Interior Defensive Lineman

Grading System:

A – Top Tier

B – Starter

C – Backup

D – Practice Squad

Recent Prospect Grade Comparison: Ndamukong Suh, A+

1. Da’Ron Payne – Typical of many Alabama prospects, Payne is a dominant and well coached prospect who should be a plug and play starter in the NFL. Primarily a run stopper, he is very good at following the ball while engaged in a block. As such, he is rarely fooled into leaving his gap, and is adept at reading the quarterback to deflect throws. He can excel in both a two gap or one gap system, as he can hold blockers or penetrate to the ball. He is generally double teamed in the run game, a testament to his ability to put pressure on the offense and impact the game. Similarly, he steps up in big situations and makes key plays to close games. He tends to play upright and pop up at the snap, giving him less power than he would have otherwise. Although he could have more lower body strength, Payne has underrated athleticism. As a pass rusher, he displays good quickness off the line and has a good array of pass rushing moves. However, he is abruptly stalled if the initial jam is better than his own. His use of hand fighting is limited besides the distinct moves. Payne is a well rounded prospect with minimal weaknesses and playmaking ability, an appealing talent set in the NFL.

A/A-

2. Vita Vea – A behemoth on the line, Vea is one of the few pure nose tackles in the draft. He possesses immense size and strength, using his arms to push and his legs to drive oppenents backwards. As a nose tackle, he is a very good run stuffer who can easily hold the lineman and then shed them at the point of the attack, rather than penetrating the hole. He eats up blockers in the run game, effectively opening up holes for his teammates to make plays. Besides converting his strength to power, Vea has limited ability as a pass rusher, although he has incredible quickness to the ball for a player his size. Additionally, he is a good tackler, even leaving his feet at times to make fluid tackles. He lacks explosiveness, but that is a minor flaw for a nose tackle with such impeccable strength and quickness. However, Vea can disappear at times because of this, dampening his impact on a game. While this is sometimes solely a consequence of his job and position on a given play, other times this is because of his lack of big play ability. This is not a major concern, as Vea is still incredibly talented and clean as a prospect.

A-

3. Taven Bryan – Bryan is one of the more athletic defensive linemen in the draft, with explosive playmaking ability from the interior line position. He possesses very good lower body explosiveness, allowing him to burst through gaps and disrupt plays. He also has exceptional burst off of the snap and very good chase down speed. As such, he can get immediate penetration up the middle to redirect run plays or pressure the quarterback. He utilizes his long arms very well, holding blockers at arms length and then shedding them effectively to make plays. Additionally, he is adept at leaving one arm free and using his strength to make the tackle. He has a good rip move when pass rushing, and he is good at turning his speed rush into a power rush. However, Bryan can get pushed around in the run game, regardless of his strength and explosivenss. There are also times when Bryan misses or can’t find the ball, affecting his ability to make plays. He is an athletic difference maker more than a hole plugger, although coaching could elevate that aspect of the game even more.

B+

4. Derrick Nnadi – A smaller nose tackle type player, Nnadi has a safe floor as he rarely puts himself in bad positions on a given play. However, he has limited upside due to his size and lack of top tier athletic ability. He has an amazing anchor, and is rarely pushed backwards or out of his gap on run plays. He also has great power, contributing to his ability to drive defenders back when pass rushing. Although he lacks any consistent pass rushing techniques, he has strong arms that he uses to punch blockers and gain advantages.He is adept at reading the quarterback and putting his hands up to block passing lanes. Additionally, he shows a high effort level and willingness to compete for the ball until the whistle. Nnadi forces teams to double team him in both run and pass situations because of this, as he generally overpowers defenders even with his small stature. He has the ability to be a long time starter due to his consistency as a player, but he will not be able to elevate himself as one of the game’s best.

B

5. Maurice Hurst – A very good interior pass rusher, Hurst is lacking as a run defender, limiting his ability to be a full time starter. He is extremely explosive off the snap, rushing the passer with burst and low pad level. Additionally, he is outstanding at reading quarterbacks, consistently blocking their throwing lanes and generating sacks indirectly. He has very active hands and pass rushing moves, something that allows him to gain more consistent pressure if his motor were more consistent. Although one of the best interior pass rushers in the draft, he displays very little talent in defending the run. He is easily trapped in the run game, as blockers turn him sideways to set the hole with very little resistance. He also has suspect balance, and can get knocked over on run plays without much effort. He is too small to hold blockers, and is purely a one gap attacking player. While he is outstanding as a pass rusher, he is too much of a liability as a run stopper, significantly lowering his value for many teams.

B

6. Harrison Phillips – A big nose tackle, Phillips is a solid and trustworthy backup who is capable of starting a few games. He has very good hands and feet drive and position, helping him generate a solid power rush. In the run game, he has a solid anchor and doesn’t get driven back. However, he does not take up blockers like a player of his size should, and he doesn’t compensate with any above average athletic ability. For a big man, he also has a very good swim move. There are times when he can’t see around his blocker. Additionally, he lacks explosive attributes or good enough strength to make big plays more than once while. As such, he is generally forced to leave his feet in an attempt to bring down the ball carrier. He doesn’t usually keep an arm free to make a play. Although he can play without being a liability, he is a below average player regarding everything besides his size.

C+

 

Receivers

Grading System:

A – Top Tier

B – Starter

C – Backup

D – Practice Squad

Recent Prospect Grade Comparison: Julio Jones, A+

1. Michael Gallup – The most complete receiver in the draft, Gallup has the makeup of a legitimate WR1. He is a great runner with the ball in his hands, the result his combination of speed and elusiveness. Although not huge, he possesses adequate size to win jump balls while still remaining a big play threat with the ball in his hands. He is a natural receiver who catches the ball easily and fluently with strong hands away from his body. He has great ball skills in the air, with the ability to pluck balls away from defenders and use adjust his body to win 50/50 balls. Additionally, he is an above average route runner with the knowledge and ability to run the full route tree. He is physical at the line of scrimmage, and is somewhat effective at using his hands to generate separation. Although he blocks well, he can sometimes show a lack of effort when not the focal point of a play. His only major flaw is he sometimes gets scared of safeties, but he is generally a consistently dominant player. However, is still talented enough to build an offense around.

A-

* Antonio Calloway – One of the most talented and explosive players in the draft, Calloway’s stock plummeted after he was forced to sit out the 2017 season due to disciplinary reasons. He is very fast and agile, with the ability to explode out of stops and cuts with great speed. He is an extremely smooth runner with the ball in his hands, contributing to his outstanding talent as a returner. His footwork and agility is impeccable, using it both to elude defenders and run routes. When paired with the wide array of routes in his arsenal, this makes him a very good route runner. Additionally, he is able to line up on the outside and in the slot. While he is a smaller receiver, he can effectively deal with press coverage by using hand moves and quick feet. He also possesses great hands, and especially good at adjusting to deep balls. He isn’t a prolific jump ball receiver, but he can still make tough catches in traffic or on the perimeter. Although he is one of the biggest playmakers in the draft, the immense off the field issues make him a major risk that most teams won’t want to draft until late in the draft. Skill-wise, however, he is one of the best receivers in the draft.

A-

2. Dante Pettis – One of the best punt returners in NCAA history, Pettis is also a very good receiver. His prolific punt return talent is somewhat surprising as he lacks top tier long speed, but his great vision and elusiveness make up for it. Although he is not particularly good at making sharp right angle cuts, he has a penchant for subtle open field moves that help him gain extra yards. He is a very good route runner, with an advanced route tree and intelligence in altering routes according to coverage. He is very effective at selling his routes subtly and directly, and he can use his hands to create good separation at the line of scrimmage. He is a natural and fluid ball catcher who extends his arms to catch away from his body with his hands. Additionally, he does a good job high pointing balls in the air with his decent size. His hands are very reliable, and the ball sticks in his hands with minimal bobbling. He is not a good blocker, but he doesn’t lack effort. He can play well both in the perimeter and in the slot. Pettis is an exceptional receiver, and although he is not quite a lead receiver, his punt return talent elevates his stock.

A-/B+

3. Jester Weah – A big perimeter receiver, Weah is a well rounded wideout with high upside. He is exceptionally smooth catching the ball, in large part due to his soft and strong hands. He is very talented at winning jump balls on the outside, using his large frame and strong hands to help him get the ball. Additionally, he contains a muscular frame that helps him dominate opponents physically outside the numbers. This is a benefit to his route running and jump ball skills, as he is rarely bodied in a direction he does not want to go. He is reasonably fast, with sufficient speed to get over the top of defenders on deep routes. He is surprisingly elusive for his size, and his sturdy frame helps him escape would-be tacklers. He is a solid route runner, with generally crisp cuts and good use of speed change. He has a somewhat limited route tree. His size enables him to deal with press coverage, although his release is merely decent. Although he has the traits and ability to be a WR1, he can disappear for stretches of games. His talent is undeniable, especially after a great outing at the combine. While his upside is high, his tendency to disappear could be a problem on the professional level, although much of that may have had to do with inconsistent quarterback play.

B+

4. DJ Moore – Similar to Jarvis Landry in style and skillset, Moore is mainly a run after catch receiver with good playmaking talent. He is very fast and elusive, and is an outstanding runner with the ball in his hands. His amazing elusiveness gives him the ability to make big plays, and he can make defenders like a running back. He is a solid route runner, although he is not quite a special talent getting open. Similarly, most of his routes are run close to the line of scrimmage, giving him limited options within a given passing attack. He can make some cuts well in his routes, although not as many as would be expected with his agility. He has great hands and excellent body control, as he can elevate and make contested catches. While it is not common that he is deep enough on a route to exhibit such displays, he is exceptional. His biggest problem, however, is that is ineffective when faced with strong contact. Jams at the line and contact throughout the route are a big problem, as he cannot get a good release or make catches. Although an explosive playmaker, his chance to excel in the NFL banks on his ability to deal with press coverage. Regardless, his showing at the combine was impressive, showing off speed and explosiveness that would help him make up for his flaws.

