No idea why I gave Inside Linebackers it’s own post.

Full ratings here:

https://sethburn.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/2017-nfl-draft-ratings/

Inside Linebackers

Reuben Foster: If we just go off the film and the measurables he’s be a lock to go in the top 10. His range and power are tremendous, as is his recognition. He can attack the line of scrimmage or work in coverage. However, there are two major concerns. The first is that he took a lot of wear and tear at Alabama. There are concerns that he’s an elevated injury risk. The second is his diluted sample at the combine. Even so, he’s a premium talent and he’s still going to hear his name called in the first round.

Zach Cunningham: Not sure if he’s an OLB or ILB. Excellent closing speed with a freakish wingspan. Stunningly poor hands (no interceptions in college). He has the speed to work in coverage and range to stuff the run. Very poor at breaking away from blocks, but that can be fixed with better technique. Cunningham has a very high ceiling, and like Reddick, I’d be happy if he ended up in NY.

Jarrad Davis: Huge red flag injury risk. Has been plagued by lower-body injuries. When healthy, he can play any linebacker position. Great burst and range, as well as recognition. Will likely need to bulk up a bit to avoid being overpowered in the NFL. This one is going to come down to your medical staff. If they give the thumbs up, could sneak into the first round. If not, could miss day two.

Raekwon McMillan: Would have been an easy first round selection in the 70’s. Dominant middle linebacker against the run. Mediocre coverage skills. Not a great blitzer. That makes him a tricky fit in the modern NFL. Showed potential at the combine as he ran faster than expected. It’s possible he can improve his coverage skills and end up being a three-down player, but that’s a leap of faith. Then again, tackling machines are still useful, and that’s the label most scouts throw at McMillan.

Alex Anzalone: Film suggested he might be a great athlete. Combine disabused us of that notion. He’s been unable to stay healthy. He’s not going to hear his name called in the first three rounds. At some point the potential outweighs the risks for a player has had some great flashes on film.

Full Ratings available here:

https://sethburn.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/2017-nfl-draft-ratings/

Edge Rushers

I’m including defensive ends and outside linebackers here. I’ll try to note in the comments where they will likely play.

Myles Garrett: Yes, he really is that good. Faced near constant double-teams. Comparable to Jadeveon Clowney in terms of raw talent. Clowney had a little more force against the run, while Garrett is a better pass rusher. Garrett is far and away the most likely Hall-of-Fame player from this class. I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t go first overall, which is where he belongs.

Solomon Thomas: He’s tremendously talented, but fit is a concern. He’s not a pure pass rusher, and he doesn’t quite have the size you want to stuff the run. Still, I don’t want to overthink this. He’s an excellent football player with great film. He’ll find a spot to play no matter where he ends up. Given the positional value of edge rushers and the lack of elite quarterbacks in this draft, I can understand why he’s the favorite to go second overall. FYI, while SackSEER loves Garrett and has him first overall, it has Thomas fifth among pass rushers. Again, he’s not a pure edge rusher.

Haason Redick: I’ve seen him listed as a defensive end and as an inside linebacker, so that should give you some sense to his versatility. I have him as an outside linebacker, but who knows where he’ll end up. He’s coming off a monster senior year. He’s best when attacking the line of scrimmage, but has the athleticism to drop into coverage. He’s a player I’d like to see end up the Giants given their need for linebackers.

Takkarist McKinley: Undersized, without great agility. Perhaps the best pure speed rush in the draft, but little else. Some teams can afford such a one-trick pony without weakening their defense, but most cannot, so McKinley better find the right fit. I wouldn’t like to see him end up in NY.

Charles Harris: Showed way more explosion on film than at the combine. So much so that I’m not sure what to think of him. The combine numbers suggest he’s a marginal athlete that will struggle to stay on the field in the pros. The film says he can create negative yardage plays against both the run and the pass in the NFL. The general trend in the NFL is to value athleticism over film. I hate ignoring what I’ve seen, but I think I’d have to pass on Harris unless he fell in the draft.

