope to get Saquon Barkley at No. 4.
Darnold had an excellent pro-day performance, showing off his excellent accuracy despite passing in the rain. Sources say that Darnold interviewed well at the combine as well. The redshirt sophomore had some up and down performances in 2017 with great throws. In every game, Darnold displayed accuracy, arm strength, vision, anticipation, touch, and an ability to buy time and throw well on the move. There also were ball-security issues, including a lot of fumbles and some interceptions.
Darnold needs to improve his decision-making, eye movement, and confidence. He admitted that confidence was an issue for him in 2017. Earlier in the day of the Trojans' upset loss to Washington State, a scout who was doing tape study of USC quarterback Sam Darnold texted me that he thought Darnold was a good prospect and should end up being a quality starter in the NFL, but they thought Darnold was being overhyped as a "can't miss" elite-quarterback prospect. They felt that Darnold was not better on tape in 2017 than Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson were in 2016.
In 2017, Darnold completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Darnold was 26-of-45 for 356 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception versus Ohio State, plus had some fumbles. He made some excellent throws with touch passes downfield and impressive accuracy, but his ball-security issues reared up again.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Darnold broke out in 2016, leading the Trojans to finish the year on a nine-game winning streak. The redshirt freshman completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions for the season.
Darnold looks like a future franchise quarterback for the NFL. First and foremost, he is an accurate passer from the pocket. He displayed nice ball placement and accuracy in the short to intermediate part of the field in 2016. Darnold looks comfortable in the pocket, but also has the ability to move around to buy time. While he is not a running quarterback, the redshirt sophomore is functional enough to avoid sacks and will move around to help his offensive line and receivers. Darnold also has good size and surveys the field well. He has a strong enough arm to make the throws required and generally makes good decisions; he was very skilled at protecting the football to avoid turnovers last seasn. Darnold has also flashed some anticipation and timing to his throws with field vision to work through progressions. Darnold may not have elite size, athleticism, arm strength, or running ability, but he is a balanced player who does everything well.
S, Florida State.
Previously: 5 Avg. 4.3 per 32
James is a bit of a wild card in the first round in that he could go in the top 10 or slip into the mid-teens. Still, there are a lot of teams that have him as the top safety of the 2018 NFL Draft. Some teams think he is one of the top defensive prospects at any position.
For the NFL, James fits as a strong safety who is a tough eighth defender in the box. He is very fast with good instincts and a hard hitter. James has good athleticism to cover tight ends, but has coverage issues and is not good at lining up as a nickel corner against slot receivers or serving as a deep center fielder. James could also add some weight and be a Will - weakside - linebacker. He needs to improve on his ball skills for the NFL. On a weekly basis in 2017, James was able to display his great instincts and rare combination of great size, speed, physicality and versatility.
James played well in 2017, but had some painful missed tackles in the early portion of the season. On the year, he totaled 84 tackles with 11 passes batted and two interceptions. James had some dropped interceptions - see the Syracuse game - and needs to improve his ball skills for the NFL. At the combine, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder showed his freaky skill set with a 4.48-second time in the 40-yard dash.
There is no doubt that James (6-3, 211) is a freak athlete. He is a very fast defender with tremendous closing speed who flies around the football field and demonstrates good instincts. On top of being very fast, James is a big safety with height and strength. He will dish out some bone-rattling hits and is a good tackler on running backs in space. In pass coverage, James is a real asset. He can play the deep center field well, possessing the speed and instincts to be a true single-high safety. His coverage skills as a free safety are very impressive as he flies around the field to defend receivers running deep. James can get to the sideline in a blur, yet he also has the size to defend jump balls against big wideouts or tight ends. James is so big and fast that he also could serve as a press-man cornerback on big wide receivers. The versatility in his skill set makes him a real weapon in man coverage on tight ends and receiving backs as well. James also is a willing run defender as he will come downhill into the box to make tackles.
As a freshman, James recorded 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, four passes broken up two forced fumbles. He had 11 tackles and an interception in the early going of 2016 before a knee injury ended his season.
Previously: 4 Avg. 15.9 per 29
Some sources have compared Vea to Haloti Ngata in terms of ability to play defensive end or nose tackle. They feel that Vea is a special nose tackle prospect who offers more than Danny Shelton did coming out of Washington. Vea will be downgraded in the 2018 NFL Draft because of being a nose tackle, but he still is a special and rare prospect. At the combine, Vea worked out well with a fast 40 time for a nose tackle - 5.10 seconds.
Vea has a serious combination of size, length, strength, and quickness at the point of attack. He is a heavy nose tackle who is a rock against the run and can occasionally collapse the pocket in the pass rush. Like Ngata, Vea has enough length and athleticism to also play five-technique in a 3-4 defense. The only thing that hurts Vea is he may not be an every-down player and may need to rotate out of the game to remain effective in his snaps.
