Shane Alexander’s Pre-Combine Positional Top 10 Rankings

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Before the 2017 NFL Combine officially begins I wanted to get out a top 10 at each position to get discussion going and to show where I’m at in my process. Film and background has been gathered on all 110 prospects below, but athletic testing and measurements are vital to the scouting process, so the information gathered in Indianapolis as well as information from Pro Days are taken into account in my grading process.

Not every ranking is weighted the same. For quarterback, my QB10 is a fringe-draftable player, while at safety my SAF10 is an early third round value. Not all rankings are created equal.

With that prefaced, below are my rankings that are subject to (and assuredly will) change over the next month.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Quarterback

  1. Deshaun Watson – Clemson
  2. DeShone Kizer – Notre Dame
  3. Patrick Mahomes – Texas Tech
  4. Mitch Trubisky – North Carolina
  5. Nathan Peterman – Pittsburgh
  6. Brad Kaaya – Miami (FL)
  7. Davis Webb – Cal
  8. Josh Dobbs – Tennessee
  9. Chad Kelly – Ole Miss
  10. C.J. Beathard – Iowa

Hand size, ball velocity, height, weight, accuracy within throwing drills, and how these players interview will all be taken into account this coming week in Indianapolis.

  • Watson is going to be scrutinized over the system he played in and the sturdiness of his physique. He’s going to be interrogated on the narrative that he benefitted from a “simple read” system and his 17 interceptions will be combed through.
  • Kizer is going to be grilled over his 2016 season which saw him pass below 60% and was filled with back-and-forth votes of confidence from head coach Brian Kelly.
  • Mahomes’s mechanics and Air Raid system background are going to be picked apart. NFL teams are going to want to see that there’s more than a big arm to his game (and I think there is) given how rare QBs like him seem to work out at the next level.
  • Trubisky was rumored to be shorter than ideal, but hit the 6’2″ mark this week. The other question is whether he is a true one-year-wonder. If any data in the short term can be viewed as random, teams will want to know he’s more than a flash in the pan.
  • Peterman is the guy I expect to have a great week because what he isn’t and what he is are really obvious. He’s not the biggest guy with the biggest arm and best mobility and doesn’t feature an ultra-skillset. But he is an extremely intelligent player from a complex offense who does a great job at taking the profitable throw. He’s a contextual starter who could see himself be picked in the top 50 by a team that’s a year or two away from moving on from their starter.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Running Back

  1. Dalvin Cook – Florida State
  2. Joe Mixon – Oklahoma
  3. Christian McCaffrey – Stanford
  4. Leonard Fournette – LSU
  5. Jamaal Williams – BYU
  6. Marlon Mack – South Florida
  7. Samaje Perine – Oklahoma
  8. D’Onta Foreman – Texas
  9. Wayne Gallman – Clemson
  10. Kareem Hunt – Toledo
  • This class appears to be deep – historically deep. Kareem Hunt is currently my RB10 but I’ve seen some peers rank him as a second-round value. You’ll notice that Leonard Fournette is RB4 – try not to look at that as a hot take. I have real questions about Fournette’s agility and durability, and we’ll get the answer to one of those concerns at the Combine. If Joe Mixon’s off-field concerns can be rehabilitated, there’s no denying he’s potentially the most special, complete talent at the position. One to watch: Marlon Mack. Do not be shocked if/when he’s a three-down, starting NFL running back.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Wide Receiver

  1. Corey Davis – Western Michigan
  2. Mike Williams – Clemson
  3. John Ross – Washington
  4. Carlos Henderson – Louisiana Tech
  5. Chris Godwin – Penn State
  6. JuJu Smith-Schuster – USC
  7. Zay Jones – East Carolina
  8. ArDarius Stewart – Alabama
  9. Josh Reynolds – Texas A&M
  10. Curtis Samuel – Ohio State
  • Corey Davis isn’t performing at the Combine due to an injury, but it’s not expected to be long-term and I have little doubt he remains my WR1. Mike Williams’s biggest issues are separation/long-speed but I think we’ll see him test much like we hoped Laquon Treadwell would a year ago. And unlike Treadwell, Williams has the size to win at the catch point in the NFL. The battle really starts at WR3, and I’m open to several receivers listed below grabbing that ranking. JuJu Smith-Schuster down at my WR6 is the receiver I’m most excited for during his Combine and Pro Day. The buzz on him isn’t where it should be yet in draft circles. Among the bottom three in my rankings, ArDarius Stewart’s tape gives me reason to believe he’s among the more explosive receivers in this class and could solidify a Round 2 draft position in Indianapolis.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Tight End

  1. O.J. Howard – Alabama
  2. David Njoku – Miami (FL)
  3. Evan Engram – Ole Miss
  4. Bucky Hodges – Virginia Tech
  5. Jake Butt – Michigan
  6. Gerald Everett – South Alabama
  7. Jordan Leggett – Clemson
  8. Michael Roberts- Toledo
  9. Adam Shaheen – Ashland
  10. Eric Saubert – Drake
  • Rarely do we get to talk about potentially “special” tight ends, but I believe we’re there with O.J. Howard and then David Njoku right below him. Top 12-19 range isn’t out of the question for either. Evan Engram is Jordan Reed 2.0 to me and is going to be an outstanding value in Round 2. Lower than that, Gerald Everett is a similar, discounted version of Engram, and Adam Shaheen is rumored to be an outstanding athlete and potential riser at the position. Nothing is ever a sure thing but this looks like one of the deeper tight end classes in recent memory.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Offensive Tackle

  1. Cam Robinson – Alabama
  2. Ryan Ramcyzk – Wisconsin
  3. Taylor Moton – Western Michigan
  4. Garrett Bolles – Utah
  5. Antonio Garcia – Troy
  6. Chad Wheeler – USC
  7. Roderick Johnson – Florida State
  8. Erik Magnuson – Michigan
  9. Julie’n Davenport – Bucknell
  10. Jermaine Eluemanor – Texas A&M
  • The narrative on offensive tackle is that this class is bad, but I disagree vehemently. There’s five legit NFL starters at either tackle spot and a team in need would be wise to grab one of them. Ramcyzk and Bolles both feel like “safe” NFL starters, Cam Robinson and Taylor Moton appear to be future anchors at left and right tackle, respectively. Antonio Garcia is an ideal Round 2 moldable player who could feature at either tackle spot. The “developmental” tackle who could rise a la Le’Raven Clark last year: Bucknell’s Julie’n Davenport.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Interior Offensive Line

  1. Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky
  2. Pat Elflein – Ohio State
  3. Dorian Johnson – Pittsburgh
  4. Ethan Pocic – LSU
  5. Dan Feeney – Indiana
  6. Dion Dawkins – Temple
  7. Will Holden – Vanderbilt
  8. Nico Siragusa – USC
  9. David Sharpe – Florida
  10. Damien Mama – USC
  • This group is a variety blend. For whatever scheme a team runs and position it needs to fill on the interior, there’s a player for it in this group of interior OL. Forrest Lamp is a college left tackle who could play center, similar to Cody Whitehair’s transition last season. Dorian Johnson and Dan Feeney want to maul you, and Ethan Pocic and Pat Elflein offer Week 1 starter potential at either guard or center. My favorite mid-round guy in this group is Vanderbilt’s Will Holden. He won me over in Mobile last month and he’s not flashy, just consistent.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Edge Rushers

  1. Myles Garrett – Texas A&M
  2. Tim Williams – Alabama
  3. Takk McKinley  – UCLA
  4. Carl Lawson – Auburn
  5. Derek Barnett – Tennessee
  6. Charles Harris – Missouri
  7. Taco Charlton – Michigan
  8. Ryan Anderson – Alabama
  9. Derek Rivers – Youngstown State
  10. Daeshon Hall – Texas A&M
  • Excuse me for the overuse of platitudes but “special” fits this group. Remember how good 2011 and 2014 were? This class and this group within this class could be as good and better. Myles Garrett is the best player in the draft, we know that. But below him you have the most efficient pass rusher (Tim Williams), the best “raw” talent (Takk McKinley) and an FCS star who can translate to a future NFL starter (Derek Rivers). These EDGE players offer system and specification diversity, and could realistically make over 25% of the 1st round.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Defensive Line

  1. Jonathan Allen – Alabama
  2. Malik McDowell – Michigan State
  3. Solomon Thomas – Stanford
  4. Jaleel Johnson – Iowa
  5. Caleb Brantley – Florida
  6. Dalvin Tomlinson – Alabama
  7. Chris Wormley – Michigan
  8. Elijah Qualls – Washington
  9. Larry Ogunjobi – Charlotte
  10. Davon Godchaux – LSU
  • This defensive line group is heavily tiered. Allen, McDowell, and Thomas are top 10 talents. Johnson and Brantley could go anywhere from 25-50. After that it starts to drop off fairly significantly to a hoard of mid-round talents who are #2 DTs or rotational guys on their teams. Dalvin Tomlinson impressed in Mobile, as did Ogunjobi. I would not be surprised to see Godcheaux end up a low 2nd, high 3rd player post-Combine.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Linebacker

  1. Reuben Foster – Alabama
  2. Zach Cunningham – Vanderbilt
  3. Haason Reddick – Temple
  4. Jarrad Davis – Florida
  5. Raekwon McMillan – Ohio State
  6. T.J. Watt – Wisconsin
  7. Kendell Beckwith – LSU
  8. Alex Anzalone – Florida
  9. Duke Riley – LSU
  10. Tyus Bowser – Houston
  • Much like defensive line, this linebacker group features an elite player (Foster), intriguing mid-late 1st types in Cunningham and Reddick, and then seven or more top 55-100 prospects. If Alex Anzalone can stay healthy (14 games in four years at Florida), he looks like he could be a consistent starter. T.J. Watt and Tyus Bowser were college EDGE player who transition to the next better at LB.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Cornerback

  1. Marshon Lattimore – Ohio State
  2. Sidney Jones – Washington
  3. Marlon Humphrey – Alabama
  4. Quincy Wilson – Florida
  5. Teez Tabor – Florida
  6. Gareon Conley – Ohio State
  7. Tre’Davious White – LSU
  8. Adoree’ Jackson – USC
  9. Cordrea Tankersley – Clemson
  10. Fabian Moreau – UCLA
  • Cornerbacks may not go where they should in a vacuum because this class is so deep that teams may decide to wait until rounds 2-4 to grab one. Marshon Lattimore should be a lock top 10 player, with Sidney Jones as CB2. From there, you can sell me on about 12 guys as your CB3 to CB14. Marlon Humphrey will test exceptionally, but he has to learn technique. Adoree’ Jackson is all athlete and half-cornerback – boom or bust type, but in the right system with the right coaching could be a Pro Bowler. A favorite of mine is Gareon Conley, who gets lost in Lattimore’s shadow, but is a fringe 1st rounder and definite Sunday player.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Safety

  1. Jamal Adams – LSU
  2. Malik Hooker – Ohio State
  3. Eddie Jackson – Alabama
  4. Obi Melifonwu – Connecticut
  5. Budda Baker – Washington
  6. Jabrill Peppers – Michigan
  7. Marcus Williams – Utah
  8. Marcus Maye – Florida
  9. Justin Evans – Texas A&M
  10. Lorenzo Jerome – St. Francis
  • Every team wants good safeties, yet few actually have them. This draft, however, could raise the level of quality at the position in the NFL. A healthy Eddie Jackson was being discussed as a 1st rounder and so long as medicals check out he should be back in that conversation. Jabrill Peppers is the unknown of this group – but I believe a smart team will play him as a “strong slot” safety and reap the reward. Obi Melifonwu could be the next UConn Husky to blow up the Combine with the physical attributes. The top 100 guy deserving of more attention is St. Francis’ Lorenzo Jerome, who made himself a lot of money this January at the Senior Bowl.

Follow @Alexander1Great on Twitter. Check out his other work here, such as his first 2017 NFL Mock Draft and his State of the Draft series.

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