Minor grading tweaks after the NFL Scouting Combine are complete, so it's time for my first Top 50 Big Board of draft season. And of course, receivers and edge rushers dominate the list. There are a few surprise names high, and a few "consensus" top prospects further down my rankings or not included at all. That's just how everything worked out with my grading system.
As for said grading system, one key element to keep in mind for every prospect: I assign extra points based on how valuable I view the position they play, and running backs are at the bottom, with no "Position Addition."
Let's get to it.
1. Kyle Hamilton, S1, Notre Dame
He excels with: Size, length, range, versatility, blitzing acumen, tackling reliability, coverage capabilities, elite closing speed
Areas of concern: Coming off injury, ran slower than expected at combine
Hamilton brings the best blend of on-field brilliance, athleticism, high floor and high upside in this class, and the safety position is increasing in value. I don't care that he ran slower than expected in Indianapolis. He can excel in every facet of playing safety today.
2. Derek Stingley Jr., CB1, LSU
He excels with: Elite ball skills, loose hips/ankles to stay in phase, high-end speed
Areas of concern: Shorter with shorter arms than expected, best season was 2019, coming off injury
Stingley feels like he could be the steal of Round 1, if he falls out of the top 10. Yes, the 2019 season was somewhat of a perfect storm, but his fluidity and ball skills are special.
3. Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE1, Michigan
He excels with: Loaded pass-rush moves arsenal, speed-to-power conversion, deceptive bend, high energy
Areas of concern: Shorter arms, burst is good, not great
Because of his shorter arms, there's a tiny collective stock down movement for Hutchinson. He's the exact type of edge rusher who can be instant impact and get better every season early in his career. That was the case at Michigan, and he's become an advanced rusher.
4. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE2, Oregon
He excels with: Freaky athleticism, burst, bend, easy power
Areas of concern: Didn't have to rely on hand work often in college, could add more weight
Thibodeaux feels a lot like Danielle Hunter. Similar size, testing numbers, and both relied heavily upon their athleticism that gave them a huge advantage in college. With more reliable hands, Thibodeaux can be an All-Pro type.
5. Evan Neal, OT1, Alabama
He excels with: Gargantuan size, immense length, high-caliber athleticism, bulldozer abilities in the run game
Areas of concern: Lacking grip strength, off-balanced reps in pass pro and at second level
Neal's film isn't flawless. His body and what it could become should be a scary thought for edge rushers. And, the Alabama star shouldn't be able to move as rapidly as he does in small spaces.
6. Ahmad Gardner, CB2, Cincinnati
He excels with: Intimidating length, amazing fluidity/mirroring skill at his size
Areas of concern: Doesn't have the twitch to stay with super-quick separators, hit-or-miss reliability as a tackler
Gardner's combine confirmed he's a certified freak. His college career was essentially perfect, and while he may have some minor issues with smaller, agile wideouts, he's loose hipped and knows how to utilize his length to suffocate routes and shrink windows for quarterbacks.
7. Charles Cross, OT2, Mississippi State
He excels with: Super-smooth pass-pro talent, never appears panicked, outstanding hand work, grip strength
Areas of concern: Takes him a second to sink his anchor, must add weight, needs to generate more pop for the run game
Cross can become the best offensive tackle in this class. Why? Because he's already a stud in pass protection due to his calm, cool, and collected manner on the field that his athleticism affords him. Pass pro trumps all. And in time, he'll get stronger, and the movement ability and hand work will translate to the run game.
8. Malik Willis, QB1, Liberty
He excels with: Supreme arm strength/talent, elite athleticism, plus ball placement
Areas of concern: Needs to read coverages quicker, limit his "hero ball" decisions
Have to start with this -- Willis is very accurate throwing the football. The "raw" quarterbacks are automatically grouped into the "inaccurate" category, and the latter is not Willis. He'll immediately have one of the top 10 strongest arms in the league, and he's a dynamic runner. He fits the style of today's new wave at the quarterback spot. It will take him time to read coverages quicker.
9. Drake London, WR1, USC
He excels with: Imposing size, deceptive power, elite contact balance, dominance in rebound situations down the field
Areas of concern: Separation skill is average, questionable deep speed
London isn't stiff and incapable of getting open. Believe me, I know the perils of falling for a big, contested-catch specialist. He's different. London is quick and flexible and might be better after the catch than he is on those jump balls down the field.
