Reporting Justin Pawlowski
With the combine in the rearview mirror, teams in the NFL are gearing up for the start of free agency while also preparing for the NFL draft.
Below, you will see my top five players per position for the upcoming NFL draft. I fully anticipate these lists to be adjusted as we move forward. For now, this is how I would rank the offensive positions in this draft.
1. Geno Smith – West Virginia
2. Matt Barkley – USC
3. Ryan Nassib – Syracuse
4. Tyler Wilson – Arkansas
5. Tyler Bray – Tennessee
Commish’s Comments: On the surface, these quarterback’s names do not even come close to names we’ve seen in other drafts. Geno Smith is the best of the group, but I’m not sure that’s saying much. I still think there could be a few quarterbacks from this class that could become very good in the NFL, but teams are going to have to do more background than ever to find that diamond in this group. Right now, I’m not a big Mike Glennon fan, which is why he didn’t make the top 5. He lacks the look of a great leader and fails to be consistent from throw to throw. Nassib and Wilson could be some nice wild cards that could see their stock rise as we get closer to draft day. Bray might have the strongest arm and some of the best potential in this draft, however his flaws will still have him slide. Of all the quarterbacks, the ball explodes out of Bray’s hand unlike others.
1. Eddie Lacy – Alabama
2. Andre Ellington – Clemson
3. Le’Veon Bell – Michigan St.
4. Giovanni Bernard – North Carolina
5. Marcus Lattimore – South Carolina
Commish’s Comments: This might not be the greatest list of running backs for a draft, but one thing we have learned is that you can find running backs in any round. Lacy is a work horse back with good power and vision. You’d think Bell would be a power runner with his size, but he runs with good vision and athleticism. Bell is also a good receiver. Ellington and Bernard are quick running backs. I have to include Lattimore in this group because if he comes back healthy, he is the best back in this draft by far.
1. Keenan Allen – Cal
2. Cordarrelle Patterson – Tennessee
3. Tavon Austin – West Virginia
4. Justin Hunter – Tennessee
5. DeAndre Hopkins – Clemson
Commish’s Comments: Each of these receivers has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. There are questions about Allen’s speed, but he’s probably the best pure receiver with very good hands. Patterson is an outstanding playmaker, but very raw as a receiver and route runner. Austin and Hopkins are slot-type receivers. Austin’s speed and athleticism are superior, but there are questions about his durability due to his lack of size.
1. Tyler Eifert – Notre Dame
2. Zach Ertz – Stanford
3. Gavin Esobar – San Diego St.
4. Vance McDonald – Rice
5. Travis Kelce – Cincinnati
Commish’s Comments: There is no doubt that Eifert is the top tight end in this class, but Ertz, despite not testing as well, is an excellent receiver. I have had a chance to see Gavin Escobar play and actually thought he played much faster than what he timed (4.81) at the combine, which is why I have him 3rd. I want to do more background on Vance McDonald, but I can’t ignore his results from the combine on the bench (31 reps), in the 40 (4.69), and his overall size (6’4” 267 lbs with longer than 34″ arms).
1. Luke Joeckel – Texas A&M
2. Eric Fisher – Central Michigan
3. Lane Johnson – Oklahoma
4. Menelik Watson – Florida St.
5. DJ Fluker – Alabama
Commish’s Comments: You might be able to flip a coin on Joeckel and Fisher. Watching them, they look very close to identical of each other. I went with Joeckel as a slight advantage over Fisher due to his competition in the SEC. Lane Johnson is an extremely athletic lineman who lacks ideal power. It’s hard to teach athleticism, but strength can be gained with hard work. Although Fluker looked a little sloppy at the combine, he is known as a mauling right tackle which will have a team in need of a right tackle seriously considering him.
Interior Offensive Linemen:
1. Johnathan Cooper (OG) – North Carolina
2. Chance Warmack (OG) – Alabama
3. Larry Warford (OG) – Kentucky
4. Kyle Long (OG/OT) – Oregon
5. Travis Frederick (OC) – Wisconsin
Commish’s Comments: I went with Cooper over Warmack because of his advantage when it comes to athleticism. Both should be 1st round picks. Warford is a massive guard. Long could very well be a tackle, but his limitations in athleticism could make him a very good candidate at guard. Frederick is the top center and the leftover from an outstanding offensive line at Wisconsin that consisted of Gabe Carimi and Kevin Zeitler.
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