B+

5. Anthony Miller – An outstanding technician, Miller displays the necessary talent to thrive at the NFL level. He is one of the best route runners in the draft, with the ability to run the full route tree well. He can face press well, using his hands to generate a release and restack his routes. His feet are not particularly quick when he runs, although he is good at adjusting to balls quickly. He is very fast, which contributes to his excellence at running deep routes. Additionally, he has tremendous focus on such routes, a skill which also translates to sideline routes. He generally has very reliable hands due to his focus, although he sometimes has some concentration drops on short routes that likely stem from turning to run too quickly. However, he is not scared of catching in traffic or of getting hit over the middle, and is excellent at catching with defenders on top of him. As a runner after the catch, he exhibits solid vision and running ability that is greatly helped by his slippery elusiveness. He is not a particularly prolific jump ball receiver, but he has the excellent jump timing and hands to make difficult catches. He lacks the adequate ball skills and size to be an alpha receiver, but he is an outstanding slot receiver who can also play well outside the numbers.

B+

6. Deon Cain – A typical Clemson receiver, Cain is a big and fast wideout with the potential to be an alpha receiver. He is a pure perimeter receiver who excels at winning jump balls due to his ability to high point balls in the air. He has good body control and  great adjustment to balls in the air, although his hands are on the smaller and weaker side. As such, he generally comes down with 50/50 balls that are within his big catch radius. For a big receiver, he has above average speed and talent running with the ball. Although he is a good, physical route runner, he has a route tree that is somewhat limited. However, he shows very good discipline on the routes that he does run. Additionally, he can hand fight exceptionally well at the line, during the route, and when the ball is in the air. He is a good blocker, whose size allows his to be aggressive at the point of attack. His biggest flaw is that he can sometimes lose focus catching the ball, either looking to run too soon or failing to bring the ball in. Another important problem is that his production does not seems to match his talent, something that can be seen as a red flag. While he is a very good prospect overall, he needs stronger and bigger hands to be considered a true big play threat.

B+/B

7. Auden Tate – A typical big bodied wideout in the mold of Kelvin Benjamin, Tate has a tremendous catch radius and great ball skills. He is not a fast player, although his agility is not bad for a player of his size. His hands and size combine to be his biggest assets, as he is at his best when fighting for contested and tough catches. He utilizes his size extremely well, as he can pluck the ball out of the air and extend to reach high or misthrown balls. His body control is outstanding, as he can adjust to balls thrown nearly anywhere in his vicinity. This makes him a great redzone threat and deep perimeter threat, regardless of his lack of speed. Additionally, he is great at holding on to the ball through contact, making him a reliable safety net receiver. Due to his lack of speed, his hands can be inconsistent at times if he is forced to chase down a ball. He is a very inconsistent route runner, mainly because of his lack of speed and quickness. However, his routes should be able to be refined and are not a problem due to the type of wideout he is. He can handle press by using his size, although his hands also help him somewhat. A classic redzone receiver, Tate struggles to gain separation downfield, limiting his ability to be an elite receiver for a team.

B

8. Calvin Ridley – Widely believed to be the top receiver in this draft class, both Ridley’s floor and ceiling put him in the range of a top tier secondary wideout. He is among the most polished route runners in the draft, utilizing his top end speed and great agility to get open. He is extremely good at using head fakes to get open without excessive cuts, particularly at the line where he has has very good nuance in his routes. Although he is extremely fast, his release and acceleration are merely good. He is a very smooth runner with and without the ball, and has the ability to catch cleanly without breaking stride. He is also shows intelligence in knowing when to break off routes and help his quarterback. He exhibits good vision and elusiveness, and makes quick, crisp cuts when running in the open field. His hands, while not great, are very consistent and he rarely has drops. Additionally, his hands aren’t very strong, limiting his jump ball talent even though he has some ball skills. His blocking is average, but considering his size and experience doing it at Alabama, it should be an asset to his game. Ridley is one of the safest prospects at the position, regardless of his few flaws.

B

9. Deontay Burnett – The safety blanket for top quarterback Sam Darnold, Burnett is a very good receiver who will be held back in the NFL due to his stature. Although he is not a great route runner, he has excellent footwork and a very good football IQ. As such, he is very good at making sideline catches. He sells his fakes on routes very well, using his speed and small size to help him get open. Additionally, his experience with Sam Darnold has made him extremely good at running routes on broken plays. He is an average runner with the ball, as he is not particularly elusive. However, he is very smart in how and when he battles for extra yardage. He also has very good hands and technique catching the ball. His hands are very reliable in traffic, and he is fluid in catching and then bring the ball to his body for protection. He is also adept at extending for diving catches and balls that seem outside his reach. He has the potential to be a Pro-Bowl receiver, but his weak build could cause him to get pushed around, no matter how much talent he has. As such, he is not good at winning jump balls on the outside. Depending on if he can add more muscle, his potential varies drastically.

