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NFL Draft: Ranking the Top-10 at each Position

Andre Simone Avatar
April 27, 2016


The draft is almost here and there’re so many rankings out there you don’t know who to believe or how to make sense of it all. Well here’s another set of rankings to clarify things (or most likely add to your internal confusion). So why should you care what I think about the draft? Well, that’s up to you, I’m just a guy who loves to watch college tape in his spare time and has started to do so year-round for the past four years.

You see, it all started in the McDaniels era, when every known commodity on the team was being traded away for multiple draft picks, at a certain point I was tired of having to trust other people’s opinions on players, so I decided to start watching film. Fast forward to now and I’ve learned some valuable lessons: the gentle balance between potential and actual ready-made skill, watching a quarterback’s feet, being careful to gamble on off-field issues and valuing a receivers ability to make the tough catch are just a few examples. I’ve made some great contacts who’ve helped me with my scouting process who I talk to and bounce ideas off of year-round.

So here are my position rankings, I offer my top ten at each position and also a few players who just missed the cut. I group the positions a bit differently than the norm (though it’s starting to become more and more common). I group my linesmen a bit differently, you’ll see. Also, I try to account for positional versatility. So you’ll see several players with multiple roles listed as their primary position next to their name. You’ll also see that in some cases (the offensive line is a big one) I try to give a specific position to each player. So if a player is purely a right tackle that’s what I’ll list him as, if a player can play both tackle spots I’ll annotate that, and so on and so forth. Also, I’m sad to say that kickers and punters were not covered here, but there are many other great sources online for the special teams junkies out there.

Note: Players with off-field red flags (almost all cases the player has been charged with a crime in his past) are marked with an asterisk (*).



There’s a pretty clear consensus on the top three, with two franchises having already gambled a large part of their future on the top two guys. After that it’s a free for all, Brissett is a favorite of mine and has all the tools and potential needed. I’m not anti-Cook like some, I just don’t see much upside and his inconsistencies are there much like some of these other quarterbacks who have greater potential (also the character murmurs make me weary). Snicker all you want at Adams’s size, but the facts are that while at Eastern Washington he was the best FCS quarterback in America, not this Carson Wentz fellow. Adams also has as good if not better deep ball accuracy than anyone on this list (Goff is the only one that comes close), he’s not perfect but he has some tools that could make him a star. Jones probably has the highest potential of the entire group but has yet to put it all together. Hackenberg’s upside isn’t that far off from Jones’, but the struggles the last two years are too much to ignore.

1. Jared Goff, QB, Cal

2. Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

3. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

4. Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State

5. Vernon Adams Jr., QB, Oregon

6. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

7. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State

8. Dak Prescott, QB, Miss State

9. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

10. Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana

Just missed the cut:

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech

Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas

Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford

Cody Kessler, QB, Southern California

Running Back

Elliot is head and shoulders above everyone else in the class, things are much more open after the first spot. We’ve already talked about Henry here, he has his detractors but also isn’t that far off from Melvin Gordon who went in the top 20 last year, don’t sleep on him. Prosise, Booker, Perkins, Dixon and even Collins are all very solid and have their strengths, though their far from perfect. There’s starter potential in that group in their rookie years. Howard is a player we haven’t talked about, but could fit the Broncos offensive scheme nicely. He’s a ground and pound back. A solid class, even without last year’s high-end stars.

1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

2. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

3. C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame

4. Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

5. Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

6. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech

7. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas

8. Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

9. Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

10. Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama

Just missed the cut:

Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida

Aaron Green, RB, TCU

Daniel Lasco, RB, Cal

Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State

Wide Receiver

This position group has received some criticism, as they’re not at the level of the last two drafts, which is unfair because those drafts were loaded with wideouts. This group lacks some of the high-end talents we’ve become accustom to but there’s still tons of depth and several potential early contributors. Doctson and Treadwell are neck and neck but Doctson gets the slight edge due to his ability to make spectacular catches on a regular basis. Coleman has the highest upside but also a lot to learn, coming from Baylor’s spread attack. Thomas and Shepard are higher for me than most, they lack some explosiveness and the ability to be No.1 targets, but both could be high-end possession and slot receivers, respectively. Fuller is higher for most because of his speed but his hands just aren’t trustworthy, a risky proposition when your occupation is catching the ball. Higgins, Boyd, and Burbridge lack top end speed but were college stars and have all the other tools you look for in a receiver. Miller tops out the group, he has limited experience but high-end potential.

1. Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

2. Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss.

3. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

4. Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

5. Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

6. Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

7. Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State

8. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh

9. Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State

10. Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State

Just missed the cut:

Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa

Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

Tajae Sharpe, WR, Massachusetts

De’Runya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State

Cayleb Jones, WR, Arizona

Tight End

By far the worst position group in this draft and probably the worst I’ve ever studied. It’s really a four-player class, with Henry the clear-cut leader but even he isn’t a legitimate first round talent and lacks high-end potential. The top four could all go on the second day of the draft (second-third rounds). Everyone else will be a late round selection or an undrafted free agent. Higbee would have been the fifth prospect who had the ability to be drafted, but pending assault charges mean he probably won’t get selected and won’t get signed to an NFL roster until that is sorted out.

1. Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

2. Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford

3. Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State

4. Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina

5. Tyler Higbee, TE, Western Kentucky*

6. Thomas Durante, TE/WR, UCLA

7. Bryce Williams, TE, East Carolina

8. Kivon Cartwright, TE, Colorado State

9. Henry Krieger-Coble, TE, Iowa

10. Stephen Anderson, TE, Cal

Just missed the cut:

Rico Gathers, TE, Baylor Men’s Basketball

Caleb Smith, TE, Oregon St

Jake McGee, TE, Florida

Offensive Tackle

Elway has mentioned the offensive line as one of the strengths of this class. The top three all have the traits to be left tackles in the league. Spriggs has the potential to be one also but is still raw. Cody Whitehair projects to best at guard, but could in a pinch be used at tackle. Decker is coming off a nice season, his only question mark is if he has the mobility needed to be a blindside protector, or if he’ll have to convert to the right. There’s a drop-off in talent after that top six, Clark, Ifedi and Coleman have length and tons of upside but will need to be brought along patiently. Lewis is a player I hadn’t studied yet when I wrote the O-Line piece on the Broncos, he’s a Colorado kid who went to CU, got in trouble and transferred to Nebraska. As a Husker, he became a team captain and the starting LT that last two seasons (allowing zero sacks in 2015). He has the size and movement skills to stay at the position and could be another intriguing name for Denver. He doesn’t have lots of buzz but his talent could warrant a day two selection.

1. Laremy Tunsil, LT, Ole Miss.

2. Ronnie Stanley, LT, Notre Dame

3. Jack Conklin, OL, Michigan State

4. Jason Spriggs, LT, Indiana

5. Cody Whitehair, OT/G, Kansas State

6. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

7. Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech

8. Alex Lewis, LT, Nebraska*

9. Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M

10. Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn

Just missed the cut: 

Tyler Johnstone, LT, Oregon

Kyle Murphy, RT, Stanford

Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU

Connor McGovern, OT/OG, Missouri

Interior Offensive Line

Usually, the number of centers drafted is quite low (last year only four were drafted and as few as two were picked in 2009), but this year’s center class might be the deepest in talent that I’ve ever studied. The guard class also has some promising talent, making this group one of the better positions in the entire Draft. Whitehair and Kelly are both the rare interior linemen who could be taken in the first-round. Garnett could also be taken in the top-50 picks. The rest of the group was heavily featured in our Broncos O-Line feature. McGovern was the starting left tackle at Mizzou and could really benefit from a move to guard. Kirkland and Alexander also played tackle in the SEC but are best suited moving to the inside as giant mauling type guards. Even the players who just missed the cut are talented and could be immediate contributors.

1. Cody Whitehair, OG/OC, Kansas State

2. Ryan Kelly, OC/OG, Alabama

3. Joshua Garnett, RG, Stanford

4. Max Tuerk, OC/OL, Southern California

5. Joe Dahl, LG, Washington State

6. Christian Westerman, LG, Arizona State

7. Jack Allen, OC, Michigan State

8. Connor McGovern, OT/OG, Missouri

9. Denver Kirkland, OL, Arkansas

10. Vadal Alexander, RG, Louisiana State

Just missed the cut:

Landon Turner, RG, North Carolina

Nick Martin, OC, Notre Dame

Rees Odhiambo, OG, Boise State

Isaac Seumalo, OG/OC, Oregon State

Graham Glasgow, OG/OC, Michigan

Defensive End/Edge Rusher’s (3-4 OLBs included)

Another position group where we kind of combine things. I always hate when a big end who could only play end in a three-man front is ranked next to players who are 40 pounds lighter and could never play end in a 3-4 defense, so I do things a bit differently. These are basically your outside pass-rushers, 4-3 DEs, and 3-4 OLBs, it doesn’t matter. If they’re going to make a living beating OTs with speed off the edge they’re ranked here. Bosa is the cream of the crop and has been for some time. The debate over whether Shaq Lawson is a top end athlete is raging amongst draft-knicks right now, I say he is and so does his athletic testing at the Combine. Floyd is a boom or bust candidate, has everything you need at the position but has never had double digit sacks in college. The bottom half of this group should all go in late round one or early round two. Even the just missed the cut crowd should be top-three round picks at worst.

1. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

2. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

3. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

4. Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky

5. Kamalei Correa, EDGE, Boise State

6. Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida

7. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

8. Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

9. Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State

10. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

Just missed the cut:

Ronald Blair, DE, Appalachian State

Bronson Kaufusi, DE, Brigham Young

Charles Tapper, DE, Oklahoma

Tyrone Holmes, DE/OLB, Montana

Joe Schobert, OLB, Wisconsin

Matt Judon, DE, Grand Valley State

Yannick Ngakoue, DE/OLB, Maryland

Interior D-Line (DTs, NTs, 3-4 DEs/five-Techniques)

Okay, this is where the fun begins. The real strength of this draft class lies here. I have a whopping 18 interior defensive linemen in my top-100 rankings (stay tuned for those), that means that, according to my rankings, 18 of these guys should be drafted in the first three rounds, that’s an absurd number. Consider that there should only be four tight ends drafted this year! The group is just loaded, and the ability to create pressure up the middle has become essential in today’s NFL and there’s lots of guys with that particular skill set. Simply, too many players to talk about, but just a loaded class, the top eight here all have real chances of being first rounders and I wouldn’t be surprised if that number ballooned to ten. We could see some records broken with this group. For more specific scouting reports on these players check out our Broncos piece on the D-Line class.

1. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

2. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

3. DeForest Buckner, DE/5-Tech, Oregon

4. Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State

5. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss.

6. Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State

7. Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor

8. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

9. Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida

10. Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska

Just missed the cut:

Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA

Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State*

Willie Henry, DT, Michigan

Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State

Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas

Inside Linebacker

Of all the front-seven positions, this is by far the weakest in talent. It doesn’t help things that both Jack and Smith, who would have been the rare non-pass-rushing backers to be taken in the top-ten, are dealing with serious injuries. Ragland is steady but overrated and his impact is limited in the NFL as a two-down thumper. That’s the issue with most of these guys and the position in general, like running back the middle linebacker who’s only effective against the run is devalued. Daniels, Vigil, and Roberts are underrated thumpers with a bit more sideline to sideline skill than you might think. Wright has first-round production but seventh-round athleticism, he’s a tough fit, but you gotta love the kid. Kwiatkoski might have a bit more third-down ability then I give him credit and might be too low here. Morrison is a joy to watch, but he’s slow and can only help against the run. Brothers had a good Mizzou career, but the tape isn’t exhilarating, much like his athletic testing.

1. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

2. Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama

3. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

4. Steven Daniels, ILB, Boston College

5. Nick Vigil, ILB, Utah State

6. Elandon Roberts, ILB, Houston

7. Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona

8. Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB, West Virginia

9. Antonio Morrison, ILB, Florida

10. Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri

Just missed the cut:

Blake Martinez, ILB, Stanford

Dominique Alexander, ILB, Oklahoma

Cassanova McKinzy, ILB, Auburn

Outside Linebacker

Another area of strength in this draft that could’ve been even better if Jack and Smith were healthy. A very diverse group, with a few hybrid backer/safeties, some strong-side backers who could also play outside in a 3-4 and some smaller coverage-aces suited for the weak-side. Some of these guys could play inside in a 3-4 but wouldn’t be your conventional inside-backer types. Every single prospect in the top ten are in my top-100, the versatility and athleticism of this group make them perfect for the modern NFL. The top-eight are locks to go in the first two rounds (with Smith being the one wild card due to the injury questions). Perry was a bit hidden in the wealth of talent on the Buckeyes defense and could be a more productive pro than he was a collegian. Brown has some definite Trevathan similarities, he’s an extremely underrated member of this class.

1. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

2. Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State

3. Su’a Cravens, OLB/S, Southern California

4. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

5. Kamalei Correa, SLB/EDGE, Boise State

6. Kyler Fackrell, SLB, Utah State

7. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

8. Deion Jones, WLB, Louisiana State

9. Joshua Perry, SLB, Ohio State

10. Jatavis Brown, WLB, Akron

Just missed the cut:

Miles Killebrew, SS/OLB, Southern Utah

Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia

Trevon Young, OLB/EDGE, Louisville

Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona


Ramsey is a much better Safety then corner in my mind, but even as a corner he has real promise and at worst can be a serviceable starter. Alexander is underrated due to a lack of elite size and zero career interceptions (a true statical anomaly), put on the tape and you’ll see the best cover corner in this class (allowed one touchdown in two seasons and slipped on that play). William Jackson lead the FBS in passes defended and Hargraves is the media darling who’s has allowed far too many big plays, in my estimation, to be a top-ten pick. Apple is a bit behind developmentally from the top four but has the potential to be in that same class. There’s a pretty steep drop in talent after the top five guys, but there’s lots of potential and all should be contributors in an NFL where more and more, three corners are mandatory starters. Davis and Mills have lower failure rates thanks to their versatility, while Burns, Russell and Fuller have immense talent and potential but sub-par tape. The entire top-ten is featured in my top 100 players and should be high picks.

1. Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State

2. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

3. William Jackson III, CB, Houston

4. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

5. Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

6. Sean Davis, CB/S, Maryland

7. Jalen Mills, S/CB, Louisiana State

8. Artie Burns, CB, Miami

9. KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame

10. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Just missed the cut: 

Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota

Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana

Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

Kevon Seymour, CB, USC

Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma

Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi St.

Tavon Young, CB, Temple


This safety group is underrated. The talent pool hasn’t always been great at the position in the past, but this group is deep in talent and has some potential stars in the mix as well. Ramsey is a rare stud at the position who should be a top-five lock. Cravens, Joseph, Bell and Neal all have the buzz and potential to go in the first round or high in the second. The modern NFL will love Mills’s versatility and ability to cover from the safety spot (think of how big it was for the Broncos to never play in nickel during the Super Bowl and use Bradley Roby as the free safety on obvious passing downs, limiting nickel runs from Carolina) that’s what Mills could do. Thompson, Cash and Killebrew all have limitations in coverage but can be superb if used properly as added run defenders and in-the-box intimidators. Simmons is a steady eddy type, who could have a long career after being overlooked on draft day.

1. Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State

2. Su’a Cravens, OLB/S, Southern California

3. Karl Joseph, SS, West Virginia

4. Vonn Bell, FS, Ohio State

5. Darian Thompson, S, Boise State

6. Keanu Neal, SS, Florida

7. Jeremy Cash, SS, Duke

8. Jalen Mills, FS/CB, Louisiana State

9. Justin Simmons, FS, Boston College

10. Miles Killebrew, SS/LB, Southern Utah

Just missed the cut:

Deandre Houston-Carson, FS, William & Mary

K.J. Dillon, FS, West Virginia

Deiondre’ Hall, CB, Northern Iowa

Jayron Kearse, SS, Clemson

Kevin Byard, FS, Middle Tennessee

So there you have it, my top-10 at every position. Stay tuned for my big board and mock draft, all set to drop before the Rams go on the clock!

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