Tim Williams: Almost universally compared to Bruce Irvin. Excellent athleticism. Scouts are concerned about potential off-field issues. My issue is that we have very little data on his ability to play the run. Also, he isn’t as explosive as Irvin was, so I think if he’s going to be a pass-rush specialist, he’ll need to develop his game. I’m not a huge fan of Williams, off-field issues aside.

Jordan Willis: Great production. Great combine. Looks awkward on film because there are a lot of instances where he gets close to the ball, but is just short of making the play. I see a great pro and wouldn’t be shocked if he snuck into the first round or went very early in the second. Just a great mix of speed and power. He’d look great in green, hint, hint.

Carl Lawson: I have no faith that he’ll be able to withstand the physicality of the NFL. He had numerous injuries at LSU. If he can stay health, you’re looking at a very strong linebacker with a great initial burst. If he can stay on the field, he’s a potential first-round talent, but that’s a big if given his history. I think I’d look elsewhere.

T.J. Watt: Draft T.J. Watt. He won’t be nearly as effective against the run as his brother, but he’s a more natural pass rusher. He can blitz or drop back into coverage. He’s still learning the position and might need to spend some time on the sideline while he’s learning it, but the long term potential is enormous. SackSEER loves him two, putting him behind only Myles Garrett.

Ryan Anderson: Limited athletically, but made the most of his skills. You see him making play after play on film. Lacks great speed or quickness, but makes up for it with great effort and solid power. I’ll note it was unusually hard to get him off balance. That, combined with great recognition, led him to be in the right position to make a play far more often than would be expected. It’s a cliché, but he’s a great football player, if not a great athlete.

Tyus Bowser: Another SackSEER favorite. Explosive on film. Great reaction time against the pass, with very long arms. Can knock the ball down at the line of scrimmage, and even pick up a few interceptions. A bit too small to play on the line, so will need to develop better coverage skills. Either that, or be a pure pass rush specialist. It’s an open question how much he can bulk up while maintaining his burst. If he can add 15-20 pounds and stay explosive, he’ll end up being a steal.

Dawuane Smoot: Two years ago he dominated single-blocking. This year offenses keyed on him and he struggled. He gives a solid effort, but the overall talent is lacking. I don’t see much upside potential here and wouldn’t grab him in the first three rounds.

DeMarcus Walker: Dude’s production far exceeded his athletic gifts. He’s going to get drafted, but it’s hard to see him making an impact in the NFL. Not a player I’d grab in the first three rounds.

Derek Rivers: I’d be shocked if he fell out the second round. He suffered a bit in my numbers because the competition he faced at Youngstown State was weak and he probably should have been more productive. However, his talent is enormous and he should be able to get to the quarterback. Notably weak against the run, which is something he’ll need to work on with the coaching staff. Even so, I’d love to see him in NY. Actually, he gets an even higher grade than that: I’d hate if he ended up on the Patriots.

Duke Riley: A pure weakside linebacker. He only started for one year and is still a bit raw. Great field coverage. Might need some time to adjust to the NFL, despite playing at LSU. I expect him to be a quality performer by his third season.

Defensive Tackles

Please note that some of these guys are DT/DE hybrids. Similarly, some of the players I am going to list at defensive end can play at tackle in a 4-3 defense. I just wanted to have some kind of separation for edge rushers.

Full Ratings available here:

https://sethburn.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/2017-nfl-draft-ratings/

Jonathan Allen: He could play pretty much any position on the defensive line, but I think I like him most as a 4-3 tackle or a 3-4 end. Dominant in college, even by Alabama standards. There are concerns he already has a lot of wear and tear on his body. Arthritic shoulders are a major concern, and could cause his draft stock to fall deep into the first round. Alternatively, he could be given a clean bill of health and go in the top five. I don’t have access to that data. If he can stay on the field, I have him as the #2 player in the class, behind only Myles Garrett. It’s a big if, but I think I’d pump the fist were he to end up in NY.

Malik McDowell: Hard pass. His best games were incredible. Dominated Notre Dame, forced Alabama to change their blocking scheme. Thing is, there weren’t enough good games. Was he hurt? Did he quit on his teammates? I don’t know. I do know that his interviews went very poorly. He is going to fall to the point where a team refuses to pass on his talent regardless of his bust potential.