10. Andrew Booth Jr., CB3, Clemson
He excels with: Tremendous plant-and-drive skills, elite twitch, high-caliber body control and ball skills
Areas of concern: Can arrive to the football out of control, will dive for tackle attempts too often, zone talent outweighs man ability
Booth looks like a film glitch when he plants and drives on a route. Insane twitch. He locks onto the football down the field and has the loose body control to contort to snag the ball.
11. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE3, Penn State
He excels with: Bend, length, smart pass-rush plans, converts burst to power
Areas of concern: Bend is good, not amazing, lacks a true trump card
Ebiketie brings it on every snap. He isn't necessarily phenomenal in every phase. He checks all the boxes. Being able to beat blockers in a variety of ways is key once a rusher is in the NFL, and the Temple-turned-Penn State star can do just that.
12. Jameson Williams, WR2, Alabama
He excels with: Lightning speed, good suddenness at the top of his route stem, above-average contested-catch ability
Areas of concern: Slender frame, ACL tear in January, one year of top-level production
Williams scoots, man. His afterburners are special. I love how he plays large on high throws, and he's elusive after the catch. I'm not docking him much for the ACL, even if he may not be able to play until November of his rookie season.
13. Roger McCreary, CB3, Auburn
He excels with: Eye-popping recovery speed, magnificent plant-and-drive skills, glue-like ability to stay in phase, major production
Areas of concern: Incredibly short arms
The history of cornerbacks with the length of McCreary's arms is not encouraging. At all. He's one of my #TrustTheTape prospects in this class. Every game in the SEC, McCreary was such an annoyance to every passing offense he faced. And go check the 2019 film against Ja'Marr Chase.
14. Kenny Pickett, QB2, Pittsburgh
He excels with: Good athleticism, natural playmaker with his legs, deceptive arm talent, aggressive passing style
Areas of concern: Downfield touch, great, not elite accuracy, one year of needle-moving productivity
Pickett is a Week 1 starter. Will he ever be an All-Pro? Probably not. His accuracy could be fine-tuned, and he doesn't have a cannon attached to his shoulder, but the rest of his game checks out with what teams are looking for at quarterback today.
15. Garrett Wilson, WR3, Ohio State
He excels with: Nasty releases, bounciness as a route runner, suddenness after the catch, speed
Areas of concern: Smaller frame, average contact balance
Wilson feels like a modern-day receiver. He's going to get open, frequently, and he's a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands. Is he going to bounce off tacklers? Not really. The rest of his style is en vogue.
16. Daxton Hill, CB4, Michigan
He excels with: Genuine positional versatility, closes on the ball in a blink, not limited athletically whatsoever
Areas of concern: Slender frame, quicker than fast on the field, missed tackles pop up, good, not great productivity
I'm calling Hill a cornerback, a slot defender, really. And he thrives in that role. It's a difficult position to man today, and the best nickel corners are souped-up athletically. Hill is that type, and he hits like a linebacker.
17. Skyy Moore, WR4, Western Michigan
He excels with: Efficient releases, sneaky speed, balance and agility in YAC situations, full-extension grabs come naturally
Areas of concern: Shorter frame, lower level of competition in college
I adore Moore. His film was the most fun of any receiver I've watched this draft season, and his size is so fascinating to me. Just under 5-10 and 195 pounds. He's a smaller version of Samuel after the catch, and he dazzles whenever the ball is in his vicinity. He plays well beyond his years in terms of the intricacies of playing the receiver spot, and he's a dynamic athlete.
18. Ikem Ekwonu, OT3, NC State
He excels with: Revved engine for the ground game, mobile and under control at second level, powerful hands, recovery skill
Areas of concern: Problems against longer rushers, can get overzealous in pass pro, susceptible to inside moves
I'm slightly lower on Ekwonu than most. I'm enamored by his mixture of athleticism and power. He's a little further behind as a pass protector than I'd like for someone who could go in the Top 10, or, say, No. 1 overall.
19. Jalen Pitre, CB5, Baylor
He excels with: Striking speed, flexibility to stay with quick separation-based receivers, plays bigger than his size
Areas of concern: Deployed in free-roaming, playmaking position in college, doesn't have elite speed
If you like Hill, you'll be a fan of Pitre. They're basically the same player. I think Hill plays the ball a bit more naturally in the air. That's it though. Plug and play slot defenders.
20. Chris Olave, WR5, Ohio State
He excels with: Speed, stunning ball-tracking capabilities, sharp routes
Areas of concern: Slender frame, minimal wiggle/power in YAC scenarios
To me, Olave's best attribute is how outstandingly he tracks the football deep. He's, of course, very fast too, and runs crisp routes. High floor prospect.
21. Treylon Burks, WR6, Arkansas
He excels with: Chiseled frame, contact balance, deceptive bounce after the catch, "my ball" mentality down the field
Areas of concern: Good, not great at getting open himself
Burks and Olave have the same grade in my scouting grade book. So if you're team needs a power YAC with the ability to pluck the ball up and over cornerbacks, Burks is your guy.
22. Tyler Linderbaum, IOL1, Iowa
He excels with: Otherworldly athleticism, surprising power, technically sound hand work
Areas of concern: Run blocking is ahead of his pass pro, gets overaggressive and will lunge on occasion, short arms, underweight
This could be as low as you've seen Linderbaum, and don't get it twisted. He's a stud center prospect. yet doesn't come without flaws though, most namely his shorter arms, occasional over-aggression as a blocker, and fact that he needs to add a lot more sand in his pants.
23. Zion Johnson, IOL2, Boston College
He excels with: Positional and scheme versatility, prototypical size, length, and power
Areas of concern: Athleticism is solid, not spectacular
Johnson is ready to go. He could start for more than half the league at guard tomorrow. Length, power, experience, awesome knee bend. He has it all. Johnson's upside is slightly limited because he's a touch heavy-footed on film.
24. George Pickens, WR7, Georgia
He excels with: Height, bus-sized catch radius, suddenness at his size, surprising wiggle in space, vertical separation
Areas of concern: Coming off torn knee ligament, small hands, more of vertical threat than intricate route runner
Surprise! Well, it actually shouldn't be too shocking. Had Pickens not gotten hurt before the 2021 season, this landing spot would've been almost universal. He's a former top recruit who gave Georgia fans glimpses of A.J. Green early in his Bulldogs career. He's that type of wideout.
25. Nakobe Dean, LB1, Georgia
He excels with: Short-area quickness, speed to the football, coverage comfort, quick play-identification skills
Areas of concern: Shorter stature, block-shedding needs to be improved/may be unfixable because of his size
Dean's game is tailored for today's game. He's not undersized, by the way. I want my coverage linebacker right around 6-0 and 225 pounds. Big blockers will overwhelm him at times, but those instances will be outweighed by the impact plays he makes in coverage.
26. Lewis Cine, S2, Georgia
He excels with: Rocket-like speed to the football, fluidity in coverage, thumping nature as a tackler
Areas of concern: Better closer to the line than down the field, some tackling misses on film
The bruising hits first pop on Cine's film, which are fun but don't matter too much at the next level. Then, you notice him making play after play in man or zone coverage. He's a superb athlete too.
27. George Karlaftis, EDGE4, Purdue
He excels with: Inherent strength, awesome swim move, good bend around the corner
Areas of concern: Inconsistent game-to-game
Karlaftis has grown-man strength. Moving blockers looks incredibly easy for him, and his finesse moves through the line are outstanding. I'm just confused why he'd disappear for long stretches.
28. Trevor Penning, OT4, Northern Iowa
He excels with: NFL offensive tackle size, length, power, nasty demeanor, heavy anchor
Areas of concern: On-field athleticism lacks a bit, average recovery talent, can get overanxious at second level
Penning's not quite as athletic on the field as he demonstrated in Indianapolis, and he has a tendency to lunge when he can't find contact quickly. Everything else about his physical profile and college career screams franchise left tackle.
29. David Ojabo, EDGE5, Michigan
He excels with: Burst, supreme bend, sustained speed to the quarterback, flattening skill can't be coached, new to football
Areas of concern: Almost barren pass-rush move arsenal, has to get stronger, speed-to-power is lacking
Ojabo's splash plays are as good as any rusher's in this class. He does have a way to go with the nuances of what it will take to consistently win around the corner in the NFL.
