Top NFL Draft prospects

NEW YORK -- Notable players in the NFL Draft, grouped by projected NFL positions.



- Blaine Gabbert, 6-4, 234, junior, Missouri: Although he could be the first QB taken, he could be more of a project. He's got all the physical tools -- arm, feet, size -- but relies on arm strength too much, and doesn't have a ton of reps under center.

- Cam Newton, 6-5, 248, junior, Auburn: Absurd physical talent who could be an odd-shaped peg in an NFL offense totally unlike the one he ran at Auburn. Like Gabbert, a project, but one with significant upside. Nice, quick delivery, good zip on the ball. Obviously a massive run threat.

- Ryan Mallett, 6-7, 253, junior, Arkansas: Probably the most likely prospect to provide immediate help to a team due to his prototypical arm strength, size, and experience with reads and progressions in two prostyle college offenses. (He transferred from Michigan.) Mostly sound mechanics. Can get in touch with his inner gunslinger at times.

- Jake Locker, 6-3, 231, Washington: Viewed as an underachiever after a spotty senior season. Cannon arm and athleticism outshine his injury and erratic history.

- Colin Kaepernick, 6-5, 233, Nevada: Most often seen scampering through helpless tacklers during late-night, West-Coast games, Kaepernick could reappear in the NFL as a starter in a few years. His workouts have been great, and his arm strength is good. Coaching will probably make the difference.


- Mark Ingram, 5-9, 215, junior, Alabama: The one real knock on him is that Alabama never used him as an every-down, bell-cow type. More and more NFL teams rely on two backs these days, so Ingram's vision, speed and strength are even more valuable. Can he catch passes? Pass protect? Yes and yes. The complete package.

- Ryan Williams, 5-9, 212, junior, Virginia Tech: Strong and fast, he can hit the hole, then give defenders the slip once through to the second level. Needs to add some size. Decent in passing game, though needs to work on blocking. Some ball-security issues.

- Mikel Leshoure, 6-0, 227, junior, Illinois: Big and tough player who can get it done on the goal line. Room for improvement in passing game.

- Jacquizz Rodgers, 5-6, 196, junior, Oregon State: A bowling ball of a runner who was loads of fun to watch in college. He makes up for his lack of size by being fearless, scrappy and actually quite nimble. Good burst and fights for yards after contact.


- A.J. Green, 6-4, 211, junior, Georgia: A superlative receiver prospect. Tall, fast and athletic, with a good competitive streak. Smooth in body movements, but bigger DBs can knock him around some.

- Julio Jones, 6-3, 220, junior, Alabama: A true deep threat with a nice mean streak when it comes to blocking, too. Needs to improve route-running and quash habit of occasional drops.

- Torrey Smith, 6-1, 204, junior, Maryland: Good speed and size, but a bit raw. Definitely projects as a No. 1 WR, once he develops some ability to adjust to balls in flight.


- Kyle Rudolph, 6-6, 259, junior, Notre Dame: Despite hamstring injury that cost him the final half of the season, Rudolph is an elite TE prospect due to his athleticism and catching ability.

- D.J. Williams, 6-2 245, Arkansas: Gritty prospect who figures as a strong blocker/H-back type, but has the ability to get open, especially against zones, and soft hands to make tough catches.



- Tyron Smith, 6-5, 307, junior, Southern California: Big, strong and agile enough to be the top LT prospect in the draft. Most of the room he has for improvement will have to come through superior coaching to recognize stunts, blitzes, etc. Could improve in the run game, but that's not as important for NFL left tackles as stopping the pass rush.

- Nate Solder, 6-8, 319, Colorado: Another athletic left-tackle prospect, Solder is actually a converted tight end. He can excel in run blocking and pass protection. Could stand to add a bit of strength, but he isn't lacking by any means.

- Anthony Castonzo, 6-7, 311, Boston College: Started all four seasons at BC, and has the agility to be a good left tackle. Needs to improve size and strength some, so he could be a better fit for a pass-first or zone-blocking team.

- Gabe Carimi, 6-7, 314, Wisconsin: Big and bad, Carimi's a nice consolation for whichever team misses out on the top three LT prospects. He can be a nasty blocker in the run game, though lack of agility may eventually make him a right tackle.


- Danny Watkins, 6-3, 310, Baylor: Stock rising fast, probably because Watkins is relatively new to football, having started in 2007 as a JUCO. Previously a firefighter in British Columbia, he went to Butte College in California to study fire sciences, and joined the football team to pay for tuition. Now, thanks to his excellent balance and athletic ability, he could be a first-round pick and play guard in the NFL.

- Mike Pouncey, 6-5, 303, Florida: Savvy and nimble, Pouncey's improved his stock from last season by staying at Florida another year. He's not overpoweringly strong, but good enough to be a top center prospect. Needs to work on shotgun snaps.

- Orlando Franklin, 6-6, 316, Miami: Quick and explosive, Franklin's a handful for defenders from the snap to the whistle. Excellent agility, though he sometimes can get pushed around by defenders -- assuming he hasn't pancaked them already. Might fit as a right tackle.


- Da'Quan Bowers, 6-3, 280, junior, Clemson: Speed, athleticism, height, size, and an array of pass-rush moves, Bowers has it all. He also has a history with a knee injury. Teams willing to overlook that will get a pass-rusher who can also stop the run.

- Cameron Heyward, 6-5, 294, Ohio State: Strong and dominating, he can absorb blockers and then try to make plays himself by collapsing the pocket. One tough hitter.

- Cameron Jordan, 6-4, 287, California: Ready to fit in 4-3 or 3-4 schemes for teams that need more of an all-around DE than a pass-rusher. Fundamentally sound in all areas.

- Aldon Smith, 6-4, 263, junior, Missouri: An agile and fast player who can disrupt as a pass rusher or run stopper. Can and should add bulk.

- Jabaal Sheard, 6-3, 264, Pittsburgh: Sheard is a powerful rusher who can cause all sorts of havoc with his long arms and strong desire to get to the QB. Might fit better at LB, though he's not a smooth athlete.

- Ryan Kerrigan, 6-4, 267, Purdue: Strong and productive player who caused all sorts of problems in college and should continue to do so. Great motor, but needs to improve his pass-rush moves.

- J.J. Watt, 6-5, 290, junior, Wisconsin: Relentless and clever, Watt is a threat against the run and the pass. Not the most agile player, but doesn't quit, and has the size and strength to be a key starter.


- Marcell Dareus, 6-3, 319, junior, Alabama: Terrifyingly large AND fast, Dareus is a top prospect, due to his rare blend of ability and array of pass-rush moves. Teams will be mostly concerned about his stamina, although he has a brief injury history.

- Nick Fairley, 6-4, 291, junior, Auburn: Has slipped a bit over maturity concerns, though he was an absolute menace in college. Powerful, fast and uses good technique to get to the QB and sort through a crowd to find the runner.

- Corey Liuget, 6-2, 298, junior, Illinois: Strong enough to toss around the odd blocker or two, he can shut down runners and get to the QB. Despite being a bit smaller than ideal, doesn't really struggle to push the pocket, or shed and tackle.


- Von Miller, 6-3, 246, Texas A&M: Fast, big, strong ... yep, Miller's got what it takes to be an elite outside linebacker in the NFL. Seems likely to be better against the pass, as occasionally he can get swept aside if a guard or tackle gets out on him.

- Akeem Ayers, 6-3, 254, junior, UCLA: Runs fast, hits hard. Needs to add some size and strength, and work on reading plays more quickly to be an OLB.

- Robert Quinn, 6-4, 265, junior, North Carolina: OLB/DE tweener who hasn't played since the 2009 season, but still going to get lots of notice for his zip and fluidity going around blockers to get the QB. Might be a DE, depending on scheme.

- Mason Foster, 6-1, 245, Washington: One of a few ILB prospects likely to go early, he's mostly a run-stopper, with good awareness and tackling ability.

- Ross Homan, 6-1, 240, Ohio State: Fast and athletic, he might struggle to get clear of NFL blockers. When he can, he'll wrap up cleanly. Needs work on pass coverage.

- Greg Jones, 6-0, 242, Michigan State: Productive college players who works hard and tackles harder to make up for his lack of size. Might not excel in pass coverage against good RBs and TEs.



- Patrick Peterson, 6-0, 219, junior, LSU: Size, speed, feet and body control are all superlative. Hands? Yes. Tackling? Definitely. If you have to nitpick you can say he doesn't recover well -- but a receiver has to shake him for that to happen, anyway.

- Prince Amukamara, 6-0, 206, Nebraska: Heady player with a knack for jumping routes at the right time. A hard worker who is more quick than flat-out fast.

- Ras-I Dowling, 6-1, 198, Virginia: Big thumper who missed most of 2010 injured. That's a concern, but his football IQ and speed will make him tempting, especially to teams that play lots of zone.

- Jimmy Smith, 6-2, 211, Colorado: Fearless on an island, he is big enough that his recovery speed doesn't need to be as good -- even though he's fast. Can help in run support; needs to work on ball skills.

- Brandon Harris, 5-10, 191, Miami: Hard worker who is kind of rough around the edges, but has mostly good instincts. Smooth when turning and running. Concerns he may have already maxed out his potential, though.


- Rahim Moore, 6-0, 202, UCLA: The best safety prospect at a thin, thin position in this draft, Moore can lope around in the defensive backfield making plays all day. Sharp making reads, too.

- Robert Sands, 6-4, 217, West Virginia: Fast, with long strides, but not the most shifty or nimble of players. Sands can hit hard over the middle or when taking on a ball carrier.



- Kai Forbath, 5-11, 197, UCLA: Excellent accuracy makes him attractive to teams looking to draft a specialist. Leg strength is still plenty good, though maybe not on kickoffs.

- Alex Henery, 6-2, 177, Nebraska: Booming leg strength and a track record of making kicks under pressure and in foul weather.


- Chas Henry, 6-3, 215, Florida: Although there probably won't be a punter taken this year, the Ray Guy Award winner could be the exception. He's a versatile athlete with some directional ability and decent hang time.



Sat, 11/18/2017 - 21:21

First buck taken