Hello and welcome to my first post at my permanent home for all my Philadelphia Eagles and NFL Draft coverage. For those who don’t know, I have been following the Eagles my whole life and writing about them since 2010 from my home state of Iowa, hence the name Iowa Eagle.
I have previously written for Bleacher Report, Sports Nut, Sons of the Spectrum and Pattison Ave, but this time around I wanted the freedom to write about what I want to cover and deliver it in a more unique way. There will be a ton of NFL Draft coverage from an Eagles standpoint, plenty of Eagles game tape pieces and an occasional non-Eagles sports rant when it calls for it(that Nerlens Noel trade would have sparked a good one).
Okay now that the standard introduction is out of the way, let’s get to the subject of my first post. Going into this draft season I wanted to watch every prospect that received first, second or third round hype before the combine. I’ve narrowed that list down to what I believe are the 50 best prospects headed into the combine.
I think it’s important to get the bulk of your tape study completed before the combine so you don’t have measurements and 40 yard dashes clouding your evaluations. A 4.3 player should show that on tape, just like a 275 pound edge rusher shouldn’t play like he is 240 on film.
My top 50 2017 NFL Draft prospects after the jump…
1) Jonathan Allen DT/Alabama- The consensus number one prospect has been Myles Garrett, but Allen gives you more disruption closer to the backfield and is a much more versatile player. Alabama moved him all over their front and he proved it doesn’t matter where he lines up at, because one blocker rarely slowed him down.
2) Marshon Lattimore CB/Ohio State- Again, I know people expect to see Garrett, but an elite corner holds more value over an elite edge rusher because they are much, much rarer. Lattimore is a physical corner who is active in run support and has elite recovery speed which is crucial in man coverage.
3) Myles Garrett DE/Texas A&M- Garrett is an explosive edge rusher with an array of pass rush moves. He looks more like an NBA forward than a defensive end right now, but I think that speaks more about how much more weight has frame can handle without losing a step. He’s going to be a double-digit sack player in this league over the next decade, but he does need to figure out a counter move against some of the more powerful offensive tackles. Put on the tape against Alabama and you see him really struggle against Cam Robinson.
4) Leonard Fournette RB/LSU- I admit this is really high for a running back, but he does everything at his position at such a high level it just doesn’t make sense to push him further down. He has breakaway speed, quickness, good vision, is reliable in pass protection, has a ton of power and is a good receiver out of the backfield. He’s a more complete version of Adrian Peterson coming out.
5) Malik Hooker S/Ohio State- It’s so rare to find safeties that have this kind athleticism that can fill every type of safety role. He can cover, he can protect the deep portion of the field and he can make a living at the line of scrimmage as well. Coaches will love him because you can line him up all over the field.
6) Derek Barnett DE/Tennessee- He’s not actually that far behind Garrett. He’s not quite as agile, but his quickness off the snap is elite and he has the power to match as well.
7) Reuben Foster LB/Alabama- The athleticism to serve a lot of different linebacker roles, but it’s his nasty that allows him to be a Ray Lewis or Luke Kuechly type player in this league. The best way I can describe his play is this: He plays like he just found out his girlfriend has been cheating on him with whoever is carrying the football.
8) Corey Davis WR/Western Michigan- Reminds me a lot of Antonio Brown, but in a 6’3 frame. He separates against corners, comes back to the football and is incredibly dangerous after the catch.
9) O.J. Howard TE/Alabama- What I love about Howard’s value is that he immediately improves your running game as a blocker and your passing game as a receiver. He’s one of the best blocking tight ends you will find in any draft and you can line him up anywhere. He’s also underrated as a receiver. Because of the offense he played in he didn’t get to showcase his speed and athleticism a lot, but you saw a glimpse of that at the Senior Bowl.
10) Dalvin Cook RB/Florida State- Everyone knows about his speed, size and receiving ability, but it’s patience and knowing when to really turn on the jets make him such a dangerous three-down back.
11) Sidney Jones CB/Washington- Needs to add some bulk to his frame, but we’ll find out more about that after the combine. On tape he can play in any scheme and has both elite feet and recovery speed to handle any wide out at the next level.
12) Mike Williams WR/Clemson- As far as dominating the catch point, Williams is as good as you will every see coming out of college. I do have concerns with his ability to separate at the next level as the majority of his catches were either contested or in tight coverage. He can make a living as that type of receiver, but you want to see more separation ability in a high draft pick.
13) Charles Harris DE/Missouri- Only played one year of high school football so you know he’s still far from his ceiling, but what he has showed so far is pretty special. He has good size for the edge, he’s explosive off the snap and he has developed a nice spin and rip moves already. What really stood out to me about his game is how he chases down every single play. I love his physical tools and I love his motor.
14) Solomon Thomas DE/Stanford- I listed him as a defensive end, but he’s a player you can move all over your front. I hate the label “tweener” for Thomas because that would indicate that he is in between two positions. He’s not, he’s more like a combo player as a defensive end and defensive tackle. Line him up anywhere and let him attack and he will disrupt a lot of plays.
15) Teez Tabor CB/Florida- There isn’t much drop-off from Sidney Jones to Tabor, he’s a solid backup plan for teams outside of the top 5 who need a corner if Jones is off the board. Tabor’s feet aren’t quite as good as Jones, but he was the unquestioned leader of a very deep secondary at Florida and possesses outstanding zone recognition skills.
16) Taco Charlton DE/Michigan- In another year he might be a top 10 prospect, but this draft class is just so loaded, especially at his position. He’s not quite as explosive off the snap as Garrett, Barnett and Harris are, but he’s got a nice quickness and power combination and a bend to get around the longer tackles at the next level.
17) John Ross WR/Washington- His injury history is going to scare a lot of teams away from taking him early, but if he checks out medically he is a lock for the first round. Ross has an elite combination of deep speed and quickness off the snap that makes him difficult to press off the line and cover with just one man. I’m excited to see what he can do with a quarterback with NFL arm strength.
18) Mitch Trubisky QB/North Carolina- He only started one year which has a lot of scouts concerned, but it was a really impressive year. He showcased NFL accuracy in tight windows, rarely under-threw deep balls and was the best quarterback prospect throwing on the run. There is a lot of Aaron Rodgers to his game.
19) Jabrill Peppers S/Michigan- It’s important for the team that drafts Peppers to have a plan on how to use him. He is not a linebacker by any stretch and is far too versatile to lock him in to one position. When I watched him blitz on tape I saw shades of Troy Polamalu. He’s deception, timing, how he avoids blockers and the ability to finish every tackle or sack scream attacking safety to me. He can play corner and he is a weapon as a return man or offensive weapon as well, but strong safety is his best fit at the next level.
20) Garrett Bolles OT/Utah- The nastiest offensive tackle in this class. He’s powerful, athletic enough to block downfield and knocks his man on his ass more than any other prospect I scouted.
21) DeShone Kizer QB/Notre Dame- What Kizer lacks in consistent accuracy he easily makes up for in pocket presence and arm strength. The team that drafts him needs to be an offense that attacks vertically just like the team that drafts Trubisky needs to roll him out more than the average quarterback. This isn’t an elite quarterback class, but it has a few really good ones that should have success in the right offense.
22) Dede Westbrook WR/Oklahoma- A separation monster, similar to John Ross except Ross has more deep speed and Westbrook is quicker out of his breaks. A perfect fit for a quick strike passing game.
23) Ryan Ramczyk OT/Wisconsin- Pretty much the exact opposite of what you would expect from a Badgers tackle. He’s a tough tackle to get around because of how quick his feet are and how he uses his length, but he doesn’t push people around in the run game like we are used to seeing from Wisconsin OL prospects. I think if you get him in the weight room he’ll improve in the run game, but as he stands right now he is a reliable pass blocking left tackle.
24) Juju Smith-Schuster WR/USC- Don’t label him as another Nelson Agholor, he is a very different player. He’s much stronger, better in traffic and finds the holes in zone coverage very quickly.
25) Taylor Moton OT/Western Michigan- Maybe a little high for a right tackle, but it’s still a very important position and Moton has the length and power to dominate at right tackle for the next decade.
26) David Njoku TE/Miami- Not quite the blocker O.J. Howard is, thought he is a capable blocker, but man is he a special athlete. A little undersized compared to traditional tight ends, but you can line him up anywhere as either a blocker or receiver and that’s rare today.
27) Cam Robinson OT/Alabama- I’m not sure what his exact NFL line position will be, but I am sure his sheer power will immediately upgrade any running game. He was the only tackle prospect I saw that could handle Myles Garrett for four quarters.
28) Jamal Adams S/LSU- Adams is your prototypical strong/in the box safety. He’s a physical, attacking safety you want near the action. He isn’t a player you want covering receiver in the slot or anywhere in space.
29) Montravius Adams DT/Auburn- A dominant defensive tackle at times, but his technique gets sloppy, he plays too high and he gets locked up far too easy for someone with his rare combination of quickness off the ball and raw power.
30) Kareem Hunt RB/Toledo- He isn’t receiving the hype that Fournette and Cook are right now, but I promise you his tape is just as good as those two backs. The biggest knock is his size at 208 pounds compared to Cook at 215 and Fournette at 230. What I love about Hunt though, and neither Cook nor Fournette can say this, Hunt had nearly 900 touches in his career and had just one fumble(as a freshman which he recovered). I don’t get into college stats very often, but that tells you all you need to know about Hunt’s ball security.
31) Carlos Watkins DT/Clemson- Watkins was consistently the best prospect on tape in the games I watched. He’s well-coached, consistently gets good leverage and can win with power or quickness.
