2018 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Highs and lows at combine lead to new Top 50
The combine doesn't drastically change evaluations, but it's an important piece of the predraft puzzle
With a sample size of data spanning nearly 20 years, the NFL combine can be utilized to compare past draft prospects with those set to the enter the professional ranks.
The yearly pre-draft event doesn't make or break a prospect -- film trumps all -- it simply serves as a tool to quantify the most likely range of outcomes for a player in the NFL.
And yes, there are outliers on both ends. Some combine freaks flop. Some combine duds shine.
Read on for a breakdown of the top 50 prospects on my board. A post-combine update of my full prospect rankings will be published later this week.
8. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: What will Hurst's heart condition do for his draft stock? Some teams will likely flag him and move him down their boards. Others won't. Because I'm not a doctor, he stays at No. 8 on my board. He looks like a future All-Pro.
11. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: He demolished the combine with a 4.38 40-yard dash, 6.71 three-cone, and rare 3.98 short shuttle.
14. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Jackson needs to sharpen his footwork on outside passes, as it currently leads to the occasional overthrow. We saw that at the combine. Between the numbers, he's as good as any quarterback in this class and moves well inside the pocket. And he's Mike Vick as a runner.
16. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: Rosen has clean fundamentals which lead to a high volume of pinpoint accurate throws. The forced tosses that pop up are worrisome, as is his game when he needs to get through multiple reads.
17. Taven Bryan, DL, Florida: The J.J. Watt comparisons at Florida are obviously going to be extraordinarily difficult for Bryan to live up to; however, the comparison is an apt one. Bryan moves much better than other 6-4, 290-pounders in college football, has a stellar first step, and flashes devastating pass-rushing moves Watt uses on a regular basis. Bryan's a truly versatile defensive lineman near the top of this class. His combine was just a tick less impressive than Watt's in 2011 at 6-5 and 291 pounds.
26. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: Brown had a combine performance to forget, but I'm relying on the film by keeping him as a first-round prospect. Brown is immensely strong and creates a long loop for pass-rushers to get to the quarterback simply due to his size and length.
31. Dorian O'Daniel, OLB, Clemson: O'Daniel reminds me of Telvin Smith of the Jaguars, an undersized swiss-army knife who was perceived to be too small for the linebacker position at the NFL level. Smith's currently one of the finest young linebackers in the game. O'Daniel is quick to diagnose play designs and has the athleticism to cover and blitz when needed. He had the fastest three-cone (6.64) and short shuttle time (4.07) at the linebacker spot at the combine.
33. Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas: Ragnow is the Bradley Chubb of centers. He checks all the boxes. Size, experience, nuanced skill, power. He's got it all and will be a quality pivot immediately in the NFL. His ankle just needs to be fully cleared.
34. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Mayfield threw with zip at the combine, which wasn't surprising. A few of his errant passes in Indy came further down the field, a small weakness of his on film, along with a tendency to turn into a runner too quickly against pressure.
35. Mike McGinchey, OT, Notre Dame
36. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
37. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
38. Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State
39. Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
40. Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
41. Holton Hill, CB, Texas
42. James Daniels, C, Iowa
44. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Ridley is just not the type of receiver I gravitate towards in the scouting process. He has a slight frame, doesn't have elite downfield speed or explosiveness, and as the combine showed, lacks premier agility.
50. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: Allen threw it very well at the combine, and I'm not just talking about the 70-yard bomb he unloaded. I liked Allen more on the re-watch -- a yearly post-combine tradition with the quarterbacks as a self check -- than I did initially, but his anxiousness after he moves from his first read and stretches of bad decision-making an accuracy are major red flags.
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