2018 NFL Draft Big Board



The top prospects available for the 2018 NFL Draft.


By Charlie Campbell
Send Charlie an e-mail here: draftcampbell@gmail.com
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Updated Jan. 10, 2018



Top-5 Prospects:
1.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Previously: 1 Avg. 1.9 per 20
01/10/18: 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. The Iowa tape illustrates why Barkley is worthy of being a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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 looks like a better prospect than Ezekiel Elliott, and is proving that he is a prospect of similar caliber to players like Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley.

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.



08/28/17: 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.

Rushing

Games Attempts Yards Avg/Att Rushing TDs Att/Game Yards/Game
13  217  1271  5.86  18  16.69  97.77 

Receiving

Games Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving Avg Receiving TD Receptions/Game Receiving Yds/Game
13  54  632  11.70  4.20  48.60 
View Game Log...


2.
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Previously: 4 Avg. 10.4 per 20
01/10/18: 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 is entering 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.



08/28/17: 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.

View Game Log...







3.
Arden Key, DE, LSU. Previously: 2 Avg. 2.1 per 20
01/10/18: It was announced that Key would not play in the bowl game because of his 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.

Key notched six tackles with two sacks and a forced fumble from taking on Ole Miss. Against Auburn, he had a number of pressures and some run tackles before notching a sack on the final play of the game for the LSU defense to clinch the comeback win. Key totaled six tackles and the sack for the contest.

Key had a solid showing against Florida, getting a number of pressures and starting a sack that was credited to a teammate. He opened his season by playing well against Mississippi State, generating three tackles, a half-sack and a number of other good pressures despite his limited snaps. Key was held out against BYU and Chattanooga.

In 2017, Key totaled 33 tackles with four sacks and a forced fumble. Key is a high first-round talent, but teams have off-the-field concerns around him.



08/28/17: 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.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
15  18  33  4.13 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
5.50  26.00  0.69 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
4.00  21  0.50 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
View Game Log...


4.
Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State. Previously: 3 Avg. 7.7 per 20
01/10/18: 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.

In 2017, Chubb totaled 73 tackles with 25 for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes batted.



08/28/17: 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.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
12  40  33  73  6.08 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
12  25.00  103.00  2.08 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
12  10.00  66  0.83 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
12 
View Game Log...


5.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama. Previously: 5 Avg. 5 per 20
01/10/18: Fitzpatrick played well against Georgia in the National Championship, making some clutch tackles and causing disruption in the ground game.

Versus Texas A&M, Fitzpatrick was all over the field with a lot of clutch tackles, cleaning up plays for his defense, and making a critical fourth-quarter interception near the end zone. Fitzpatrick also recovered the onside-kick attempt to secure the win for Alabama. He had nine tackles in the game.

Fitzpatrick collected two tackles with two pass breakups against Vanderbilt in Week 4. To open the season, he was beaten for a jump ball in the end zone by Florida State wide receiver Auden Tate. The 6-foot-5 wideout jumped above Fitzpatrick to make the short touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone. Otherwise, Fitzpatrick played well, covering receivers downfield, staying around the ball, and helping out his cornerbacks.

Fitzpatrick totaled 60 tackles, 1.5 sacks, eight tackles for a loss, one interception, eight passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2017.



08/28/17: 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.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
12  36  19  55  4.58 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
12  7.00  30.00  0.58 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
12  1.50  15  0.13 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
12 
View Game Log...





Top-10 Prospects:
6.
Derwin James, S, Florida State. Previously: 6 Avg. 3.9 per 20
01/10/18: 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. On the year, he totaled 84 tackles with 11 passes batted and two interceptions.

James decided to enter the 2018 NFL Draft and skip Florida State's bowl game. Taking on Louisiana-Monroe in his final collegiate football game, he made 12 tackles. James notched seven tackles and a breakup versus Florida, but had an interception fly through his hands. Against Clemson, James recorded nine tackles and a pass breakup. Taking on Syracuse, he made an interception and came close to three more picks, including some drops. He ended up with four passes broken up and showed coverage with ball skills. James made a lot of tackles against Louisville and was around the ball a lot, including for some clutch open-field stops of Lamar Jackson.



08/28/17: 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.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
12  49  35  84  7.00 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
12  5.50  10.00  0.46 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
12  1.00  0.08 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
12  11 
View Game Log...


7.
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Previously: 7 Avg. 9.1 per 20
01/10/18: WalterFootball.com was first to report that Rosen would skip his senior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported, however, that Rosen could be hesitant to declare if he were sure that the Browns would take him with the No. 1-overall pick. These thoughts and attitude toward a franchise could end up hurting Rosen with some teams that already question his intangibles.

Against California, Rosen completed 13-of-18 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns. He left the game early with a concussion, which also left 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.

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. On the year, Rosen completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,717 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.



08/28/17: 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.

Passing:

Games Attempts Completions Passing Yards Interceptions Touchdowns
11  452  283  3756  10  26 

Rushing

Games Attempts Yards Avg/Att Rushing TDs Att/Game Yards/Game
11  50  -97  1.94  4.55  8.82 
View Game Log...


8.
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Previously: 8 Avg. 22.5 per 17
01/10/18: 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.

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.

Vea was impressive against Penn State even though Saquon Barkley ran well against the Huskies. Against Washington State, Vea dominated at the point of attack and destroyed the Cougars' offensive line.

Vea totaled 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four passes batted in 2017. The 6-foot-5, 332-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.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
13  31  13  44  3.38 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
13  5.50  25.00  0.42 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
13  3.50  19  0.27 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
13 
View Game Log...


9.
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. Previously: 10 Avg. 9.7 per 10
01/10/18: Ferrell closed out the 2017 season in impressive fashion with eight tackles, two for a loss and a sack against Alabama.

In 2017, Clemson fielded a defensive line that is comprised of future first-round picks, and some sources think that Ferrell created some of the big plays for the other Clemson defensive linemen. Fellow defensive end Austin Bryant is played himself into becoming an early-rounder during 2017, but Bryant did well with cleaning up a lot of scrambling quarterbacks running away from Ferrell. Ferrell looks like a future first-round pick in the 2018 or 2019 draft.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Ferrell has superb speed with athleticism and the ability to bend around the corner. For 2017, he totaled 66 tackles with 18 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, one pass batted and two forced fumbles.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
14  33  33  66  4.71 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
14  18.00  80.00  1.29 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
14  9.50  57  0.68 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
14 
View Game Log...


10.
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. Previously: 11 Avg. 12.7 per 20
01/10/18: Wilkins was phenomenal against Miami with a sack and passes batted. He dominated at the point of attack and led Clemson's defense to have a huge night in the ACC Championship.

Versus South Carolina, Wilkins didn't record any tackles. He had seven tackles and a sack against Florida State. Wilkins and Clemson fell to Syracuse as he recorded three tackles and .5 sacks. Against Virginia Tech, Wilkins recorded six tackles, plus shared a sack with a teammate. He put together a strong game against Auburn with a handful of tackles and two sacks.

In 2017, Wilkins recorded 60 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and four passes batted.



08/28/17: Wilkins played well for Clemson in 2016 as part of a tough defensive line that controlled the point of attack. The sophomore totaled 48 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and 10 passes batted on the year. He lined up at a variety of spots for the Tigers and showed real versatility up front. Naturally, Wilkins (6-4, 310) is a defensive tackle, but he played a lot of defensive end as a sophomore due to injuries. As a pass-rusher, Wilkins was able to get after the quarterback with pressure coming around the corner. He looked the most dangerous when lining up over guards and firing past them to cause disruption in the backfield. Wilkins was a solid run defender. He has a strong, thick lower body to hold his ground at the point of attack. He will have to guard against playing too high and stay on top of conditioning.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
14  26  34  60  4.29 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
14  8.50  27.00  0.61 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
14  4.50  22  0.32 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
14 
View Game Log...





Top-15 Prospects:
11.
Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Previously: 12 Avg. 9.8 per 20
01/10/18: 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.

Versus Mississippi State, Payne totaled six tackles and a sack. He notched four tackles and half of a sack against LSU. Payne did a good job of bottling up the Tigers' rushing attack.

In the blowout of Tennessee, Payne made one tackle. He previously played well against Arkansas, showing off his pass-rushing and run-stuffing skills. Payne recorded six tackles against Texas A&M, and was superb to shut down the Aggies' rushing attack. A week earlier, Payne made six tackles against Colorado State. He previously played well against Florida State, showcasing his freakish speed and athleticism. He made five tackles against the Seminoles.

In 2017, Payne had 53 tackles, one sack, one interception and three passes batted.



08/28/17: 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.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
13  18  29  47  3.62 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
13  1.00  0.08 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
13 
View Game Log...


12.
Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa. Previously: 13 Avg. 14 per 3
01/10/18: Jackson ended his 2017 season in fine fashion with a game-clinching interception over Boston College. With his skill set and production, Jackson is my top corner for the 2018 NFL Draft.

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 has turned in tremendous ball production during 2017 with eight interceptions and 18 passes broken up to go along with 48 tackles. Jackson 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-1, 192 pounds plus his speed and athleticism. With his skill set and production, Jackson could be the first cornerback off the board in April.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
13  34  14  48  3.69 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
13  18 
View Game Log...


13.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Previously: 14 Avg. 11 per 20
01/10/18: With Alabama struggling to pass the ball, Ridley had four receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown versus Georgia. He was open for two other touchdowns but the passes were horribly overthrown.

Ridley made some huge catches to help Alabama avoid an upset to Mississippi State. He recorded five receptions for 171 yards on the evening. All night versus LSU, Ridley got open with his superb route-running and quickness. Unfortunately for Ridley, Jalen Hurts was unable to get him the ball much, limiting him to three receptions for 61 yards. Ridley notched eight catches for 82 yards versus Tennessee.

Against Florida State in Week 1, Ridley totaled 45 yards on five receptions. He had 82 yards on seven receptions with a touchdown. Ridley made a huge play in the second quarter, torching the Seminoles' secondary for a 53-yard touchdown. He also forced a defensive pass interference that prevented him from producing another long touchdown.

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.



08/28/17: 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.

Receiving

Games Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving Avg Receiving TD Receptions/Game Receiving Yds/Game
13  59  935  15.85  4.50  71.90 
View Game Log...


14.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Previously: 9 Avg. 11.8 per 20
01/10/18: Jackson has 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 will take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. Additionally, he handles 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. One general manager 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.



08/28/17: 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.

Passing:

Games Attempts Completions Passing Yards Interceptions Touchdowns
13  430  254  3660  10  27 

Rushing

Games Attempts Yards Avg/Att Rushing TDs Att/Game Yards/Game
13  232  1601  6.90  18  17.85  123.15 
View Game Log...


15.
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Previously: 15 Avg. 19.5 per 20
01/10/18: 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.

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.

Sutton had six catches for 68 yards in Louisiana Tech's bowl loss. After the game, Sutton made it official that he was skipping his senior year to enter the 2018 NFL Draft. Sutton made 11 catches for 160 yards against Houston. In early September, he partied "Al Bundy" style against North Texas with four touchdowns. He had eight receptions for 163 yards in that contest.

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.



08/28/17: 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.

Receiving

Games Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving Avg Receiving TD Receptions/Game Receiving Yds/Game
13  68  1085  15.96  12  5.20  83.50 
View Game Log...




Top-20 Prospects:
16.
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Previously: 16 Avg. 22.2 per 17
01/10/18: Smith 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.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder is a linebacker who has impressed some scouting sources, who have compared him to the Falcons' recent second-day picks of the LSU duo of Deion Jones and Duke Riley. They think that Smith is a better prospect than either of them and could be a NFL linebacker similar to Lavonte David. Smith 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.

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. 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.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
14  76  48  124  8.86 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
14  11.50  52.00  0.82 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
14  5.50  38  0.39 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
14 
View Game Log...


17.
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Previously: 17 Avg. 11.4 per 20
01/10/18: 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 redshirt sophomore had some up and down performances in 2017 with great throws. There also were those ball-security issues, including a lot of fumbles and some interceptions. In every game, however, Darnold displayed accuracy, arm strength, vision, anticipation, touch, and an ability to buy time and throw well on the move.

Darnold needs to improve his decision-making, eye movement, and confidence. He has 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 this season 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.



08/28/17: 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.

Passing:

Games Attempts Completions Passing Yards Interceptions Touchdowns
14  480  303  4143  13  26 

Rushing

Games Attempts Yards Avg/Att Rushing TDs Att/Game Yards/Game
14  75  82  1.09  5.36  5.86 
View Game Log...


18.
Donte Jackson, CB, LSU. Previously: 19 Avg. 20.6 per 7
01/10/18: Jackson played well against Notre Dame, minus the game-winning touchdown, when a 6-foot-4 receiver made a reception over him.

Jackson 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-11, 175-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. Jackson is a track star and is expected to run an eye-popping 40 time that could push him higher. 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 this season. As a sophomore, he recorded 39 tackles with eight pass breakups and two interceptions.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
13  32  17  49  3.77 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
13  3.50  14.00  0.27 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
13  1.00  0.08 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
13  10 
View Game Log...


19.
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Previously: 18 Avg. 18.6 per 20
01/10/18: McGlinchey blocked well against LSU to end his collegiate career. Against Stanford, McGlinchey didn't have a flawless game, but was solid overall. He had a bad outing in the loss to the Hurricanes, giving up a strip sack and other pressures to Miami's fast sophomore edge rusher Joe Jackson.

The Fighting Irish previously won a high-scoring game against Wake Forest. McGlinchey helped to limit Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor to two tackles, with one being an assisted tackle for a loss. Taking on a good N.C. State defensive line, McGlinchey played well overall. He was beaten by Bradley Chubb for one pressure, but McGlinchey also had a lot of one-on-one wins against Chubb. McGlinchey was phenomenal when Notre Dame cruised over USC. He was excellent in pass protection and opened a lot of holes in the ground game.

McGlinchey blocked really well against Boston College, too. He won his few reps against Harold Landry, and McGlinchey was instrumental to the Fighting Irish having a tremendous day rushing the ball. They had two different players run for over 200 yards and racked up seven total rushing touchdowns. The Fighting Irish lost a tight game against Georgia in Week 2, but they rolled Temple in the season opener. McGlinchey blocked well versus the Bulldogs until the last play of the game for his offense, when he was beaten for a strip sack.

McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson helped the Fighting Irish to have success running the ball in 2017 despite loaded defensive fronts.



08/28/17: 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.

View Game Log...


20.
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Previously: 20 Avg. 26.5 per 12
01/10/18: 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.

For the NFL, Ward (5-10, 191) has good 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. Ward looks like a future starter and could have No. 1-corner potential in the NFL.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
14  30  37  2.64 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
14  15 
View Game Log...




Top-25 Prospects:
21.
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. Previously: 21 Avg. 27.5 per 13
01/10/18: 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 6-foot-4, 295-pounder 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 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.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
11  19  21  40  3.64 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
11  6.00  27.00  0.55 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
11  4.00  22  0.36 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
11 
View Game Log...


22.
Billy Price, C, Ohio State. Previously: 22 Avg. 24.6 per 7
01/10/18: 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.

View Game Log...


23.
Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn. Previously: 23 Avg. 28.1 per 16
01/10/18: Davis announced that he would enter the 2018 NFL Draft. 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 rise for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
13  27  36  2.77 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
13  11 
View Game Log...


24.
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford. Previously: 24 Avg. 27.3 per 9
01/10/18: Team sources say that Love is better than other smaller backs who have gone in the first round, like David Wilson or Jahvid Best. They think that Love is more on a par with Chris Johnson coming out of East Carolina, except Love isn't as straight-line fast as Johnson, but possesses more elusiveness and moves in the open field.

While Love is extremely fast, he is a tougher running back than one would think given his size. He has excellent balance and is able to pick up yards after contact. Scouts have told me that they rate Love higher than Christian McCaffrey for the ability to run between the tackles in the NFL. Love has great vision that, combined with his speed, makes him deadly. One college director told me, "If the other nine guys do their job for a few seconds, this guy is gone."

In 2017, Love averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 2,118 yards with 19 touchdowns. He had six receptions for 33 yards as well. Sources say Love has more receiving potential for the NFL than the numbers illustrate.

Rushing

Games Attempts Yards Avg/Att Rushing TDs Att/Game Yards/Game
13  263  2118  8.05  19  20.23  162.92 

Receiving

Games Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving Avg Receiving TD Receptions/Game Receiving Yds/Game
13  33  5.50  0.50  2.50 
View Game Log...


25.
Justin Reid, S, Stanford. Previously: 26 Avg. 27.1 per 9
01/10/18: Reid has played really well in 2017, impressing NFL scouts. Sources who are tough graders said they think Reid has first-round potential for the 2018 NFL Draft. They say that Reid doesn't have Earl Thomas-like range as a free safety or Kam Chancellor-like size as a strong safety, but he does everything well. Reid is a good free or strong safety with the ability to run and tackle. They say that he is a polished, clean, good all-around safety similar to HaHa Clinton-Dix coming out of Alabama.

In 2017, Reid had 99 tackles with six passes broken up and five interceptions. Stanford has also used Reid as a slot cornerback and while he was able to do that somewhat, he was picked on repeatedly by USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Reid is a well-rounded safety, but probably shouldn't play a ton of slot corner in the NFL.

Reid totaled 57 tackles with seven breakups as a sophomore. Reid is the younger brother of 49ers safety Eric Reid, a first-round pick out of LSU in 2013.

Tackles

Games Solo Assisted Total Total/G
14  52  47  99  7.07 

Tackles For Loss

Games TFL TFL Yards TFL/G
14  6.50  18.00  0.46 

Tackles For Loss

Games Sacks Sack Yards Sacks/G
14  1.00  0.07 

Misc. Defense

Games Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Fumbles Forced Kicks/Punts Blocked
14 
View Game Log...




Top-50 Prospects:
26.
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. Previously: NR Avg. 0 per 0
27.
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. Previously: 27 Avg. 21.7 per 20
28.
JC Jackson, CB, Maryland. Previously: NR Avg. 0 per 0
29.
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. Previously: 29 Avg. 42.8 per 20
30.
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. Previously: 30 Avg. 25.2 per 20
31.
Harold Landry, DE, Boston College. Previously: 31 Avg. 26.8 per 20
32.
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State. Previously: 32 Avg. 31.4 per 20
33.
Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina. Previously: 33 Avg. 33.3 per 20
34.
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia. Previously: 34 Avg. 31.6 per 20
35.
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Previously: 35 Avg. 30.3 per 20
36.
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame. Previously: 36 Avg. 20.1 per 20
37.
Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech. Previously: 37 Avg. 37 per 14
38.
Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia. Previously: 38 Avg. 34.9 per 20
39.
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. Previously: 39 Avg. 38.7 per 10
40.
Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana. Previously: 40 Avg. 39.8 per 5
41.
Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest. Previously: 41 Avg. 35.5 per 20
42.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Previously: 42 Avg. 41.9 per 7
43.
Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson. Previously: 43 Avg. 33.5 per 15
44.
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. Previously: 44 Avg. 42.5 per 20
45.
Dorance Armstrong Jr., DE, Kansas. Previously: 45 Avg. 19.7 per 20
46.
Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia. Previously: 46 Avg. 46 per 4
47.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn. Previously: 47 Avg. 46.9 per 7
48.
Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State. Previously: 48 Avg. 44.4 per 20
49.
DeShon Elliott, S, Texas. Previously: 49 Avg. 49 per 11
50.
Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh. Previously: 50 Avg. 44.2 per 20







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