As the offseason all-star games are in full swing with the East-West Shrine Game having been played this past weekend and the Senior Bowl kicking off in Mobile, Alabama this week it’s time to update our rankings.
Before getting started we should mention a couple players that aren’t mentioned below but have been in the past and keep on rising up boards. I don’t like to repeat myself, but two favorite prospects of mine, Solomon Thomas, and Malik Hooker are continuing to climb up draft boards after hot finishes to the season and even better postseason performances. Both guys have outstanding potential and as of now seem very likely top-10 picks now that they’ve declared and are officially in the 2017 class.
Another player that’s rising is a local prospect that we’ve highlighted in our local prospect top 10, Jalen Robinette, had a successful Shrine week showing by getting an invite to attend the Senior Bowl. Robinette’s big frame, ability as a blocker, and raw skills as a receiver are very intriguing and should make him an under the radar prospect worth monitoring.
Here’s who else is moving up our board and why plus an updated Big Board.
Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
Lamp has been the blindside protector for the prolific Hilltopper offense the last few seasons and he’s entering the Senior Bowl with lots of positive momentum. Seen as a top guard prospect in the pro’s, Lamp showed very nicely against Alabama’s speed rushers when facing the Tide earlier in the 2016 season. He displays sound technique with great mechanics, blocking with sound balance; he also moves nicely and has a bit of power in the run game.
Not the strongest in pass pro and he’ll suffer against bigger linemen but he’s certainly shown the ability to be a tackle at the next level. If converted to guard he won’t be the mauling type but he has the potential to be a top player at the position.
His week in Mobile will be very important in determining if he’ll be able to stick at tackle or have to move to guard. A good showing could vault him into a high pick come April.
Wide receiver and teammate Taywan Taylor is another fun prospect to watch. Fast and with good instincts to get open, Taylor was another huge part of WKU’s recent offensive success and has the potential to be a future starter and a later round gem in this class – unless, of course, a great week in Mobile pushes him up in the top rounds. He has that type of talent.
Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
With the regular season and bowl games over it was time to catch up on some tape for a few under the radar prospects that I didn’t have a chance to watch during the season. Garcia from the highly successful Troy program is very impressive for his extraordinary mobility.
Though he’s light – by far his biggest weakness – he’s long and really a promising athlete as a pass protector. Early in the season, he was close to perfect in keeping Clemson’s vaunted pass rushing core at bay, looking far superior to Cam Robinson (a top prospect at the position) in the single game comparison against the Tigers.
Garcia is light and though he uses his athletic tools well as a run blocker he also looked to have lost some weight throughout the season and didn’t look as strong at the point of attack. Putting on weight without losing his athletic gifts and foot speed while also finding ways to keep that weight will be key for Garcia who could become a high-level starter at a premium position if he can get stronger.
Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
We’ve mentioned Bolles when talking about potential options for the Broncos at pick No. 20, but he certainly deserves being brought up here as he’s one of the hot names in the draft community lately.
Bolles is long and really shines when used as a pulling blocker used in Utah’s highly successful run scheme. He also has some promising athletic tools as a pass protector which make his talent tantalizing for NFL teams. He also has a bit of nastiness to his game wich is a big plus for a lineman.
At 25 and with only one year of major college football experience he’s not perfect and still raw. His stock is probably being elevated – not by us – in part due to a lack of talent in this offensive tackle class as well. But he’s still a name worth noting as he could slip into the late first round and seems like a healthy bet to go in the top two rounds of the draft if all goes well the next couple months.
David Njoku, TE, Miami
Njoku has some huge upside due to his great athletic tools and promise as a receiving tight end. There are several other receiving talents in this class but none who shine quite like the former Hurricane who has the look of a red zone destroyer, possessing good size paired with outstanding speed for the position and showing adequate skills as an in-line blocker.
Njoku’s upside could vault him all the way to the first round for a team willing to take a gamble on his budding but still raw skill set – he’s still raw in just about everything – making him a threat be the cream of the best tight end crop that we’ve seen in a long while.
Another tight end worth noting is Southern Alabama’s Gerald Everett a smaller player at the position who has some real skills as a move tight end. Similar to Jordan Reed, Everett isn’t a great blocker but as an H-back and big slot receiver, this long and agile target could be a quality weapon in the NFL.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
My top quarterback the entire season, Watson’s performance versus Alabama in the 2016 title game was a big factor in keeping him there and his 2017 game has only consolidated his status. Watson isn’t perfect, though, as he’ll have to transition to a more pro-style attack and his arm talent isn’t special or above league average – his accuracy wasn’t always as good as it was in the 2015 season this year.
But Watson has poise and the ability to make plays from within the pocket that really make him stand out. He also is smart enough to take what a defense gives him which is an important plus.
His stock seems to be all over the place right now and his strengths won’t translate all that well to playing against air in basketball shorts, meaning he might not see his name rise much from here until April. Unlike any other prospect in this class, Watson can point to games in which he bested a defense full of NFL talent on the biggest stage. That should carry lots of weight for evaluators.
Watson’s big target Mike Williams capped off a monstrous season with some spectacular catches in the big game for his quarterback. His stock has been rising all season due to his physical prowess and contested ball ability. Injury questions will be his biggest hurdle – with his speed – in going high in the draft.
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
There are some linemen rising in this update but Robinson is the big faller throughout this season which ended in a fairly disastrous manner. The big Alabama left tackle has the tools and plenty of upside to be a high-level player but as of now, there’s lots of work to do.
Robinson’s footwork is sloppy far too often, his stance is too wide and more telling he’s not always pushing with his legs when run blocking. He is, however, a powerful blocker and should be able on size, athleticism, and talent alone to be to be a right tackle in the league.
The team that takes Robinson will be taking on a huge project in fixing his mechanics and getting him to play to his full ability – he also needs to eliminate penalties from his game.
Chidobe Awuzie, DB, Colorado
Awuzie, like teammate Ahkello Witherspoon, has had some unfortunate injuries that should prevent him from playing in the Senior Bowl and being a full participant in practice – Witherspoon missed the Shrine Game practices and game due to injury.
Awuzie is an outstanding talent with a diverse skill set, but a lack of man cover skills down the sideline shown in his underwhelming performances against James Washington in the Bowl game have him dropping a few spots in our latest Big Board.
Rewatching his performance in coverage against USC he showed similar problems. Chido is a great playmaker and can be moved around to different spots in a formation and might even be a better fit at safety than as a standard outside man-cover cornerback in the league.
Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Another Tide player among the fallers, yet Williams’ fall has nothing to do with his play on the field. Williams could have likely been a first-round pick in the 2016 draft despite being only a part-time collegiate player thanks to his supreme first step and speed rushing gifts.
However, an unregistered firearm arrest last offseason which also resulted in a marijuana possession charge for a friend in Williams’ car has lead to reports of his drug issues being much more extensive.
Already lower on our board earlier in the year than his talent would merit, due to his off-field concerns, Williams is now being compared to Randy Gregory for his “problems” with marijuana. His combine interviews, as well as his drug test coming out clean, will be crucial in regaining some of the positive momentum he’s lost.
Similar to Williams, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon’s video of him punching a young woman three years ago has been a big national story. Mixon’s incident was a well known red flag on his draft stock prior to the video’s release and hasn’t led to much of a drop my rankings. However the disturbing visual and strain on a PR department could severely limit his stock.
If not for these severe red flags Mixon’s talent would be worthy of a first round selection, as he has great size, amazing burst and speed, combined with a well-rounded package in which he’s shown outstanding ability as a receiver. Someone is bound to take a risk on Mixon at some point but they’re also guaranteed to have heavy media backlash to deal with in the weeks following his selection or signing.
Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
Sadly for Butt, his stock is dropping not due to poor on-field performance or off-field red flags but rather to an ACL tear he suffered in the 2016 Orange Bowl against Florida State. With all the talk of running backs deciding to stay out of their bowl games to prevent injuries, it was the Wolverines standout tight end who suffered a terrible blow in his last game.
Butt is a great prospect and very well rounded in what he can do within an offense. Now his recovery and the status of his ACL will be crucial in where he goes. Potentially a top-50 pick prior to the injury Butt could plummet to the draft’s third day with the wealth of talent in this tight end class.
Top-100 Pre-Senior Bowl Big Board:
1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2. Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
3. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
4. Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
6. Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
7. Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
8. Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan
9. Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
10. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
11. Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
12. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
13. Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
14. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
15. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
16. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
17. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
18. Tim Williams, OLB/EDGE, Alabama
19. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
20. Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
21. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
22. Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
23. Budda Baker, FS, Washington
24. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
25. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
26. Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
27. Ryan Ramczyk, LT, Wisconsin
28. DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
29. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
30. D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
31. Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
32. Curtis Samuels, WR/RB, Ohio State
33. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
34. David Njoku, TE, Miami
35. John Ross, WR, Washington
36. Jarrad Davis, OLB, Florida
37. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
38. Jarron Jones, DT, Notre Dame
39. Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
40. Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
41. Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
42. Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
43. Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington
44. Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
45. Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
46. Desmond King, CB, Iowa
47. DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
48. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
49. Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
50. Ethan Pocic, OC, LSU
51. Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri
52. Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
53. Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
54. ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama
55. Kevin King, DB, Washington
56. Adoree Jackson, CB/WR/PR, USC
57. Chidobe Awuzie, DB, Colorado
58. Devonte Fields, OLB/EDGE, Louisville
59. Eddie Jackson, FS, Alabama
60. Tedric Thompson, FS, Colorado
61. Dawuane Smoot, EDGE, Illinois
62. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
63. Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
64. Marcus Maye, FS, Florida
65. Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
66. Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
67. Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
68. Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
69. Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan
70. Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
71. Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
72. Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
73. Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio Sate
74. Marcus Williams, S, Utah
75. Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
76. Malachi Dupree, WR, LSU
77. Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky
78. Corn Elder, CB, Miami
79. Steven Taylor, OLB, Houston
80. Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado
81. Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
82. Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
83. Forrest Lamp, OT, Western Kentucky
84. Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
85. Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
86. Davon Godchaux, DE/DT, LSU
87. James Connor, RB, Pittsburgh
88. Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming
89. Jordan Willis, EDGE, Kansas State
90. Vince Biegel, EDGE, Wisconsin
91. T.J. Watt, EDGE, Wisconsin
92. Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple
93. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
94. Tanner Vallejo, OLB, Boise State
95. Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple
96. Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina
97. Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pitt
98. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, OLB, Tennessee
99. Dorian Johnson, OG, Pittsburgh
100. Brad Kaya, QB, Miami