2018 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Ateman joins Washington in first-round discussion
Marcell Ateman is a big-bodied 'power forward' who can be a No. 1 wide receiver at the NFL level
NFL teams wanting a large, physical, "rebounder" at the wideout position might want to look at the receiver who played in the shadow of James Washington at Oklahoma State: Marcell Ateman.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is a menace on the perimeter, rarely losing a jump-ball situation.
After 42 receptions in his first two seasons in Stillwater, Ateman had 45 grabs for 766 yards and five touchdowns a year ago then erupted for 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns on 54 grabs in 2017. I think he's a first-round talent.
1. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Chubb is the pre-eminent edge-rusher in the 2018 class who checks all the boxes. Size. Production. Pass-rushing moves. Edge-setting strength. Athleticism. He is good.
2. Derwin James, S, Florida State
James was unsurprisingly all over the field in Florida State's easy victory over Louisiana-Monroe, a rescheduled game from early in the season. His wide-ranging skill set should -- and likely will -- make him one of if not the first defensive back off the board in April.
3. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Nelson will step into the NFL and instantly improve a team's run game, regardless of who's carrying the football. As a pass-protector, the Notre Dame star uses his strong base and balance to win much more often than not. And he's incredibly aware of blitzers.
4. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Brown has taken an important step this season -- he's now able to get to small speed-rushers on the edge and, even if initially beat, and push them past the pocket with a lot more regularity than he did in 2016.
5. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith is everywhere, and seemingly always makes his presence known with a thunderous hit. His coverage ability is underrated too. He'll face an ultra-challenging test against the Baker Mayfield-Mark Andrews duo in the college football playoff on New Year's Day.
6. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick may not be the most refined cornerback to enter the NFL over the past five years, but he's among the most athletically gifted. He's as reliable as they come against the run too, which is an oftentimes overlooked aspect of playing cornerback in the NFL.
7. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Barkley will square off -- in essence -- against the Vita Vea-led Wahington defense in an intriguing Fiesta Bowl on December 30. Running between the tackles won't be easy. Barkley has the most special talent combination among all running backs in this class.
8. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Jackson was magnificently better after his Heisman-winning campaign, and his staggering improvement has gone unnoticed by many due to Louisville's disappointing season coupled with the rise of Baker Mayfield. He's my No. 1 quarterback in this class, and I don't envision that changing.
9. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Hurst is the type of defensive tackle who earns the mega extensions in today's NFL. Low center of gravity, and explosive off the snap with keen awareness. I remember when Aaron Donald went into the pre-draft process as a consensus second- or third-rounder. He ultimately went No. 13 overall, and he's been the most dominant interior defensive linemen in football ever since.
10. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Sutton is a No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He's big, physical, controls contested-catch situations, and is relatively dynamic after the catch.
11. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Guice isn't Barkley, but it's close. He runs with insane suddenness and end-of-run power. His vision is outstanding too. I'm pumped for LSU's bowl game against Notre Dame on January 1. Will be a good test for Guice and the Tigers offensive line.
12. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Rudolph will see the fast Virginia Tech defense in the Camping World Bowl on December 28. If his shoulder injury was lingering down the stretch in the regular season, it should be close to 100 percent with all the time off.
13. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma
Okoronkwo was stymied on more pass-rush attempts by TCU left tackle Joseph Noteboom -- who'll be a draft riser -- than I expected. However, the electric edge-bender made his presence felt as per usual with a handful of hurries on Kenny Hill.
14. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
All Washington has done at Oklahoma State is produce at a high level. Sure, the scheme has helped. But the most brilliant offensive mind couldn't simply scheme an average of 64 receptions, 1,296 yards, and nearly 11 touchdowns over a three-year span. Washington is the wideout who'll immediately inject a big-play element to the attack of whichever team drafts him.
15. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Miller is a large, physically gifted offensive tackle who's been one of the bright spots on UCLA's line for the past few season. He's matured into a quality pass-protector who wins with length and footwork, which NFL teams will love.
16. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Love definitely proved his grit to those who didn't think he was one tough SOB before the Pac-12 title game. His patience, stop-and-start ability and long speed will make him a blast as a feature back in the NFL.
17. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen maaaay be done playing college football. I wouldn't mind seeing him one more time though ... against Kansas State's pass defense that's allowed 310.3 yards per game this season. Here's the book on Rosen: calm, rhythm pocket passer who checks all the boxes with his arm. Under pressure though, he's shaky, and bad decisions pop up more often than you'd like.
18. Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson is a stifling man-to-man cornerback with plus ball skills. That's it. He should be a Round 1 lock.
19. Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Vea is already ridiculously strong and polished using his hands ... imagine him after a year in an NFL strength and conditioning program. [Insert Ric Flair "Woooooooooo" here]
20. Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Darnold sneaks back into the top 20 with his big-play outing against Stanford. Yes, the Trojans leaned on the run game to beat the Cardinal, but when they needed a downfield spark, Darnold created it. He plays like a talented redshirt senior.
21. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
Miller has been a mainstay in the "honorable mention" section all season. And although he's a small wideout, he plays big with his outstanding ball skills. Receivers who flourish after the catch and can win in contested-catch situations are typically successful in the NFL, regardless of size.
22. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
Okorafor is an offensive line coach's dream. His enormous, with long arms, quick feet, and he consistently played with a balanced foundation.
23. Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
Bryan isn't as twitchy as J.J. Watt but at 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds with an array of pass-rushing moves, the comparison is actually quite logical. Bryanthat he'll be entering the 2018 draft.
24. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Ward was just named first-team All-American and rightfully so. He finished the year with 15 pass breakups, two picks, and repeated blanket coverage. If he was a few inches taller, he'd be a top-10 pick.
25. Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Williams might have the highest ceiling of any offensive tackle in the class, but a few hiccups in his injury-shortened 2017 put him at No. 25 for the time being. The pre-draft process will be vital for him.
26. T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin
Edwards isn't flashy, he just makes an impact at all levels of the field every game. On the season, he has 75 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, four interceptions, and seven pass breakups. Many 3-4 teams will be enamored with the idea of him in the middle of their defense.
27. Arden Key, DE, LSU
Key has Myles Garrett-ian size, athleticism, and pass-rushing skills. It's just that he rarely puts everything together. Injuries played a role in 2017 after he was a monster in 2016 for the Tigers.
28. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
Right now, Jones seems to be the premier "value" pick at the running back position, particularly for a team wanting to invest an "early" pick on the backfield spot. He has serious between-the-tackles toughness, and his home-run hitting power is close to Bryce Love.
29. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
Andrews has been an explosive security blanket for Baker Mayfield all season. He has special talent at 6-foot-4 and 250-something pounds. Drops happen, but he's been a spectacular pass-catching option in Oklahoma's high-powered attack.
30. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Oliver has No. 1 cornerback physical traits, especially his ability to run and change direction. After breaking up 13 passes in his first two seasons with the Buffaloes, he knocked away 12 passes this year.
31. Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State
Ateman has an overall grade remisicent of Brandon Marshall. He's big and plays up to his size with unmatched dominance at the catch point among college receivers. He demonstrated underrated yards-after-the-catch skills on a variety of screens in Oklahoma State's offense too.
32. Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
The small-school sleeper with top edge-rusher capabilities, Davenport has gradually gotten better in each of his seasons at Texas-San Antonio, and that maturation has culminated with a 8.5-sack, 17.5-tackle-for-loss senior season for the 6-foot-7, 255-pounder.
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