30. Desmond Ridder, QB3, Cincinnati
He excels with: Smart decision making, accuracy to all levels is consistently good, arm is solid, has new-age athleticism
Areas of concern: Not a natural improviser, tends to retreat in pocket under pressure
I watch quarterbacks first during the pre-draft process, to shield myself from any possible hype-train bias. I liked Ridder from the jump. He's not quite as athletic on-field as his testing indicates, and his under-pressure play is a touch worrisome. But many of the details that make a quarterback successful today, he has down.
31. Bernhard Raimann, OT5, Central Michigan
He excels with: Fires out of his stance, vice grips for hands, sound hand work, quality backbend to anchor, explosive, new to football
Areas of concern: Older prospect, explosive in straight line but lateral quicks aren't spectacular
Raimann is one of the oldest prospects in this class. Concerning? A little. He has the athletic chops, hand work, and power to hit the ground running in the NFL. May have to add a little weight.
32. Kyler Gordon, CB6, Washington
He excels with: Unfathomable flexibility, smooth change-of-direction talent, active in run support and as blitzer, plays fast
Areas of concern: Somewhat smaller framed, will miss some tackles
Gordon is Gumby at corner. Flexible City. He didn't run as fast as expected in Indianapolis. I didn't see speed as someone that got him into trouble in college.
33. Jaquan Brisker, S3, Penn State
He excels with: Angry demeanor on the field, sudden for his size, loose hips, attacks blocks like a linebacker
Areas of concern: Better as run defender than in coverage right now, best in box/flying downhill as quasi-linebacker
Brisker did make some plays in coverage last year. He's better against the run. Brisker's size and athletic profile indicates he can become a good coverage safety down the road.
34. Boye Mafe, EDGE6, Minnesota
He excels with: Power, burst, bend, ascending pass-rush move arsenal
Areas of concern: Inconsistent with his hands and speed-to-power conversion
The more football Mafe plays, the better he gets. There's clearly a calculated pass-rush plan when he gets after the quarterback, and his burst will threaten NFL offensive tackles.
35. Jahan Dotson, WR8, Penn State
He excels with: Long speed, natural hands-catching skill, body control, sharp route-running
Areas of concern: Wiggle is lacking for his size/role
Dotson is a unique slot who's faster than he is quick. I love his route-running chops and how well he plays above the rim despite being under 6-0.
36. Logan Hall, DL1, Houston
He excels with: Length, burst off the snap, advanced pass-rush moves, agility
Areas of concern: Thinner frame, rushes can be a tick high
Hall did rush from the outside a fair amount in college. He made the most impact inside. He's a high-end athlete with long arms he uses extremely well.
37. Devonte Wyatt, DL2, Georgia
He excels with: Rapid first step, pop first contact, versatility closing speed when he's in the backfield
Areas of concern: Speed is better than his overall athleticism, pass-rush move arsenal needs improvement
Wyatt and Hall have the same grade. Two different body types. It's difficult to find a massive hole in Wyatt's game. He's just not sensational in any area.
38. Trent McDuffie, CB7, Washington
He excels with: Eye discipline, twitch, block-dispatching skill, versatility deceptive speed
Areas of concern: Smaller frame, minimal ball production in college
McDuffie does a lot of things really well, and given that the NFL is mostly a zone league today, he will have a quick transition. Is he outstanding in any one area? I'm not sure.
39. Daniel Faalele, OT6, Minnesota
He excels with: Unfathomable mass, impressive movement skills for his size, relatively new to game of football
Areas of concern: Slow lateral quickness, which limits his recovery skill, not ready to regularly pass protect on an island
Faalele gave me serious Orlando Brown vibes, and the former Oklahoma Sooner was my No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2018 class. It feels like Faalele's best football is in his future, but I wouldn't want him on an island in pass pro against a crafty veteran early in his pro career.
40. Chad Muma, LB2, Wyoming
He excels with: Smooth athleticism, lightning-quick play-identification skills, man/zone coverage prowess, tackling reliability
Areas of concern: Lacking blazing speed, block-shedding needs work
Muma is my type of linebacker. Smooth, coverage-specialist who also loads the stat sheet against the run. He's fundamentally sound in all the areas that matter at the linebacker spot today.
