Just like my pre-draft rankings, I have separated the quarterbacks from other positions (page three). Simply put, they are a different breed and if a team considers a quarterback prospect a quality player, he transcends rankings.
WHW = Where he wins. This is easily the most important part of every on-field evaluation.
The * indicates a non-senior prospect.
1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina*
WHW: Can launch out of his stance to get two or three steps in the backfield. Quick hands to shed immediately and has the length to create separation with strong grip to shed. Heavy latch with leverage and power to disengage. An extreme athlete who covers a lot of ground. Dips shoulders to evade or turn the corner. Also wins when asked to loop inside. Will appeal to every scheme. Mostly lines up as a right defensive end.
2. OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
WHW: The lightning-quick pass rusher is able to gain an advantage on the edge and keep it thanks to his burst off the line, ability to cut off either foot towards the quarterback, and flexibility to bend around the corner. He closes distances quickly, which can be effective from a variety of alignments, and Barr is a punishing finisher.
3. T Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
WHW: Doesn’t sit back and wait, finds contact through his hands and is an aggressive blocker. Obtains inside hand positioning and adjusts if necessary. Athletic feet to keep proper shoulder alignment, which prevents bending from the waist. Displays ability to bend at the knee to absorb and redirect. Sets up cut blocks and drives through with force. Moving from right to left tackle.
4. LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
WHW: Very little wasted movement. Lines up as inside linebacker behind three and four man fronts. Has so much range, chases down athletic quarterbacks to the edge. Same range is visible in pass coverage. Contacts crossing routes and keeps footwork to sustain and trail. Works over top of blocks with quick steps. Keeps nice vision at the second level by strafing then attacks uphill. Will finish tackles.
5. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson*
WHW: The combination of burst and smooth movements in and out of his breaks or after catch moves is great. Hands catcher away from his body. An explosive player with the ball in his hands, gets up to high gear very quickly. Will go across the middle and catch passes in tight windows. Cuts routes off very quickly. Has balance to stay up beyond first defender. Wins from slot or outside.
6. S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama*
WHW: Has excellent length for the position. Controlled aggressiveness when closing towards the line of scrimmage. Not a watcher, he gets in the action. Reads run and reacts quickly, even from single high. Has seen time from free or strong safety. Capable in playing man and zone situations, either near or off the line of scrimmage. A really, really good safety.
7. DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame*
WHW: Lines up as a nose tackle or shade in a three man front. Can work over top of a block and create penetration at the same time. Stops momentum very quickly and changes direction well for a big man. Has the leg drive to penetrate face up and strength to shed it close spaces. Can disrupt the run upfield or hold his spot with anchor versus the run. Has some Vince Wilfork to him.
8. CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State*
WHW: Attacks the jam or blocking receiver, frequently gets into the action. Will play off or press man coverage, attacks the catch point by cutting in front of the target. Even plays on special teams. Trails in close distances and prevents the sliver of separation at the catch point. Makes things difficult on the opposition.
9. OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State*
WHW: Long and lean. Projects to weakside linebacker. His speed to the edge is excellent. There are some wasted movements when working the backside, but once the target and ally are located he gets there in a hurry. Zone drops are smooth. Asked to blitz from inside and on the edge. Takes tight angles into the backfield on edge runs.
10. OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Fulton: Mack vs. Miller
11. DT Dominique Easley, Florida
WHW: Easley’s success inside compared to when on the edge is a no contest. His quickness to shoot face up gaps causes instant disruption, displaying quick hands to keep separation and a forward momentum. He impacts games when gaining promising positioning.
12. TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
13. CB Jason Verrett, TCU
WHW: Active player who doesn’t wait to react. Keeps close trailing distance and makes tackles for a loss on crossing routes by forcing receivers back. Quick in his movements once diagnosing and locating. Has great vision, baits quarterbacks from off man with success. Coverage versatile. Hides blitz very well.
14. T Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama*
WHW: Left tackle. Does occasionally bend at the waist but is athletic enough to recover and regain balance. Best when keeping separation thanks to great length. Can get a bit short in his drops, but again, has the athletic lower half to react and keep positioning. Better in pass protection than run blocking.
15. WR Marqise Lee, USC*
WHW: Long, lean strider. Best as a straight-line receiver. Doesn't mind chipping the edge when in motion or finishing off runs with low shoulder. Obvious burst of quickness in first or second step, then it builds after that. Lines up in the slot and outside, smooth runner in his breaks to avoid contact. Frequently sent in motion. Hands catcher. Can make people miss in the open field, but doesn't have outstanding lateral agility.
16. DE Aaron Lynch, USF*
WHW: Very quick movements in tight spaces. Looked lean in 2011 and has lost weight since, which will make things interesting. Turns poor positioning into positive situations with length and foot speed. Plays high but lifts and shrugs to create leverage. If technique and pad level work out, watch out. Tough to designate left or right defensive end right now.
17. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State
WHW: Sutton takes advantage of space. Whether it be shooting past reach blocks in the sliver of time afforded to him thanks to an animated first step and forward lean, or hand use and quick feet to generate that separation on his own, Sutton finishes with closing speed. His flexibility to bend and gain positive positioning is tough to find.
18. TE Eric Ebron, UNC*
19. CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
20. T Taylor Lewan, Michigan
WHW: Wide stance, wants to find contact through his hands. Has an aggressive mentality, but that can get him in trouble. Even if positioning is off balance, his strong base helps anchor and stop momentum. Better run blocker than pass protector, but wins when gaining a latch in either situation. Asked to pull inside and lead blocks well.
21. WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M*
22. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State*
23. CB Ifo Ekpre-Olumu, Oregon*
WHW: Field side corner. Won’t always engage blockers but will attack full speed when lining up ball carriers in the open field. Attempts to disrupt catch point when receiver high points target. Top end closing speed. Mirrors in tight man coverage but also displays press bail skills.
24. T Antonio Richardson, Tennessee*
WHW: Attacks defender’s shoulder in the running game with strong first contact. A bit top heavy with forward lean in pass protection but feet stay in solid positioning. Initial pass set is quick, would like to see knee bend and strong plant to redirect momentum.
25. RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin*