For scouts, talent evaluators, and just football fanatics alike, this time of the year is very exciting. The NFL Draft is widely considered to be the highlight of the off season so there’s always a lot of debate, discussion, and disagreement about this prospect and that prospect and why this player should be ranked higher than that one.
As I continue to watch more film of all the players my rankings will most likely see movement, but as of now this is how I shape my Top 40 prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.
No. 40 Nick Chubb
Power runner with very good play strength. Patient, yet decisive. Waits for blocks to develop in front of him and then makes one quick cut to attack the running lane. Solid burst through the hole and into the second level. Runs behind his pads and will gain extra yards with physicality. Won’t be brought down by arm tackles. Solid play speed and is capable of stringing some moves together to maximize yards in open space.
Gets in trouble when the running lane doesn’t develop. Unable to create on his own behind the line of scrimmage. Tries to dance around and make multiple moves at the 2nd and 3rd levels instead of lowering his shoulder. Barely used in the passing game.
Pro Comparison: Christine Michael
No. 39 Courtland Sutton
WR, SMU -- The definition of a “Go up and get it” type of receiver. Has good size and is very physical. Beats the press with sheer upper body strength. Attacks the ball at its high point better than any other receiver in this draft and will break tackles with power after the catch.
Separation skills are lacking as he doesn’t have great speed and his route running technique is still a work in progress.
Pro Comparison: Alshon Jeffery
No. 38 Christian Kirk
WR who looks like a RB. Short but not small. Has a muscular build in his upper and lower body. A very good route runner who uses quickness to get separation. Has strong hands and shows the ability to adjust and catch away from his body. Very aggressive runner who will fight for extra yards. Has kick and punt return ability as well.
Doesn’t possess a great catch radius. Quicker than he is fast.
Pro Comparison: Doug Baldwin
No. 37 Carlton Davis
CB, Auburn -- Press cover corner who uses his amazing wingspan to his advantage in every way he can. Will jam, re-route, and force receivers to go where he wants them to go. Able to open hips and turn in coverage with his man down the sideline.
Has trouble against smaller, quicker receivers due to his long strides. Comes with character concerns.
Pro Comparison: Richard Sherman
No. 36 DJ Moore
WR, Maryland -- Explosive receiver with elite competitive toughness. Possesses very good speed and quickness. Hits a second gear on deep vertical routes to accelerate past DBs. Solid hands and can flash the ability to make difficult catches. Excels in the short area of the field where he can snag a quick pass and gain chunk yards after the catch.
Needs to learn how to use different speeds to his advantage to set up CBs. Doesn’t look like he’s going full speed at the route stem, allowing the corner to sit at the top of the route. Doesn’t give himself enough sideline cushion on fade routes.
Pro Comparison: Corey Coleman
No. 35 James Daniels
C, Iowa -- Very mobile. Snap to set quickness is very, sometimes excellent. Gets to DL’s outside shoulder on reach blocks with ease. Excels in the 2nd level, displaying the agility and use of hands to set at the correct angle, engage, and sustain blocks with LBs. Sets in pass protection and has good technique. Footwork is sound and base is wide throughout.
Needs to improve play strength. Marginal power at the POA. Gets little to no push in run blocking and will give up too much ground when anchoring. Hand placement gets sloppy in pass protection, often too high. Lets defenders get into chest.
Pro Comparison: Rodney Hudson
No. 34 Dante Pettis
WR, Washington -- Polished and crisp route runner. Almost no waisted steps in his footwork. Suddenness and explosion along with deceiving head and shoulder fakes help create consistent separation. Excels in all areas of the field. Possesses soft, natural hands that are able to haul in high velocity passes. Excellent punt returner.
Has some trouble with physical CBs and could still add some muscle to his frame. Long speed has been questioned by some.
Pro Comparison: Stefon Diggs
No. 33 Josh Allen
QB, Wyoming --Prototypical QB for today’s game. Looks every bit the part with ideal size, arm, and mobility. Makes throws to the outside look easy. Elite arm strength enables him to fit his passes into tight windows. Throws with touch when needed. Stats would say he was inaccurate but his receiving corps at Wyoming was lackluster. Not fast or shifty but breaks arm tackles with his strength and is tough to bring down when scrambling outside the pocket.
Needs to work on his mental processing. Doesn’t know how to properly go through progressions and throw to spots on the field rather than to receivers. Locks on to first read too much. Questionable decision making. Struggles with accuracy.