32) Fabian Moreau CB/UCLA- Easily the most underrated prospect in this draft. A lot of people don’t know who he is. He is a potential lock down corner with elite size, good speed and he finds the ball quickly. I think after the combine he will be a a consensus top 50 pick and will receiver a ton of first round buzz.
33) Jake Butt TE/Michigan- He tore his ACL at the end of the year which may hurt his immediate production, but if his knee checks out at the combine He should be a high second round pick. He reminds me of a quicker version of Todd Heap. Great blocking tight end, makes a ton of catches over the middle and a mismatch all over the field.
34) Dan Feeney OG/Indiana- The prize in a down interior OL class. Feeney doesn’t do anything at an exceptional level, but he is solid in pass protection, especially for a guard, and does a good job blocking upfield. He’s no Zack Martin, but he should be a solid starter in this league.
35) Jarrad Davis LB/Florida- Similar player to Dont’a Hightowner. A thumper against the run, closes in a hurry and finishes every tackle.
36) Cordrea Tankersley CB/Clemson- This kid was a tough eval as he has a lot of first round tape, but enough inconsistency to scare you away from taking him too early. When he is engaged you have a corner who is great in run support, is an outstanding press corner and has excellent ball skills.
37) Evan Engram TE/Ole Miss- Listing him at tight end is probably a bit irresponsible. He’s a versatile receiver that very few defenders will be able to cover in open space. He’s extremely quick for his size and has outstanding hands, he’s just not a in-line tight end.
38) Tre’Davious White CB/LSU- Doesn’t have first round size at corner, but he certainly his the mentality you want out of a starting corner. Put on the tape against Ole Miss in 2015 when he covered LaQuon Treadwell all game long and you see a corner who doesn’t back down against anyone.
39) Quincy Wilson CB/Florida- Wilson would be a top 10 prospect if it wasn’t for his inability in run support. That part of his game is complete garbage and it’s going to make him a liability at the next level.
40) Derek Rivers DE/Youngstown State- He isn’t an elite athlete, but he has so many different ways he can beat his man(bend, violent hands, quick move to inside, bull rush etc) that it’s hard to imagine him not being productive at the next level.
41) Carl Lawson DE/Auburn- Reminds me a little bit of Brandon Graham. Consistently wins off the edge with power and leverage, not so much with pure speed.
42) Forest Lamp OG/Western Kentucky- He’s a left tackle making the conversion to guard which has garnered a lot of Zack Martin comparisons, which is actually pretty far off for him. Martin was a powerful blocker, Lamp is the type of guard you want to get upfield and pull a lot. I think he’s more athletic than Martin, but he’s not the mauler Martin has proven to be.
43) Malik McDowell DL/Michigan State- I didn’t list him at a specific defensive line position because I don’t think he will have one. He’s a 280 pound tweener with a quick first step and an impressive bend for his size. I like him as an edge player in base and a interior rush in sub-packages.
44) Raekwon McMillan LB/Ohio State- I love this kid on 3rd and 10, but I’m really down on him on 3rd and 1. He’s a great coverage linebacker, but he’s far too soft to help stop the run on short yardage plays. That’s why he’s a second round prospect and not a first.
45) Amara Darboh WR/Michigan- This is the guy teams should be targeting if they miss on all the first round wide outs. He’s well polished as a route runner, he catches everything in his radius and proven to be a solid deep threat as well.
46) Gareon Conley CB/Ohio State- Watching him contain both Dede Westbrook and Mike Williams really sold me on the other Ohio State corner. I don’t think he has the speed to be put on an island, but he can hold his own with safety help over the top. He’s physical, anticipates well and is great in run support.
47) Tarell Basham DE/Ohio- This kid flashed on tape while I was watched two potential first round offensive tackles in Antonio Garcia and Taylor Moton. I saw him blow both tackles off the snap pretty easily. He’s got a great first step, he just needs to develop the rest of his game.
48) Rasul Douglas CB/West Virginia- A big, long corner who plays similarly to Richard Sherman. I love him in a heavy zone scheme because of how physical he is and his length. In man I think he will struggle against the deep ball and short, quick routes, so scheme fit is crucial for him.
49) Ethan Pocic C/LSU- At 6’6, he’s incredibly tall for a center, but he uses that length to his advantage in pass protection. He also has a nasty streak in the run game. He’s easily the best center in this class and can handle most DTs by himself which will free up your guards to help double team or get upfield in the run game.
50) Antonio Garcia OT/Troy- At 292(weigh-in at Senior Bowl) he’s really undersized for left tackle, but he’s a tackle you want to invest in. He’s a nasty blocker with a real mean streak to his game. He blocks through the whistle and loves to really get after his man. He also possess the length and quick feet needed to play left tackle at the next level, he just needs to beef up a little bit.