Caleb Brantley: Without question he’s the weirdest DT I’ve ever seen. I mean that, and it isn’t even close. Watch him when he gets to attack. He loves trying to split a gap or get around a guy one on one. Looks like a surefire first-round pick. Now, watch him when he gets double teamed and can’t split or get around them. What the fuck was that? Did he just literally stop playing football? He must have gotten his spikes caught in the field or something. Wait, it just happened again. Dude literally gives up when he feels he can’t make a play. He also didn’t have great conditioning and had to come out of the game a lot. However, his best plays are incredible. He can beat the snap and go through the offensive line like it was made of butter. I suspect he’s going to fall a bit in the draft, so maybe he’ll provide a good value to the team that drafts him. I’m a little concerned about his bust potential though.

Chris Wormley: Dude is a shark. He just keeps moving forward, which made him the king of the coverage sack. I’m not knocking that. Even if the QB holds the ball, someone has to get there and bring him down. Excellent reaction against the run. Wormley was criticized for not being more dominant given his physical attributes, but I loved what I saw of him on film. I’d be happy to see him end up in NY.

Dalvin Tomlinson: Chose Alabama over Harvard. One year starter. Some concern about his knees. Very strong, with good initial burst off the line. Projected as a nose, but he can be a 3-4 end or a 4-3 tackle as well. Impressed teams at the combine. He should be a solid rotation guy for whomever drafts him.

Jaleel Johnson: Highest floor of any nose tackle in the class. Solid power, exceptional quickness. Very smart player who reads and reacts to the initial action very quickly. What he lacks is the next level of athleticism that it takes to dominate in the NFL. I still like him a lot, but know that the ceiling isn’t very high.

Montravius Adams: He’s a conundrum. He made Ethan Pocic look awful, and was a man among boys at the Senior Bowl practices. However, his film was only “alright”. He managed to improve every year, and his senior season was solid. He has the talent to keep improving and has a higher ceiling than anyone other than Allen or McDowell. The problem here was that while his straight line speed is top notch, his agility and reaction time was awful. Can that be improved with coaching? I don’t know. He improved his Senior year by increasing his effort/intensity. I’d have to defer to the coaching staff on this one. If they feel it’s correctable, go get him. If not, trust the film and pass on him.

This is one of the weakest offensive line classes in a long time. We may see some reaches because of that.

Full ratings here:

https://sethburn.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/2017-nfl-draft-ratings/

Offensive lineman

Ryan Ramczyk: He’s a very tough player to evaluate. He hurt his hip early in the year and still managed to put up very good numbers. Is the hip injury going to be a nagging problem? Or does he have another gear? Answering that would require medical information I am not privy to. If the hip isn’t an issue, we’re looking at an excellent option at either tackle position. What he lacks in raw power he makes up for with solid technique and excellent reaction speed. Even in pass protection he’s very good at making the first move and winning the initial point of contact. That’s hard to teach, and is why he’s my #1 tackle prospect for the draft.

Forrest Lamp: It’s anyone’s guess what his position is in the NFL. He dominated at left tackle at Western Kentucky, but he might end up being a right tackle, a center, or a guard in the NFL. There are concerns about Ramczyk’s arm length, and Lamp’s are 1.5 inches shorter. That makes it very tough to project him as a tackle. It’s hard to get great value out of a guard (with notable exceptions), so if a team doesn’t view him as a tackle, they’d probably want to try him at center. No matter where he ends up, I expect him to become a quality football player.

Cam Robinson: There are some concerns about his shoulders, but nothing major. Similarly, his off-field issues have been blown out of proportion. Unlike Lamp and Ramczyk, he has the prototype build to play left or right tackle. His skill set fits right tackle slightly better as he’s a natural mauler, but he’ll be given a chance to prove himself at left tackle first. He has a bad habit of overcompensating if he feels he is getting beat on a play, and draws an unacceptable number of flags as a result. Coaches are going to need to improve his footwork such that he isn’t falling behind as often early in the play. He has a higher ceiling than Ramczyk or Lamp and should be a high quality starting tackle in a year or two.

Garrett Bolles: Hard pass. He’s a 25 year old rookie. He looked great on film getting to the second level, but generally that was against weaker competition. Robinson had a problem with penalties due to poor technique. Bolles committed penalties that were just indefensible (he had 17 last year). I’ll grant he’s an elite athlete who had a great combine. Well, in terms of speed and agility. He didn’t lift because of a pectoral injury, so his power is still an unknown. And then there was the generally useless Wonderlic. Given concerns about his mental makeup a nine isn’t a great sign. The bust potential here is off the charts.

Dan Feeney: If not for a concussion that cost him four games last season, he might have been a potential first-round pick. It’s an injury that scares teams, so it will cost Feeney. Otherwise, he’s a four year starter and prototypical right guard. If he can stay on the field there is no reason for him to fail at the next level.

Taylor Moton: He’ll get a shot to start at right tackle. He has excellent power, but was somewhat vulnerable against speed. NFL coaching might be able to fix that. If not, he’s shown himself to be a quality right guard, which isn’t that bad of a floor once you get past the first round. I expect him to be a productive player and would be very happy if he fell to the Jets in the third round.

Dion Dawkins: Had some awesome moments on film. Best highlight package of any lineman in the draft. Two major problems: 1. Gets beat far too often. It’s not just speed rushers beating him around the edge. There are times when it looks like he isn’t cognizant of his responsibility on the play and takes himself out of position. 2. Doesn’t have the proper physique to play tackle, or the quickness to play guard. Overall, he has NFL-level talent, but finding the right fit is going to be key. High ceiling if a team can maximize his talent.

Antonio Garcia: Scouts are all over the place on him, with good reason. He was a lightly regarded prospect who has improved each year. He’s a natural left tackle in a draft lacking them. The step up from Troy to the NFL is huge, but the NFL needs left tackles, so look for someone to roll the dice on him earlier in the draft than his current skill level would suggest. Like Dawkins, he has a high ceiling, so a patient team could grab a long term left tackle at a budget price. I think he’s a worthy gamble.

Ethan Pocic: For a guy rated as the top center in the draft Pocic got his ass kicked on film a lot. Lamp is going to be off the board well before Pocic, but if I needed a center, I think I’d rather gamble that Lamp can hold the position down. Pocic is versatile and can play guard or tackle if asked. Thing is, I don’t particularly like him at either of those positions. His height is also a concern, but the real problem is an NFL-quality nose tackle should eat him alive. I’d pass on Pocic.

Dorian Johnson: The more film I watched of him, the more I liked him. He doesn’t have the power to dominate people, but he was always where you wanted him to be. Played clean and drew very few flags. He definitely needs to get stronger, but that’s something a NFL strength coach can take care of, especially for his second season. I’m a fan of Johnson and expect him to succeed in the NFL.

Roderick Johnson: Played against elite competition at Florida State. You’d think their starting left tackle would have a better draft grade, but he wasn’t all that dominant. He looks the part with great size and length, but then you watch the film. He might be a better fit for right tackle in the NFL, but it is hard to tell. I wouldn’t take him until the later rounds.

It’s not a great class, but there should be a few gems here. Scroll down for the tight ends.

The full ratings here:

https://sethburn.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/2017-nfl-draft-ratings/

Wide Receivers

John Ross: Speed kills, and no one in history has displayed more at the combine (4.22 forty yard dash). He also has elite agility and is the most dangerous playmaker in the draft. Defensive coordinators are going to need a plan for him from day 1. Look for whomever drafts him to teach him how to draw DPI flags from cornerbacks who can’t keep up with him. He plays a more physical game than might be optimal given his size and injury history. That injury history is the only red flag on an otherwise elite receiver.

Mike Williams: Very productive against tough competition at Clemson. Where Ross wins with speed, Williams wins with power. He has an excellent catch radius, and has shown an ability to muscle cornerbacks away from the football. He caught an absurd 81% of his contested targets last season. He’s shown elite vision, which helped make him dominate in the red zone. He’s also been effective as a blocker in the run game, although his technique is going to need to improve here. There are two issues with Williams. The first is he broke his neck in the opening game of the 2015 season. That’s an injury that scares teams. The second is his lack of top end speed means he is going to need to become a much more precise route runner to achieve success at the next level. Because of his success at Clemson, Williams is expected to be the first wide receiver off the board, but I know I’d prefer Ross.