Vea totaled 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four passes batted in 2017. The 6-foot-4, 347-pounder was a load at the point of attack for Washington in 2016. He totaled 44 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, one force fumble and two passes batted that season.
LB, Virginia Tech.
Previously: 8 Avg. 8.4 per 9
In the 2018 NFL Draft, Edmunds looks like a lock to be a top-16 selection. He was impressive at the combine, running a 4.54-second time in the 40. The 6-foot-4, 253-pounder also interviewed well with teams.
Edmunds is a quick, instinctive linebacker with good length. He has the speed and athletic ability to contribute in pass coverage while also being able to rush the quarterback. In the ground game, Edmunds is a good tackler with a physical presence. He uses his intuition to always stay around the ball. Edmunds could start out his career as an outside linebacker, and he has the skill set to be a middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Edmunds would also fit well on the inside of a 3-4 defense.
Edmunds totaled 109 tackles with three forced fumbles, 5.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss and two passes batted in 2017. When watching the Hokies in 2016, Edmunds was impossible to ignore as he was all over the field. He recorded 106 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes broken up, one forced fumble and one interception that season.
Previously: 7 Avg. 8.9 per 32
Some team sources like Payne more than Vita Vea, while others have Vea higher. Both are excellent nose-tackle techniques who possess rare skill sets. At the combine, Payne turned in a shockingly fast 40 time of 4.95 seconds for a 6-foot-2, 311-pound nose tackle. He is a freaky athlete with surprising speed and athleticism to go with big size and serious power. Payne is very fast in the tackle box, but generates overwhelming force to bull rush into the middle of the line and stuff runs at the point of attack. Alabama didn't let him rush the passer as much having him play containment, but Payne has more pass-rush ability than his stats indicate. For the NFL, he is a three-down starter and difference-maker at the point of attack.
Payne had an electric Sugar Bowl over Clemson, catching an interception and a touchdown pass along the goal line, plus filling run lanes all night. He finished off the postseason with an excellent game against Georgia, causing a lot of disruption. In 2017, Payne totaled 53 tackles, one sack, one interception and three passes batted.
Scouts who have looked ahead to the 2018 class have raved about Payne's potential. Coming from Alabama, it isn't a stretch, as Payne could take on the lead role for the Crimson Tide now that Jonathan Allen is in the NFL. Payne is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow. He recorded 36 tackles with 3.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass broken up. What the stats don't illustrate is that Payne (6-2, 319) can be physically dominant. He dominated his one-on-ones last year when he was lining up over guards. Payne causes disruption and makes his teammates better. His contributions last year boosteded the sacks totals of Allen, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson.
Previously: 6 Avg. 5 per 32
Some team sources say that Fitzpatrick is very good, but they don't necessarily see him as a dynamic play-maker. In the NFL, Fitzpatrick could play both cornerback and safety to help his defense with matchup issues. He also ran fast at the combine with a 4.47-second time in the 40-yard dash. In 2017, Fitzpatrick totaled 60 tackles, 1.5 sacks, eight tackles for a loss, one interception, eight passes broken up and a forced fumble.
Fitzpatrick is a versatile defender in the middle of he field as he is extremely well-rounded. What really sets Fitzpatrick apart is that he has fabulous instincts that put him in position to impact the game. He is very smart and is extremely fast at reading his keys to get in position to make plays.
With his skill set and versatility, Fitzpatrick looks like a real weapon for a pro defense. He can play the roaming safety role in the middle of the field as his instincts put him in position to make plays on the ball. Another great attribute that Fitzpatrick possesses is being able to play nickel corner. He is good in man coverage to line up over the slot receiver and prevent separation. Fitzpatrick also can play man coverage on tight ends, and his pro defense is going to love having him to help neutralize the elite receiving tight ends of the NFL.
Fitzpatrick also is a threat to take the ball away downfield. He tracks the pass extremely well and shows nice ball skills. For a defensive back, Fitzpatrick has excellent hands. He is a real threat to create interceptions and make a game-changing play for his defense. With his instincts and skill set, Fitzpatrick is able to be the deep free safety center fielder who locks down the deep part of the field. It is hard to find single-high safeties, but Fitzpatrick has that ability. He also is a dangerous blitzer.
In my opinion, Fitzpatrick (6-1, 203) is a prototypical free safety with size, speed, and excellent instincts who can roam as the the deep center fielder or can drop and cover in man, while still being able to tackle. Fitzpatrick was so good as a freshman that he forced his way onto the field, totaling 45 tackles with two sacks, 11 passes broken up and two interceptions - both returned for a touchdowns - on the year. In 2016, Fitzpatrick recorded 66 tackles with seven passes broken up and six interceptions. He was dominant at times for Alabama, splitting time between corner and safety. Injuries at cornerback forced him to play there, although safety is his more natural and comfortable position. Fitzpatrick is a dangerous defender in the middle of he field. He is a smart defender with good instincts that put him in position to make plays.