41. Matt Corral, QB4, Ole Miss
He excels with: Quick release, strong arm, some athletic juice, toughness as a runner
Areas of concern: Overall ball placement is not fantastic, played in RPO-heavy offense, leaned on his legs too often
I came away from Corral's film disappointed in his overall accuracy and loving his tenacity as a runner. Now he won't be able to be much of a designed-run type in the NFL, but the athleticism is there. The offense he ran in college won't do him many favors once he's playing on Sundays.
42. Travon Walker, EDGE7, Georgia
He excels with: Length, acceleration, bull rush
Areas of concern: Almost non-existent pass-rush moves, minimal bend around the corner
I'm lower on walker than I think just about everyone out there. Yes, I know Georgia asked him to two-gap often, but I didn't see a bendy rusher on film, and his lacking hand work was striking. He's an all-upside bet.
43. Marquis Hayes, IOL3, Oklahoma
He excels with: Effortless power, insane length, grip strength, anchoring
Areas of concern: Limited versatility, average athleticism
Hayes is a classic Oklahoma masher who uses his length wonderfully in the run and pass game. He won't be for everyone, but a gap-scheme club can plug him into their lineup immediately.
44. Jordan Davis, DL3, Georgia
He excels with: Size, length, incredible burst for his size, block-defeating skills
Areas of concern: Limited pass-rush moves, every-down ability
Davis' combine was epic. No doubt. If he can play closer 341 than 360, he may have more three-down viability than he had in. He's just limited as a pass-rusher because of his lacking hand work. Davis won't be able to dispatch NFL offensive linemen as easily as he did in the SEC.
45. Jermaine Johnson, EDGE8, Florida State
He excels with: Length, urgency off the snap, speed-to-power conversion
Areas of concern: Small arsenal of pass-rush moves, stalled-out high rushes
Johnson is a fun prospect, but to me, the hype has gone off the rails. His productivity was tremendous in 2021, but he's not fully ready to be a No. 1 edge as a rookie.
46. Kaiir Elam, CB8, Florida
He excels with: Physicality at the line, downfield speed
Areas of concern: Grabbiness beyond five yards, stiffer hips/ankles than his contemporaries
Elam would've been a lock top 10 pick had he been entering the league a decade ago. His speed and length will be best friends in the NFL, but the stiffness to his game doesn't translate well to the game today.
47. Myjai Sanders, EDGE9, Cincinnati
He excels with: Burst, speed-to-power conversion, pass-rush moves
Areas of concern: Extremely low weight, bend could improve
Sanders is somewhat of an enigma, and I don't care how much he weighs, he brings it on every pass-rushing snap. He's not quite as long or bendy as Brian Burns, but he gives me those vibes.
48. Kellen Diesch, OT7, Arizona State
He excels with: Gliding athleticism, always-ready hands, great knee bend
Areas of concern: Lacking weight, power
Diesch will rock in a zone-blocking scheme. Like most young blockers, he needs to add considerable weight and power before he's viable.
49. Tyler Smith, OT8, Tulsa
He excels with: Sheer point-of-attack power, nimble feet for his size, length
Areas of concern: Bad hand placement, over anxiousness
Smith's hand work is patently brutal at times, but he has tantalizing power, length, and energy on the field. In four years, he might be on his third team or an All-Pro.
50. Dylan Parham, IOL4, Memphis
He excels with: Low-center-of-gravity strength, plus grip strength, assignment-sound movements
Areas of concern: Minimal recovery ability, lateral explosiveness
Parham is a bowling ball at guard, and his hand work, anchor, and grip strength will help him early in his career. The athleticism leaves a little to be desired.
Max Mitchell (OT Louisiana), Devin Lloyd (LB Utah), Kenyon Green (OL Texas A&M), Obinna Eze (OL TCU), Cam Jurgens (Nebraska), Kingsley Enagbare (EDGE South Carolina), Cordale Flott (CB LSU), Cameron Thomas (EDGE San Diego State), Jeremy Ruckert (TE Ohio State), Phidarian Mathis (DL Alabama)