Corey Davis: Dominated the MAC. Ohio State made him look bad, but he held his own against Wisconsin. It’s hard to judge the film when most defenses had no one who could match up with him. I wonder if he’s the best receiver in the class, or if his ceiling is a #2 WR in the NFL. His preparation skills are exceptional. The test will be if he can win battles at the line of scrimmage and achieve separation. I have him higher than where he’ll be drafted. The dream scenario is that he falls to the Jets in round 2. Here’s hoping. (Note: There is a lot of variance in his draft range, as it’s possible some teams have him as the #1 WR on their board. His film is eye-popping, and it really is tricky to know how much of that is due to the competition.)

Curtis Samuel: It appears there is a law that every evaluation of Chris Samuel must compare him to Percy Harvin. He’s a WR/RB/KR. Excellent speed, although not as elusive as you’d expect. Despite numerous highlights, he was never dominant at Ohio State. My concern is that he doesn’t have great hands, and a few high-profile drops may end up stunting his development. The speed is seductive, but I think I’d prefer to look elsewhere.

JuJu Smith-Schuster: Tremendous power. He’s a former safety and has no concern about playing an unusually physical brand of football. However, he doesn’t have great size or speed, so he doesn’t generally give his quarterback a large target to hit. Extremely competitive, to the point of being a loose cannon. I like him as a possession receiver working short-to-midrange routes. It occurs to me, he would be a great fit with Trubisky.

Zay Jones: Pulled off the excellent Senior Bowl-Combine duo. Tremendously productive at East Carolina. Not a dominant athlete, but looked fast on film. It’s tough to judge how much one should read into the Senior Bowl, but at this point I’d feel comfortable saying that whomever drafts him is getting no worse than a competent #3 WR.

Cooper Kupp: If it’s tough to judge film from receivers in the MAC or other lower level FBS conferences, it’s downright brutal to try and project from FCS film. Kupp was awesome at Eastern Washington, with one exceptional skill: Great hands. He caught a ton of balls that were off target. Doing that repeatedly builds trust, even if you don’t have great playmaker ability. Going to be an effective slot receiver, if not much more.

Taywan Taylor: Polarizing prospect. I felt like he had great hands, but the stats say he dropped more than his fair share. Just average speed, but makes up for it with exceptional quickness. He is likely to get a shot at being a return man as well. He dominated Conference USA, but it might take some time to adjust to NFL speed.

Carlos Henderson: He had the college version of a “contract year”, exploding last season for 82 receptions, 1,535 yards, and 19 touchdowns, plus a 25.0 average on returns (with one touchdown). He was Conference USA’s offensive player of the year, and its special teams player of the year. Nice combo. However, he ran a very simple offensive scheme. He’s also been injury prone, which is problematic as physicality is a major part of his game. I’m skeptical he’ll be able to stay on the field.

Isaiah Ford: Sometimes a guy impresses you on film. Ford did just the opposite for me. I saw poor hands, no speed, a lack of quickness, and not much in the way of power. He wins with technique and execution. I wonder if he’s already maxed out. If so, he’s going to find it very hard to succeed at the next level. I’d pass on Ford.

ArDarius Stewart: Converted quarterback. Still capable of running the wildcat. Solid mix of speed and strength, with above-average hands. He’s capable of running pretty much any route in an NFL playbook. Should provide a good value to whomever takes him.

Amara Darboh: Like Stewart, he has a good mix of speed and strength. He also has huge hands, which makes his issues with drops even more puzzling. He really should have been more successful in college given his physical attributes. He’s shown an ability to run a full route tree, so I’d expect that with improved technique he should be a much better receiver at the next level. He isn’t a project as much as a work in progress. I’d expect him to be a #2 WR in a few years.

There’s a pretty big drop after the big three. Mike Williams has the pedigree, John Ross has the explosiveness, while Corey Davis is the wildcard. Once they are off the board, I’d probably roll the dice on Zay Jones. This isn’t a great class of receivers, although that will be somewhat mitigated by the quality of the tight ends.