B

10. Christian Kirk – Highly touted as a top tier slot receiver in this draft, Kirk lacks the difference making ability to be more than an average slot receiver in the NFL. Although he is a very good punt returner, this talent does not usually show up in his play at wideout. He is a reliable player in the slot, but he does not have any exceptional talent besides being a returner. He is pretty fast and somewhat elusive, making him a decent runner in space. He is also very smooth in catch and run situations, enabling him to pick up additional yards after the catch. He is a solid route runner, with a well built route tree that he can run effectively. He also has very reliable hands, although he lacks the talent to make many impressive catches. Similarly, he has great concentration, adding to his ability to rarely drop balls. He is a player whose floor is set as a reliable slot receiver who can offer good support in the return game, however he lacks the playmaking athletic ability of anything else at the NFL level. The combine also reaffirmed that he has the size and strength to handle the rigors of playing slot receiver and going over the middle.

B/B-

11. DJ Chark – Chark emerged after the conclusion of the CFB season, putting on amazing performances at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. His speed, explosiveness, and jumping ability were some of the best at the combine, but that does not show up in games consistently. He has limited ability as a route runner, although he is very smooth running with the ball in his hands or making cuts on routes. Chark has great footwork as well, showing good talent making catches on the sideline. He is great at tracking deep balls, a skill which combines with his speed to make him a good deep ball threat. He is good at adjusting his body to win some jump balls, and at times can show flashes of outstanding body control. The weakest part of his game, however, are his relatively weak and very inconsistent hands. Additionally, he tends to catch with his chest much more often than he should. However, he is decent at catching over the middle, which will serve him well regardless of his hands. He is also a very good punt returner, with good vision and elusiveness. While he shows some explosive traits, his talent as a receiver is held back by his ability to put them into action.

B-

12. Simmie Cobbs – A player who relies solely on his amazing hands and height, Cobbs is a highly developmental prospect with upside in the redzone. He shows an extreme lack of effort, something which causes his ability to suffer greatly. Although he is decent at running the fade and the hitch, his route tree is extremely limited otherwise. Additionally, he is a sloppy route runner, regardless of the small degree of effectiveness displayed in those two routes. He is not a great athlete, offering very little athletically besides his height. As such, he is slow and bad running with the ball in his hands. He is somewhat strong, contributing to his great talent as a redzone and jump ball receiver. Cobbs has great hands individually, with the talent to make outstanding catches with one hand. He is the best pure receiver with the ball in the air and other jump ball situations, however he is below average at nearly everything else. Cobbs’ sloppiness and lack of effort is a major red flag for a player with such high redzone potential, something that will greatly limit his NFL success.

B-

13. Courtland Sutton – Highly touted as one of the best receivers in college football, Sutton is an athletic player with limited positional talent. He is very long and fast, and takes advantage of this by being an aggressive runner and blocker. He is a very sloppy route runner, due in large part to his lack of agility. Additionally, he is very bad at using his hands against defensive backs, either during or at the start of the route. His hand work is a detriment to his talent, as it leaves him susceptible to physical defense. For a physical receiver, he gets pushed around easily in press coverage. He has very good body control that enables him to release from defenders at the top of his route. However, he doesn’t use his size well when going for jump balls or boxing out defenders, even though he has solid jumping ability. He has strong hands when he extends them away from his body, but generally they are inconsistent. He is a good runner with the ball for a bigger receiver, as he can find running lanes but is not elusive. An extremely raw player, it would take a tremendous amount of coaching to develop him into a productive NFL player.

B-/C+

14. James Washington – Given the Biletnikoff Award as the nations best receiver, Washington’s college numbers do not match up with his NFL talent. He is fast, with the ability to take the top off the defense. Additionally, he has excellent adjustments to deep balls over the shoulder, although less so on back shoulder or sideline type catches. He is a bad route runner, consistently rounding off his routes and failing to sell his moves. While he is good at running deep fades, much of that is pure reliance on speed and failure by the defensive back to play even adequate coverage. He does not have particularly fluid catching ability, with the ball occasionally not sticking in his hands as well. This, along with his lack of strong hands, is a big factor in Washington using his chest a lot to make catches. Built like a running back, he is not good at making moves in space, greatly lowering his value as a receiver. Overall, he lacks any significant talent besides the ability to run straight away deep routes, something that will only serve him well as a deep backup.