Pro Comparison: Matt Stafford / Andrew Luck
No. 32 Justin Reid
S, Stanford -- Very good mental processing and football intelligence. Quarterback of the secondary. Rarely caught out of position and has a great awareness of where the ball is going. Very versatile. Has experience playing CB. Opens hips and moves well in coverage, with very good play speed. Exceptional ball skills. Capable of playing in the box and offers good run support.
Can get caught playing too deep due to limited back pedal range. Needs to clean up footwork. Susceptible to play action and pump fakes. Gets too handsy instead of relying on technique.
Pro Comparison: Devin McCourty
No. 31 Mike Gesicki
TE, Penn State -- Athletic to say the least. Has elite speed and leaping ability. Smooth when coming off the snap and into his route. A vertical threat with a very good catch radius. Capable of making very difficult catches look routine. Still needs plenty of fine tuning as a route runner.
Relies too much on his athleticism rather than technique. Play speed doesn’t always match up with timed speed. Although willing, lacks the play strength and even adequate technique in pass protection.
Pro Comparison: Vernon Davis
No. 30 Isaiah Oliver
CB, Colorado -- Physical press cover corner with prototypical size and an enormous wingspan. Does a good job of jamming and re-routing the receiver and has good enough speed to stay with his man. One of the best run defending CB in the class. Aggressively sheds blocks and is a very good wrap-up tackler. Off coverage is where he struggles.
Doesn’t show the fluidity or open hips to stay in phase with receivers when breaking on deep digs, comebacks, or deep curls.
Pro Comparison: Trumaine Johnson
No. 29 Josh Jackson
CB, Iowa -- Ball hawk who thrives on top-notch instincts. Tall and has a very good wingspan. Smooth in and out of transitions. Has receiver-like ball skills due to his experience playing the WR position. Constantly makes plays on the ball and comes away with interceptions.
Still very raw at the position in terms of technique and discipline. Too upright in his back pedal. Susceptible to inside-breaking routes. Lacks play speed needed to stay with quick and fast receivers.
Pro Comparison: Aquib Talib
No. 28 Dallas Goedert
TE, South Dakota -- All-around and versatile skillset. Can line up anywhere in the formation. Has ideal size and a great catch radius. Play speed may be solid but knows how to change speeds to get over the top of LBs vertically. Excellent hands in traffic. Can snatch and hold onto the ball through contact. Solid run and pass blocking skills.
Doesn’t possess elite athleticism like other top tier receiving TEs do in the league. Has a tendency to round-out his routes. Has some focus drops.
Pro Comparison: Kyle Rudolph
No. 27 Rashaan Evans
LB, Alabama -- Rangy LB with very good overall athleticism. Very good play speed in pursuit. Aggressive when engaging with blockers, continuously getting push even when unable to shed. Capable of operating among trash. Powerful and violent tackler. Launches at the ball carrier with great force. Versatile and can line up at different LB spots. Good in coverage against RBs and LBs.
A little late to read and react. Tendency to over pursue. Looks for the big hit too often instead of wrapping up to secure the tackle. Pass rushing skills need work, but potential is there.
Pro Comparison: Alec Ogletree
No. 26 Calvin Ridley
Alabama WR -- Elite route runner. Very explosive and smooth getting into the route stem and coming in and out of his breaks to get separation. Knows how to use his feet, hips, shoulders, and head to set up the CB. Effective in the short, intermediate, and deep levels of the field. Very good awareness in finding the soft spots of the zones. Dangerous after the catch and can line up either on the outside or in the slot.
Has a lean frame and struggles against physical corners. Is too reliant on his explosiveness to beat the press as opposed to using his hands to help. Not a “jump ball” style of receiver.
Pro Comparison: Emmanuel Sanders
No. 25 Lamar Jackson
QB, Louisville -- A pure playmaker at the position who faces questions about his ability to throw in the pocket at a consistent level. Does display a lightning quick release and glimpses of sound mechanics. Somehow gets a great amount of velocity on his throws despite a very narrow and upright base. Improved accuracy when throwing to the middle of the field. Elite ability to elude defenders both in and out of the pocket. Elite acceleration and speed allows him to get to the edge and pull away at the 2nd and 3rd levels.
Inconsistent mechanics make his throws very erratic. Needs to widen his base and improve the placement of his lead foot. Struggles when throwing to the outside.
Pro Comparison: Tyrod Taylor / Mike Vick
No 24. Sony Michel
RB, Georgia -- Versatile RB with a slashing running style. Anticipates the running lanes with patience and an elite burst. Knows how to use different angles to avoid tacklers at the 2nd level. Very good balance and can break through arm tackles easily. Doesn’t have elite speed but good enough to not get caught from behind. A weapon out of the backfield as a receiver, setting up defenders with good route running and reliable hands. Good pass protector who displays proper technique and a willingness to take on pass rushers.