Tight Ends

O.J. Howard: Incredible talent. He’s an excellent receiver, and an above-average blocker. Huge hands, solid speed, excellent agility. He’s the complete package and the best tight end prospect in years. It’s unusual to have the top tight end be a potential top-10 pick, but Howard is that good. Sixth overall would be a little high, but I wouldn’t complain if the Jets snagged him early.

David Njoku: Where O.J. Howard is a great athlete, Njoku is a freak athlete. He was a bitch to tackle in college and should take that trait with him to the pros. Very long arms makes for an enormous catch radius. Most years he’d be the first tight end off the board. He has a lot to learn in regards to routes and technique, but his ceiling is the roof. Just have some patience with him.

Evan Engram: 234 pounds, 4.37 forty-yard dash. This tight end class is nuts. He’s more polished than Howard or Njoku. He’s not a great blocker, and may end up being used as a big wide receiver. He’s been described as a walking mismatch and defenses are going to need an elite safety or linebacker to match up with him. The Jets will likely pass on Howard, but Engram would be a nice consolation prize.

Gerald Everett: Everett looks the part, and had a decent combine. He dominated lower level competition at South Alabama. However, he has small hands, and hasn’t shown a great ability to block. He doesn’t have the pure receiving skills to make a living as a split end, so I’m not sure what his niche is. He’s kind of a tweener, and I think I’d pass on him.

Jake Butt: Good size, but unusually short arms (32 inches). He’s coming off of knee surgery and might start the season on the pup list. He lacks the speed to threaten the defense, so he’s limited to being a short range receiver. Given that, he really needs to become a better blocker to stay on the field. I feel bad saying this, but I’m just not a fan of Butt.

Bucky Hodges: Hodges offers a great mix of size and speed. He was a better blocker than I expected, although his technique is awful and will need to be relearned at the next level. Ditto for his pass catching technique, which led to far too many drops. If he doesn’t fix that, he’ll look great on the sideline. This is a high risk-high reward player. I’d gamble on him being better than Butt or Everett, but I think I’d rather avoid the dilemma entirely by taking one of the three gems earlier.

Jordan Leggett: A much higher floor than Hodges. Leggett impressed at Clemson. He has good hands and body control. He also has a good sense of how to get open despite not having great speed or agility. Where Hodges is a lottery ticket, Leggett should be a dependable annuity. If I had to choose between the two, I’d probably gamble on Hodges because he could end up being a star, and Leggett doesn’t have that kind of talent.

Overall this is an excellent tight end class. There are other players who should be available in the fourth round or beyond who can play in the NFL. The top three are tremendous and each should make their team happy if given time.

Earlier today I asked the question on Twitter which of these respective teams is stronger:

I’m not sure what the answer is, but there was a lot of immediate response taking the World. I decided to put the 53 man roster for the first round team together. Note, since no punter was drafted in the first round, I went with Ben Roethlisberger since he has punted with some success on occasion. Seabass would likely be able to handle the responsibility as well.

Peyton Manning QB
Aaron Rodgers QB
LaDainian Tomlinson RB
Adrian Peterson RB
Edgerrin James RB
Randy Moss WR
Calvin Johnson WR
Larry Fitzgerald WR
Odell Beckham Jr. WR
A.J. Green WR
Julio Jones WR
Andre Johnson WR
Tony Gonzalez TE
Greg Olsen TE
Orlando Pace OT
Walter Jones OT
Joe Thomas OT
Ryan Clady OT
Alan Faneca OG
Mike Iopati OG
Zack Martin OG
Steve Hutchinson OG
Nick Mangold C
Mike Pouncey C
Dwight Freeney DE
DeMarcus Ware DE
J.J. Watt DE
Aaron Donald DE
Julius Peppers DE
Richard Seymour DT
Vince Wilfork DT
Ndamukong Suh DT
Gerald McCoy DT
Kevin Williams DT
Terrell Suggs OLB
Von Miller OLB
Khalil Mack OLB
Shawne Merriman OLB
John Abraham OLB
Luke Kuechly ILB
Patrick Willis ILB
Brian Urlacher ILB
Charles Woodson CB
Darrelle Revis CB
Nnamdi Asomugha CB
Patrick Peterson CB
Champ Bailey CB
Ed Reed S
Troy Polamalu S
Earl Thomas S
Eric Berry S
Sebastian Janikowski K
Ben Roethlisberger P