Previously: 10 Avg. 17.9 per 29
Smith (6-1, 236) is a very fast and physical linebacker who flies around the field. Along with great speed, he has excellent instincts and the ability to cover. Smith should be an impact-making three-down starter in the NFL. His best fit would come as a Will - weak side - linebacker in a 4-3 defense, due to size limitations. He can get blocked and covered up when offensive linemen get on him. While Smith is a physical tackler and hitter on ball-carriers, he is not a physical take-on linebacker with offensive linemen. Thus, Smith is better off as a Will rather than for manning the middle in a 4-3 defense.
Smith amassed 137 tackles with 6.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes batted in 2017. He was excellent against Alabama, totaling 13 tackles with a sack. He was all over the field. In the first half against Oklahoma, Smith had some uncharacteristic, bad plays. He was much better in the second half, however, and totaled 11 tackles on the evening. Smith was all over the field in the SEC Championship against Auburn. He was superb and the most impressive prospect on the field, making a ton of huge tackles to limit the Tigers' offense. Smith finished with 13 tackles and two sacks.
In 2016, he led Georgia in tackles with 95. Smith also had five tackles for a loss, one pass batted and two forced fumbles that season.
Previously: 11 Avg. 10.7 per 15
Jackson had a mixed combine with an underwhelming performance in the field work and a decent 40 time of 4.56 seconds. With his skill set and production, Jackson is my favorite corner for the 2018 NFL Draft. Some NFL teams are very high on Jackson, but others prefer different cornerbacks. The big knock on Jackson are the speed concerns, with some questioning his ability to run with NFL receivers.
In speaking with a director of college scouting, they had Jackson as the highest-graded cornerback for the 2018 NFL Draft. It is easy to understand why Jackson is held in such high esteem, as he turned in tremendous ball production during 2017 with eight interceptions and 18 passes broken up to go along with 48 tackles. Jackson ended his 2017 season in fine fashion with a game-clinching interception over Boston College. He also had a three-interception game against Ohio State to help the Hawkeyes blow out the Buckeyes. It was a breakout year for Jackson, who had 10 tackles with four breakups as a sophomore in 2016. In the previous year, he had eight tackles and two breakups. Evaluators like Jackson's size at 6-foot, 196 pounds plus his ball skills and instincts.
CB, Ohio State.
Previously: 12 Avg. 20.8 per 24
Ward had an excellent 40 time of 4.32 seconds at the combine. Scouts who were at his pro day told me that he had a solid workout, although not all that impressive. Some team sources are very high on Ward and think he is one of the best defensive prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. The one concern shared across the league is Ward's height and weight, as he can have issues with big receivers. For the NFL, Ward (5-10, 183) has speed, athleticism, ball skills, and quick feet to run the route to prevent separation. He times his reaches well and shows nice instincts to play the eyes and hands of receivers. To go along with his cover skills, Ward is generally a disciplined player and is not a gambler. Ward looks like a future starter and could have No. 1-corner potential in the NFL although he lacks elite size.
To protect his draft stock, Ward sat out the bowl game against USC. He put on a clinic in the Big Ten Championship with an interception and a few passes broken up against the Badgers. Ward was excellent all season for the Buckeyes, doing a superb job of limiting receivers. In the season opener against Indiana, Ward notched an interception, four tackles and five passes broken up. He also was beaten for a touchdown and some other receptions by big Indiana receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. Ward struggled with Cobbs' size, but was good at preventing Cobbs from generating separation.
Ward recorded 37 tackles with 15 passes broken up and two interceptions in 2017. He totaled 23 tackles with nice passes broken up in 2016.
Previously: 14 Avg. 12.3 per 32
It made headlines when NFL Network's Mike Mayock reported that NFL teams were having a hard time getting private visits and workouts set up with Jackson. Jackson's mother is said to be handling those requests as Jackson did not hire an agent. According to team sources, going without an agent was a big mistake. Team sources say there are list of self-inflicted problems that Jackson has suffered from not having an agent. One, he wasn't prepared for the wonderlic test, scoring poorly in part from not practicing the test. An agent wold have had Jackson prepared with practice tests before the combine. Two, he didn't run the 40 or jump at his pro day or combine, so teams don't have those numbers to evaluate. An agent would have recommended he do it at one of the events, if not both. Three, his pro day was underwhelming according to scouts who were there. While he threw the ball okay, they said the workout was not organized in the passing script and that it lacked quality receivers for him to throw to. Evaluators said it hurt Jackson that he did not prepare for the pro day with a pre-draft quarterback tutor like Jordan Palmer. Teams that have met with Jackson and worked him out also said that it was an odyssey of changes and very disorganized on Jackson's end. For teams that are on the bubble about Jackson, these issues are hurting him, and it has caused a dampening in the buzz about him.
Sources say that Jackson interviewed well at the combine, showing a good play recall and football IQ. Jackson didn't throw that well in Indianapolis and illustrated that he needs a lot of work with his feet and throwing from the lower body. Jackson has still a great athletic skill set, including a powerful arm that can make all throws the NFL requires and some rare passes. While his tremendous running ability draws a lot of attention, Jackson is better passing from the pocket than he is given credit for. Jackson also can take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. Additionally, he handled Bobby Petrino's scheme well. Jackson can be inconsistent with his accuracy, and he needs to add weight to his frame for the NFL. He also needs to develop maturity in his leadership skills as he can be of one of the guys too much. A few general managers have told me they think Jackson is being undervalued similar to Deshaun Watson a year ago. A number of sources think Jackson is a taller and right-handed version of Michael Vick.
In 2017, Jackson completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry on the ground on his way to 1,601 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Jackson played even better than the numbers illustrate as his supporting cast was terrible and everything was on Jackson's shoulders to make plays and carry his team.
Jackson set college football on fire in 2016 while winning the Heisman Trophy. The sophomore was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.
Jackson has a lot of talent as a passer with a strong arm, an advanced intellect and the ability to burn teams downfield, plus he stands tough in the pocket. He also is a great runner. Jackson (6-3, 210) has added weight heading into his junior year, and his frame has been a concern. In 2017, Jackson needs to continue to improve his accuracy as a pocket passer. However, he has a rare skill set that could cause many evaluators to fall in love.
Previously: 15 Avg. 10.7 per 32
Sources say Rosen showed good recall and football IQ at the combine. Some team sources say the comments made by Rosen's former coach Jim Mora are concerning, including calling Sam Darnold a better fit for the Browns, and saying that Rosen is a millennial who "wants to know why" and has interests other than football. Mora's comments that Rosen has to keep his focus on football over other interests added to the concerns and reinforce some of the questions about Rosen fitting into a NFL locker room.
WalterFootball.com was first to report that Rosen would skip his senior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft. Of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, Rosen has the best mechanics and is the most natural pocket passer. He throws a tremendous ball and can really spin it. Rosen's tight spiral helps him to get his passes through tight windows and beat good coverage. He has serious arm talent along with field vision and pocket presence. Teams have a lot of questions about Rosen's intangibles with his leadership and personality issues being a concern. Those are being vetted in the team interviews and pre-draft visits. Rosen is known to be a big partier, so he may need to mature into being professional to serve as a locker room leader and the face of a franchise.
In 2017, Rosen completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,717 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Against California, he completed 13-of-18 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns. He left the game early with a concussion, which also kept him out of the Cactus Bowl. UCLA earlier held out Rosen against Utah because of a concussion. Taking on Washington before that, he completed 12-of-21 passes for 93 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions before leaving in the second half with an injury.
Rosen had highs and lows in 2017, including an ugly game against Arizona and mixed outings in losses to Stanford and Memphis. He had a legendary Week 1 performance, leading one of the greatest comeback wins in college football history. UCLA was down 44-10 in the third quarter before Rosen led the Bruins back to a 45-44 victory over Texas A&M. On the evening, Rosen completed 35-of-58 passes for 491 yards with four touchdowns.
Rosen had an impressive debut as a freshman, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,670 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He only played in six games in 2016 before a shoulder injury ended his season. The sohomore completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,915 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions for his year.
Rosen can be an accurate passer who is willing to make tough throws into tight windows. He is able to throw receivers open with well-placed passes and shows the ability to be a rhythm passer. Rosen flashes good timing and anticipation, especially when he has a clean pocket. In terms of field vision, Rosen will work off his primary read, and he definitely needs to improve his vision for the NFL. Like all college players, there are things that Rosen can improve on. The junior could stand to get better with the consistency of his accuracy. One of the big problems for Rosen entering 2017 is that he has developed a reputation for having poor intangibles as a bad teammate and leader.
OT, Notre Dame.
Previously: 16 Avg. 18.1 per 32
McGlinchey is a solid, well-rounded, experienced and technically sound blocker. Overall, he is generally consistent, but in many games, he would have a few plays get away from him. Thus, he isn't a lock-down franchise left tackle prospect, but he should become a quality starting left tackle with some Pro Bowl appearances in his career. Team sources said that McGlinchey interviewed well at the combine.
As a run blocker, McGlinchey can create movement at the point of attack. He flashes heavy hands to push defenders out of their gaps and open holes for his back. McGlinchey has strength to start out his NFL career at right tackle and be a plus run blocker. Many NFL teams have right-handed rushing attacks, so putting a finesse tap-dancing college left tackle on the right side can be a detriment to the ground game. However, McGlinchey has the flexibility to play the right side and be a contributor in the rushing offense.
In pass protection, McGlinchey looked like a natural at left tackle as a junior, and he only improved as a senior. McGlinchey has solid feet and quickness to get depth in his kick slide and cut off edge rushers. He also displays a nice ability to bend at the knee, and that in combination with his feet, keeps him from having to reach after edge rushers very often. McGlinchey has nice recoverability and has been able to keep pressures from becoming sacks.
McGlinchey has good enough feet, quickness, and athleticism to be a left tackle at the next level, but he isn't elite in those areas. Top speed rushers can give him problems when they come flying around the edge. Many times McGlinchey plays really well against those player throughout the game except a few plays get away from him. That point as given evidence against Georgia and Miami during the 2017 season. McGlinchey could stand to improve his ability to get depth to cut off smaller, faster rushers. In the NFL, especially early in his career, he might need some help when he's going against a top pass-rusher. McGlinchey has a lot of tapes in which he was playing well, but one or two mistakes put a sour taste on what was otherwise a strong performance.
McGlinchey could have been the closest thing to a franchise left tackle if he had entered the 2017 NFL Draft, but he decided to return for his senior year. McGlinchey isn't a rare athlete, but he is a tough, well-balanced blocker at the point of attack. In pass protection, McGlinchey looked like a natural at left tackle in his first year as a starter. He showed excellent feet to get depth in his kick slide and cut off speed rushers. He also displayed a nice ability to bend at the knee, and that in combination with his feet, kept him from having to reach after edge rushers. As a run blocker, McGlinchey can get movement at the point of attack. He flashes heavy hands to push defenders out of their gaps and open holes for his back. McGlinchey has strength to start out his NFL career at right tackle and be a plus run blocker. The one consistent problem McGlinchey has is a lot of false start penalties. In speaking with some NFL sources, they felt that issue was correctable.
Previously: 13 Avg. 11.9 per 32
Some team sources think that Ridley could slide into the 20s of Round in the 2018 NFL Draft. Others think he will be a mid first-rounder. In 2017, Ridley totaled 63 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns. His production was generally suppressed by Alabama's ground-based offense and spending most of the season with a running quarterback. He showed his speed at the combine with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash.
Ridley (6-0, 189) has a lot of assets to his game as he is a fast receiver who is very adept at creating separation. With his quick feet and sudden athleticism, Ridley is a good route-runner. He is tough on defensive backs as he can put his foot in the ground and explode out of cuts. That explosion translates to Ridley also having a second gear to break downfield, and he is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Ridley is tough to cover on short to intermediate routes, so he will be a nice third-down weapon as a pro to quickly uncover and present an open target for his quarterback. With his speed to run by defensive backs, Ridley stretches a defense over the top and is a true deep-threat receiver as well. He has the ability to take a slant to the house or run a go route and fly by defensive backs.
For the NFL, Ridley could fit well as a X - split end - receiver who works along the sideline and challenges teams vertically. Given his smaller frame, his pro team may want to protect him from doing too much work in the middle of the field and avoid sending him across the middle.
Scouting sources say that, from a skill set perspective, Ridley is comparable to Amari Cooper in terms of the same strengths, weaknesses, and similar size. They feel that Ridley is suited for to make an instant impact in the NFL. Ridley has a lot of strengths to his game as he is a fast receiver who is very adept at creating separation. With his quick feet and sudden athleticism, Ridley is a very good route-runner. He has a second gear of explosion to break downfield and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder isn't overpowering with size, but does have some height and leaping ability, allowing him to make some contested catches over defensive backs.
In 2015, Ridley was phenomenal as a freshman with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns as the replacement for Cooper. As a sophomore, Ridley made 72 catches for 769 yards with seven touchdowns.
Previously: 17 Avg. 23.2 per 25
As expected, Bryan put on a clinic at the combine that illustrated his great skill set. The 6-foot-5, 291-pounder is big, thick, strong, explosive and agile. He showed his speed via a 40-yard dash time of 4.98 seconds with an excellent 10-yard split of 1.68 seconds. Aside from the 40, Bryan was excellent in the vertical jump, broad jump, and three-cone drill. WalterFootball.com was first to report that Bryan would enter the draft and project him as a first-round pick. After what Bryan did at the combine on Monday, he clinched up his first-round ticket.
Bryan has a tremendous get-off with serious explosion off the snap. He has developed strength with active hands to shed blocks. With his length, Bryan can play end or tackle, and would be a perfect fit as a five-technique. He is a great athlete who is big, strong, fast and agile.
Bryan had a late start in football, however, from growing up in Wyoming, and that shows up in him not demonstrating good instincts. Bryan is inconsistent while lacking feel and pass-rushing moves. There were times when Bryan was a dominant force, but he needs to make those flashes more consistent.
WalterFootball.com was first to report back in November that Bryan would enter the 2018 NFL Draft, which he made official in December. Bryan notched 40 tackles with six tackles for a loss and four sacks in 2017. He enjoyed a breakout year with the Gators even though they had a disappointing season. Announcers have compared the Bryan to J.J. Watt, and in terms of style of play, Bryan is reminiscent of Watt, but he clearly isn't on the NFL veteran's level. While speaking with a director of college scouting, we agreed that Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe was a good comparison to Bryan. Bryan has a ton of upside and versatility to develop.
Previously: 18 Avg. 18.3 per 32
There is a lot to like about Sutton, who has the potential to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He may not be a top-end No. 1 like Julio Jones or A.J. Green because he doesn't have their speed, but Sutton could be a difference-maker and a mismatch problem who helps his quarterback by virtue of his size. At the combine, Sutton had a decent 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds. Some team sources think that Sutton could slip to late in the first round and even might go in Round 2.
Sutton provides his quarterback with a big target who is very good at winning contested catches. Routinely, Sutton can sky over a defensive back to make a difficult catch. Similar to Mike Evans or Mike Williams, Sutton isn't a huge separation receiver, but he is always a threat, because like them, he makes catches even with a corner right on him. With his ability to win 50-50 passes, Sutton is a tremendous red-zone weapon and should be an asset as a touchdown producer in the NFL.
In 2017, Sutton totaled 68 catches for 1,085 yards with 12 touchdowns. He saw a lot of extra attention in the form of double teams throughout the year, but that helped teammates to have breakout seasons.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder is a dangerous receiver who could have been a first-round pick if he had entered the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2016, Sutton totaled 76 receptions for 1,246 yards - 16.5 yard average - with 10 touchdowns. He recorded 862 yards and nine touchdowns on 49 receptions in 2015, making for an average of 17.6 yards per catch.
Sutton provides his quarterback with a big target who is very good at winning contested catches. Routinely, Sutton will sky over a defensive back to make a difficult catch. Similar to Mike Evans or Mike Williams, Sutton isn't a huge separation receiver but he is always a threat because, like them, he makes catches even with a corner right on him. With his ability to win 50-50 passes, Sutton is a tremendous red-zone weapon and should be an asset as a touchdown producer in the NFL.
Previously: 19 Avg. 5.4 per 32
Key is a first-round talent as a fast and athletic pass-rusher with size and length who has developed pass-rushing moves, excellent feel and instincts for attacking blockers. He could end up sliding in the 2018 NFL Draft, however, due to serious off-the-field concerns. The off-the-field issues led to Key taking a leave of absence from LSU in the spring of 2017. At the combine, Key did not run, but he did show off a leaner frame of 6-foot-5, 238 pounds. He looked good in the field work, but some team sources say that Key did not interview well enough and that they think he is likely to slip to Day 2 despite his on-field talent. Thus, I have Key lower even though he is an elite talent. Heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, the second round is probably the highest that Key can hope to go.
In speaking with sources, Key has similar off-the-field issues to other edge rushers like Tim Williams and Randy Gregory, although not as severe as Gregory's issues. Team sources feel that Key has a better shot of panning out and turning into the force he is capable of being if he lands with smaller-town teams like Green Bay or Buffalo, which would help him to get away from bad influences and stay focused on football. While Key has problems, sources also say that he loves football and has worked hard in the offseasons to improve his pass-rushing moves, including working with guru Chuck Smith. Key is also said to be a good teammate. Similar to Dalvin Cook a year ago, Key could be a mega-steal if he slips to the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, but stays out of trouble in the NFL.
It was announced that Key would not play in LSU's bowl game because of a knee injury, plus he had surgery after the season due to a finger injury. Key didn't play against Texas A&M and missed the previous game versus Tennessee as he was held out with the knee injury. Taking on Alabama, Key was excellent with eight tackles and a sack. He got the better of both Crimson Tide offensive tackles, using his speed to disrupt a lot of plays. In 2017, Key totaled 33 tackles with four sacks and a forced fumble.
Key was one of the best players in college football in 2016. He recorded 56 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up on the year. Key is a dangerous pass-rusher with excellent speed and the ability to bend around the corner. Along with excellent physical skills, Key has worked to develop his pass-rushing moves and demonstrates good feel as a rusher. He flashed a ton of potential as a freshman for LSU, totaling 41 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, five sacks and one pass broken up. Some team sources think that Key (6-6, 260) is a much more developed rusher than Myles Garrett or Jadeveon Clowney were at the same age, but Key is not as powerful or explosive as either of them.
C, Ohio State.
Previously: 20 Avg. 22.1 per 19
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Price impressed NFL evaluators, both with his work in fall training camp and in the games of the 2017 season. They say that Price plays within himself. They like his awareness and call him an above-average athlete. He isn't overly fast or twitchy like the Pouncey brothers, but Price has movement skills and is better than average in space. The sources also like that Price handles big nose tackles well, which can be difficult for centers and is a hard-to-find talent. As a result of his well-balanced play, Price is being viewed as a prospect who could go in the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. One team source thought that if Josh Garnett and Laken Tomlinson were worthy of first-round picks, then Price could be as well because they feel Price is a better prospect than either of Garnett or Tomlinson. Teams are projecting Price to be a starting center in the NFL, but he also could play guard. Price tore a pectoral muscle during the combine bench press, but that shouldn't impact his rookie year. At his pro day, Price was optimistic that he would be ready for training camp.
Previously: 21 Avg. 19.5 per 19
Some team sources say that Jackson could slide to the second round, but feel he is a legit first-round talent. At the combine, Jackson ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash, which wasn't that surprising for the track star. He is a bit of a love/hate prospect, with some scouts saying they see him as a first-rounder and others thinking he belongs on Day 2 because of playing discipline and size. All the scouts agree, however, that Jackson is extremely fast, so he will be a good matchup corner to line up against speed receivers. The 5-foot-10, 178-pounder is athletic to run the route and prevent separation, but he is a gambler and could stand to play with more discipline for the pros. Scouts tell me that Jackson is talented, but has a ton of discipline issues to work on, and that might include some hard lessons versus pro receivers. Still, he has great speed and serious coverage skills to run the route and prevent separation. The scouts who like Jackson compare him to Janoris Jenkins, and Jenkins would have been a first-rounder had it not been for off-the-field issues.
Jackson totaled 46 tackles with 10 passes broken up and an interception in 2017. As a sophomore, he recorded 39 tackles with eight pass breakups and two interceptions.
Previously: 22 Avg. 22.3 per 12
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,227 yards with 16 touchdowns. Michel has a ton of fans in the scouting community and was receiving second-day grades during the fall before his tremendous finish to the season. One general manager told me they thought Michel could go late in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Aside from being a quick back capable of ripping off long runs, Michel performed well in the passing game as a receiver and blocker during his collegiate career. Michel has starting potential in the NFL with his speed, strength and versatility. In speaking to some league sources, they felt that it was a 50-50 chance of Michel going in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, entering the combine. His combine performance was solid, but not impressive. Some sources even felt underwhelmed by Michel at the combine.
Michel played well in 2016 while serving as the backup to Nick Chubb. On the season, Michel took 152 carries for 840 yards - a 5.3-yard average - and four touchdowns. He also had 22 receptions for 149 yards. By splitting carries throughout his collegiate career, Michel enters the NFL with less wear-and-tear. He needs to improve his ball security for the NFL. Michel could become a three-down starter quickly in his NFL career.
TE, South Carolina.
Previously: 23 Avg. 30.3 per 32
At the combine, Hurst illustrated that he has the potential to be three-down starter in the NFL. He ran a fast 40 and showed his impressive athletic skill set. In 2017, Hurst totaled 44 receptions for 559 yards with two touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder also picked up a rushing touchdown and did a nice job of blocking. He is a phenomenal athlete who presents serious mismatch problems for a defense. Hurst has big size and leaping ability to make catches even when he is covered by a defensive back. He also has speed to get separation, and that could be seen from linebackers being incapable to run with him. Safeties also can struggle to run with Hurst and keep him from getting open. With his frame and speed, Hurst is dynamic receiving threat for a tight end.
Hurst has reliable hands and is tremendous after the catch. He runs through tackles and gets yards after contact downfield. Hurst is superb at working the middle seam with quickness to get to the second level. Through good route-running and his speed, Hurst can consistently get open. He tracks the ball well, adjusts to passes with fluid athleticism, and is a real red-zone threat. With his athletic upside, Hurst's best football is in front of him because he should improve as he gains experience.
As a blocker, Hurst has size and strength with the ability to win his blocks. He gave an effort and was a contributor to the Gamecocks' rushing offense. His blocking should improve further with pro coaching, although he enters the NFL as a better blocker than most college tight ends. Hurst should quickly evolve into a balanced blocker/receiver who is a three-down starter.
Previously: 24 Avg. 27.3 per 33
Allen is a lock to be a top-three pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Allen and Sam Darnold are the finalists to go No. 1 overall. Allen (6-4, 237) has amazing physical tools that make him near the prototype of how any evaluator would draw up their ideal quarterback. Allen has a powerful right arm that can get the ball to any spot on the field. His cannon is able to push the ball vertically and stretch defenses downfield. In tight windows, Allen can fire a fastball that explodes out of his hand and cuts through a defense. He has a quick release and throws a tight spiral. His arm talent is legit. I'm not as high on Allen because of his accuracy issues. Very few inaccurate college quarterbacks become accurate passers in the NFL, and I'm skeptical that Allen will be one of the exceptions.
Sources at the Senior Bowl told me they thought Allen was going to be a star of the combine with his big arm, athleticism, and impressive character. That was the case in Indianapolis, where Allen did well in the interviews and in the field work, showing his powerful arm. He also scored the highest of the first-round quarterbacks in the wonderlic.
There are a lot of points of development that Allen needs for the NFL. He has major accuracy issues, as he can miss on throws that should be easy completions. That is the main reason why I have Allen as my fourth-rated quarterback. His ball security and decision-making need a lot of work, as he threw too many interceptions over the past few seasons. Improving his accuracy and decision-making are the critical points of emphasis. Allen could be better off working on those in practice with a redshirt year at the pro level. Being forced to play right away could be too big of a jump for Allen, who is coming from a lesser level of competition. Allen did not have a good supporting cast at Wyoming, which is a Group of Five program, so he may have to change his thinking for the NFL to not put everything on his on shoulders.
In 2017, Allen completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,812 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. He notched five rushing touchdowns as well. Against weak opponents Allen played well, but he struggled in games against Hawaii, Oregon and Iowa. Allen missed Wyoming's last two regular-season games with a shoulder injury. WalterFootball.com was first to report that Allen would enter the 2018 NFL Draft, and he announced his intent to declare after Wyoming's bowl game.
Allen was one of college football's breakout quarterbacks during the 2016 season. He put his great skill set on display as he led a potent offense. Allen completed 56 percent of his passes last season for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also ran for 523 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
Allen is dripping with physical talent. He has a cannon for an arm that can hurt teams downfield. Routinely, you see Allen roll out of the pocket to loft in a well-placed bomb downfield to his receivers. He throws a very good deep ball and is able to throw receivers open with his powerful arm. Throwing on the run is an asset for Allen as he uses his size and athletic ability to dodge pass-rushers to find more time to distribute the ball downfield. Along with his arm, Allen is dangerous with his feet as he combines big size to go with athletic ability. Some scouting scorches have compared him to Ben Roethlisberger coming out of Miami of Ohio.
Previously: 25 Avg. 26.5 per 28
Some team sources are lower on Davis and have him as a second-rounder, while others think he should go late in the first. I agree with the latter as Davis has a good skill set and three years of starting experience playing well against good competition. I think Davis is worthy of a late first-round pick.
At the combine, Davis put up a solid 40 time for a big corner, 4.53 seconds. However, he didn't perform as well in the field drills, which further illustrates that he fits best as a press-man corner. In 2017, Davis totaled 36 tackles, 11 passes broken up and an interception. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is a good corner with size, speed and length. Davis does a nice job of battling big wideouts as he is a physical defender who really competes. Like many big corners, Davis can have issues with coverage downfield and deep speed. He also has eye-discipline issues and average ball skills.
Some scouts believe Davis could end up being a first-round pick, but others aren't as high on him. The sources who like Davis say he is a tall, loose, long, and very disruptive at the top of the route. Cornerbacks with his skill set and coverage skills are always in demand. Davis shows nice technique to jam receivers and use his length to cover them. He has the potential to improve in the NFL due to being an athlete with upside.
Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida.
Previously: 26 Avg. 26.9 per 12
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville.
Previously: 27 Avg. 37.2 per 32
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama.
Previously: 28 Avg. 27.2 per 13
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU.
Previously: 29 Avg. 40.2 per 32
Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech.
Previously: 37 Avg. 36.7 per 26
Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio.
Previously: 31 Avg. 31.7 per 12
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma.
Previously: 32 Avg. 41 per 19
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M.
Previously: 33 Avg. 25.7 per 32
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia.
Previously: 34 Avg. 32.5 per 32
Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech.
Previously: 35 Avg. 34.7 per 12
James Daniels, C, Iowa.
Previously: 36 Avg. 36 per 11
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame.
Previously: 30 Avg. 24.4 per 32
Justin Reid, S, Stanford.
Previously: 38 Avg. 33.3 per 21
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP.
Previously: 39 Avg. 38.9 per 22
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA.
Previously: 40 Avg. 37.8 per 12