C-

 

 

Running Backs

Grading system:

A – Top tier

B – Starter

C – Backup

D – Practice Squad

Recent Prospect Grade Comparison: Ezekiel Elliot, A+/A

1. Saquon Barkley – The number one overall prospect in this class and the best running prospect in years, Barkley is as close to flawless as you will get from a prospect. He consistently makes the first player miss, and is very good at avoiding huge collisions. He has great wiggle as a runner, with an amazing cutback and juke move to go with his homerun speed. He has great start-stop ability at the line, and above average vision to find open running lanes. As a power back, Barkley is similarly proficient, as he is very strong between the tackles and is adept at falling forward. His dexterity and balance are tremendous, and they are what make him an elite prospect. He has outstanding body control both along the sidelines and through contact, allowing him to make plays that very few can. He is very good at catching the ball both out of the backfield and as a wide receiver, although his pass blocking is merely decent. If there is a flaw, it is that he can try to get the big play rather than just putting his head down for a few yards; however, the highlight reel plays he makes by doing this more than makes up for this slight and infrequent deficiency.

A+

2. Derrius Guice – Although he is more of a power back, Guice is a well-rounded runner who can excel both inside and outside. He is exceptionally strong, and runs with power and tenacity. He is a very determined runner, finishing every run by gaining every possible inch. He is great at avoiding head on hits in traffic and at the line. Additionally, he is a very slippery runner with very good balance, helping him generate a lot of yards after contact. As an outside runner, he has excellent acceleration and very good speed. While he also has good agility and bouncing ability, he knows how to pick up tough yards. His vision is also good, not great; however he is exceptionally good at finding small bits of space to pick up extra yards through contact and traffic. He is a solid receiver out of the backfield, and is very good at pass blocking. As a pure runner, he is very good in all aspects of the position, and will bring good intensity to a teams run game. Although not as big and strong as his LSU predecessor Fournette is, he has a better feel for running the football.

A

3. Kerryon Johnson – A well rounded runner, Johnson’s has the combination of speed and power to become a top tier runner. He has great vision and outstanding patience at the line of scrimmage. He runs low, enabling him to explode through holes and work well in tight spaces. He is amazing running through contact, and is especially adept at shaking off half-hearted tackles. Similarly, he is very good on the goal line and in short yardage situations, as he knows how to get lower and pick up extra yards. With very good long speed and superior agility, he is a good runner in open space. This combination of speed moves and effective use of power make him a deadly runner in all situations. Additionally, Johnson is very intelligent in all aspects of the game, with great pass blocking ability, decent receiving skills, and exceptional awareness. He knows how to handle various situations in games, contributing to his good pass blocking. The above average awareness is also a major factor in his running style, as he is extremely effective in knowing when to utilize each aspect of his skill set. However, there are some questions about his injury history, especially as his running style can lead to many head on collisions.

A/A-

4. Royce Freeman – Freeman is an excellent power runner who is surprisingly fluid running the ball, similar to Frank Gore. He is somewhat slow compared to the other top runners in college football, but is able to effectively use what speed he has. He is a low runner who is very good at running through contact between the tackles. He is also strong, able to shake off tackles and bowl defenders over. Freeman has outstanding vision and runs effortlessly through open lanes. Additionally, he has great feet and agility, a talent that was reinforced by a terrific job at the combine. He has very good patience at the line of scrimmage as well, with the strength to shed tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He seems to have suspect lower body explosion, although he had average testing in such events at the NFL combine. For a bigger back, Freeman is an above average receiver out of the backfield. Even when his offensive line struggled he was able to make some plays, but he is even more dominant with decent blocking. While he doesn’t have the look of an elite prospect, he should end up being an extremely good player as a workhorse running back.

A-/B+

5. Ronald Jones II – One of the most elusive runners in the draft class, Jones II is a tall speed back with limited power. He possess elite breakaway speed and is extremely fluid and elusive in space. His juke move is outstanding, and he has great agility and ankle-breaking potential in his cutback. His vision is very good, and he slips through holes quite smoothly and easily. It is very hard for defenders to get a hand on him, although he is not that hard to bring down when they do. This is partially due to his high running style, which takes away some of balance and power. He still exhibits some explosive momentum in finishing runs, but such toughness is rare. Surprisingly, he is a solid runner in short yardage situations, as has a nose for the end zone. He has great burst to the outside, and is skillful at bouncing runs to the outside for big plays. However, he tends to make too many bounces, leading to lost yardage. He is not very good at pass blocking, as he is on the lighter side. He has decent hands, although not quite what one would expect from a player his size. While not quite a bell-cow running back, in part due to injury concerns, Jones II can be an explosive playmaker as a lead back.

A-/B+

6. Nick Chubb – An outstanding all around runner before his knee injury, Chubb’s value has worsened considerably since he was unable to fully regain his speed and agility. He is a a very strong runner who runs low, making it very hard for defenders to tackle him without facing violent contact. He has decent top end speed, but has very good burst and acceleration. However, he looks faster than he did last year, meaning that he could potentially get better if he can regain the form he had in his freshman season. Similarly, he has an amazing juke move that would improve if he can become more confident making cuts. Particularly, his vision suffers because he lacks some confidence in his ability to hit holes. He is exceptionally good at shaking off tacklers that aren’t right in front of him, however he sometimes seems tentative when pressured in tight spaces. Because of this, he lacks the desired wiggle while running inside. He also can serve as a disciplined one cut downhill runner. For a strong back he displays able hands and solid pass blocking ability. He is a very talented runner despite the flaws, and there is Pro-Bowl upside if he can fully recover from the injury. His speed, strength, and explosiveness remain top tier, although the combine did not eliminate doubts about his cutting ability.

B+

7. Mark Walton – A smaller running back, Walton is a complete back who could excel on 3rd downs or in a committee. He is a very agressive runner who uses his strength to deliver blows to the defense. However, he is still an elusive runner who keeps his pads low to effectively pick up yards. His agility gives him potent juke and spin moves, although his cuts into space can be slow. As such, his vision is spotty and inconsistent, and he is often indecisive making cuts into holes. Similarly to Nick Chubb, some of this is due to recovering from an injury. He has great balance, allowing him to stay on his feet and keep his speed through both high and low contact. He has above average breakaway speed and acceleration. He is a decent pass catcher and route runner out of the backfield. Walton also excels at pass blocking, using good technique on defenders that are bigger than him. He is a shifty runner who would fit well in a scheme where he would handle around 15 touches a game. If he can regain some more of his explosiveness, he can be a great role player.

B+/B

8. Akrum Wadley – Wadley is small satellite back in the mold of Darren Sproles – a dangerous big play threat as a runner and receiver. Although he lacks power, he is a tough player who has elite elusiveness in space. His agility is off the charts, and he is able to effectively string moves together to elude multiple defenders. He has great start-stop ability, allowing him to make jukes and cuts at full speed and in quick succession. He has such wiggle that he is rarely tackled by the first defender, and he can hit holes with good burst and acceleration. He has great top end speed that enables him to get the edge and break off big plays. His vision is very good, and he doesn’t try to force runs outside like other speed backs do. Additionally, his cutback is exceptional in traffic and open space. He is a very good receiver, and can work out of the slot as well as out of the backfield. Because of his small stature, he can be a problem in pass protection. Wadley is an elite scat back who will excel on third downs and as a rotational runner.

B

9. Justin Jackson – Jackson is a jack of all trades but a master of none. He is technically sound in all aspects of the position, as he is a decent receiver, capable pass blocker, and can run both inside and outside. He is elusive running on both sides of the tackles, and can create a few extra yards for himself on some plays. He is mainly an outside runner, although his potential is limited by his average speed and acceleration, making him lacking as a major big play threat. He is especially adept at waiting for his blockers to make him running lanes instead of just trying to outrun them. His vision is otherwise average. He has very quick feet, although he is not great at making sharp cuts suddenly. However, he explodes out of his cuts after a few gather steps, which works effectively in open field situations. Additionally, he had an outstanding outing in the quickness drills and workouts at the combine. He is a solid player who has the potential to be a starter, but could be a serviceable backup.

B-/C+

10. Rashaad Penny – Although the top rusher in college football, Penny’s skillset is not as dominant as his stats make him seem. He is a prototypical running back in the modern NFL, with the size, speed, and receiving ability to be an every down runner. He is very fast and has decent burst, allowing him to get the edge and break big plays on outside runs. He has solid start-stop ability to help him change speeds and find open holes. Additionally, he has good patience at the line and ability to allow his holes to develop. He has good vision and is very good at finding creases, but he also misses as many cutback lanes as he sees. However, he does do a good job knowing when to bounce outside. Although he possesses some agility, his elusiveness is suspect and he is not great at making defenders miss in one-on-one situations. When he is at his top speed he can run smoothly through holes, but he is generally not very good at planting his feet and making sharp cuts. Despite his size and aggressiveness, he is not a great in short yardage situations due to his lack of balance. He is a good receiver out of the backfield and can play a little in the slot. He is also a capable pass blocker. Although he has the skills to be a good runner, the lack of ability to create plays by himself limits his upside.

B-/C+

11. Sony Michel – A smaller speed back, Michel is an unrefined runner who survives on his pure speed, something that is not a given at the NFL level. He is very explosive and plays at a very fast pace on all his runs. However, this seems to be his only gear, serving as a detriment to his overall talent. He has outstanding agility and a particularly effective jump cut, especially when he can get the edge. Although he typically has good vision, his excessive use of his speed causes him to miss holes or not allow them to develop. Additionally, he is not able to make his own plays as much as one would like to see out of such a big play runner, and seems to rely too much on good blocking. He is a slippery runner who is adept at getting lower and extending when he knows he is falling, but he possesses little power and doesn’t seem to be able to shake off many arm tackles. He has average receiving ability, but is a problem in pass protection. He has the potential to be a capable rotational back at the NFL level if he has good coaching.

C

 

Quarterbacks

Grading system:

A – Top tier

B – Starter

C – Backup

D – Practice Squad

Recent Prospect Grade Comparison: Andrew Luck, A+

1. Josh Rosen – Easily the most refined passer I’ve seen in the past few years, Rosen’s talent throwing the ball is undeniable. He has prolific accuracy passing on all three levels of the field, exhibiting excellent timing and the ability to throw his receivers open in tight windows. He has enough arm strength to make all the throws at an NFL level, and exceptional footwork in the pocket. He is highly regarded as one of the smartest quarterback prospects in recent years, showing the ability to fully absorb any playbook and make correct reads. A major knock on him was his ability to produce when a play breaks down, however his pocket movement when avoiding pressure is very smooth and subtle. He has outstanding footwork, a major contributor to his pinpoint accuracy. Many of his interceptions were due to either pressure or his trying to do too much, as he had relatively little help but was still able to elevate his team. However, there is still a major concern about his character that could end up as a problem. His outspoken personality, intelligence, and arrogance have caused problems, but that are also seen as a positive by some teams. He is a prototypical pocket passer with the skill set to step in and excel immediately.

Grade: A+/A

2. Baker Mayfield – One of the most controversial players in the draft, Mayfield is seen as a boom or bust prospect. Mayfield’s height is not a problem, as he should continue to be able to find good passing lanes and throw with timing and anticipation. Although he is seen by some as a primarily mobile quarterback, he displays the pocket presence to drive down the field with pinpoint accuracy. His biggest strength is how careful he is with the football, throwing accurate passes and limiting turnovers. While his footwork within the pocket is exceptionally sloppy when pressured, Mayfield plays at an extremely fast pace. His talent at playing both inside the pocket and on the move is special, as he makes plays constantly. His ability to extend plays should not be understated, and he is an extreme competitor. While he generally goes through his reads before starting to scramble, Mayfield sometimes panics and will take bad sacks. His ability to drop balls over defenders is amazing, and he is quick to find open players. Although he has had some on and off the field issues, he is a fiery leader who can rally his teammates very well. He also shows the clutch ability to finish games against tough opponents, although it is worrisome that his coach declined to put the game in his hands in overtime against Georgia. If paired with a coach that can correct his flaws, Mayfield can be a difference maker on the NFL level.

Grade: A

3. Sam Darnold – Seen by many as the safest quarterback prospect in the draft, Darnold is what you look for in a modern NFL quarterback. His playmaking ability and outstanding poise are highlights of his play, while his intangibles make him a great fit in any locker room. He has above average arm talent and mobility, while also showing the ability to make consistent accurate throws. He is at his best on the move and uses this to make splash plays down field. Additionally, his ability to make off platform throws is top tier, and he excels at maneuvering in the pocket. Darnold is far from a finished product, as tends to lock onto receivers at times, but he generally goes through his reads quickly and is outstanding at finding open areas of the field. He has a substantial fumble problem that is the result of failing to keep both hands on the ball, and his gunslinger mentality causes some interceptions on throws he believes he can make. However, he also completes a good deal of these throws. He has the temperament of an elite quarterback and is rarely shaken. He is an impeccable scrambler who has an aptitude for making plays in tough situations. He is extremely humble and has the team first mentality wanted in a franchise player.

Grade: A/A-

4. Luke Falk – One of the most accurate passers in college football, Falk’s style is reminiscent of Tom Brady. He goes through his reads extremely fluently and rarely locks onto targets or forces throws, although a lack of receiver talent failed him at times.  His pocket awareness is outstanding, and he is especially diligent in finding his checkdowns when the pocket starts to collapse. He is very accurate on short and intermediate rhythm throws, showing great timing and a quick release on such throws. However, his average arm strength limits his upside on deep balls, although he displays good accuracy on perimeter throws and seam routes. The lack of throwing velocity doesn’t seem to be a problem on short passes unless he is forced to throw off his back foot, at which time many of the balls are thrown away or thrown up to be picked off. However, his footwork and drop back is on par with the top quarterbacks. He is especially adept at dropping the ball over defenders and into tight windows. He has prototypical size for an NFL quarterback with average athleticism. Falk’s intangibles are what elevates his game; he has a great football IQ and can command an offense with audibles and pre-snap adjustments.

Grade: B+

5. Lamar Jackson – The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is without a doubt one of the best athletes in the draft, but is still the ultimate boom or bust prospect. As a runner, Lamar Jackson is exceptional, displaying the elusiveness, speed, and toughness of a running back. His scrambling is very good due to his athletic ability, and he always poses a a threat to score when given an open running lane. Although he was able to avoid throwing many interceptions – a credit to his good decision making – his accuracy is a clear work in progress. Although Jackson can stay in the pocket and make throws, he usually takes off and runs at the smallest sign of pressure. His footwork in the pocket is also sloppy. Thus, one has to wonder about how hard he would be to gameplan against, especially with questions about his ability to read defenses. However, it is very rare that he is fully eliminated from games due to his athletic ability, and it is common for him to take over games. He has an incredibly strong arm, and can complete some good deep throws downfield. While he remains inconsistent as a threat throwing the ball, he is adept at finding his checkdowns quickly when needed. In the right system, he has the most upside of any quarterback in the draft, but he shouldn’t be mistaken for someone who can turn a franchise around immediately.

