As the combine approaches, the biggest shift in player evaluations is yet to come. That’s why it is so important to me personally to put this out there, before I am influenced by a series of athletic tests that only tell a small part of a prospect’s story. I am a firm believer in film. I trust what my eyes see, I trust in traits more than athleticism. Being a good football player is still more important than being a good athlete. That said, elite athleticism has a way of getting us to talk ourselves into certain players as “high ceiling” type prospects. The NFL is the same way, “IF I am a good enough coach to mold that kind of God-Given ability into a football player we have a star.” How often have those words been said behind closed doors of organizations looking towards the future? So here we go, my current Top 50 Big Boards and initial film grades. Let me know what you think on Twitter @HindenburgScout!
Blue Chip Grades: These players are the prospects I have the most confidence in. I fully expect Blue Chip tags to be multiple time Pro-Bowlers and in consideration for All-Pro recognition by the expiration of their rookie deals.
- Chase Young, EDGE OSU- Chase Young is the best player in this draft class. He’s the highest rated EDGE I have evaluated.
- Andrew Thomas, OT UGA- Andrew Thomas is as technically refined of a tackle I’ve seen come out in a long time. I’m in the minority here, but he is the 2nd best player in this draft by a comfortable margin. The gap between Thomas and my next OT is sizeable.
- Derrick Brown, DT Auburn- Interior disruptors are so vital for defenses in the NFL today. With Brown, a team is getting a player capable of double digit sacks from the tackle position without giving up any run support. He is a rare and special player. He is going to make a strong case for DROY.
- Jeffrey Okudah, CB OSU- The most impressive corner I’ve seen since Jalen Ramsey. Day One will likely see him be the best defensive back on his new team. I expect Okudah to be very good, for a very long time.
- Jerry Jeudy, WR Alabama- In the best receiver class I can remember, Jeudy is on a different level. His route running and ability to separate make him a true number one option at the next level. I expect him to have an incredible rookie season right out of the gate.
Solid First Round Prospects: These players have the film, athleticism and traits that make me confident in their ability to develop into above average starters and Pro-Bowlers. These prospects absolutely can develop into stars, but they are not on the level of the players listed above them. Barring unknown medical or character concerns, or a combine performance that calls into question their commitment or ability to be high level players, these players deserve to hear their names called early in the Draft.
6. Isaiah Simmons, LB Clemson- The most versatile player in the draft, I expect big results from..eventually. Listen in to Tennessee Scouting on @DraftRitePod for more on Simmons.
7. Joe Burrow, QB LSU- QB1 is definitely talented, but far from a sure thing. I expect Burrow to be a Franchise caliber quarterback.
8. Mekhi Becton, OT Oklahoma- I have been super impressed with Becton’s tape. He’s a vicious finisher and has fantastic feet. His offensive line coach will need to prioritize pass protection techniques.
9. A.J. Epenesa, EDGE Iowa- I need to see Epenesa clear athletic thresholds. That said, he’s big, powerful, long and has vicious hands. He has so many traits, it is difficult to see him not being a very solid player at the next level. He has the potential to be a game wrecker, and that’s true even with a lack of speed.
10. Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama- Without the injury concerns, he’s my QB1. I am very confident in Tua’s talent and ability to be a franchise altering quarterback.
11. K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE LSU- One of my favorite players in this class. He may lack production, but the traits are there. His game is well rounded.
12. Javon Kinlaw, DT South Carolina- Kinlaw is a fantastic player who I expect to have a tremendous Combine. The tape matches the expected athleticism.
13. Henry Ruggs III, WR Alabama- Ruggs is so much more than a burner. He brings elements to an offense that simply cannot be replicated.
14. Grant Delpit, S LSU- The tackling concerns are legitimate. So is the playmaking ability and coverage prowess. He’s good. He’s the best safety to be had. Don’t overthink this one too much even though it has become vogue to drop him.
15. Tristan Wirfs, OT Iowa- Wirfs is one of the best lineman in a much needed talent rich class. He’s a day one starter and an upgrade at RT for 75% of the league.
16. Bryce Hall, CB Virginia- Surprised? You shouldn’t be. His tape matches this grade. His Combine will be important, but regardless of the result this is one of “my guys.”
Mid to Late First Rounders: These are players that, based off of their film, I felt good enough to grade as first round talents. I am not as convinced with these players. Each of these players have question marks or flaws they will need to learn to overcome at the next level in order to reach their potential. Despite that, make no mistake, these players are extraordinarily talented and absolutely deserving of the expectations placed on first round draft picks.
17. CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma- CeeDee Lamb is a phenomenal player. I’m just not as convinced he will win at the next level with the ease he did in college. I expect a longer acclimation period than the two receivers above him.
18. Jeff Gladney, CB TCU- Gladney’s tape absolutely showed first round talent this past season. He needs to add strength to avoid getting bullied on Sundays, and the feeling here is that he will be very successful in doing so.
19. Tee Higgins, WR Clemson- Another one of “my guys.” Questions about his separation ability are overblown. His body control, catch radius and strong hands are going to make him his quarterback’s best friend. An athletic profile and play style comparison for Higgins? Allen Robinson. Ask yourself, would you spend a first on an A-Rob? I would.
20. Kristian Fulton, CB LSU- Sticky in coverage, inconsistent in technique and tackling. Odd situation where the 3rd best player in a college secondary is going to be the first or second best player in an NFL secondary.
21. Jedrick Willis, OT Alabama- Willis is a solid football player, one even with his questions are deserving of a high draft selection.
22. Xavier McKinney, S Alabama- His intelligence and versatility likely have him as the best safety on some team’s draft boards. Not as athletic as I would like, but I’m not betting against McKinney.
23. Tyler Biadasz, IOL Wisconsin- 2019 hurt his draft stock, but he’s still a top shelf prospect for me.
24. Cesar Ruiz, IOL Michigan- Ruiz brings a ton to like to the table, particularly his ability to get to the second level.
25. Justin Jefferson, WR LSU- My 5th first round grade at the position, the potential is high here. I am a big fan of Jefferson.
Round Two Grades: There’s a reason the value of first round draft picks drops significantly around the mid 20’s, there simply aren’t 32 players who show enough to get graded as a first rounder. To be honest I was surprised to be at 25 at this stage. The guys selected from 25-35 are the upper part of this tier, 36-50 are still very solid prospects. I have a ton of second round grades right now in a very deep draft. Don’t get too offended if you don’t see certain names here.
26. Ross Blacklock, IDL TCU- I tried very hard to talk myself into a first here. Blacklock brings a ton of tools to work with.
27. Jacob Eason, QB Washington- I am a believer. His arm talent is second to none, and should only get better as he gets more experience. He is going to get drafted high.
28. Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL LSU- Cushenberry is a great player. I’d be stunned if he wasn’t a starter very early in his career.
29. Ashtyn Davis, S Cal- Incredible athlete, good football player. He needs development to reach his full ability.
30. Antoine Winfield Jr., S Minnesota- Tremendous football player, limited by size and athleticism. He’s a guy I’d want on my defense.
31. Jalen Hurts, QB Oklahoma- @ me. I. Do. Not. Care. He’s going to succeed, I stan, and I’m keeping receipts!
32. Damon Arnette, CB OSU- Another player with starter capability in a very deep corner class.
33. D’Andre Swift, RB UGA- Swift is as talented as a back as any in this class. His spot at number one isn’t secure however.
34. Neville Gallimore, DL Oklahoma- People are NOT prepared for the show he is going to put on at the Combine. Inconsistent, but very disruptive.
35. Jalen Raegor, WR TCU- Raegor is so much fun, but he is more raw than some like to believe.
36. Kenneth Murray, LB Oklahoma- No, he isn’t a first rounder. But he is a very good football player who should help a defense the moment he is on the field.
37. Lucas Niang, OT TCU- Not a perfect prospect, but the injury is getting him overlooked. He could easily be much higher had he stayed healthy.
38. Trevon Diggs, CB Alabama- The flaws are there, but the playmaking is going to get him plenty of opportunity.
39. Curtis Weaver, EDGE Boise- Weaver isn’t the flashiest end, but his motor is nonstop and he shows the potential to be a double digit sack player.
40. Cam Dantzler, CB Mississippi State- The tools he has physically are among the most impressive in this Draft class.
41. Joshua Uche, EDGE Michigan- Pass rushing specialist who converts speed to power as well as anyone. Uche has a ton of upside.
42. Zack Baun, EDGE/LB Wisconsin- I’m not sure where, or how, he can be a full time player. However, when he plays he is going to make plays.
43. J.K. Dobbins, RB OSU- Fantastic running back who should have one of the best Combine performances in the group.
44. Patrick Queen, LB LSU- Incredibly athletic, with a ton of potential. I do have some big concerns about aspects of his game at the next level.
45. Cam Akers, RB FSU- As good as any back in the class, maybe the best. The situation in Tallahassee muddies the evaluation.
46. Michael Pittman Jr., WR USC- East Coast observers may still be catching up to just how good Pittman is. Sky high potential.
47. Julian Okwara, EDGE Notre Dame- Has so much room to grow. Pass rushing skills are developed and enticing.
48. A.J. Terrell, CB Clemson- Starter quality tape at times, but consistency is lacking.
49. Justin Madubuike, DL Texas A&M- Physical tools are obvious, but his game needs serious refinement.
50. Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE Penn State- One of the most physically impressive prospect available, but he is so so raw.
Alright folks, there you have it. There are some notably big names not on this list, yes I am aware, and no it was not a mistake. So, let’s talk about it?