Elusiveness and ability to create is solid but sometimes unimpressive. Doesn’t have overwhelming power or play strength. Needs to take much better care of the football.
Pro Comparison: Joseph Addai
No. 23 Ronald Jones II
RB, USC -- Explosive. Lethal in space with elite speed and burst combined with very good lateral movement. Strings moves together seamlessly. Has the physical toughness and drive to run in between the tackles and runs with a good, low pad level. Despite a lighter/thin frame, isn’t afraid to be physical and fight for extra yards. Breaks tackles with wiggle, active feet, and high knees. Has shown some solid skills as a receiver in limited opportunities but still has to prove that he can be a reliable weapon in the passing game on a consistent basis.
Not a very powerful runner. Willingness is there, but strength to push the pile between the tackles isn’t.
Pro Comparison: Jamaal Charles / Chris Johnson
No 22 Sam Darnold
QB, USC -- Talented arm. Excels at throwing with anticipation and timing. Has foot quickness to stay active in the pocket and throw from a strong, wide base. Good enough arm strength. Knows when to throw fast balls in tight windows and when to throw touch passes over LBs and DBs. Very good ability to create off-script. Has the poise to stare down the gun barrel. Practically unfazed by the pass rush and by having to throw on the move.
Mechanics and technique can be a mess. Has a long and clunky release and doesn’t always set his feet resulting in loss of velocity. Overall athleticism is only adequate. Commits too many turnovers.
Pro Comparison: Tony Romo
No 21. Taven Bryan
IDL, Florida -- Explosive off the snap with the play strength to compliment. Almost always gets penetration in the backfield. Uses power to bull rush and shed blockers who aren’t ready at the POA. Capable of handling double teams and plugging up gaps. Elite play speed in pursuit. Tracks down ball carrier from the backside of play.
Still a very raw talent who needs to be taught proper technique. Gets too upright, nullifying the effectiveness of his power. Mental processing is adequate. Doesn’t show awareness of the play. Will fall for play fakes and screens.
Pro Comparison: Fletcher Cox
No. 20 Connor Williams
OT, Texans -- Very good initial quickness and use of hands on contact. Technique is very sound. Strong enough to take lock on, control, and steer. Good play strength and a non-stop aggressive attitude when executing run blocks. Has the quickness to stay with pass rushers after the initial POA. Anchors down with a low pad level and vice-like grip.
Struggles a bit in space, failing to get in front of and engage with LBs. Question marks about the effects of his injury causing his quickness and overall play to decline.
Pro Comparison: Jake Matthews / Ryan Clady
No. 19 Billy Price
C, Ohio State -- Initial quickness and agility are very good. Can snap the ball and pull out to the edge in an instant. Arm strength is almost unreal at the POA. Pushes and drives defenders out of his way. Aware and ready for stunts, twists, and delayed blitzes. Excellent motor and is always looking for work at all levels of the field.
Can get caught playing too fast and over-aggressive at times. Leaves initial block early without finishing before moving on to the next. Goes for too many cut blocks and whiffs. Footwork needs improvement.
Pro Comparison: Alex Mack
No. 18 Baker Mayfield
QB, Oklahoma -- A fiery competitor who may lack ideal size but more than makes up for it. A little unorthodox in his delivery but is effective. Good footwork to set up his throws with power and accuracy. Drives the ball downfield. Is just as accurate outside the pocket and on the move as he is inside. Looks downfield to make throws when scrambling instead of always running for yards.
Short for the position. Quicker than he is fast. The combination of his lack of speed and height might make it tough for him to adjust at the pro level.
Pro Comparison: Doug Flutie / Bruce Gradkowski
No. 17 Josh Rosen
QB, UCLA -- Most polished and technically sound passer of this QB class. Very accurate with his throws, showing great anticipation and ability to throw his receivers open. When in rhythm he’s almost automatic to hit his target. Might not have the greatest arm strength but with sound mechanics he’s able to get more than enough velocity on his passes.
Mobility is his main issue. Almost looks reluctant sometimes to move around and get outside the pocket. Doesn’t elude the pass rush well. Average ability at best when throwing on the run.
No. 16 Mike Hughes
CB, UCF -- Strong and aggressive. Elite skills in press coverage. Active hands that prevents receivers from getting into their route. Has the quickness and agility to mirror his man and stay in phase. Great closing burst when breaking on the ball for a pass break up. Outstanding ball awareness and can force a lot of interceptions.
Struggles when playing in off coverage. Gets too upright when back peddling. Tries to go low way too often to make the tackle instead of wrapping up.
Pro Comparison: Joe Haden
No. 15 Will Hernandez
OG, UTEP -- Very good quickness off the snap. Elite play strength and aggressiveness at the POA in the running game. Explodes into defenders with leverage and power. Looks like a wrecking ball at the 2nd level. Always looks to finish his blocks by getting the defenders on the ground. Anchors down in pass protection well and is constantly shuffling his feet to sustain block.
While active with hands, placement could use improvement. Has issues with getting too anxious and playing out of control and undisciplined in his assignments.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Jensen
No. 14 Maurice Hurst
IDL, Michigan -- Elite initial burst and snap anticipation. Looks as though he’s moving with the ball as it’s being snapped. Play speed, agility, and motor is great, giving him the ability to penetrate and rush the passer as well as disrupt running plays in the backfield. Can move seamlessly from gap to gap. Active hands with good hand placement at the POA.
Doesn’t have great play strength or power. Loses pad level as the play develops. Needs to be careful with his anticipation of the snap as he can be caught by a good hard count at the pro level.
No. 13 Harold Landry
EDGE, Boston -- Spent time playing as both a 4-3 DE and a 3-4 OLB, but is a better fit for 3-4. Very good explosiveness off the snap combined with very good lateral agility make him very dangerous as a disruptor in the backfield. Uses outstanding body lean and bend to get around the edge as a pass rusher. Very difficult for runners to get to the outside on him as he’s able to contain so well. Terrific backside pursuit ability.
Lacks ideal play strength and struggles at shedding blocks. Gets little to no push at POA, limiting his effectiveness when defending the run. Needs to add more diversity to his pass rushing skills.
Pro Comparison: Vic Beasley
No. 12 Denzel Ward
CB, Ohio State -- Elite level athlete with amazing speed and quickness. Great in off coverage. Shows the anticipation and ability to plant and drive at a high level. Technique with backpedal is smooth and sound. Opens hips on the route break to mirror the receiver. Has more than enough recovery speed and burst to close in on the target and make a play on the ball. Excellent ball skills. Aggressive in run support and not afraid to be physical.
Height and frame are not ideal and will get exposed by taller receivers.
Pro Comparison: Jason Verrett
No. 11 Isaiah Wynn
IOL, Georgia -- Very good quickness off the snap in the running game. Smooth when pulling and an effective blocker at the 2nd level who can eliminate LBs from the play with very good play strength at the POA. Plays with good pad level in pass protection. Anchors down with good balance and use of hands. Good mental processing. Aware of blitzers and twists. Offers versatility and could play OT when team is in a bind.
Needs to be more consistent with pad level and keeping feet moving to finish his blocks. Play strength could be a question mark against interior DL at the pro level.
Pro Comparison: Stefan Wisniewski
No. 10 Derrius Guice
RB, LSU --Physical power runner with elite balance and play strength. Excellent vision and feel for the running lanes between the tackles. Very good at setting up his blockers. North-south style but also has the agility and lateral movement to make numerous defenders miss in tight spaces. Has the contact balance to slip through first contact and arm tackles. Will make sudden cuts to nullify defenders’ pursuit angles. Possesses a nasty and aggressive attitude when running. Has good acceleration and play speed in the open field. Wasn’t used much in the passing game at LSU but does show solid hands and good route running ability.
Shows tendency to run into his blockers when hitting the hole on occasion. Still needs to improve pass protection skills.
Pro Comparison: Marshawn Lynch / Carlos Hyde
No. 9 Vita Vea
IDL, Washington -- Elite power and play strength. Has good knee bend and plants his feet into the ground firmly. Practically immovable. Has great push power at the POA and drives legs forward to get penetration. Uses hands aggressively. Excellent movement ability. 2-gap defender. Can shed blockers in an instant to make the tackle on the ball carrier. Marginal initial quickness off the snap.
Not much of a pass rusher. Needs to play with more consistent technique rather than rely on his strength all the time.
Pro Comparison: Haloti Ngata
No. 8 Roquan Smith
LB, Georgia -- Extremely athletic ILB with elite speed and metal processing. Defends the run by simply beating blockers to the running lane. Sniffs out runs to the outside. Click and close ability is best among all LBs in this class and has great instincts for how the play is developing. Executes tackles with proper technique and keeps head up. Capable of covering RBs and TEs in pass coverage.
Undersized and doesn’t have the play strength to shed blockers at the POA. Can improve in that department with better hand technique.
