25 of the Top Players for 2016 nfl draft
AND THE TOP 100 COLLEGE DRAFT PROSPECTS
1. Ohio State DE Joey Bosa — It's possible that one of said quarterbacks could overtake this spot. But for now, we'll go with the best front-seven player in the country, a Justin Smith clone who feels destined to land somewhere in the top five picks if he declares early. Yes, he'll be only a junior this year.
2. California QB Jared Goff — Yes, over quarterbacks such as Christian Hackenberg, Cardale Jones and Connor Cook. More than those other two, Goff has a chance to go supersonic this season playing in Sonny Dykes' "Air Raid" offense and is often compared to, style-wise, former Bears QB Aaron Rodgers.
3. Alabama DT A'Shawn Robinson — Don't know his work yet? You will. This absolute man's man might be the next coming of Marcel Dareus if he can show a little more juice as a pass rusher. He's not worth this high a grade yet, but we're projecting him to make a major jump this season.
4. Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley — Some scouting directors believe Stanley had a chance to be one of the top two tackles drafted this year had he come out early. But he'll return to an experienced Irish team with a chance to lock down a top-five selection for 2016.
5. Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves — The best cover man in the country last year, Hargreaves has a chance to go high if he succeeds in a new defensive system against top SEC receivers once more. His confidence is through the roof, as are his instincts and playmaking ability, and the only wideout to really give him trouble was Alabama's Amari Cooper, the fourth overall pick last week.
6. Baylor DE Shawn Oakman — More chiseled physique and reputation at this point than dominant, take-over-games defender, Oakman nonetheless is a rare beast who can build on a solid 2014 season and become a terror this season. He just can't tuck his uniform up and show off those abs anymore.
7. UCLA LB Myles Jack — The hybrid running back/linebacker should develop into an even more dynamic playmaker this season if his offensive duties are slimmed (or eliminated altogether), and he could be the Bruins' best defender in a group that has included Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Owa Odighizuwa and Ishamael Adams the past two seasons under the watchful eye of Jim Mora.
8. Michigan State QB Connor Cook — His accuracy remains a concern, especially after losing his top two wideouts, but Cook has shown moments of brilliance since taking over as starter and has the look of a classic pocket passer with good intelligence and Matt Ryan-like potential.
9. Mississippi DL Robert Nkemdiche — There are times the former top high-school recruit looks like a potential top-five pick, and other times when he goes long stretches without making a big play. Will this be his breakout year? The Ole Miss defense returns a good amount of talent.
10. Ohio State OT Taylor Decker — Ever since his nightmare performance against Khalil Mack in his first college start, Decker has shown tremendous potential. He has the look of a Nate Solder-like prospect and a solid first-round choice.
11. Florida State CB-S Jalen Ramsey — Here's a fact: Ramsey was the best pro prospect in a Seminoles secondary that featured second- and third-round picks last weekend. He's long and limber and versatile and could be a transcendent player this season, even with less talent surrounding him.
12. Baylor OT Spencer Drango — Another tackle who considered coming out early (and who would not have fallen too far), Drango might have to answer some questions about transitioning from this offense to more of a pro-style system. But he has great size, strength and stamina.
13. Ohio State QB Cardale Jones — Why so low a spot? He needs to reclaim the starting QB position. But Jones' build, arm strength and poise in clutch situations might have made him the third QB off the board this season had he declared. Another year in college really could help Jones if he beats out Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett.
14. Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg — A year ago, he might have been No. 1 on this list (had we written one, of course). But a poor 2014 season set him back in the eyes of scouts and set in fear of a Jake Locker-esque college career. But there is still optimism for him with a better offensive line and more symmetry with the coaching staff, and Hack easily could end up back in the top-five picture with a strong 2015.
15. Pittsburgh WR Tyler Boyd — This ranking could be comically low a year from now. (Promise me you'll look back?) Boyd is a downfield playmaker with No. 1 receiver traits and an ideal frame at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds.
16. Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott — The best player in the country the final four games of last season, Elliott burst onto the scene in spectacular fashion and has the look of a bellcow NFL back. Although he's not a blazer, Elliott hits the hole incredibly fast, reads blocks well, moves with great purpose and deception and is always falling forward. There's a little Emmitt Smith in his game.
17. Auburn WR D'haquille "Duke" Williams — He's a strong, more well-rounded receiver than Sammie Coates who could build on last season to have a great campaign in the fall. The Tigers will be a run-first team but can spring Williams loose in a great play-action system.
18. Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller — The youngest of the Fuller brothers, Kendall (not unlike the Kendall of the Kardashian/Jenner fame) has a chance to be the best of the bunch. He's not big by NFL corner standards but is an instinctive playmaker with mental and physical toughness.
19. Alabama RB Derrick Henry — Typical running backs don't have his dimensions (6-3, 245 pounds) and get to the edge the way he does. Somewhere between Eddie George and Brandon Jacobs, Henry has light feet, good burst and plenty of power. A unique talent.
20. Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith — Expected to be used in a variety of ways this season, Smith could be this year's Shaq Thompson. Smith might also be a better hitter and rusher than Thompson, is lauded as one of the Irish's leaders and should test well athletically.
21. Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah — A breakout pass rusher last season, Ogbah caught the attention of the nation when he sacked Jameis Winston twice in the opener and then had a streak of eight sacks over a six-game stretch during conference play. He's well-built at 6-4 and 272 pounds and could take his game to the next level this season.
22. Oregon DE DeForest Buckner — He worked over Florida State in the national semifinal game and has displayed good length and upside, to the point where some scouts favor him in the long run over teammate Arik Armstead, who was picked 17th in the draft this year.
23. USC S Su'a Cravens — This year's Landon Collins, Cravens is a big safety with linebacker traits who does his best work closer to the line of scrimmage but also can play in space.
24. Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel — The career arc of the "Gunman" hasn't gone according to script, but he showed last season — while playing hurt with a rib injury, we might add — that he still has the strong arm, quick release and quality athleticism that made him one of the most coveted high school recruits in the country. Another strong season could vault him into the early-entry and first-round pools.
25. Virginia Tech OLB-DE Dadi Lhomme Nicolas — A sleeper to some, the Haitian-born pass rusher started to turn the corner last season with 18.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Some believe he's ready for a breakout season if he can put on a little weight and add some refinement to his rush.
Others to watch: Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd; Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington; Mississippi WR Laquon Treadwell; Mississippi OT Laremy Tunsil; Alabama LB Reggie Ragland; Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun; USC C-OT Max Tuerk; UCLA DT Kenny Clark; Utah RB Devontae Booker; Notre Dame DT Sheldon Day; TCU WR Josh Doctson; LSU CB-S Jalen Mills; North Carolina OG Landon Turner; Oklahoma LB Eric Striker; Ohio State LB Darron Lee; Georgia LB Jordan Jenkins