Despite a tumultuous season in Gainesville for his Gators, Florida's Taven Bryan emerged as one of the nation's finest defensive line prospects this year, a hybrid end/tackle with ideal size at 6-foot-4 and 291 pounds and a refined arsenal of hand usage to dispatch blocks en route to the quarterback.
Apparently, his teammates call him J.J. Watt, and while I wouldn't directly liken him to the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, I do see a fair amount of similarities between the two.
Bryan is scheme-diverse -- he can be a run-halting strongside end who'd exploit weak right tackles in a 4-3. On third down, he can kick inside and overpower guards. In a 3-4, he'd be a quality block-eater on the outside.
1. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Chubb jumps ahead of James -- just barely -- after yet another productive game to end the regular season. And it wasn't a three-sack effort, it was a game that reminded me of the impact he can have on a contest in more than one way. Sure, he'll be a top pick for his pass-rushing skills, yet there's plenty of value in a sturdy defensive end who dominates against the run too. That's Chubb.
2. Derwin James, S, Florida State
James had a respectable game against a Florida team in disarray. While I've seen him play better this season, overall the ridiculously talented safety proved to be more than a thumping blitzer and crushing open-field tackler this year, and that's important. He's a "back seven" player who can make an impact at all three levels of the defense.
3. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Stanford's defensive line is no joke. As per usual, David Shaw's club boasts a mature, hard-to-move front four headlined by future NFLer Harrison Phillips. Nelson anchored all evening against whatever the Cardinal threw at him, which was really impressive. He looks way more comfortable on the interior than any guard I've seen in a while. The All-American just calmly blocks everything because he's so strong and has amazing technique.
4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
While Auburn's option-heavy offense exposed Alabama a bit in the Iron Bowl win, I thought Fitzpatrick had an outstanding game. He fought through blocks on outside runs to assert himself as a force against the run and held his own in coverage. I'm in the minority here, but I still like him most as a cornerback. He's a more polished version of his former teammate Marlon Humphrey who was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2017 draft and is enjoying a fine rookie year with the Ravens.
5. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Brown is one of the most unique offensive tackles I've ever scouted. Simply due to his gargantuan size, he seemingly "lumbers" as a blocker. But as you watch, you notice he repeatedly hits linebackers at the second level -- when that happens, it's game over -- and he's amazingly balanced and under control in pass-protection. He knows how to use his size and length to dominate pass-rushers of all sizes.
6. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
I'm still working on an NFL comparison for Barkley. It's not easy. He shouldn't be as shifty as he is at his size, and his vision is outstanding. Also, he's a reliable pass-catcher who'll thrive in the screen game as a professional. I think Ezekiel Elliott is more powerful and a better pass-blocker. 'Quon is more dynamic and a better receiver.
7. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The speed at which Smith plays linebacker is awesome to watch. No wasted motion. No hesitation. 100 mph on every play. And that's not to say he's caught out of position often. In fact, it's rare. That's because Smith is a tremendous athlete and has high football intelligence, and those type of linebackers are typically real difference-makers in the NFL. He'll be a blast to watch against Auburn; it'll be his biggest challenge of the season.
8. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Jackson dazzled yet again over the weekend. For my money, he's been the clear-cut best quarterback in the country besides two games -- losses to Clemson and NC State. While Jackson did struggle against the super-talented, complex defenses in those contests, he endured 10 drops (three against Clemson, seven against NC State) in those ACC defeats, per Pro Football Focus. He's gotten exponentially better in his three-year college career.
9. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Even if Hurst is the next Grady Jarrett -- which I think is closer to his "floor" than his "ceiling" -- just about every NFL team would take that in a heartbeat. Jarrett's quietly become one of the league's most effective interior defensive linemen. Hurst is similarly sized to Jarrett and disrupts the opposition's backfield the same way. He was a problem against Ohio State.
10. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Maybe my past comparison for Sutton of DeVante Parker was selling the SMU star a little short. Sutton is such a fluid mover in the open field and grabs a few "rebounds" every game. In the Mustangs' crazy win over Tulane, he had six catches for 107 yards. He's averaging 16.4 yards per grab -- which is the same figure as 2016 -- with 12 receiving touchdowns on the year.
11. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Guice is the most crafty inside runner in college football. He makes an insane number of defensive linemen and linebackers miss at the second level and usually ends his runs with a thunderous pop on a defensive back. Guice doesn't have elite gear, but he'll create a plethora of 20-to-30-yard gains in the NFL because of his efficient cuts, natural power, and leg churn.
12. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Rudolph's huge bounce-back outing came against Kansas ... so, yeah. I'm not reading into it that much. However, he drifted in the pocket well and looked to have more velocity on his fastball than in any other game the past month or so. Rudolph has produced at a crazy-high rate with two first-round caliber wideouts and a stud running back at his disposal.
13. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma
Okoronkwo was a demon off the edge against West Virginia. With Arden Key ailing once again, the bendy Oklahoma rusher jumps back into the No. 2 edge rusher in the 2018 class. Over his next two games, he'll face quality offensive lines. Still though, I think Okoronkwo has done enough this season -- and in his entire collegiate career -- to be a first-round pick. He can get to the quarterback in a hurry.
14. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Washington doesn't run a "full" route tree with the Cowboys. I don't really care about that though. He has the athleticism to run "NFL" routes well when he gets into a pro playbook, and really, how many teams have their wideouts run super-complex routes anymore? Washington will thrive on go routes, slants, and comebacks in the NFL. Most deep threats don't have his solidly built frame.
15. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
There were a few hiccups for Miller against California, but many more of his reps were clean. When watching him, his footwork and athleticism are apparent. Also, I love the nasty streak he consistently shows on down blocks and when he works into the second level. Miller is a tall, reliable left tackle.
16. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Love isn't an easy prospect for which to find an NFL comparison. He looks small on the field, yet doesn't look out of place running between the tackles and is a blur in the open field. I think there's a good amount of Chris Johnson to him, another "smaller" feature back who had immense home-run hitting ability.
17. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen made it look easy against Cal ... when he didn't have a pass-rusher in his face. And that's just it on Rosen -- when he's protected well, he almost always makes playing quarterback look like a simple gig. He has been hit quite often during his time at UCLA however, and it'll be interesting to monitor how he handles pressure in the pros.
18. Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson is an old-school cornerback. He isn't a 6-foot-2 freak with upside as a safety. He's just an lockdown boundary cornerback with smooth movement skills and arguably the best ball-in-air awareness of any secondary member in the class. He reminds me of Desmond Trufant. Jackson has seven picks and 18 pass breakups on the season.
19. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
Okorafor is my favorite size/athleticism offensive line prospect. Based on Okorafor's length and extremely light feet, I think he deserves to be a mid first-round pick and most of his best football is in front of him. With one year in an NFL strength and conditioning program he will have the physical capabilities to round out his game.
20. Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
Bryan is a new add here, and it probably shouldn't have taken me this long to be this high on him. I had him in Round 1 of a few of my mock drafts, and his play of late pushed him into the top 20 here. He was Florida's best defender against the rival Seminoles, and that's been the case for the vast majority of the season. Bryan can play anywhere on the defensive line and blends a variety of pass-rushing moves with the power needed to drive offensive linemen backward on a bull rush.
WR Anthony Miller, QB Sam Darnold, CB Denzel Ward, LB T.J. Edwards, DT Vita Vea, DE Arden Key, OT Mike McGlinchey, RB Ronald Jones, TE Mark Andrews, CB Isaiah Oliver, WR Marcell Ateman, DE Marcus Davenport