B+

6. Kyle Lauletta – A small school quarterback, Lauletta showed that he could play with higher competition with his outstanding play at the Senior Bowl. He is a bit on the smaller side, and plays very similar to how Case Keenum has played this past wyear. He is a good scrambler who throws very well on the run. As a runner, he is quick and surprisingly scrappy, often fighting through contact to gain extra yards. He displays good pocket awareness, however he tends to take off when forced out of the pocket rather than keeping his eyes downfield. Generally, Lauletta goes through his progressions well, and is adept at finding both his easy checkdowns and big plays in the defense’s gaps. He has very good short accuracy, although the occasional ball will sail or slip on him. He has a very good deep ball as well, although his arm strength is merely average. Due to this, he can sometimes get baited and the softer thrown balls can get picked off. However, he can also throw with anticipation, which minimizes the opportunities of defenders. He doesn’t make many mistakes, and can drive down the field with quick throws inside the numbers. He has solid leadership ability, and is often compared to Jimmy Garrapolo.

Grade: B+/B

7. Mason Rudolph – With prototypical size for an NFL quarterback, Mason Rudolph passes the eye test as a prospect. He has average athleticism but is able to use his size to his full advantage when running or maneuvering in the pocket. His poise in the pocket is outstanding, and he can deliver accurately while getting hit as long as he has a solid base. However, his short accuracy can be shaky if he is not comfortable and has not established a rhythm. He has the ability to sustain drives by leading his receivers and working his checkdowns. Additionally, he has very good intangibles and is able to work through his reads efficiently and make pre snap reads. Although his arm is reasonably strong, he tends to let balls hang a bit when throwing outside the numbers. However, he throws a beautiful deep ball with good air under it. His leadership abilities are shaky, but he could very well start without much development. Rudolph has a pretty good football IQ, regardless of the system that he played in. He lacks the elite physical traits of many of the other quarterbacks in this draft, but can step in and be solid.

Grade: B

8. Josh Allen, Wyoming – Widely considered more of a developmental prospect, many are intrigued by Josh Allen’s upside due to his physical attributes. He has outstanding arm strength, boasting the strongest arm in the draft. While this pairs with his size and speed to allow him to extend plays downfield, it also has become something that he tends to rely on. As such, he has numerous ill-advised throws and doesn’t play the game with the requisite decision making. As a result, he generally doesn’t go through his reads until he is forced out of the pocket, at which time he looks for the big play downfield. Although his incredible arm strength helps him complete a good amount of these passes, relying purely on arm strength will become a problem against NFL talent. Josh Allen is commonly compared to a young Ben Roethlisberger, an apt comparison when taking into account his penchant for throwing deep balls and scrambling. He is adept at working his checkdowns and completing sideline throws, the result of playing in a pro-style offense. However, many of his throws will sail and he struggles throwing accurately, making his floor as drastic as his upside. Additionally, he has struggled playing against upper tier competition.

Grade: B

 

9. Kurt Benkert – Coming from Virginia, Benkert became a somewhat popular sleeper prospect after a hot start to the season. Although he displays outstanding physical traits that would allow him to excel in the NFL, he lacks the ability to read the field. He has a very strong arm, but his accuracy is suspect. Benkert has the arm talent to compete with top tier college defenses when he is hot, particularly when throwing his beautiful deep balls. However, he has trouble completing short throws with consistency and seems unable to sustain drives. He has excellent pocket mobility, and is especially adept at finding creases in the pocket to escape sacks. He tends to rely on this too much at times, scrambling before the play even breaks down. Although he can make accurate big play throws while doing this, it is not something he should be doing so often. Adding to this, the system he played in only required him to make half field reads, something that is a major red flag. Benkert is a highly developmental prospect who could become a solid backup if taught the mental aspect of the game.

Grade: C

10. Mike White – Mike White is a potential sleeper due to his considerable arm strength, but is not prepared to be a starter at the NFL level. His arm strength contributes to his very good deep ball, which he can generally throw accurately and to the receiver in stride. He throws the ball with good spin and velocity on all his throws, and is good throwing into tight windows. He has limited progressions and is uneasy going through his reads. Additionally, he has good short and intermediate accuracy to go along with solid footwork. However, all of White’s positive traits are for naught when he faces any pressure whatsoever. He has bad awareness in the pocket and will fall apart under pressure. When faced with pressure or moved off his launch spot, his accuracy will worsen considerably and his movement will become panicked. With some upside due to his arm strength, White is not starter quality.

Grade: C-