Early, Top 100 NCAAF Players Going Into The 2018-19 Season

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

So all draftniks like to stay ahead of the curve and I’m no different. Anyone can tell you who’s, who in April. A few things I take pride in is identifying the best prospects early. Studying them on and off the field to try an eliminate as much risk as possible. Finally, hopefully, hitting on as many of my draft grades as possible. That said it’s June and I’m not too worried about “Player X should be ahead of Player Y” at this point. I just want to get them in the right neighborhood and worry about what specific’s later. This is really about early projections, a first look. I’ll also place the PTP initials as a marking for kinds of players New England goes after, Patriot-Type Players.

1)Nick Bosa Rush/OSU – Bosa, the “White Panther” is one of the more complete prospects to come along in the last decade. I remember hearing about and seeing Nick play a few years ago, its really something he lived up to expectations and might be even better than his brother Joey. When’s the last time we had two brothers, who were dominant players on the same side on the ball, in the same sport?  Believe it or not Joey wasn’t a slam dunk among some “draftniks”years ago. Joey, like Nick is a “don’t ignore the obvious” player. Their both very similar in terms of size and strength but Nick looks a little quicker off the line and a better overall athlete. He flashes some serious bend for someone who is 6’5/275. Bosa can turn speed into power when he explodes off the line and can use it inside on twist/stunts. And like his brother he’s a very good technician and wins with great hand placement and usage. Bosa also has very good lateral quickness to cross his opponents face or move down the line in run pursuit. He uses that quick lil side step on his swim move as well. 97 for OSU can win inside/outside and from different techniques along the line. His + motor is also on display almost every snap. He’s going top 3-5, if not #1 overall.


2)Ed Oliver IDL/Houston – Oliver is another player I’ve been watching since high school. To be honest, he’s been my favorite player to watch over the last few years. At times he looked like a young Aaron Donald and that comparison holds true today. Oliver fires off the ball with superior quickness. It’s a pleasure to watch him transfer his power from lower to his upper have. That same lower half that can squat 650lbs also moves like a linebacker. He is fantastic at using his built-in, natural leverage to move and control the line. Oliver is always in control of gap/space and most of the time, his man. He’s a sensational run defender. His pass rush is nasty too. You can’t help but watch in awe at how he uses his shoulder to knife and wedge by a defender. He has violent hands and does a good job at keeping himself clean with swats and chops. He’s his own player but you can’t help but think Donald when he unleashes his “bob n swat” and club/rip. Oliver’s awareness is also legit and more than evident in the run game. He looks like he can play in any scheme and make an impact in that system from day 1. Sure he has all the athleticism you want but its his motor, heart that really take his game to another level. There’s no shortage of “freaks” in sports but its hunger, drive and commitment that make some truly great. Oliver checks all those boxes and brings great production as well. Like his counterpart on the defensive line, Nick Bosa. He’ll be taken in the top 3-5 picks, if not #1 overall in next years draft.


3)Rashan Gary Rush/Michigan – Gary is another player that just looks different. You can’t help but notice and follow him when watching him play. He’s 6’5/280+ but he’s an easy, smooth mover. He looks like a big outside linebacker at times flying around the field tbh. There might questions about his true position or if he has one. Not a concern for me. Give me talent and I’ll worry about “positions” later. Gary has produced from multiple techniques and I don’t see why he can’t do that at the next level to take advantage of certain matchups. He has the speed/power to beat tackles around the corner and quickness to explode past guards inside. When I watch him rush the QB I see nice lateral quickness and strong hands. He can deliver a quick stun from a punch and is a handful when he gets them inside. The athleticism he has just isn’t fair for a guy his size and he has plenty of strength to go along with that. That’s probably the first thing you notice, his raw power. It looks like Gary could play almost anywhere if his game continues to evolve but a few extra pounds and he has a job as 3-tech for sure. If his play does take another step he has a chance to be taken anywhere in the lottery.


4)Raekwon Davis IDL/Alabama – Davis is an imposing athlete at 6’7/310 but its his martial arts type handwork and ability to get inside leverage that makes him such an impressive player. Davis has active, violent hands that are always moving and working towards his ultimate goal. Sacking the QB. He strikes defenders with accurate chops, swats and clubs before delivering a rip move or bull rush to finish the job. He also has some push/pull to his game as well. 1 on 1 he’s a nightmare to guard for slower interior offensive linemen. I would like to see a little more “churn” and power from his lower half when engaged but he’s a great prospect nonetheless. Especially if you’re a looking for a 3/5 technique that gets after the QB. He’s the definition of disruption. He had almost 20 sacks/tackle for loss last year (10TFL & 8.5 Sacks). Another year like that and hes a lock for the top 10-15. Should be noted he shot himself after/while watching the Mayweather/McGregor fight last year.


5)Andraez “Greedy” Williams CB/LSU – #29 for LSU has #1 CB written all over him and at times has the “it” you see in special players. Williams  has the size (6’2), speed but also has that quick twitch at the line, + foot quickness. Effortless hip flips and transition. He’s very comfortable in press and shows some nuance in the physicality he brings in that department. He’s very subtle but does a great job at using body weight to feel and move receivers off their spot without using his arms in close quarters. And when he does use his arms he does a sweet job at hiding them and not extending to draw attention. Williams seems at home in tight quarters and does a very good job at reading his man to make a play on the ball. He brings that same awareness and savvy when reading the QB from a distance. I talked about his quick twitch earlier and his zone/off coverage play highlights that. Between his patience and burst, a QB must have the eyes and arm strength if they want to test him when he’s off the ball. He shows + instincts for such a young player and looks like a future play maker. Greedy will be a 21 year old rookie which is gravy. Williams sample size is small but another year like 2017 with 10 PD/6 INT and he’s going in the lottery.


6)Clelin Ferrell Rush/Clemson – There’s a great chance Ferrell would have been a lottery pick a few months ago and he has a real chance at making that happen in 2019. Ferrell is superb blend of power, speed and length. One thing that’s always impressed me when watching Ferrell is his snap awareness and get off. He’s great at jumping the count but has a very formidable get off in general. He’s inside his opponents pads before the tackles knows what hit him. Ferrell is terrific at exploding off the line with 3 steps, getting inside to create leverage and use his length to maximize it. Turning his speed into power. He also can rush 1/2 man, test the edge and runs the arc with real beauty. He also shows decent handwork displaying a nice chop/rip combo. You can’t help but respect that part of his game which is a great set up for his spin move to beat you inside. His pass rush is his biggest asset but he’s a very good run defender. He also shows good awareness diagnosing misdirection and has gap integrity and the ability to control his space. Ferrell is a big boy at 6’5/260 and has a frame that can handle more muscle. He’ll be a 21 year old rookie with production and upside in his favor. as well. It’s hard to envision him slipping out of the lottery.


7)Montez Sweat Rush/Miss St- Like Ferrell, Sweat has an impressive physique at 6’6/250 that is capable of handling a more muscle, which he’ll need going forward. Sweat is another guy with a small sample size but the traits his demonstrated last year can’t be ignored. He doesn’t have a large arsenal of moves just yet but that didn’t stop him from being the most dangerous pass rusher in the S.E.C.  last year. Right now Sweat wins with quickness, balance and awareness. That last one, awareness might be his best asset in terms of getting to the QB. Sweat is very plugged-in and quick to recognize when his man is out of position to make a counter move inside. He’s a very smooth player who moves effortlessly around the field. At times he shows off some neat hand work and he go to moves are a long arm or stab, with a pull/snatch at the end of the move. Here he beats first round prospect Greg Little by getting underneath him, extending the long arm before pulling him towards him. That’s a pretty admirable show of strength with one hand to boot. I watched him have more than a few + rushes getting underneath his man like he did here. Sweat had a combined 26 TFL (tackle for loss) and Sacks last year in the S.E.C. Sweat also lined up at different spots along the line and probably could play either defensive end or outside linebacker.



8)Jeffrey Simmons IDL/Miss St – Simmons is another big boy with a good first step that plays with very good hand usage and power. His handwork and long arms give him the ability to stack and shed to make plays in the backfield or give some chase down the line. He really is a bull dog out there. Very impressive paws that keep him clean. Consistency is the key for him and not just on the field. Nothing will help him like another quiet, productive year at Mississippi St. Simmons let himself get caught up in some local drama a few years ago. You can read about it here Simmons  A relative of his, a women, was fighting with another women when Simmons jumped in and put his hands on the female. He threw several punches while she was on the ground and was charged with simple assault and disturbing the peace by fighting. Both are misdemeanor charges. Simmons, by all accounts has stayed out of trouble since then and needs to continue to do so going forward.


9)Dexter Lawrence IDL/Clemson – Lawrence is a freaky mini-mountain in the middle that is going to be a nightmare for interior linemen for years to come. Lawrence moves like a 300lb pounder and is scheme proof. He can play in any system and you can move him around to create + matchups for the defense. No reason he has to get pigeonholed at nose tackle. His quickness and power will translate to a few snaps at 3 tech as well as 4i. He has soft, quiet feet and doesn’t move like someone who is that heavy. He also plays with a + motor. He’s plug & play foundation piece day 1. Lawrence brings the power that we saw last year in Vita Vea but plays with better balance.


10) (PTP) Zach Allen Rush/Boston College – Allen, 6’5/275-280, is a big, thick defensive end from CT and looks like another stud off the line from B.C. He’s versatile and will make an impact in both the run and pass game. I described his game before as to playing with a readiness/awareness that exposes the work he does in the film room. I think he has big upside in the run game. He’s not fooled by misdirection runs and can keep his outside shoulder clean to reset himself if he needs to. He’s only going to get stronger as he fills out. His pass rush game is a + as well. He has length and knows how to use it. He’ll throw accurate stabs/punches, can move a ton with his bull rush and has a spin to counter overzealous linemen favoring the outside. Allen should be on every Patriot fans radar because he fits the mold Belichick has proven to favor over the years. Allen looks like a player still getting used to his body (size/strength) so I expect his game has another level this year.


11)Greg Little LT/Ole Miss – Little looks the part with his enormous size and length and at times plays like a future pro-bowl player. He shows natural strength and is able to reset after taking on a heavy bull rush from the best the SEC has to offer. He also plays with very good lateral movement to carry himself across the line and field. At times Little executes the little things the way players are supposed to be taught. Like firing off the ball, snapping his hips and paving whats in front of him. Simple stuff, ya know? He also displays very good but inconsistent hand work. I would actually say the same about his footwork too. At times a bit sloppy and late. There not major concerns by any stretch and are already good but he could and probably will improve.


12)Devin White LB/LSU – White is a throwback linebacker that has sideline to sideline speed. 6’1/240 but moves like he’s 10lbs lighter. Looks like a bullet when blitzing up through the A/B gaps. Can drop back & clog up the swallow zone w/ his big body. White hits everything that moves w/ bad intentions. The former standout running back is a force in the middle & some teams will covet his skills come draft time as he’s a beast athletically as well. Because of his size, speed and strength White looks like he might be able to play a few different LB positions if asked to do so.


13)Jonah Williams LT/Alabama – You’ll hear many describe the prospect as a “dancing bear” and the term fits. Williams plays with very good balance and poise. He’s an athlete that excels in getting to and working in the 2nd level. A powerful blocker that has strong hands to kill any plan his opponent is bringing. His footwork overall seems pretty clean but I suspect he could tighten up his pass pro a bit. Like Little he’s a bit late at getting to his spot at times which leads defenders having multiple options in terms of a plan of attack. Both are so strong and are good enough athletes to cover it up, reset or survive long enough but it won’t fly in the NFL. Both need to activate their hands quicker and get ready to fight from the snap too.


14)Christian Wilkins IDL/Clemson – Wilkins surprised some by coming back this year, 2019 is absolutely loaded with talent and depth along the defensive line. That said Wilkins is a versatile big boy who plays inside/outside & moves like someone who weighs a lot lighter. Wilkins is very agile & nimble for a 310+ guy. Able to get skinny to flash through gaps or muscle through defenders. Wilkins has strong hands & shows + instincts on the field. He can play in a 34/43 & looks built for a multiple team up front. When it comes to position groups Clemson’s defensive line will be watched as closely as any. Even in a ultra talented unit like that Wilkins has stood out and own his own for years.


15) (PTP) DeAndre Baker CB/Georgia – From Miami, Baker is smart player that rarely ever looks confused or out of position. He does a great job of being physical in route & at the catch point. He’s very subtle about using his hands, arms during a route & forcing a wr away from the ball or towards the sideline. Like others on the list Baker didn’t allow a TD last year and had a combined 12 INT/PD but also made big plays when the team needed him most. UG’s system isn’t an easy one to master and I’m not saying he has but the confidence, awareness he plays with speak volumes about how prepared he is.


16) (PTP) Trey Adams LT/Washington – If Adams stays healthy and plays to his capabilities he could be the first tackle taken off the board. He plays the game with a nastiness of a Taylor Lewan (who hes often compared to) and has the athleticism of a Nate Solder. He plays the game with a passion thats evident from the moment you press play. Adams was just hitting his stride last year before he suffered a season ending knee injury. Adams was really doing what he had to in order to take his game to the next level. His footwork improved from his S.O. year and he looked a lot more comfortable playing in space and lower to the ground. He has plenty of areas to improve on but overall is a very good prospect.


17)  Justin Herbert QB/Oregon – Simply put Herbert has everything you want from a physical standpoint even though he doesn’t have a “rocket” arm. He’s very young at 20 (21 rookie) and has plenty of time to develop arm strength. Again not a huge concern. At times he looks balanced, poised and will deliver a sweet back shoulder or deep ball. He can also gash a defense for large chunks on designed runs or if the pocket breaks down. What I and frankly everyone else wants to see is if his processing improves and how quickly he can make the right read after the first one isn’t there. He also could clean a little hiccup he has in his motion. Which might be there because his body and mind aren’t quite caught up in terms mechanics and he’s not getting the ball out as quickly as he can.


18)Jalen Jelks Rush/Oregon – Jelks is a long, lean, good looking athlete. At times Jelks has explodes off the line with real force although I’d like to see him play a little lower. That would only help him eliminate anything for the offensive line to touch. Strength has to improve but in the few games Ive seen live & watched he’s not weak at all. In fact he’s playing out of position inside for Oregon. That will almost certainly change when he’s moved outside at the next level. That said he was a very good run defender last year holding his own inside against bigger bodies. Jelks is always aware, getting his hands up even if he doesn’t get the pass knocked down. If he matches those numbers or passes them from inside & you might have something special. Again playing in the interior at 3 technique/4i Jelks managed to compile 7 sacks, 10 QB hits, 30 hurries  and 8 passes knocked down.


19) (PTP) Shaq Quarterman LB/Miami – Shaq has looked like a player from day 1 at Miami. Smart, + instincts, always looking for trouble & brings it fast. Shaq might be a little under-rated right now in draft circles considering the package he is. Quarterman shows + vision, change of direction ability and the smarts to diagnose pre/post snap. He is a difference maker in the middle and sidelines but also has PD, TFL & a few sacks as well on his resume. You can tell he inspires confidence in the rest of the defense and it’s more than evident when they get hyped after he makes a play. He looks like a productive leader for Miami and can only help his stock this year coming up.


20)(PTP) David Edwards RT/Wisconsin – Edwards took the advice of former Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and decided to come back to school. He’s part of a really good offensive line and Wisconsin team that should get plenty of pub this year. I suspect he’ll be a right tackle on the next level. He looks like an oversized tight end, well built throughout his entire body and it shows in his long, thick gorilla-like arms. He plays nasty and to the whistle almost every snap. He shows off some very nice footwork to mirror pass rushers and the hand skills to combat their moves. Edwards is a great prospect, throw on the OSU tape and you’ll see the type of player he is. He wasn’t perfect but handled almost everything they threw at him which was handling 3 future NFL players in Holmes, Lewis and Bosa. He looks more than solid in both pass pro and the run game. I’ll be looking to see how much polish his game has after this year. Specifically his 2nd level work when his block isn’t on a linear path.

(PTP) Jarrett Stidham QB/Auburn – Transfer from Baylor. At times Stidham looked like a poised, accurate QB who would let a play develop and deliver a strike on time. Mechanically looks comfortable, feet/base are about shoulder length. Has some zip and a quick release. Looks the part. Has some arm talent. He also has some wheels to eat up unaccounted for yards. He’ll look to build on that momentum and could make a huge jump in Gus Malzahn’s offense. He’s very smart w/ + football IQ. He’s accurate but could work on throwing his wr’s open a little better. Mobile & tough. Stidham has to improve his pocket awareness as well but he has plenty of tools to work w/.


22) Devin Bush LB/Michigan – There really aren’t many more intriguing players in the 2019 class then the Michigan defender. In a day and age when offenses are trying to stretch the defense and use every inch of the field its imperative to have players like Bush. He’s a jack of all trades type that excels the closer he is to the ball. Shutting down the outside stretch plays, firing up the A-gap to blitz and using his closing speed to shut down a ball carriers angle to the sidelines. Very good chase and pursuit player. He’s also an asset in the passing game. Bush can hang with TE’s down the seem, sniff out developing plays and cover RB’s in the flat. I expect him to fill the stat sheet again this year and make an impact everywhere.



23) (PTP) Lukas Denis DB/Boston College – Denis is a menace (I’m not apologizing for that)  defending the slot and for QB’s in general. He might be the best defender in the country in that area and has some of the best instincts as well. He’s an expert at reading the Qb and where he wants to go with the ball. Like Omar said, If you try him “you best not miss”. For some teams their base is nickel. A versatile defender like Denis, who you can move around in the secondary is a must have for a lot of defenses. Think Budda Baker and Tyrann Mathieu. Undersized, smart playmakers who can match up against different types of players on offense. If Denis fills that stat sheet again this year (7 INT, 10 PD, 2 FF) he’ll be a top 30-40 player next April.


24) Trayvon Mullen CB/Clemson – Mullen is as raw as it gets but he has freak potential. He’ll be a work in progress no matter the year he has but he could be the breakout star of the defensive class this year. Again he’s just oozing with speed and quickness to stay with any receiver. He has the length and size to challenge bigger targets but also is very fluid in his movements to hang with quicker pass catchers. He also has the ability to stop the play before it begins at the line. Again he has that brand new car smell so he has to clean up his overall technique but the sky is the limit.


25) David Montgomery RB/Iowa State – Montgomery is so fun to watch and can really do it all. He has that water-bug quickness that bounces around the field but also runs with real power that will easily break through arm tackles. He has the elusiveness, vision and rec ability to be a threat on any down. He runs hard and is very efficient. You’ll hear his name a ton this fall.


26)Daniel Jones QB/Duke – The North Carolina native is a team captain & former 2016 team MVP. Jones has prototype size, is a tough player that has experience running rpo. He has great mechanics from his base to his upper half. Everything always looks the same. His set-up, everything starts with his foot-firing lower half that is always moving & putting him in the best spot possible. His base, feet look almost Manning-esque  at times. Good arm that can adjust the heat on throws, has enough zip on his passes but probably could get stronger. At times his head moved just like a clock. I definitely want to see more of that, hopefully leading to a more consistent showing, he’s been up & down for stretches so far in his career. Still there are plenty of tools to work with & his overall game has improved each year from a leadership aspect. From a mental and physical standpoint Jones brings a lot to the table. Again like all the QB’s in this class. he needs a big year to seperate himself.


27) (PTP) Austin Bryant DE/Clemson – Bryant was draftable this year but like the rest of his teammates, he decided to come back to school for 2018. Bryant has the size New England likes at 6’5/270 & is a physical, worker-type that doesn’t just rush up field taking himself out of the play. Bryant will always look to disrupt a play if he can’t make a sack or tfl by getting his hands up to swat down a pass or control the edge so theres nowhere to go outside.


28) (PTP) Julian Love CB/Notre Dame – Love is a thickly built corner who looks like dependable open field tackler & someone who competes for everything. He displayed + route recognition in several games, on several plays I watched. He also looks comfortable in press, zone & off man & also played CB/S in high school. Love also has + ball skills and competes for everything. He had a combined 23 INT/PD last year.


29) Nate Herbig G/Stanford – At 6’4+/340 Herbig is a throwback guard that mauls people down & ruins their day when asked to pull across the line. At times reminds you of Will Hernandez who was a top 40 pick this year. Herbig has the physicality you want but also looks like a technician the way he executes some of his blocks.


30)  (PTP) Hjalte Froholdt G/Arkansas – If you watched Ragnow last year you couldn’t help but notice Froholdt. One of the best run blockers in the land, Froholdt should really get a chance to shine considering the system switch coming this fall. He might be doing more work in space, on the 2nd level and really get to show off his niche as an offensive linemen. Run blocking is his strength but he’s a great overall prospect.


31)Levonta Taylor CB/FSU – Taylor didn’t allow TD last year and was one of the best corners in the game. He’s sticky in coverage and displays playmaker traits. He had a rating of less than 15% when targeted in 2017-18. Since high school Taylor has had a keen ability to break off his man and make a play on the ball. You can’t help but notice how focused he is on the QB even if he’s not directly looking at or trying to read his eyes.


32) Josh Allen Rush/Kentucky – Allen reportedly put on 20lbs of muscle where it counts (his lower body) this spring which is key for several reasons. One Allen’s lack of power is noticeable of tape and it will only help his pass rush game. He already has a quick get off and gumby-like ability to bend around his man. He’s a versatile player that will also give + chase and pursuit all over the field. Allen has to develop his handwork and actually use them in attack. Still he’ll have three solid years of production, youth and upside in his favor next April.


33) Ahmmon Richards WR/Miami – Richards is a smooth route runner with the ability and quicks to get off press, work inside on slants, track the deep ball and along the sidelines. Richards isn’t the biggest wr but doesn’t lack toughness for someone that’s less than 195lbs. Richards has everything you want but has to stay healthy to show and adding a little muscle wouldn’t hurt as well. He can work all 3 levels and get in-out of his breaks in a hurry.


34) (PTP) Ben Benzschawel G/Wisconsin – Benz, as I call him, is a very consistent, reliable, powerful mauler in the run game. Fires off the ball and waste no time getting to the 2nd level. Powerful lower half. Good in pass pro but could improve. He has some versatility as well and could play OT in a pinch I suspect.  I mentioned the Badgers OL when talking about Edwards but the whole group is pretty stacked tbh. Benenzschawel is a really good, versatile player that can seemingly do it all. Balanced, good footwork & overall technique. He could probably plug & play in most teams system right away as a rookie. He’s a very good prospect.


35) (PTP) Nathan Stanley QB/Iowa – I have a feeling Stanley’s name will mentioned more & more as we get closer to the college football season starting. I’m a lot higher on Stanley than most it seems. He only has one year under his belt but tbh none of the 2018-19 QB’s have done enough to seperate themselves from the next guy. Stanley has very good mechanics, he looks like a classic pocket passer but also shows off some good mobility too. His arm is also legit. Not a Russell or Allen cannon but he has strength to hit 60 yards easy & at times has shown sweet deep placement & accuracy. He’s taken snaps & made plays from under center, on the run & in S/G. Looks very comfortable on the move & in play action. At times Stanley goes through his reads but you want to see more of that & an overall better pocket awareness this fall. There’s a lot to get excited about over this player. 6’5/215 first year starter w/ a 26/6 TD-INT ratio has me locked in closely to see how his 2nd year in college turns out. Also don’t ignore the obvious Pats/Iowa connections that won’t hurt come draft time.


36) K’neal Harry WR/Arizona St – Harry has the size, toughness and big play ability you want on the outside. He turns into a basketball player in 50/50 situations and a running back after the catch. He also has + blocking ability and willingness. Hopefully he gets to show off his route running skills in the new system Herm Edwards is bringing out West. Neal will never be a speed demon but an improvement in route running could take his game to the next level.


37) (PTP) Bryce Love RB/Stanford – Love looks like Dion Lewis 2.0. Both undersized but run even smaller, closer to the ground to maximize their balance & ability to explode through a hole. Love runs w/ a sweet blend of patience & quickness its impressive to watch. His shiftiness is easy to spot but it’s the subtle, small moments of patience that make him a + runner. Love is a playmaker and just keeps cranking out 20-30+ yard runs and could improve this year. He has to improve his pass pro & isn’t utilized in the rec game so hopefully he showcase some improvement in both this fall to really maximize his stock come draft day.


38) Tyree Jackson QB/Buffalo – Last year  (long before the national & local media talked about it)  I talked about the possibility of Lamar Jackson coming to New England. I brought up the fact that the next franchise QB, might be coached by Josh, not Bill.  And Jackson was young enough & talented enough to sit & learn for next head coach in New England. The Patriots showed what looked like genuine interest but ending up passing on Lamar, enter Tyree Jackson. I brought him up a while ago in a few articles on here & it’s apparent all eyes will be on the Buffalo QB this fall. Jackson might be the most intriguing QB prospect in the class. He’s 6’6/240 w/ an absolute rocket of an arm that can touch 60+ yards w/out much effort. Jackson  showed the ability to really push the ball down field but also has a natural “stick & shoot” accuracy about him on intermediate passes. Like all college players he needs work in some areas. He has to tighten up his release, just some tinkering not a huge issue. Jackson also has to improve his pocket awareness & mental processing on reads but has a ton of potential.


39)(PTP) Dalton Risner OL/Kansas St – Risner’s versatility will be talked up all year as it should. He has played all 5 positions but is probably best suited inside as a C/G. He has real finesse in pass pro but also the overall toughness needed in the run game and to play in the trenches. Risners health will be key as he was hurt throughout last year. Risner looks like a plug & play run blocker w/ quick choppy feet & the nastiness to get after defenders to the whistle. He has to get stronger to take on top-tier power players at the next level but has shown a ton of promise so far. Effort and “want to” aren’t a problem. 


40)Terry Beckner Jr IDL/- If not for injuries Beckner Jr would probably be on everyone’s top 10-15 list for this draft class. He possess an outstanding get off and smart, violent hands. By smart, I mean he holds them high (can’t use if there by your side), and he delivers accurate strikes to shed offensive linemen off him and attack the QB. Beckner Jr moves like a linebacker and hits like a 300+ pound defensive tackle. If he replicate that quickness off the ball its hard not to think some team will take a chance on earlier than expected.


41) Joe Jackson RUSH/Miami – Jackson would be taken first off the bus and has the play to match his physique. At 6’5/250 which is where is weight is supposedly at now, he looks to be even more dangerous. Expect him to keep packing on the muscle because the rest of his game is ready to run now. Lots of potential but he already has the agility, quickness and strength you want in an edge rusher.


42) (PTP) Noah Fant  TE/Iowa – Big, easy moving target that looks like a nightmare to cover screaming down the seem. Not only a big target but Fant has + athleticism & should be a top 50-60 next year, if not the 1st TE off the board. Fant is a glider that will get on top of a defense quick if he’s not physically impeded. Fant could also blow up the combine as well if reports about his numbers in the vertical and short shuttle are correct (40+ vert/3.95) Again don’t ignore the obvious here, connections from Iowa and the need for another top flight tight end very soon.



43) Michael Deiter IOL/Wisconsin – Deiter brings real versatility at C/G and T in a jam. Hes a last resort there. He’s not the best athlete on the list but is physical in both pass pro and the run game. And plays with good body control. He has the quickness to fire off the ball and straight line speed to get to the 2nd level quickly. Again hes not going to do a ton of damage in space because of his poor change of direction. Hes more of a brawler and can handle the big defensive tackles charging up the middle.


44) (PTP) T.J. Edwards – I’ll be the first to admit when I was wrong and I was about Edwards coming into this piece. Don’t get it twisted I was a fan but just wasn’t given him his full due. I didn’t realize how good he was away from the line. He’s extremely aware and sneaky in terms of covering his space. Just a savvy player in coverage for someone who looks like a traditional, throwback type that will knock the snot out of you. Edwards does an excellent job at reading the QB’s eyes and looks very comfortable patrolling that shallow zone about 15-20 yards off the line. He’s a talker, great communicator and is seemingly always running to his spot before the ball is released from the QB’s hand. It’s obvious the player watches film and understands how to take that knowledge and translate it to the field. Like I said before Edwards resembles a player you’d see from previous decades but has the smarts and athleticism to play in today’s “spread ’em out” game. In the run game he’s a hitter that loves physical contact and plays with good contact balance. He shows good hand usage as well. And it shows when he’s sifting through the traffic, staying clean to make a play.



45) Stanley Morgan WR/Nebraska – Morgan and A Richards are very similar players. A little undersized but able to beat press, accelerate in/out of his breaks and work all levels. Both are very smooth players. And both run the NFL routes to move the chains and can stretch the field.


46)AJ Brown WR/Ole Miss – Brown is a big physical target in the slot that doesn’t mind contact and knows how to use his body as a shield. He’s a good route runner but definitely has to improve in terms of running crisp patterns and not round out on his short routes. Brown will continue to work on that but already has the speed, hands and physicality teams want and can work outside as well.


47)Marvell Tell III S/USC – Big rangy Safety that is just now really getting comfortable at the position. Tell has flashed on several occasions but is still learning the position in many ways. Tell is a former WR/S in high school. Played some strong safety as a FR & moved to FS as SO. 2018 could be a huge year for the multi talented Tell, who is all over the field at times for the Trojans. Teams will specifically looking how he does/improved he is in coverage. The biggest thing for Tell is a consistent 2018-19, not so much eye popping stats.


48)Bryan Edwards WR – Edwards could go a lot higher and has size and traits to be the first WR off the board. 6’3/215, He’s a big target  with strong hands and leaping ability. Thats his game right now, being the alpha in me vs you situation, so expect him to refine some of his patterns this while having his best year statistically.


49)Chauncey Gardner Johnson S/Florida – Gardner-Johnson is a former CB & plays the ball like one. He has very good speed & has natural ball skills. Knows what to do when he gets his paws on the ball. Gardner-Johnson will also deliver big, legal hits if the opportunity presents itself. Florida has been pumping the DB’s out


50)Rodney Anderson RB/Oklahoma – I think Anderson is in for a big year as he’ll be the focal point of the offense and has everything it takes to be an every down back. He’s thick, stout and has some power. However Anderson is lethal in space and has a little bounce and burst to his step. His sample size is short so obviously he’ll need to have to impressive this year. He also could take improve on reading/waiting and setting up his blocks at the line but again theres only a years worth of games to look at with him. Also he was cleared of these charges but he’ll definitely be answering questions about Rodney Anderson this next spring as well.


51) (PTP) Taylor Rapp – Rapp is an instinctual Safety with very good short area quickness & doesn’t shy away from bringing it in run support to make a play. He’s very efficient in doing so as well. He’s very smooth, seemingly always round the ball or where the action is. Right now he reminds me a little bit like Harrison Smith from the Vikings. Someone who can make an impact in all phases of the game on defense.


52) Deebo Samuel WR/South Carolina – Reminds me a little bit like Anthony Miller in the sense that he’s undersized but as tough as they come at that position. Doesn’t mind getting dirty & understands blocking is a big part of playing the position. Samuel is another guy that turns into a RB when he gets his hands on the ball. Goods hands, runs sharp routes. Contributes on special teams as a return man. He’s tough, athletic and versatile. Samuel might not get the hype he deserves but he can absolutely play on Sundays and will next year.


53)(PTP) Benny Snell Jr. RB/Kentucky – Benny Snell Jr is a big physical back that always runs very hard & w/ a purpose. Doing that in the SEC for 2400+/30+ is quite impressive considering he’s being game planned around each week as Kentucky’s best offensive player. Snell probably won’t get a ton of love until draft but he’s a reliable, tough runner w/ very good contact balance and production. Another thing that Snell has going for him is the fact that there aren’t many bigger backs in this class.



54) (PTP) Anthony Johnson WR/Buffalo – Johnson is quicker than fast but has deceptive speed to get behind corners & for the most part runs clean, crisp routes on all 3 levels. Johnson should be in for a big year if both him & Tyree Jackson can stay healthy for a full season. Thor Nystrom recently compared Johnson to Gallup and I couldn’t agree more. It almost felt like the comp was on the tip of my tongue. They both play a lot bigger than their size and have a subtle physicality to their game. Whether its releasing off the line, creating some room to seperate in route or 50/50 balls. Both have that “do it all” feel to their games.


55)Jake Bentley QB/South Carolina – Bentley has plenty of traits and tools to work with. Arm talent, poise and mibility. From watching him live and on tape he has nice, smooth mechanics with a quick release. He’s a “runner” but can scramble around before making a play and has good awareness in general.


56)Devin Singletary RB/FAU – A nightmare in the open field Singletary has + balance, feet and deceptive strength in the open field. He won’t go down with arm tackles and has the vision to take it for 6 from almost anywhere. There’s a good chance he has 65+ TDs after this year just from the last 3 years.


57)Ross Pierschbacher C/Alabama – Pierschbacher is another super versatile offensive linemen that could probably play all 5 positions if asked to. Very smart player who takes the time to study the nuances of each spot as well. He has the power withstand the big nose tackles and shows commitment to getting inside hands, his strength is almost overwhelming when he does.


58)Drew Lock QB/Missouri – Lock could easily lottery put I and many others have to see the decision making, accuracy and ability to process info quickly each play, each series and so on. He has legit arm talent. Strength, at times placement and the ability to change up the speed on his passes. He has plenty to work with in terms of talent around him and tools he owns. Big year for all the QB’s!


59)Clayton Thorson QB/Northwestern – Theres a lot to like about Thorson but the unanswered questions are whats on my mind. At times he looks very balanced, will go through his reads and get the ball out quickly. He looks the part working the short/inter stuff but the deep ball is lacking. Along with the poise/pocket presence you want. He has improve post snap, on the fly. Still, he has the size, smarts and enough tools to work with.


60)Kelvin Harmon WR/NC St – Harmon is just one of many WR’s that with a big year, could find himself with the WR1 label in 2019. Harmon just eats up yards and is deadly in the intermediate/deep parts of the field. He consistently snatches the ball out of the year and has a big catch radius. Tough to bring down as well. NC ST offense will be fun to watch.


61)Byron Murphy CB/Washington – Like Miles Sanders this is a lot of projection but then again thats what this is about. Murphy looks like he might be a natural in zone coverage. He has + instincts, short area quickness and closing speed. He does a great job at reading the QB’s eyes and making a play on the ball. He does a great at locating the ball as all. He could go a lot higher than he’s slotted here.


62)Sutton Smith Rush/NIU – Smith is extremely fun to watch. Undersized, usually given up 60-70+ pounds but you wouldn’t know it from watching him. He’s lightening off the ball and does a great job at making himself an even smaller target to touch. He brings the aggressiveness and fight you want from a “small school” player along with the stats. A position change is very likely but his game is good enough to play on Sundays.


63)Carl Granderson Rush/Wyoming – Another player still growing into his body and learning what kind of strength he has. Granderson has a very nice burst of the line and + lateral movement to cross his opponents face. He can pressure the arc or kick it back inside if his man is out of position. He shows + stop/start movements and the ability to explode down the line to make a play.


64) (PTP) Andrew Wingard S/Wyoming – Wingard plays the position with reckless abandon and is like a missile when targeting and hitting his opponents. He’s better the closer he is to the ball but can cover TE’s/RB’s on certain routes. + Instincts and effort, Wingard is a football player through and through. Every team needs a guy like team to keep everyone honest because he takes no plays off.


65)Jaylon Ferguson Rush/Louisiana Tech – Ferguson has the chance to put himself in rare air if he manages to have one of his best years Right now he has 40+ tackle for loss and 27.5 sacks. Seems like his team asked a lot of him, hes not just pinning his ears back. Fits our mold in terms of the type we go for. He’s another fighter, worker type. Makes it a point to keep the outside sealed off.


66) (PTP) Charles Omenihu Rush/Texas – Omenihu has NFL size and strength and displayed several moves to attack the QB with as well. He knows how to use his length and has active hands on most plays.


67) (PTP) Chase Winovich Rush/Michigan  – A former Tight End turned do it all player for Don Brown at Michigan. Winovich lines up almost everywhere along the line & brings the heat from inside & outside. Winovich quietly had very nice year in 2017 & was one of the Wolverines best defenders that no one talks about. A repeat or better year from Winovich will have him top 75 contention.


68)Parris Campbell WR/OSU – Versatile weapon you can move around on offense. He probably won’t have great numbers at the end of the year but has several traits you want in your playmakers. Great combo of speed, size and quickness. He has good hands, contact balance and can find a soft spot in coverage to make a play. Campbell also has return skills.


69) (PTP) Ryan Finley QB/N.C. State – Finley is another player that would have been drafted this year but came back for a shot at the 1st round in 2019. At times Finley looks like a future pro. He has the size, arm, accuracy & football IQ teams desire. He sells play action very well & can work all 3 levels of the field. Finley has a minor scratch on his record w/ an arrest (underage drinking, resisting arrest, dumb stuff a lot of young people do) while at Boise State but has shown nothing but majority since then. Finley plays in a pro style offense that will surely appeal to teams, much like Phillip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Russell Wilson & Mike Glennon.


70)Shea Patterson QB/Michigan – Patterson was a Ole Miss transfer that should really benefit from a year w/ Coach Harbaugh. Patterson is so fun to watch. His game & path in football both resemble Russell Wilson. Patterson has to do a better job staying sturdy w/ his base when moving around & scrambling. If his feet aren’t set it doesn’t end up well, which is the case for most QB’s & athletes. Patterson as the ability to work all 3 levels while on the move but needs a little refining. The traits & tools are there though. Arm talent, accuracy/placement, scrambling ability & make “it” happen when the odds are against you.


71)David Sills WR/West Virginia – Sills is a former QB turner WR who was offered a scholarship by Lane Kiffen years ago. He does a very good at presenting a big target, locating the ball and was a TD monster with 18. Sills is a big bodied receiver looking to build on his breakout season from last year.


72)Khalil Hodge LB/Buffalo – Hodge has a nose for the ball and does a great job at sifting through the muck to find it. Hes been constantly working on his agility and change of direction and he recent play suggest he has improved in those areas.


73) (PTP) Khaleke Hudson DB/LB – Hudson is a hybrid that bounces between LB/S. Intense, smart player who excels at stopping the run and is very efficient when pressuring the QB.


74)Jerry Tillery IDL/Notre Dame – Tillery is a beast of a player at 6’6/300 & is coming off his best season to date. Tillery had some maturity issues he moved past from & is switching from NT to 3tech this fall. 3Tech should play to his strengths as Tillery is the most athletic OL’m on the team & will probably play that position at the next level. The DT will look to add to his TFL total from last year & show he’s not a one hit wonder.


75)DK Metcalf WR/Ole Miss – Metcalf is a big body WR that knows how to use his size & strength at 6’3/220. After the catch Metcalf looks like a big RB. Metcalf’s game is starts & ends w/ his physicality. From the line to the caught point Metcalf is a big, strong WR that will look to out muscle & use his body control to secure a catch. After that his powerful strides do the rest. If Metcalf can stays healthy this year he might play himself into the 1st round.



76)Michael Jackson CB/Miami – Jackson checks the height/weight boxes you want at 6’1/195. One thing that you notice right away is that he turns and locates the ball quite well at times. Miami also uses him to blitz and it seems he doesn’t mind getting dirty and delivering a hit either. He also just became a father for the first time a few months ago.



77)Juwan Johnson WR/PSU – Johnson has prototype size, a big catch radius and the ability to work all areas of the field. He can run a crisp, clean slant and make you miss in space. Work the sidelines on out routes and stretch the field on deep routes. He’ll catch through contact and sticks out on a team that runs first on offense.


78)Nick Fitzgerald QB/Miss St – Tough QB who makes plays with his legs and is not afraid to take a hit for a first down. He has to work on his accuracy and decision making though. Despite that he shows some good stuff with his arm talent and athleticism. He suffered a gruesome injury last year so all eyes will be on the Miss St QB this fall.


79)Justice Hill RB/Ok St. – Hill added some weight last year but didn’t lose his bounce or shake as you can see below. He ran with more aggression and grit in 2017 for sure. Hill also has that lateral bounce step to threaten the outside at all times. He’ll have to improve in pass pro but looks like an NFL back.



80)Khalil Tate QB/Arizona – Big time athlete that is as good as anyone in the open field. Real speed to take it for 6 from anywhere and lateral movement to make people miss with ease. Tate isn’t a pocket passer just yet but has improved year to year.


81)Paddy Fisher LB/Northwestern  – The Texas native had a breakout year last season after a 19 tackle effort against Duke in his 2nd game of the year. At 6’3/245 he has the size to plug the holes in the middle & displays the toughness needed in that role. Fisher isn’t a speed demon but rather relies on his instincts & toughness to make a play. Fisher’s eyes are always keying in on where the Center is heading & usually arrives on time to make a play.


82)Camryn Bynum CB/Cal – Bynum is someone who flips a switch when he walks on the field. A quiet guy in general but has some dog in him. Hes known for his work ethic, competitiveness but has decent size and length as well.


83)Collin Johnson WR/Texas – Johnson is a huge target that can get off press and make circus catches on the regular (below). + Body control and catch radius as well. He has to continue to work on separation from his man but theres ton of promise there.


84)Isaac Nauta TE/Georgia –  There’s not many players I’m more pumped to watch then Nauta this fall. Nauta is 5 star TE recruit which is pretty rare & has a successful track record but looks like a player just waiting to explode this year.


He has natural hands that always look to pluck the ball out of the air & the aggression you want to see while run blocking. He’s a very intriguing & tough to bring down at 6’4+/250.


85)Michael Jordan G/OSU – Jordan looks like a tackle and was headed to OSU to play tackle but was quickly moved to guard about 5 snaps in. Jordan brings tremendous size and athleticism to the guard position.


86)Mack Wilson LB/Alabama – Even when he wasn’t starting Saban git him in the field whuxh should tell you something about his feelings on the player. Mack has great straight line speed and strength. He’s added about 25lbs since arriving there and will have the spotlight shining on him this fall.


87)Damarea Crockett RB/Missouri – It took a minute to get going for Crockett (marijuana suspension, pass pro issues, fumbles) but once he did it was clear hes the best weapon Missouri has. The best thing about his game was he didn’t shy away from premier defenses. He also set a fee freshman rushing records too.


