Much of the talk surrounding the 2018 NFL Draft is centered on the quarterbacks, and the differing opinions on them.
Some prefer the sheer playmaking ability of Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma or Lamar Jackson of Louisville. Others choose the more traditional route with signal callers like Sam Darnold of Southern California or Josh Rosen of UCLA. There might even be some people that just love the perceived upside of Wyoming’s Josh Allen.
This draft is about much, much more than just the top quarterback prospects. This draft is a unique one in that arguably the two best players play at positions that have been undervalued in the NFL. That would be Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. If the draft is ultimately about uncertainty, Barkley and Nelson provide some level of guarantee.
There are a few positions where this draft has depth. There might not be a superstar wide receiver, but after Alabama’s Calvin Ridley it’s a deep group filled with specialty receivers. The same can be said for cornerback. Ohio State’s Denzel Ward is far and away the top cornerback prospect, but there are starter-level players from the back of the first round into the third. There is no less than a handful of starting NFL running backs in this draft, and it’s a strong group of defensive linemen.
The flaws in this class are at offensive tackle, where all the top prospects have big issues. Tight end really drops off after the top tier of players, as does the guard spot.
As in often the case, Alabama landed more players in the top 200 than any other school with 11. The Crimson Tide were followed by Ohio State with nine, Georgia with eight and LSU with seven. Maybe most interesting, there are six players from North Carolina State in the top 200, twice as many as Clemson. Of course, Clemson returned three first-round players on the defensive line. More on them next week. For now, here is the top 200 players in the 2018 NFL Draft:
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Sometimes a player is so highly regarded for so long that as the draft approaches they get picked apart. In the 2018 draft, that player is Barkley. Is he the fastest? No. Is he the most powerful? No. But Barkley is the best combination of power, speed and elusiveness in this year’s draft. Barkley is a powerful runner, who runs with excellent balance and pad level. In the open field he knows how to use his agility to make defenders miss, and he has the strength to power through tackles. As a pro he’ll have to get a little bit stronger and better catching the ball, but he grades out similarly to Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette.
2. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
If blocking bores you, go watch Nelson. You can make a highlight reel of Nelson’s devastating blocks. Nelson is a stoutly built left guard who started three seasons at Notre Dame. He comes out of the snap low and can overpower defensive linemen by himself. If a blitzing linebacker doesn’t figure out how to out-quick Nelson, that linebacker was more often than not planted into the ground. He’s not just a power player, though. Nelson shows good footwork to keep himself square and knows how to keep his hands inside a defender’s pads. If Nelson has a flaw, it’s that he’s not the most athletic in space, so using him to pull somewhat wastes his talents. But overall, there is no player in this draft safer than Nelson. Pencil him into the Pro Bowl for years to come.
3. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick is a defensive back who can be lined up in multiple spots on the defense. Alabama most often found success with Fitzpatrick using him in the slot covering receivers and deep in coverage. He’s also lined up outside and at linebacker at times. He’s confident coming up versus the run, is a sure tackler and is a natural playmaker with the ball in the air. He even looked good when used on special teams. It’s hard to find many flaws in Fitzpatrick’s game. He’s a smart player and started at Alabama beginning with his freshman season.
4. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith took college football by storm this season, collecting 137 tackles and 14 tackles for loss on his way to the Butkus Award. He’s a linebacker who can play all three downs thanks to his combination of athleticism and instincts. It was easy to find Smith in Georgia’s defense because he was always the one flying toward the ball carrier. His coverage skills in particular make him intriguing as teams continue searching for linebackers who can match up in man coverage on tight ends and running backs. Smith played wide receiver in high school, and it shows at times in his stop-start quickness. As a pro, he could play on the inside or as a weak-side linebacker.
5. Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
At 6’4 and 275 pounds, Chubb is the ideal 4-3 defensive end. He finished his career at North Carolina State with 54 tackles for loss and 25 sacks, to go along with 198 tackles and six forced fumbles. He’s a long-limbed pass rusher who plays with a lot of power and aggression. He consistently drives his legs on contact and has the strength push blockers backward in the pocket. Chubb isn’t the speediest of edge players, but he makes up for it with his ability to shed blocks and tenacity. He needs to get a little better on counter moves, but Chubb has shown he can work on his game and get better. Effort will never be a question with Chubb.
6. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Among the top quarterbacks in this draft, Rosen is best field general of the group. He attacks the middle of the field better than other quarterbacks in this class and is a natural reading defenses. That gets even more apparent with his quick, effortless release. He throws from a balanced platform and knows how to subtly work the pocket to avoid rushers. More importantly, he doesn’t drop his eyes when pressure surrounds him, and continues to read the play. From a head-to-toe mechanics standpoint, Rosen is nearly perfect. His arm strength is good enough to make more difficult outside throws and work the ball through defenders. There are times, though, where Rosen is almost too traditional. When he is forced to get out on the move, his accuracy really drops and shouldn’t be in a system where he rolls out a lot. He has a little bit slighter of a frame, but body wise he compares favorably to Matt Ryan. He will sometimes force difficult throws instead of taking the easier short stuff or simply throwing the ball away.
7. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Ward waited his turn behind Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore in a loaded Ohio State defensive backfield, but had a break out 2017 season. Conley plays bigger than the 5’10 he was listed at by Ohio State. He’s a fast and quick corner who won’t hesitate to lay a hit on a receiver – that including a crunching hit on 6’5 Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews. Ward has the speed to mirror receiver down the field in man coverage, and the quickness to not fall for moves by more clever wide outs. He has had some issues in the red zone in jump ball situations, despite having a 39-inch vertical leap.
8. Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California
Darnold is not quite the pure passer Josh Rosen is, nor is he a playmaker on the level of Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson. Instead, he’s more of a mixture of them. Darnold has an unflappable personality and never seems unnerved. That’s a good thing because the biggest knock on Darnold is the sheer amount of turnovers he created at USC. In just two seasons, Darnold had 21 fumbles and 22 interceptions. Some of that was how he held the ball in the pocket. Darnold would also recklessly throw the ball while off balance and into coverage, and at times had trouble reading safeties. But that recklessness can also be an asset for Darnold. His off-platform passes are better than any quarterback in this draft, and he maintains zip on his throws. Darnold excels at throwing his receivers open, and doesn’t have to wait for a window to get a pass off. If you favor younger prospects, Darnold doesn’t turn 21 until June.
9. Vita Vea, DL, Washington
For teams looking for a two-gap run stuffer, there is no better option in this year’s draft than Vea. He’s a powerhouse of an interior defensive lineman, but what really sets him apart his how he combines strength with athleticism. Vea is strong throughout his frame, so he’s hard to move off his spot. He’s not just a player who takes up space, though. He can shed a block and use his foot quickness to get into the backfield and create pressure. Vea may not get the most sacks, and his first step can be a little slow at times, but his ability against the run is top tier.
10. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield is brash and cocky, and a legit NFL starter at quarterback. Arguably no player last season boosted their draft stock more than Mayfield. He went from being a Day 2 pick to what could be a potential top 10 pick. Mayfield is an incredibly accurate passer who picks apart defenses with great anticipation on his throws. On the move Mayfield is lethal and is comfortable making plays with his feet. Mayfield’s arm is strong enough, but he could do with setting his feet better and using his body to power throws better. Mayfield is a confident, natural leader on the field, and his Oklahoma teammates rallied around him in his three seasons as a starter. He is shorter than average for a starter at just over 6’0, and some teams don’t like his attitude. There is also some question if his game will translate to every NFL offense.
11. Derwin James, S, Florida State
James is not a safety. Nor is he a linebacker. He’s some hybrid combination of the two, with the ability to drop in deep coverage, come up and play the run, rush the quarterback off the edge and line up at middle linebacker. At the NFL Scouting Combine, two of his teammates said he should line up as a linebacker in the NFL. James is able to move all around the field not only because of his excellent athleticism, but his football smarts. James has said he gets by more on his intelligence on the field than pure athleticism. James is at his best when he can locate the ball and using his speed and closing burst to finish off a play. He’s a player who doesn’t mind coming up and laying a hard hit on the ball carrier. He will, however, get reckless in with his technique on normal tackles and that’s an area he needs to improve. He also doesn’t have a lot of experience playing single-high safety, and there are questions about if he can read the backfield and handle coverage assignments in that role.
12. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
As an off-the-ball linebacker, Edmunds is an exciting prospect thanks to his 6’4, 253-pound frame and athleticism. Edmunds moves effortlessly around the field and closes on the ball in a hurry. In the past two seasons, he had 215 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. In the NFL, he’s not really clear what position suits him best. Some teams will like him purely as an off-ball player, while others will think he could be developed into more of an edge player. However, it wouldn’t be a shock if a team that runs more 4-3 likes him at middle linebacker. That’s why he’s often compared to Bears great Brian Urlacher. Edmunds will have to get a little stronger because he can get lost at times when blocked. But his pure athleticism makes him one of the draft’s most intriguing prospects.
13. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Ridley is another one of the safer players in this year’s draft. That’s in large part to Ridley’s stellar route running and hands. The junior excels at using subtle maneuvers in his routes to get open and can create pockets of space for his quarterback. He’s not just a crafty route runner, though. Ridley is good at using his speed to get open over the top and he has enough agility to beat defensive backs at the high point. His 64 receptions this season for 967 yards and give touchdowns may not be overly impressive, but in Alabama’s run-heavy scheme he still stands out. Ridley isn’t the biggest or fastest receiver, so that knocks him somewhat. His game compares favorably to Amari Cooper’s.
14. Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
Payne saved his best for last, playing superbly in Alabama’s last two games of the season against Clemson and Georgia. Payne was the leader of an Alabama defense that stuffed the run up the middle. While the Crimson Tide do work a rotation up front, Payne was the most important part. Although he’s not a nose tackle, he’s capable of lining up over a guard or center and overpowering them. Although he may never be a big sack guy in the NFL, but he’s not a detriment in that area. He’s a little more disruptive than he’s often given credit. NFL coaches are going to love Payne for his passion and ability to play inside in four-man and outside in three-man fronts.
15. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Lamar Jackson is a starting quarterback in the NFL. People who at this stage claim otherwise are at best lazy, and at worst maybe racist. Look, we’ll see what happens with him in the NFL. But coming out of Louisville — a team that runs more NFL-type plays that a lot of colleges — Jackson has a good feel for the passing game and he possesses a strong arm and quick delivery. The former Heisman Trophy winner got better every season at Louisville in working from inside the pocket and going through his reads. He’s not fully developed in that regard, but he was significantly better in that regard in 2017 than 2016. When a play breaks down, no quarterback in the draft is better at Jackson than making something out of nothing. He was used a lot on designed runs, and that just won’t hold up in the NFL. Jackson will also have to take less sacks as a pro than he did in Louisville.
16. Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
Maybe this ranking is with too much of an eye on 2016, when Landry had an exceptional year as a pass rusher with 16.5 sacks. Injuries and teams scheming against him railroaded Landry’s 2017 season when he had just five sacks. Landry’s best move is to use an incredibly quick first step to beat offensive tackles to the edge. Landry also has the type of agility that lets him dip down and get underneath blockers to bend around and rip past blockers. When the play is going away from him, Landry showed that he’s willing to chase the ball and has the athleticism to avoid blockers in space. Landry is the biggest or longest edge player, so if his initial move fails he can be neutralized. But as he gets stronger, he should be able to push blockers back better.
17. Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan
Michigan likes to have their defensive line get after the quarterback, and Hurst excelled in the system. He played all over the line, but probably spent the most time at nose tackle. There he utilized a quick first step and decent pass rush moves to get off blockers and make the quarterback move around in the pocket. Hurst’s best asset is his quickness, which makes the comparison to Geno Atkins plausible. Hurst isn’t the biggest interior defensive lineman, and he’ll get pushed around at times, but his speed to power play makes him worthy of a first-round pick.
18. Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
Wynn started at left tackle for Georgia this season, but his NFL future is on the inside at guard. He started there in 2016 and 2015, making his name as a strong run blocker. NFL teams that run power run schemes will love him. Wynn can get low and drive defenders back or turn them to open a run lane. Wynn plays with good balance, which helps him react and beat counter moves faster. At tackle he showed solid athleticism and foot quickness to meet defenders on the edge. He’s one of this draft’s most pro-ready players because of his strength and technique.
19. Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA
Much of Davenport’s draft ranking is based on projection. Although he was a three-year starter at UTSA, he’s still a raw athlete who has a long way to go in regard to technique. But he offers so much as an edge rusher due to his size (6’5 3/4, 264 pounds) and speed. Davenport is at his best as a standup pass rusher who can rely on his speed to avoid blocker and chase down the ball carrier. For a taller end, Davenport is surprisingly good at using strength to drive blockers backward. At times Davenport will stay too high and lose leverage, and he needs to figure out how to get off blocks faster. It’s not a strength issue for Davenport, but more so figuring out how to keep the hands of tackles out of his pads. With the right type of coaching, Davenport can be a special player in the NFL.
20. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson only had one good season of production at Iowa, but boy was it a good one. Last season, starting 13 games, he had eight interceptions, 26 passes defended and 48 tackles. Suffice to say, Jackson has an eye for the football. He uses his size (6’0 3/8 and) to get his hand on the ball to break up a play. Jackson is especially good in zone, where he can work off a receiver and close on the pass to break it up. In man, he needs to get stronger and play looser. Jackson at times looks a little stiff in his pedal and may need to be coached up. But with his size and natural playmaking ability, he should be a starter in the NFL. Jackson isn’t shy about making a tackle, but he needs to get a little stronger.
21. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Guice was the backup to Leonard Fournette at LSU, but he sure didn’t take a back seat. In a limited role in 2016 while Fournette battled injury, he averaged 7.6 yards per carry and had 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns He finished a three-year career at LSU with 3,074 rushing yarsd and 29 touchdowns. Guice is a balance running back who runs with power and a low pad level. He’s comfortable gaining yards between the tackles, and has a nice stiff arm. He’s not purely a power back, though. He has shown the ability to hit the corner and enough speed to break away from defenders. Guice has a contact-first run style, and that can get him in trouble at times. He’s more willing to hit people than run around them when he can. As a pass catcher and blocker, he’s adequate.
22. Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
Equipped with a neck roll and a nasty demeanor, Hernandez looks like he just stepped out of 1988. Hernandez is even a throw back player in playing style. Hernandez would fit perfectly on any NFL team that utilizes a lot of power blocking principles. Hernandez just plays like a guard who has started 49 college games. He’s NFL strong, has good handwork and likes to simply overpower defensive linemen. He anchors better than any interior blocker in this year’s draft. Where he’s lacking at times is against speed rushers on the inside. Hernandez isn’t the most fleet of foot, and quicker tackles can give him some trouble. That is, if he hasn’t driven them into the ground already.
23. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Orlando Brown is going to be a case study for the NFL Scouting Combine. During the season, few offensive tackles looked better than Brown. He’s a large left tackle who uses his size to slow down pass rushers, who have to take a wide arc just to get around him. For such a big guy, Brown is surprising quick on his feet and he moves around well. In the run game, he showed he can engulf defenders. Then a disastrous combine happened, and everyone seemed to forget just how good Brown could be.
24. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Evans lined up at just about every linebacker spot for Alabama during his career, and excelled wherever he was positioned. This season he predominantly played on the interior after being more of an edge player earlier in his career. The shift worked wonders, with Evans notching 74 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. Evans is a good combination of size, power and athleticism. He is a strong tackler who uses proper technique to wrap-up and power through the ball carrier. He’s not quite as instinctive as some past Alabama linebackers, but he knows how to read a play. His ability as a pass rusher on the outside is an added bonus.
25. Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State
Price may be a little bit limited to a power blocking system, but he fits there perfectly. In the phone booth, he’s a powerful blocker who likes to dominate his opponent. Price has experience starting at all three interior offensive line positions, but really thrived in 2017 starting in the coveted center spot on the Ohio State offensive line. He possesses a lot of upper body strength and uses it to quickly jolt an opponent and then drive them backward. Price is a smart lineman and knows how to call out plays for his line mates. He worked as the understudy at Ohio State first to Andrew Norwell and then to Pat Elflein. He’s on the same level as those two and should have a long NFL career.
26. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Alexander may be just over 5’10 and under 200 pounds, but he’s not afraid to mix it up with receivers on the outside. Alexander’s aggressiveness also shows up in his ability as a tackler. He tackles with good technique, but he can also lay in a hard hit. Alexander is incredibly fluid in his drop backs, and often works straight back or from a side backpedal. He’s quick and fast enough to handle smaller receivers. He has a nose for the ball, and intercepted five passes in 2016. He’s also an asset as a return man. Alexander played in only six games last season following knee and hand injuries.
27. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
McGlinchey started three years at Notre Dame, beginning on the right side before moving to the left. In the NFL, his best spot may be on the right. He doesn’t have the quickest feet, and outside speed rushers have given him trouble. He often beats opponents with his hand work and length. Because he’s so experienced, McGlinchey has good football smarts and does a nice job of picking up stunts and delayed blitzes, and he knows when to change his assignment or help block.
28. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Athletically, Vander Esch certainly looks the part at 6’4 and 256 pounds. He moves smoothly in space and was lined up frequently at middle linebacker for the Broncos. In the NFL, he’s a linebacker who could be used both inside and outside. He’s quick to diagnose a play and has the speed to chase down the ball carrier. He needs to work on his block shedding some, though, and will at times get held up.
29. Connor Williams, OT, Texas
It was a tale of two seasons for Williams. After a stellar 2016 season at Texas, many considered him to be the best offensive tackle in the draft and a potential top 10 pick. But a rocky 2017 season has left some doubt about whether or not he’d be best-suited to play at guard in the NFL. Williams is an aggressive power blocker, and when he gets his hands on a defender he can move them around. Sometimes he’ll be overly aggressive and miss trying to lunge at his opponent. The difference in Williams really showed up in his pass blocking. He’s shown he can be quick and can mirror, but last season he looked slower. If Williams can get his footwork and quickness back up, he could wind up being the best tackle in this class. If he doesn’t, some teams might consider him a guard for his powerful blocking style in the run game.
30. Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
After initially starting his college career at North Carolina, Hughes started just one season at Central Florida after playing at a community college for a season. Because he only has a single year of college production, and comes with a little bit of risk. However, Hughes’ talent at UCF last season was apparent. Starting 12 games, he had 15 passes defended last season thanks to a willingness to get physical and his instincts. Hughes has the speed and agility to stick with fast receivers, and is aggressive against bigger players. Some size will give him trouble because he’s not the biggest and he needs to be more technically sound as a tackler.
31. Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford
It’s not normal to see a player who lined up at nose tackle to be overly productive, but Phillips was last season with 103 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He’s capable of playing all over the line, and fits both as a gap shooting tackler and as someone who occupies multiple blockers. Because of that, he should fit fine in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. A high school wrestler, Phillips plays with good hand work and likes mixing it up with offensive linemen. Phillips is at his best when he can bull rush and drive a blocker backward. He’s quick to find the ball, and strong enough to take runners down with one arm while he’s engaged on a block.
32. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Everyone is searching for this year’s version of Alvin Kamara, and it just might be Michel. He’s a slippery and agile runner who has the acceleration to burst away from defenders. Like Kamara, Michel is also effective in the passing game. He may have only had seven receptions last season but in the past he’s shown he can be an asset as a receiver. Michel even worked out as a receiver at the NFL Scouting Combine this year. Michel is a much better blocker than most running back prospects and he always gives good effort. Purely as a runner, Michel needs to be a little more patient and wait for blocks to open up. He’s also had issues fumbling the ball.
33. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
The reigning Mackey Award winner entered the draft after three productive seasons at Oklahoma where he finished with 1,765 yards and 22 touchdowns. In Oklahoma’s system he was often used out wide, basically as a big wide receiver. Because of that his blocking technique needs work, but at 6’5 and 255 pounds he has the type of frame where he should be able to develop. In the red zone, Andrews is particuarly dangerous because he runs crisp routes and can out-body defensive backs for the ball. His hands can be a little inconsistent at times. Andrews really knows how to pick apart zone defenses, and in man coverage situations he knows how to use his body to create space.
34. Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
There is some risk in Bryan because he was really only productive for one season at Florida before deciding to enter the draft. Bryan consistently beats guards with his quick first step and ability to get his hands up to swim through a crease. Usually players with his size (6’4, 290 pounds) don’t move around with such ease. If an NFL team is smart, they’d use Bryan a lot on stunts to take advantage of his athleticism. For an interior defensive lineman, though, Bryan doesn’t play with a lot of strength. Because of that, his best and only role in the NFL may be as a three-technique. Will Bryan’s consistency ever match his athleticism? If so, watch out.
35. D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
There isn’t one area of Moore’s game you would call elite. However, he rates high in every area of the game. He has good enough speed and size for the NFL, and his hands are sound. Moore really excels catching over the shoulder throws and sees the ball in properly. He also put in work in Maryland’s offense on underneath routes, which let him rely on his athletic ability after the catch. Moore plays with a lot of toughness, and will break tackles after the catch. At Maryland he played mostly on the outside, but has the skill set to fit inside. At times Moore had a tendency to let the ball into his pads.
36. James Daniels, C, Iowa
Interior blockers shouldn’t be as athletic as Daniels, but here we are. Daniels is quick to get the ball off and get into his blocking stance. Daniels has impressive movement skills to shuffle around on the line and keep defenders in front of him. On pulls he quickly gets to the edge to handle an end or linebacker. On the move he easily picks off moving targets. Don’t think he’s some finesse blocker, though. Daniels has no problem using his strength, and he can knock defensive linemen around. Still, unlike Ohio State’s Billy Price, some defenders can move him around. Daniels also could do with a better initial punch to jar a defender.
37. Sam Hubbard, Edge, Ohio State
Hubbard is a difficult evaluation because he played on a loaded Ohio State team with numerous NFL players on the defensive line. Still, even as part of a stacked team, Hubbard finished his three seasons at Ohio State with 116 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks. A high school safety, Hubbard has good movement skills and is a really good athlete. He may never be a super-quick edge bending pass rusher in the NFL, but Hubbard plays with good quickness and drive. He has experience dropping in coverage, and at times Ohio State lined him up at middle linebacker. That type of versatility is an added bonus, particular in nickel and dime packages.
38. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Miller only started one full season at UCLA, and parts of two others, but he has the type of size and athletic profile that projects to starting left tackle in the NFL. Miller tested really well at the NFL Scouting Combine for an offensive tackle, and plays ups to his athleticism on the field. He has fast feet to meet pass rushers on the edge, and he has long arms to make them take the longest route to the quarterback. At over 6’8 and 309 pounds, Miller can be a little bit of an awkward mover and his footwork needs improving. Rushers who work inside moves can give him trouble at times. Still, there’s so much size and athleticism there that he can develop into a Nate Solder-type with correct coaching.