Pro Comparison: Deion Jones
No. 7 Derwin James
S, Florida St -- Quick and rangy S with outstanding leadership skills. Very good play speed. Can be deployed as a LB in sub-packages in addition to S. Deadliest when playing in the box or close to the LOS. Knows how to use the best pursuit angles to close in on the ball carrier or passer. Tremendous power and force when finishing. Very good mental processing and instincts, showing no hesitation to attack down on screen plays and get a jump on the throw for a pass breakup. Decisive in run support and attacks with reckless abandon. More than capable in coverage against RBs and TEs.
A bit late to read and react when in deep zone coverage. Could improve technique as a tackler, as he relies too much on his athleticism rather than wrapping up.
Pro Comparison: Eric Berry / Adrian Amos
No. 6 Jaire Alexander
CB, Louisville -- Elite mental processing and instincts. Excels at both press and off coverage and always seems to be in great position to make a play. Amazing skills at anticipating the throw and has great ball awareness as it’s in the air. Very good plant and drive ability. Excellent in transition, able to open his hips and stay in phase with the receiver seamlessly. Good ball skills, able to come down with interceptions by catching away from his body. Times his pass break ups well to rip the ball away from the receiver. Tough as nails and very confident. Played most of the season while injured.
Can get in trouble with penalties by being a little too physical at times. Lack of great height and vertical.
Pro Comparison: Chris Harris Jr
No. 5 Bradley Chubb
EDGE, NC State -- High motor pass rusher with good overall athleticism. Has some ability to play as a 3-4 OLB but has mainly been a 4-3 DE. Elite use of hands. Has a whole arsenal of finesse and power moves at his disposal. Plays with a good bend and long strides to get around the edge. Uses power and sound hand technique to go from outside to inside on OTs. Great at running stunts and twists. Pursuit in the running game is disciplined. Cuts off running lanes to the outside effectively.
Could improve quickness and pad level off the snap. Quick OL will beat Chubb to their set point and disrupt him. Needs to bend knees more for leverage and shedding blocks at a faster rate.
Pro Comparison: Chandler Jones
No. 4 Tremaine Edmunds
LB, Virginia -- OLB with rare size and athleticism. Arm length is scary and looks almost unnatural. Elite sideline to sideline range. Ability to click and close against the run is outstanding. Uses wingspan to grab and wrap up ball carriers. Has good coverage ability when matched up against RBs, TEs, and even some slot receivers. Potential as a pass rusher is very high. Flashed the ability to get around the edge with good bend.
Can still get better at using his hands to shed blocks. Mental processing takes a hit because of his tendency to fall for play fakes and get confused at complicated route schemes. Takes unnecessary angles at times, relying too much on athleticism to make a play on the ball.
Pro Comparison: Myles Jack / Anthony Barr
No. 3 Minkah Fitzpatrick
S, Alabama. Elite mental processing and ball skills. Versatile player who can play anywhere in the secondary. Very good play speed and quick feet allow him to play in the slot against quick and shifty receivers.
Excels in zone coverage when he’s able to watch the quarterback, read, and react. Doesn’t hesitate in run support and is a reliable tackler. Very good blitzer who knows how to play in traffic and shed blocks in pursuit.
A little tight in the hips, leaving room for improvement when in transition from backpedal.
Pro Comparison: Tyrann Mathieu
No. 2 Quenton Nelson
OG, Notre Dame -- Elite play strength and power. Very quick off the snap and gets terrific push at the POA. Moves well when getting to the second level and is able to locate and engage with LBs using great anticipation of angles. Sustains blocks by locking out, driving, and steering the defender to his will. Very good pass protection and anchor skills. Gets to his set points quickly. Anchors down with low pad level and outstanding use of hands. Identifies and picks up stunts and twists.
Play speed is lacking and can be a bit late when pulling.
Pro Comparison: Kelechi Osemele
No. 1 Saquon Barkley
RB, Penn State --Generational talent. Complete package at the position and the perfect mold of what an NFL RB should look like today. Elite speed, acceleration/burst, and agility. Runs like a 200-lb scatback but has the elite strength of a bulldozing power back. Dangerous receiving weapon out of the backfield. Can be split out wide and is able to run the entire route tree like a WR. Natural, reliable hands when catching the ball. Can contribute on special teams in crucial situations as a returner.
Does have some issues with hitting the correct running lane. Needs to know when to lower his shoulder into defenders and fall forward for extra yards instead of always looking to go around them.
Pro Comparison: None. Barkley is one of a kind.
NOTE: My Pro Comparison for each prospect is based strictly on playing style, not overall quality or level of play. For example, if I have a RB that is compared to Kareem Hunt, that doesn’t necessarily mean I think he’ll be as good as Hunt. That just means that Hunt’s style is the one that I believe matches his the most in terms of strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies.