It’s that time of the year, before the NFL draft, when prospects are evaluated and re-evaluated after countless hours of watching film, watching film again, and watching film for perhaps a third time, on NFL prospects. While players continue to rise and fall, in terms of draft stock, as we inch closer to late April, we are finally getting a feel for where each player ranks among their respective peers.
Our latest version of the Turn On The Jets NFL Draft Big Board has a slight shakeup at the top, with Florida DT Sharrif Floyd unseating Alabama Guard Chance Warmack for the top spot. While Warmack hasn’t necessarily done anything to lose his throne, it is more about a deeper film study of Floyd and the quality of play that he will bring to a team at the next level.
LSU DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo has been up and down on this board in the first three editions for how sporadic some of his film has been. After going back and looking at four additional games on Mingo, two from later in the 2012 season, and two from 2011, there is a lot to be desired about the dynamic pass rushing prospect from LSU. It is because of this that he rises back into the top ten, after his fall on our last Big Board.
Out of the top 25 is Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore. Once thought of as a highly touted pass rushing prospect, Moore has plummeted since a poor combine performance and Pro-Day. A deeper look at his film reveals the majority of his sacks at A&M last season came primarily on 5 man rushes, putting him in optimal situations. While this doesn’t mean he cannot generate a rush by beating a double team, the overall lack of sample we have seen and poor testing numbers would suggest otherwise.
1.) Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida – 6’3″ 297 lbs - Floyd has been on a constant ascension on this board, and for great reason. One of the highest motors out of any prospect in this entire class combines well with his excellent hand and footwork, overall power, and frightening agility. He is extremely tenacious, shows ability to fight through double teams at an elite level, generate an interior pass rush, and penetrate the backfield. More ideally suited as a 4-3 3 technique, it is hard to see Floyd not thriving in any scheme. Previously: 2
2.) Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama – 6’2″ 317 lbs - Warmack has been atop this board since its initial edition and only gets knocked off due to the rise of Floyd. Still likely the safest bet of any prospect this year, the stalwart from Alabama possesses elite power at the point of attack, and excellent strength in driving his man off the line of scrimmage. While he may not have the agility of North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Warmack makes up for it with high instinct and overall technique. All-Pro potential in the early years. Previously: 1
3.) Luke Joeckel, Tackle, Texas A&M – 6’6″ 306 lbs - No change for Joeckel here, he is still the best tackle in the class this season, despite the reason rise and emergence of his counterparts Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. While all three are excellent prospects, Joeckel consistenly succeeded in the SEC last season, shutting down premier pass rushers on a weekly basis. Technically speaking, there are few flaws in his game in terms of his hand placement, footwork, and leverage, despite average testing numbers at the combine and his pro-day. A day 1 starter to whichever team drafts him, and potential first overall selection. Previously: 3
4.) Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah - 6’2″ 311 lbs - Lotulelei saw his stock drop following the combine after being diagnosed with, what was initially though to be, a heart condition. After checking out medically, Lotulelei put on quite the performance at his Pro-Day, including 38 reps on the bench press. Lotulelei told reporters after his workout that he thought the abnormality in his heart at the combine was related to a virus. He has been medically cleared, and projects as a top ten selection. Previously: 8
5.) Eric Fisher, Tackle, Central Michigan – 6’7″ 306 lbs - Excellent pre-draft performances for Fisher add to a strong season at Central Michigan, solidifying his status as a top ten selection this April. Questions pertaining to his level of competition at Central Michigan were put to bed after a very strong Senior Bowl performance. Fisher will rival Joeckel as the first tackle selected this year. Both are very safe, likely opening day starters. Previously: 5
6.) Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama – 6’0″ 201 lbs - Milliner leads a strong group of cornerbacks, but his experience playing under Nick Saban at Alabama and elite speed separate him from the pack. Likely the next of the top flight NFL corners to come from the SEC. Previously: 4
7.) Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU – 6’4″ 241 lbs - As aforementioned, Mingo has fluctuated greatly on this board since the initial edition. However, I am very comfortable placing him here and ahead of the other defensive end/outside linebacker prospects. Some have Dion Jordan of Oregon ranked ahead of him, but Mingo’s versatility to not only play in a two point stance and get out into coverage, but to put his hand on the ground and be an effective pass rusher and perimeter defender, make him the most well rounded prospect at the position this year. Combine that with his superior athleticism, length, and elite first step, Mingo may also have the highest upside out of each of his counterparts. Previously: 20
8.) Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon – 6’6″ 248 lbs - While Jordan is arguably the most athletic player at the position this year, due largely in part to how smooth and fluid he is in his pass drops, rushes, and overall play, he is primarily an outside linebacker with little experience as a defensive end. At Oregon, he was mostly asked to play out of a two point stance, and when he was asked to get down on the line, he looked very uncomfortable and not nearly as effective. Still, his elite length and athleticism make him an excellent prospect, but he will have his most success in a 3-4 at outside linebacker. Not quite as scheme versatile as Mingo. Previously: 6
9.) Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU - 6’6″ 271 lbs - Ansah, like Mingo and Jordan, is another extremely physically gifted pass rushing prospect. Used all over the front 7 at BYU last season, Ansah seemed most comfortable coming off the edge when defending both the run and the pass. Still very inexperienced to the sport, and a bit raw – although not necessarily as much as he is inexperienced – Ansah will surely need some time for growth, but his physical talents alone should allow him to contribute in some way right out of the gate. At 6’6″ 271 lbs and having run a 4.61 40 yard dash, a case can be made for Ansah as the most scheme versatile prospect in this draft. Likely a top ten selection, barring something unforeseen. Previously: 7
10.) Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia – 6’2″ 245 lbs - A trend of pass rushers here at the back end of the top ten indicates how strong the class actually is at the top, with Jones slightly behind the three players aforementioned. An extremely dynamic pass rusher, Jones also has the most experience playing in a 3-4 from his career at Georgia. If he checks out alright medically (Conflicting evanuations of Spinal Stenosis), Jones is probably the safest pick among the players at his position, but doesn’t have the upside of Mingo, Jordan, or Ansah. Still, Jones will have success at OLB in any scheme. Previously: 10
11.) Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina - 6’2″ 311 lbs - Tough slate being a guard in the same class as Chance Warmack, but Cooper has elite level talent as well. Some prefer him to Warmack due to his level of agility and athleticism, combined with an excellent level of strength as displayed with 35 reps on the bench press at the combine. A sure first rounder, likely to go within the first half of the round. Previously: 11
12.) Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri – 6’2″ 294 lbs - Richardson has the size and strength to be a successful defensive tackle at the next level, but it is his quickness and tremendous first step that give him an advantage over offensive lineman with similar builds. Among the top players in a loaded class of defensive tackles. Previously: 14
13.) Lane Johnson, Tackle, Oklahoma – 6’6″ 303 lbs – Johnson ran a tremendous 4.72 40 yard dash at the combine, and although that is certainly no indicator of how well an offensive lineman will translate to the next level, the athleticism he put on display is certainly an appealing addition to what he shows on film. Overall strength is adequate, but superior agility and speed will allow him to keep up with the top pass rushers in the NFL. Needs to be a bit more consistent in technique, particularly with his hands and leverage, but certainly a top tackle in this class. Previously: 13
14.) Björn Werner, Defensive End, Florida State – 6’3″ 266 lbs - Werner’s drop of two spots here doesn’t necessarily have as much to do with his fall as to it has to do with the rise of those ahead of him. With his motor being his most appealing attribute, he possesses the strength, athleticism, and tenacity to be a very good defensive end at the next level. Projects best as a 4-3 defensive end, and despite reports of looking smooth in linebacker drills at his Pro-Day, I don’t see him projecting to a 3-4 OLB as well. Previously: 12
15.) Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia – 6’2″ 218 lbs - While there are certainly questions surrounding the entire quarterback class this season, Smith put himself ahead of his counterparts with a highly impressive Pro-Day that included a strong showing throwing the football. Matt Barkley’s pro day will have an impact on which quarterback is taken first this April, but I would be shocked if it were anyone but Smith. Previously: 16
16.) Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas – 6’0″ 214 lbs – Vaccaro has been another player to fluctuate on this board, but at this point, this range is most accurate for him. Vaccaro can play in the box and help in the run, while maintaining a very broad range of coverage ability. In an extremely deep safety class, Vaccaro is at the top of the list, but not by much. In terms of value, Florida’s Matt Elam and FIU’s John Cyprien would be better selections at the end of the first, beginning of the second, than Vaccaro would be in the middle of round one. Previously: 9
17.) Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia – 5’8″ 174 lbs - We already knew how dynamic of a playmaker Austin was, but an extremely impressive display of both strength (14 reps) and speed (4.34) at the combine really accentuated his abilities. Some prefer Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee or California’s Keenan Allen ahead of him, but with the way the league is trending, a versatile playmaker like Austin who can contribute as a receiver, runner, and return man, will be an asset to any team. Previously: 17
18.) Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame – 6’5″ 250 lbs – Eifert solidified his spot as the top tight end in the class by displaying an excellent blend of speed (4.68), strength (22 reps), agility, explosiveness, and leaping ability (35.5 inch vertical leap), at the combine. Superior Ball skills and route running ability separate him from the others. Previously: 15
19.) Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee – 6’2″ 216 lbs - Excellent blend of size, speed, and physicality, Patterson is one of the most physically gifted players at the position this year. Improving his route running and ability to get off press coverage is key moving forward, but considering his strong hands and the attributes aforementioned, Patterson has all the tools to become a top level wide receiver at the next level. Previously: 18
20.) Matt Elam, Safety, Florida – 5’10″ 208 lbs - Elam’s versatility is one of the most intriguing features of his overall evaluation. At Florida, he has had success in a centerfield type role, in the box, and over the slot receiver in a nickel cornerback type role. Combine that with his good size, strength, speed, and overall athleticism, and Elam should be an impact player early on. With the way teams are prioritizing versatile safeties to match up with athletics tight ends and slot receivers, while also being able to contribute in run supports, Elam becomes a valued prospect. Previously: 22
21.) Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington – 6’0″ 190 lbs - Trufant did much to help his stock at the combine after a strong showing at the Senior Bowl. Running in the 4.4 range, he revealed to have the speed necessary to match up with elite receivers at the next level, completing that already perceived notion from his game film. He seems to possess the mindset of a successful NFL player, as well, as he is constantly preaching the need to better himself and remain a student of the game while making the pre-draft media rounds. Previously: 23
22.) Kawaan Short, Defensive Tackle, Purdue – 6’3″ 299 lbs - A big, strong defensive tackle, Short uses excellent leverage and extension to control blocks and make plays on the ball. Athleticism gives him some versatility to a variety of schemes. Previously: 25
23.) Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Florida State – 6’1″ 210 lbs - While he is one of the more physical cornerbacks in the class, Rhodes also has excellent athletic ability. He displays smooth hips and excellent balance, allowing him to change direction and break on the ball better than most of his peers. An impressive combine solidified his stance as a top CB in this year’s class. Previously: 24
24.) John Cyprien, Safety, Florida International – 6’1″ 217 lbs - A heavier safety, Cyprien plays with arguably the most tenacity of all his counterparts and is very effective in press coverage when walked up to the line of scrimmage and in assisting against the run. He may not be as fluid in coverage as Vacarro or Elam, but he has very good ball skills and recognition. Previously: NR
25.) Alec Ogeltree, Inside Linebacker, Georgia – 6’2″ 242 lbs - Ogeltree is undoubtedly the top interior linebacker in this class due to a combination of size, elite athleticism – he is a converted safety – and overall tenacity. While his ability to shed blocks may not yet be at the level of a top NFL linebacker, his physical tools will allow him to become the best out of the prospects at his position at the next level. Off the field issues will affect his draft status, but it is very difficult to see him fall out of the first round. Versatility and upside are through the roof. Previously: NR