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 defensive positions in this draft.
1. Dion Jordan (3-4 OLB) – Oregon
2. Bjorn Werner – Florida St.
3. Ezekiel Ansah – BYU
4. Tank Carradine – Florida St.
5. Margus Hunt – SMU
Commish’s Comments: This draft seems to be loaded with defensive ends, but a lot of them could be going in the first couple rounds. Ansah and Hunt lack experience, but their physical tools are outstanding. Werner does not have those elite characteristics, but he wins with effort. Tank Carradine is coming off an ACL injury, but is an outstanding pass rusher as well.
1. Sharrif Floyd – Florida
2. Star Lotulelei – Utah
3. Sheldon Richardson – Missouri
4. Sylvester Williams – North Carolina
5. John Jenkins – Georgia
Commish’s Comments: Oviously, Lotulelei’s heart condition is one to monitor, but he is a strong 2-gap defensive tackle. Floyd is the top penetrating defensive tackle and would be rate higher than Lotulelei even if Lotulelei was fully healthy. Richardson could be a solid first round selection. Jenkins is a massive nose tackle who can clog the middle of a defensive line.
1. Jarvis Jones – Georgia
2. Barkevious Mingo (3-4) – LSU
3. Jamie Collins (3-4) – Southern Miss
4. Khaseem Greene – Rutgers
5. Sio Moore – UCONN
Commish’s Comments: Despite his spinal stenosis, Jarvis Jones might be the most special player in this draft. I think he can play in a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense. Mingo and Collins are both limited to 3-4 defenses as rush linebackers. The Big East produced two of the top outside linebackers in this draft. Greene was a leader on the Rutgers defense. Moore had an outstanding combine, which has now made evaluators go back and watch a lot more film on him.
1. Alec Ogletree – Georgia
2. Kevin Minter – LSU
3. Manti Te’o – Notre Dame
4. Jon Bostic – Florida
5. Kevin Reddick – North Carolina
Commish’s Comments: Ogletree is one of the top players in this year’s draft. He is a big time playmaker, but teams will question his recent DUI. I went with Minter over Te’o because I believe Minter is more physical than Te’o. Te’o is a solid linebacker with good instincts, but lacks elite size, speed, and athleticism. Bostic blew away the combine. We knew he could stop the run, but showed the speed and athleticism it takes to be a 3-down linebacker in the NFL.
1. Dee Milliner – Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes – Florida St.
3. Desmond Trufant – Washington
4. Blidi Wreh-Wilson – UCONN
5. Jamar Taylor – Boise St.
Commish’s Comments: There was no debate for me on Milliner being the top corner in this draft, but I was back and forth on the next two. After watching more from both Rhodes and Trufant, I think Rhodes combination of size and speed was very enticing. From what I watched, I thought Rhodes was good in press and man coverage and showed a willingness to tackle and be physical. Trufant has great bloodlines and will be a solid corner for a long time. I’m not convinced yet that Trufant has the potential to be an elite corner. After Trufant, there are about 11 corners that are all mashed together.
1. Kenny Vaccaro – Texas
2. Matt Elam – Florida
3. David Amerson – NC St.
4. Eric Reid – LSU
5. Johnathan Cyprien – FIU
Commish’s Comments: Vaccaro is widely known as the top safety in this draft, but Matt Elam has gained a lot of steam. I placed David Amerson on this list because I think Amerson’s ball skills and ability in zone is outstanding. Amerson struggled in man coverage as a corner which led to him being beat deep numerous times in 2012. Eric Reid is another solid safety who can be a big hitter, but is also good in coverage. Don’t sleep on Cyprien. He is a big hitter and can make plays as a center fielder as a deep safety.
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