 

It’s been a long time since the running game was a key driver of success for NFL contenders. Generally, elite teams expect to get around 70% of their yards from the passing game. The percentage in the first half is even higher, as you’ll see elite teams try to eat clock in the second half. As such, the value of running backs has dropped. Last year we saw Ezekiel Elliot go 4th overall. Two years ago Todd Gurley went 10th. Before that, you’ll have to go back to 2012 to find a running back picked in the top 10: Trent Richardson, who went an absurd 3rd overall.

Leonard Fournette: We are going to see Fournette go in the top 10 this year. He’s a physical marvel, packing both elite speed and power. I spoke poorly of his versatility previously, but in retrospect I may have been unfair. He’s a reasonably solid receiver, if not an explosive one. He’s also shown a willingness to engage blitzers in pass protection, but his technique needs improvement. I’m still concerned about his long term durability given the punishment he’s going to take. I’d much prefer the Jets go in a different direction if he falls to them, but I can understand not passing on such an elite talent.

Dalvin Cook: He jumped out on film. What he lacks in top end speed he makes up for with quick acceleration and excellent body control. He has great vision and patience. There are however, two major red flags. The first is he fact he’s had three shoulder operations. Teams are concerned about his ability to stay healthy. Second, there are major off field concerns. As a general rule, talent trumps that, but running backs are considered somewhat fungible, so it may drop him on a few key draft boards.

Christian McCafferty: Tremendous athlete, but a rare offensive “tweener”. He doesn’t look to have the skills to break through the line. However, he’s awesome in the open field. He is going to embarrass some poor unfortunate linebackers who were just trying to do their job. The trick is getting him into space, which most likely means he’s going to have to do a lot of his damage as a receiver. He might end up being used in a similar fashion to how the Cardinals use David Johnson. No off field concerns here as he’s viewed as a locker-room asset. As such, he might go a bit higher than the film suggests.

Alvin Kamara: Surprisingly polarizing prospect. I see a third-down back who can provide some value in the running game. He can also be useful in the return game, and potentially as a slash RB/WR hybrid. There are rumors he bombed the interviews at the combine. He was suspended multiple times in college, and teams might decide he isn’t worth the potential headache. There is also the problem of a lack of top-end speed, especially given his lack of size. At best, a poor man’s McCafferty.

Joe Mixon: I can’t believe I didn’t notice it at first, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mixon run the ball from a snap under center. His entire career has been played out of the shotgun. Like McCafferty and Kamara, he can work as a receiver and returner. However, he’s bigger than either, and may be better able to develop pass protection skills. He missed a year at Oklahoma because there is film of him dropping a woman with a right hook. The talent is undeniable, and I expect him to be the fourth running back taken. The team that takes him is going to take a major PR hit though.

D’Onta Foreman: A downhill runner who had one good college season. A lot of the credit has gone to his blockers, but Foreman’s ability to read, recognize, and hit the hole immediately was notable. I’m less confident in his ability to provide value in the passing game, either as a receiver or blocker. He also needs to work on his carrying technique, as he’s been prone to fumbles.

Samaje Perine: More bowling ball than man. He’s short, thick, strong, and aggressive. He’s the opposite of the RB/WR slash trend that we’ve been seeing. He’s not much of a receiver, but makes up for it with solid pass protection skills. A traditional NFL back. He’s a player I’d be fine with the Jets drafting in the third-round.

Kareem Hunt: Excellent production at Toledo, but needed to impress in the combine to back it up. He didn’t. His versatility should land him in the third round. He was effective rushing or receiving, with unusually solid pass protection skills. What he lacks is top end athleticism, and might find the jump to the NFL a bit daunting.

We know who is going to be the first running back taken. The Cook-McCafferty debate could go either way. Mixon is a going to reveal which team is willing to take a PR hit in exchange for talent. If I were to look for a potential value, it’s Samaje Perine. What I want most from a running back is someone who is effective in short yardage. Perine is short and powerful, and unafraid of contact. I expect whichever team drafts him to be happy with the result.