39. Ronald Jones II, RB, Southern California
With his pure speed and somewhat upright running style, Jones often gets compared to Jamaal Charles. It’s appropriate because Jones has the skill to accelerate into and out of the hole. He’s also an agile runner who can start, stop and get back up to speed without any hesitation. Coaches will like Jones because he’s willing to come up and put down a block. He’s also adequate in the passing game. If teams are looking for a power back, Jones is not their guy. At the least, Jones should be able to fit as a good option for a two-headed running back system. In that way, maybe being compared to Tevin Coleman of the Atlanta Falcons is more appropriate.
40. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
The thing you want to see out of lower division prospect is dominance. Goedert often dominated at South Dakota State, finishing his four-year career with 198 receptions for 2,988 yards and 21 touchdowns. Goedert has the movement skills of a wide receiver, and often provided a mismatch. Goedert isn’t just some big wide receiver moonlighting at tight end, though. He has some history playing inline and his blocking is better than most of the receiver-first tight ends in this draft. Catching the ball, Goedert has good hands, and can make plays even when a defender is all over him. He’s not afraid to work over the middle and has speed to separate after the catch. With the right type of development, Goedert profiles as a Pro Bowl tight end.
41. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
If teammate Sony Michel is lightning, Chubb was the thunder in Georgia’s backfield. He’s a powerful runner who has the strength to simply plow over defenders. Chubb runs with good balance and vision and plays with more agility than you’d imagine working through holes. Chubb has the strength to shake off tacklers and he stays low through contact. The knock on Chubb is that he’s not a superstar athlete who will juke defenders in the open field. He’s also not very accomplished as a receiver, having just 31 catches in four seasons.
42. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
If a single word had to be used to describe Allen, it would be “frustrating.” From a tools standpoint, Allen is the blueprint. He’s a big, physical athlete of a quarterback with as big of an arm that there’s been in the draft since JaMarcus Russell (which isn’t meant as an insult because if Russell had one thing, it was a cannon). Allen has the athleticism to get out on the move and can throw while out of the pocket. However, Allen is all over the place with the ball. He was wildly inaccurate throughout his career and seemed to toss the ball into multiple coverage without a care. His footwork needs work, and it’s the main cause of his accuracy problems. Allen is going to get drafted much, much higher than where he ranks. And he may very well turn out to be a high-level franchise quarterback because he’s so gifted. But it will take some good coaching and a dramatic shift in play style.
43. Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
Teams that run a lot of man-to-man coverage will love Davis. He’s a big and physical cornerback who excels and knocking a receiver around at the line of scrimmage and does a good job of disrupting a receiver’s route timing. In 2017, Davis absolutely shut down some receivers and is the type of cornerback who can lock down a side of the field. He’s as sure of a tackler as there is in a cornerback prospect, and rarely misses. The knock on Davis is that he has suspect hands and won’t create a lot of turnovers.
44. Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
Harrison is at his best when he can work down toward the line of scrimmage, building up speed to deliver devastating hits against the run. He’s a solid blitzer for a safety, and his open-field tackling is decent. Harrison is a safety who will deliver a crushing hit, and sometimes falls in love with it and miss. But he’s not exclusively a knockout artist. Harrison never had to run the defensive backfield because Alabama had Minkah Fitzpatrick, so he’s a wait-and-see player in that regard.
45. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
If there is a Zach Ertz in this draft, it’s the super-athletic Gesicki. A former high school volleyball player, Gesick is an incredible leaper and registered a vertical jump over 41 inches at the NFL Scouting Combine. With his jumping ability and long arms, Gesicki gives his quarterback a huge window to deliver the football. Gesicki runs good routes, and knows how to use eye manipulation to deceive the player covering him. He could do with getting stronger, and he’s not much of a blocker. He does have history coming out of the backfield on certain plays.
46. Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Hurst was a star baseball player before giving up the sport to return to football. Because of that, he’s a little older as a prospect and will turn 25 before next season starts. But if you assume he’s not totally maxed out as a player, there is a lot to like in Hurst’s game. That starts with excellents hands. Hurst rarely dropped the ball, and uses his body to get himself open in traffic. Hurst really knows how to use his physicality to his advantage, both before and after the catch. Strangely, Hurst was not much of a red zone player, and had just three touchdowns total in 38 games played for South Carolina.
47. Tim Settle, DL, Virginia Tech
Despite weighing in at 329 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, Settle was actually down in weight. At one point he reportedly played at 360 pounds, so whoever drafts him may have to keep an eye on his size. But at the smaller weight last season, Settle showed good agility for a big man, and gets off the ball fairly quickly. He’s not just a player who occupies blockers up front. It was fun to watch Settle diagnose a screen and chase it down. Settle showed last season that he’s comfortable getting in the backfield and had 12.5 tackles for loss. For as big as he is, you’d expect Settle to hold his place a little better, but he can be overpowered at times. He’s also not the most proficient pass rusher, and as a redshirt sophomore entrant, he’s a work in progress in that regard.
48. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
This draft is filled with a bunch of specialist wide receivers — a bunch of slot-only, possession-only, outside-only, etc. Kirk is the best specialist of all the specialists. He’s a slot receiver who with speed to kill and a physical playing style at 5’10 and 208 pounds. He’s not going to get beaten up on jams, and he runs crisp routes. He also carries a lot of value as a punt returner, and if he’s used in that role as a pro, he could quickly be one of the NFL’s best.
49. Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
Rankin burst onto the scene in 2016 against Texas A&M and Myles Garrett. Rankin not only held his own, but it showed that he’s a legitimate NFL player. Rankin has good arm length and decent enough footwork to direct pass rushers on a long path to the outside. He prefers using his upper body to move defenders around. That’s why some teams consider him to be a guard or center in the NFL. He’s not the best athlete either. But Rankin plays smart and disciplined and doesn’t overreact to a counter move or a defensive tackle working on stunt.
50. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
If there is one guarantee you can make about the draft, it’s that Rudolph will be the sixth quarterback selected (which now means he won’t be). Rudolph certainly looks the part of an NFL quarterback at 6’4 and 235 pounds. He stands tall in the pocket and isn’t rattled when there’s pressure around him. Coming out of Oklahoma State, Rudolph is mostly a one-read quarterback who excels throwing the classic spread offense routes. What separates Rudolph from the spread quarterbacks who struggle in the NFL is his touch on deep passes outside the numbers. Frequently connecting with Marcell Ateman on the outside, Rudolph is comfortable letting it rip.
51. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Many regard Washington as having the strongest hands of any receiver in this year’s draft. He consistently grabs the ball from outside his frame and won’t lose the ball. Washington comes out of a system at Oklahoma State that didn’t ask him to run a lot of complex routes. Instead of timing, he often relied on his pure quickness and speed to get open. He’s most effective out of the slot and working off slant routes. Washington has long arms and is good a high-pointing the ball, so don’t look too much into his 5’11 height.
52. Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
There is arguably no more athletic left tackle in the draft this year than O’Neill. He’s a former tight end with quick feet and can handle speed rushers on the edge. O’Neill gets out on the move with ease and will pick off defenders in open space. In the NFL, O’Neill needs to get considerably stronger to handle power rushers that can drive him backward. He also has a tendency bend at the waist and lose leverage. The great thing about O’Neill is that his flaws are fixable if he puts in the work. As an added bonus he can be used as a pass catcher on trick plays.
53. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
Throw away the size and athleticism, Miller just gets it done on the field. If there’s a Cooper Kupp immediate impact, dependable wide receiver in this draft, it is Miller. In three seasons at Memphis, Miller pulled in 238 receptions for 3,590 yards and 31 touchdowns. After Calvin Ridley of Alabama, Miller is the draft’s best route runner. He’s a crisp and precise technician working up the field and doesn’t have any wasted motions. He tracks the ball well in the air and has really good hands. Even though he’s not the biggest, Miller was a big asset in the red zone for Memphis.
54. Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest
Bates may be limited to being a coverage safety, but he is a very good coverage safety. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bates is viewed by some teams as a cornerback. A two-year starter at Wake Forest, Bates finished his career with 15 passes defended and six interceptions. He’s especially good at roaming in space and using his speed to make a break on the ball. Regarded by coaches as one of the team’s smarter players, Bates is good at reading routes and anticipating where the play is going to develop. He’s the type of safety you can put up high and feel comfortable he won’t give up a big deep play. Bates is a willing run defender, but he’s not the soundest tackler and seems more comfortable diving at a ball carrier’s legs.
55. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Few receivers in this draft simply look the part as much as Sutton. He’s a big, fast and physical wide out who can out-muscle defensive backs to win jump ball situations and create space for a quarterback to throw the ball. So why isn’t he rated higher? Sutton isn’t that great of a route runner, and may be limited early in his NFL career. But he’s the type of player you just throw the ball up to and let him make a play. Sutton has several one-handed catches on his highlight reel, and he wasn’t exactly playing with the best quarterbacks at SMU. However, you just see his size and athleticism and expect a little more refinement.
56. Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
A left tackle at Oregon the past two seasons, don’t be surprised if Crosby gets some look at the inside or on the right in the NFL. That’s because he’s a power-first blocker who can dominate opponents with his hand strength. As a freshman and sophomore he played on the right. He’s not the quickest tackle, and some speed rusher will give him trouble on the edge. As a run blocker he can drive defenders backward to create space for the running back. He also finishes off his blocks much better than most offensive linemen in this class. Crosby is coming out of a system at Oregon that mostly ran zone blocking, but they had a decent amount of power plays, and he adapted just fine to a different style at the Senior Bowl. He was only used on pulls as a senior, and with some lacking athleticism this isn’t a strong suit for him, though he’s said he enjoys it.
57. Uchenna Nwosu, Edge, Southern California
Nwosu may be limited to being just a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, but he fits the position exceptionally well. He is a power and quickness edge rusher who finished last season with 9.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. More impressively, statistically, is his 19 passes defended in his career. When he’s giving top effort, Nwosu has good instincts and the type of bend and athleticism you want in an edge player. He didn’t start playing football until late into his high school career, so he may not be a finished product. He’s also a player whose effort can come and go. If you can keep him working hard all the time, watch out.
58. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
At running back, there’s nothing wrong with going with a fall back option if you missed in the first or second rounds. This isn’t to say Johnson is going to be this year’s version of Kareem Hunt, but he can carry a load for a team in the NFL. Johnson’s strength is his patience to look for a hole or crease and busting through it. He’s not a flashy speed back, but he runs smart and works through contact.
59. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Oliver is a cornerback in a safety’s body. Oliver only started one season at Colorado, which had defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon and they were all picked in the draft last year. At 6’0 with 33-inch arms, NFL teams will love the length Oliver has on the outside. Perhaps more importantly, he’s nimble enough to flip his hips and run with receivers. Where Oliver needs to improve is in his footwork on routes because crafty route runners will give him trouble. He can also be late in getting his head around to find the ball. He was much better when he could play off a little bit and read the quarterback while he covers.
60. Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
Penny may have been stuck behind Donnel Pumphrey for three seasons at San Diego State, but he certainly made a name for himself in 2017. Carrying the ball 289 times, Penny had 2,248 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. Penny excels when he can plant his foot in the ground, make a cut and go. From there, he has good speed for a 220-pound running back and can run away from defenders. But at that size, you’d expect him to run with a little more power. Part of the problem is that he employs an upright style. If he can get lower, he will become a much better player through traffic. Penny is not a fit for everyone. He’s most comfortable playing behind a fullback and he’s really a one-cut runner. But in the right system, he should be able to generate good yards. As an added bonus, he owns the FBS record for kickoff returns for touchdowns with seven.
61. Rashaan Gaulden, CB/S, Tennessee
At Tennesseee Gaulden did a little bit of everything in the secondary. He played a lot on the inside, was used some outside and featured predominantly in nickel package situations. In the NFL, huis best spot may be at free safety where he can rely on his impressive range and on-field speed. In that sense, he’s sort of a poor man’s Minkah Fitzpatrick. Gaulden is a fluid athlete who can run with receives, but he’s not afraid to blitz off the edge and get into the backfield. He’s a fiery personality on the field, and was even kicked out of a game for flipped off Alabama fans last season.
62. Arden Key, Edge, LSU
There is a lot to like in Key’s game, and there’s just as much or more to be frustrated about. Here’s the good: Key is a speed rusher with a fast first move, which allows him to beat blockers to the edge. He has solid handwork to shed and he covers a lot of space in a hurry. His 12 sacks in 2016 were no fluke. Key could work as a 3-4 outside linebacker because of his athleticism, or stand down in a 4-3. Sounds like a classic speed edge, right? Well, here’s the bad: Key left the LSU football team for four months before the 2017 season and no one still really understands why. When he came back, he wasn’t in the shape the team wanted and he never really got into a groove as a junior. At 238 pounds, Key needs to get stronger to handle the rigors of the NFL, and against the run he’s never been that great and will lose contain. He also had surgery for a partially torn rotator cuff last May.
63. Jaylen Samuels, TE/WR/RB/FB, North Carolina State
It’s hard to figure out exactly where to rank Samuels. He’s not among the top tight ends, wide receivers or running backs, but in overall rankings he’s ahead of them. That’s because Samuels is a do-all player who can play all of those spots, in addition to fullback and H-back. In a offseason where Trey Burton got a four-year contract worth $32 million, there is a market for Samuels, who is bigger and arguably better.
64. Austin Corbett, G, Nevada
Even though Corbett started 48 games at Nevada at left tackle, his NFL future is likely on the inside. Teams have talked to him about playing all five positions on the line, and at the Senior Bowl he lined up some at center. He’s probably best on the inside because he doesn’t have to rely on athleticism and foot quickness to beat defenders. It also allows him to utilize a nasty on-field demeanor to beat up on linemen. Corbett is the type of blocker who will always follow the ball and finish plays. He utilizes a powerful punch to jar defenders backward because getting his hands on them and locking out. From a technique standpoint, Corbett is NFL-ready, so don’t be surprised if he make a big impact as a rookie.