Do not confuse this for a mock draft. This list comes from my top 200 pre-draft rankings. A new set will be posted prior to day three as well.
1. NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
NFL Comparison: Flashes of Vince Wilfork
Where He Wins: 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.
Where He Fits: Likely a one or zero shade in a three man front, but don’t rule him out of four man fronts.
2. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State
NFL Comparison: La’Roi Glover (credit to Matt Waldman)
Where He Wins: 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.
Where He Fits: Likely as a three technique in a four man front, could play some in pass rushing situations.
3. DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
NFL Comparison: Michael Brockers with less of a natural anchor but more pass rush upside.
Where He Wins: Predominantly used as a 1/0 technique this season. Obviously has a natural anchor. Improving hand use to create separation. Flashes of good athleticism for someone his size. Has the necessary power and leg drive to keep his opposition off balance.
Where He Fits: Appears his career can be taken on one two ways, either as a 1 in an even front or 5 technique in an odd front. I bet he will test well at the Combine, leading many to pick the latter, but I prefer him inside. Needs to deliver a consistent initial punch.
4. TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
NFL Comparison: Does some Jimmy Graham-like things, but more along the lines of what many want Vance McDonald to be.
Where He Wins: A matchup nightmare. Uses his frame against corners and safeties to gain a positional advantage. Can do the same with safeties while creating space with fluid routes. An easy mover against linebackers. Has always been a willing blocker in space, but he has added an inline blocking element to his game. Getting stronger at the catch point when climbing the ladder. Presents some yards after catch skills.
Where He Fits: A receiving tight end in 12 personnel. Can play out on the edge, in the slot, and has added an inline blocking element to his game.
5. G Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
NFL Comparison: Louis Vasquez
Where He Wins: Has great balance, rarely on the ground. Does not possess a punishing first punch, but certainly has the movement skills to mirror defensive linemen and is active when looking for rushers.
Where He Fits: Has experience at tackle but should play guard at the next level.
6. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler
Where He Wins: Has an incredible arm, not only when discussing velocity but also touch. Is forced to throw a lot of screens, but flashes upside as a vertical passer when given the opportunity. Shows athleticism when scrambling outside of the pocket. Aren’t many windows he can’t test.
Where He Fits: Doesn’t always throw from a balanced base but has improved willingness to take a hit on release.
7. Edge player Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
NFL Comparison: Cliff Avril
Where He Wins: Line him up wide as a 7 or 9 and let him run to a spot in the backfield. Explosive off the snap and can win around the corner, on inside moves, or when engaging into the opponents’ chest.
Where He Fits: Many will attempt to project him to an outside linebacker role and drop Attaochu into coverage. I do not see it. He played that role through his junior season, but was so much better as a senior with limited responsibilities in a disruption role.
8. Edge player Scott Crichton, Oregon State
NFL Comparison: Some Charles Johnson in his style of play.
Where He Wins: Power rusher who wins through his blocker. Deliver a strong punch with extension to keep them off balance and on skates. Can shed after generating depth. Powerful finisher and strong run defender thanks to his ability to shed. Obtains backfield vision well.
Where He Fits: Does not bend well, so straight-line assignments and responsibilities will be best.
9. Off LOS LB Telvin Smith, FSU
NFL Comparison: Danny Trevathan
Where He Wins: Closing speed is outstanding. Much more physical than many prospects his size, strong finisher. Has enough trail speed to stick with crossing routes and has a knack for undercutting the receiver. Has enough length to fight off blocks. Attacks the downhill gaps to make tackles for loss.
Where He Fits: I read a lot of evaluators wanting to move Smith to safety, further away from the football. Why? I disagree with this idea. I think Smith can thrive as a nickel backer early in his career. 2) We get too focused on fitting prospects into position labels rather than focusing on responsibilities.
10. OL Brandon Thomas, Clemson
NFL Comparison: Rodger Saffold
Where He Wins: Has a great first punch and an athletic lower half to mirror pass rushers on the edge or prevent them from working inside. That athleticism and length will prevent him from being knocked for lack of ideal height. Can bend at the knee, absorb and redirect momentum. Has enough of a grip to keep opponent latched when initial line is thwarted.
Where He Fits: I can see Thomas as a tackle or guard. Has shown the ability to work in tight spaces, but also did a great job on an island against Clowney.
(Recently suffered a torn ACL, so might not be selected until the third-round)
11. TE Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
NFL Comparison: Baby Gronk?
Where He Wins: Displays good speed when running down the seam. Has flashed winning with breaking routes or bodying defensive backs at the catch point. A very good blocker for the position.
Where He Fits: It is difficult to project Niklas right now. First, his best trait is blocking. He was kept in during pass protection situations because of it. But receiving and complete TE skills are there.
12. WR Marqise Lee, USC
NFL Comparison: Reggie Wayne with drop issues.
Where He Wins: 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.
Where He Fits: Likely outside receiver who gets vertical with fluid routes and long speed. Can easily peel back patterns and create separation when working towards the quarterback.
13. S Terrence Brooks, FSU
NFL Comparison: Poor man's Jairus Byrd
Where He Wins: Loves to tackle at waist level. Recognizes and reacts to plays more often than he can finish them. Not afraid to fill the lane and lower the shoulder to stop a running back's momentum. Displays good range to undercut passes at the catch point. Even baits the QB.
Where He Fits: Has free safety experience, which is tough to come by in this class. Lots of single high looks where he is the last line of defense.
14. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
NFL Comparison: Martellus Bennett
Where He Wins: Displays enough agility to be detached from the line of scrimmage but also can in inline. Has the body control to win at the catch point. Movement skills are there to win in the short and intermediate areas. Can be a more than adequate blocker when willing.
Where He Fits: Likely an inline TE but is not stuck there.
15. OL Joel Bitonio, Nevada
NFL Comparison: Riley Reiff
Where He Wins: Very athletic lower half. More of an occupier than power blocker, but it works for him. Bends at the knees and ankles to absorb momentum and redirect it. That compensates for lack of upper body strength.
Where He Fits: Could see him as a guard or tackle, but I prefer him at the former. Rushers with a head of steam tend to get under his pads and generate initial push.