Listed below are my personal Top 100 Prospects for this year's NFL Draft. The top 50 have write-ups describing the player, while the rest are listed. In all, I watched about 150 players this off-season. Some players I knew about in the fall required less work, while others required more extensive research and games. The info I've gathered is a culmination of work I've done at PFF combined with my own independent study and information gathering. Without further ado, the top 100 prospects in the draft:
(Note: I didn't give offensive linemen pro comparisons. I haven't been studying the OL long enough to effectively compare prospects, so rather than do it poorly - I decided not to give them comps.)
1) CB Jeff Okudah, OSU
Pro Comp: Patrick Peterson
When you watch Okudah play, you can almost feel the dependability he exudes. A 5-star recruit out of Texas and the top CB in his high school class, he’s carried that through his collegiate career. Despite not even starting a game because of a loaded roster in front of him, Okudah still tied for the team lead in pass breakups (PBU) before leading the team with 3 picks and 9 PBU’s in 2019. He isn’t necessarily at the top at any singular physical trait, yet he’s elite in all categories when it comes to height, weight, length, and speed. Combine that with his on-field dominance, and I think he’s the best player in the draft. His technique is impeccable, and he’s remarkably polished for as little football as he’s played. The only area where he could’ve been a little better is out of his breaks when receivers snap off their routes. Otherwise, he’s not getting beat over the top, he is an excellent man-to-man corner that can play both off and in press, and he has the physical tools to be a top-5 corner in all of football with some experience at the next level.
2) EDGE Chase Young, OSU
Pro Comp: Jadeveon Clowney
Forget about the suspension in college for accepting a loan; it’s not a concern. Young is by far the most dominant edge rusher in a draft that is below average at the position this year. Because of how effortlessly he rushes the passer, you can almost brush off his dominance if you’re not careful. The guy had 16.5 sacks in 12 games this past season, after racking up 10.5 in 2018. He’s a true 3-down player that has the physical talent to play both the run and the pass in the NFL. He’s a no-brainer top-5 pick and likely would be in any draft in recent memory. The only question with Young is whether he can keep the ball rolling in the NFL. The only person who can really get in the way of him becoming a dominant edge at the next level is himself, because he’s a physical freak (6’5, 264) and has already proven to be a man amongst boys at the collegiate level.
3) QB Tua Tagovailoa, ALA
Pro Comp: Drew Brees
The looming concern is obviously the hip, and the general public will get a good sense of what the NFL thinks of him come draft night. All medical reports since the injury have been overwhelmingly positive, and if your team doctors pass him, I’m not sure how he isn’t a top-5 pick. He’s been nothing short of spectacular at Alabama, displacing a school legend and national champion in Jalen Hurts as the starter. He’s a little undersized, and isn’t your prototypical NFL passer, but he reaches the 6’0 benchmark, and as we’ve seen with Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson; if you can play, you’ll get drafted high. He shows great movement in the pocket buys time for his wide outs to come open – to a fault. In fact, the play he got injured on was a case where he held the ball too long trying to buy time for his receivers to get open, because he didn’t want to give up on the play. He’s already demonstrated the toughness necessary to play QB in the NFL, and he makes all the throws. He’s a fast processor and makes good, efficient decisions. He is at his best throwing underneath in the middle of the field, but his accuracy doesn’t waver much on the deep stuff either. Some think he’ll be pigeonholed into an RPO or spread offense, which is the trend in the NFL anyway, but Tua could likely find a way to be successful in any NFL offense, assuming the right coaching is there.
4) WR Jerry Jeudy, ALA
Pro Comp: Amari Cooper
At the deepest position in the draft, who tops them all? He wears 4 for ‘Bama. The debate between Jeudy and OU wide out CeeDee Lamb has been palpable, but Jeudy is such a complete receiver. He’s the best route runner in the class, something I noticed in their bowl game against Michigan – which is important, because it’s something that will only improve and give his career longevity when his physical traits start to wane. His technique is very clean, and he is very polished. He isn’t the freakiest player athletically (6’1, 190), but he still checks all the boxes in those areas. Because of his route running, his 4.45 speed seems even faster, and he explodes out of his breaks. He’s great at running routes underneath and is pretty good after the catch – better than he gets credit for. Because of his speed, he runs away from defenders after catching underneath balls and if he gets behind the defense it’s over. He projects as a clear number one receiver in a passing attack and has a high floor. Hard to envision him catching less than 70 balls for 1,000 yards per year.
5) LB Isaiah Simmons, CLEM
Pro Comp: Derwin James
Simmons is a truly intriguing prospect, and the comparisons drawn have been pretty outlandish. They aren’t however, without good reason. Simmons is an incredibly rare human. He stands 6’4, 238 lbs and ran a sub 4.4 at the NFL combine. Incredible. That’s almost a whole tenth faster than Jeff Okudah ran, who plays corner (usually the quickest position at the combine). When you watch him play, he sticks out like a sore thumb. The raw talent and athleticism are astounding. That said, he could be tough to place at the next level. Coming up with a comp for him is tough because we truly haven't seen a player quite like Simmons. Don’t read the ‘LB’ next to his name and assume he’s the typical linebacker; he’s not. He’s a chess piece, and he’ll need to be used as such to be successful in the NFL, because he truly doesn’t fit a single position on the defense. He isn’t smooth enough in coverage to play safety and cover NFL wide outs, but he isn’t dominant enough against the run to just stick him at middle linebacker. His best trait on tape was blitzing off the edge. I think he’ll be most successful as the sub linebacker or the third safety in nickel and dime packages, where he can match up and easily take away tight ends and even most backs. You can play him down in the box and draw up fancy blitzes with him and he’s big enough to hang with the big boys versus run. In base, I’d play him as the backside WIL and just let him run through gaps, at least early on until he declares himself more with development. Either way, he’s probably the freakiest player in the draft this year, and if he fails at the next level, it’ll be because his defensive coordinator hasn’t used him correctly.
6) DI Derrick Brown, AUB
Pro Comp: Akiem Hicks
If you had to describe Derrick Brown in one word it’d be dominant. He dominates his opponents on the interior defensive line and has done so throughout his career. The amount of times he fires off the ball and drives a 300+ lb. human 3-4 yards into the backfield is astounding. He’s powerful and strong, however he can get lost sometimes with his eyes. He’s immovable against a single block and even against combos and double teams he does a pretty good job of keeping the offensive line off the linebackers and doesn’t give much ground. He won’t post crazy sack numbers in the NFL and will probably be fairly average in that department, which will concern some teams considering taking him high. He’s a high floor prospect that should have a solid NFL career. I’ve had colleagues express concern they don’t think he’ll be as powerful and dominant against NFL guards and centers, but I’m not sure I agree. Brown played against SEC competition and dominated against several o-line players also in this draft class (Damien Lewis, Lloyd Cushenberry, Shane Lemieux, and Jake Hanson). Furthermore, he has the physical frame and ability to play all three downs on the interior and contribute for 10+ years to his drafting team if he can stay healthy.
7) WR CeeDee Lamb, OU
Pro Comp: Davante Adams
Lamb has been a household name at OU for a long time, and he’s about to become one in the NFL too. I mentioned the debate between Jeudy and Lamb, and while I’d ultimately choose Jeudy, it really boils down to which style you like better. Jeudy is the polished route runner, but Lamb is the playmaker. If you’re looking for someone to take a 3-yard slant to the house, Lamb is your guy. He’s great at the catch point and plays very aggressively. He’s been the top target in Lincoln Riley’s potent offense for three years now, catching balls from Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts – all very different players, and he’s had huge success with each of them. Lamb can run the whole route tree and effects the game at all three levels of the defense. He’s not a blazer, but plenty fast enough to gain separation and knock the top off if you don’t play him carefully. He’ll be a welcome relief to whatever receiving corps he finds himself in.
8) QB Joe Burrow, LSU
Pro Comp: Alex Smith
How do you project someone who projected as a mid-to-late round pick after transferring schools and playing good-not-great his first season as a starter, who then turned in literally the best season in college football history? That’s what NFL teams are going to have to figure out, namely the Bengals. Burrow coming into 2019 was certainly on the draft radar, but the names talked about heading into 2019 were Tua and Herbert. That was before Burrow stormed over the college football landscape. Now, he’s the consensus first pick in almost every mock draft, and I think everyone would be shocked if Cincinnati doesn’t call his name on April 23rd. That said, how does he project? Burrow is excellent and reading and reacting in the pocket. He can time and time again go through his progression, escape, keep his eyes up, and deliver the ball accurately. He plays with great poise from the pocket and is an underrated athlete. The arm strength isn’t ideal, but he can make all the throws – and he’s accurate on short throws and deep balls alike. He can make plays by extending, but he’s much better in the functionality of the offense when he can throw in rhythm. He can be trusted to manage the offense at the next level and put his team in a position to win games. He might not be the superman of the offense like Mahomes is for the Chiefs or Wentz is for the Eagles, but he can be the straw that stirs the drink and his ability to escape and create coupled with his vision, accuracy, and rhythm could make for an award-laden career if developed correctly.
9) OT Tristan Wirfs, IOWA
While you could make an argument that certain tackles may have a higher upside than him, none combine the versatility and skill of Wirfs. At the start of the process, I actually wrote him down as a guard. He plays very quick and has next-level explosiveness off the line of scrimmage, so I feel like he’d be a no-brainer pro bowler if kept at guard. When you watch him, it’s easy to see how effective he’d be pulling on power and trap plays. However, because of positional value, it became clear as the process droned on that he’s just too good to be kicked inside and will be drafted as a tackle for someone in desperate need. He tested well at the combine, and barring something unforeseen he’ll be drafted in the top-10. He may not be the first tackle off the board depending on the needs/wants of the drafting team, but someone will fall in love with him drafting high.
10) WR Henry Ruggs III, ALA
Pro Comp: Tyreek Hill
The speed demon of the draft. Obviously, he’s ranked here as the 3rd best WR in this draft, but if you polled opposing defensive coordinators on who they’d least want to plan for in a game, the answer would probably be Ruggs. His speed is just a flat-out problem. The only pro comp you can make for him is Tyreek Hill, and it’s not even an irresponsible one. Speed guys haven’t always worked out in the past, and everyone will cite the Bengals drafting John Ross 9th overall as reasons not to take a risk on Ruggs. However, the noted difference between the two is how obvious the speed is when you watch him play. I never really saw that with Ross at Washington, but it’s easy to see with Ruggs – just like with Tyreek Hill. His entire game is predicated on it, and it gave SEC defenses fits. He’s explosive after the catch, but he also combines his speed with good hands and good route running ability. He only had one drop this past fall. Usually, speed of his caliber comes in a smaller package. But Ruggs, who stands 6’0 tall, should easily make a living as an outside receiver. If John Ross went 9th overall, it stands to reason Ruggs could rise even higher than that.
11) EDGE A.J. Epenesa, IOWA
Pro Comp: Arik Armstead
Iowa has churned out many reliable pros in recent years, further proof of how awesome Kirk Ferentz is. Epenesa should be the latest in a growing line. He’s a hand in the dirt, 4-3 defensive end that will play on all three downs. He has hulking size at 6’6 and his strength because of it shows. He’s a good pass rusher that relies often on power, not speed. I don’t think he’ll be a player that will post ridiculous sack numbers but pencil him in for eight per year once he gets going. He’s well-balanced and should be a solid player in the league for years as a steady presence on the edge.
12) OT Jedrick Wills, ALA
He’s very close to Wirfs. In fact, I think he’ll end up getting drafted before him. I ended up going with Wirfs for where I see his ceiling, but Wills is the better player right this second and it’s not all that arguable. The knock on Wills heading into 2019 was his run blocking ability, but he improved his grade in that area per PFF to 90.1 this past fall. He’s a technician in pass protection, and without question the best pass protector in the class. He has very clean technique and shows a lot of polish for a college lineman. He’s much closer to a finished product than many of the other tackles in the draft. He’ll help on day one. He did play right tackle in college, but remember ‘Bama had Tua, who was left-handed – so Wills protected his blind side. If he’s comfortable, I’d be inclined to keep him at right tackle. The blind side tackle isn’t what it once was, and there are plenty of elite tackles that play on the right side in today’s NFL.
13) RB Johnathan Taylor, WISC
Pro Comp: Shaun Alexander
Taylor is the best runner in this draft. He stands an inch under 6’ and has great size for a back. Sometimes you can get tricked into thinking he’s not all that quick when you watch him because of it, but the athleticism is there, and he shows it on his longer runs. He likely won’t be the first back off the board because he won’t be much of a factor in the passing game – but call me crazy, I think the most important trait of a running back is to run. More and more NFL offenses are going to committees and Taylor fits perfectly as the lead dog. 3rd down backs are a dime a dozen and therefore Taylor’s lack of ability in the pass game shouldn’t be a huge negative. Not enough to outweigh his exceptional contact balance, durability, and flat-out dominance he displayed at Wisconsin.
14) DI Javon Kinlaw, SC
Pro Comp: Leonard Williams
While he’s the second DI in the draft, he could end up being the better pass rusher of the two between himself and Brown. So many times at South Carolina his rush led to either a deflected pass or an interception. Kinlaw isn’t very refined and sometimes doesn’t have a plan when rushing. He would bowl over the weaker interior linemen in college, but it’s hard to envision him doing that in the pros. His game is more built on speed and athleticism. He has a pretty good swim move and he’ll work great on stunts at the next level. While power wasn’t his angle always in college, he has the frame to combine his speed with some power rush moves. He’s 6’6, and basically weighs the same as Brown, who is all power when rushing. In summary, he has dominant physical traits, inconsistent tape, was a 3-year starter at SC after transferring in from JUCO, had hip surgery in ’18, and his best season last fall (6 sacks in 12 starts). He doesn’t have great get-off and could wind up as a 3-4 DE.
15) RB Deandre Swift, UGA
Pro Comp: Josh Jacobs
Swift is the most complete back in the draft and he’ll probably be the first to come off the board. He’s the only back in the class that possesses both elite running ability as well as the ability to gash defenses as a receiver. He has the physical tools to be a lot like McCaffrey or Kamara at the next level, and his athleticism doesn’t come at a cost – meaning he can still run between the tackles, make defenders miss in a phone booth, and fall forward to create extra yards out of nothing. He played in a zone running scheme at Georgia, but they ran that zone scheme from under center – something that’s practiced by a lot of NFL teams. He’s solid in pass protection, although I’m not sure why you’d keep him in to block. He’ll exploit linebackers and even safeties. The key for him will be ending up with a creative offensive coordinator that can use his diverse skill set.