88)Myles Dorn S/UNC – Born has prototype size, range and is another guy that makes an impact everywhere. He can cut off angles in the run game or come in for a bit hit. Break up a play 20 yards away or knock down a pass in tight coverage. This year he’s adamant about taken on a leadership role on the field and in the locker room.


89)Alaric Jackson OT/Iowa – Jackson is a massive human with the athleticism of a basketball player, his first love. Jackson didn’t start playing until a few years ago but has real potential at the next level.


90)Mike Edwards S/Kentucky – Edwards has been very productive over the last two years the closer he is to the ball, sometimes playing the nickel role. Edwards and Allen will each look to put a stamp on their careers this fall.


91) (PTP) Derrick Brown IDL/Auburn – Brown moves very well for someone 315+ and  is a handful in the run game. And he move down the line, stack and shed to make a play near the line. He knows how to use his length whether its reaching out to cause a fumble, knock down a pass/kick or create length to stay clean.


92)Albert Okwuegbunam TE/Missouri TE – Huge red zone target, Okwuegbunam has the serious 3 down potential with some work on his blocking and route running. He does show effort in delivering a wham block for instance but has to get better at hand to hand combat when blocking inline. Right now Missouri uses his out of the backfield and in the slot so he’s very comfortable on the move and being switched around.


93)Easton Stick QB/North Dakota St – Stick took over for Wentz & lead the Bison  to a title last year. Stick has been up & down & streaky at times but shows + accuracy & placement at times. He also can push the ball down the field like Wentz at times as well. Again its about consistency w/ Stick. At times he’s very much in command of his offense though. Looks the part there.


94) (PTP) Porter Gustin LB/USC – Gustin is a smart player w/ a non stop motor. He has the speed to rush the passer & toughness to play in trenches on occasion. Gustin has + athleticism & the ability to stop/start quickly to mirror & chase opponents.  He’ll be an effective chase & pursuit player along the backside of the line. He looks like he could play some DE or OLB for a multiple team like the Pats.


95) (PTP) Anthony Nelson Rush/Iowa – Nelson reminds me a little like a developing Zach Allen. He’s a big, thick pass rusher that packed on more than 40 lbs since coming to Iowa. Again he’s a bit of a project but at 6’6/270 but he already does a good job at using his strength and length. He’s a workmen-like linemen that makes each snap a fistfight in itself. The Iowa native is mix power, length & burst at 6’6/270. Nelson also does a good job of controlling his man & setting the edge to prevent anything from bouncing outside. Like Allen he’s still filling out and getting used to grown man strength. He filled the stat sheet last year and if he improves his numbers he’ll probably go higher than this. Last year he amassed 41 tackles, including 21 solo tackles and 20 assists,  7.5 sacks,  9.5 tackles for loss, four pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and a blocked field goal. He also has family ties to Iowa, his father played football there as well.


96)Dre’mont Jones IDL – 6’3/290 Jones brings a good first step and snap awareness. Strong enough to hold his ground in the ground but take advantage of 1 on 1’s at the 3/5 Technique. Like so other players you want to see have a consistent year and I’ll be watching you see if his contact balanced improved at all too.


97)  (PTP) Tyler Johnson WR/Minnesota – Johnson is a former multi sport star in high school, including playing QB & helping his basketball team to a championship his SR year. A high character person & smart football player, Johnson is capable of working all 3 areas of the field. He was on pace to SO WR records last year before getting hurt for the last 2 games. He might not be a 1st round player or big name prospect but looks like he can help a team on the field & in the locker room.


98)Miles Sanders RB/PSU – Sanders will be taking over for Barkley at PSU this year. He’s a big time recruit that many thought would have ended up at a “Big Name” School like OSU or LSU but he choose Penn St & will get his shot very soon. He’s a do it all back w/ rec skills, agility, speed & vision. I know PSU coaches & players are excited about him & can’t wait to see what he brings day 1.


99)JoJo Mcintosh S/Washington – McIntosh is the other half of the Safety tandem at UW. The enforcer in the secondary, he takes pride in setting the tone & letting the other team know what kind of day its going be. McIntosh has also shown good instincts & processing speed at times in coverage as well even though his strengths lay closer to the ball.


100) Alec Eberle C/FSU – Eberle is fleet of foot center that gets to the 2nd level in a hurry & is eager to hit someone when he gets there. The problem I see coming his weight & ability to execute & maintain blocks, 1 on 1, at the next level. At times Eberle can also get too ahead of himself & work himself out of a play or doesn’t take the proper angle to the defender. With some added weight, the ability to maintain it & Eberle could be a good pro player.



I’m sure this list will change a ton between now and April. In fact it absolutely will. This is just a snack and to get familiar with some of the prospects you’ll be seeing this fall and on Sundays in the near future. Please share and comment. Praise or criticism welcome. Happy Father’s Day to everyone as well!














6 Responses to “Early, Top 100 NCAAF Players Going Into The 2018-19 Season”

  1. steve earle says:

    Jeff you are doing a great job. All this early info is beyond anything I’ve ever been able to get before. Thanks so much.

  2. Daniel Sullivan says:

    Instead of signing Eric Decker I would like to see Patriots sign veteran Defensive End that is
    waived by a team. Patriots already have a solid group of receivers.
    Celtics Draft would love to see Celtics trade into top 10 if not talented Guard
    Landry Shamet Wichita State would be a great addition to Celtics.

    • steve earle says:

      Agree our WR group is deep and talented so looking for another WR doesn’t excite me. As we know things can change quickly but for now stand pat. Wouldn’t be surprised if BB brings in some player waved by others it just all depends on that player. Wouldn’t expect a top DE type would be waved unless it’s a money issue and that puts us at a disadvantage right off the bat.Be interesting to see what happens but I’m not expecting any big moves in the area. Could be wrong, seem to recall I’ve been wrong once or twice before.

  3. Russell says:

    VERY well done article Jeff!! I feel sure the Patriots go all in on a QB, as the 2019 season maybe it for Tom. QB Daniel Jones looks like a player that fits, Duke’s coach has long been known for good QB’s.
    Thanks again Jeff, nice job!

    • steve earle says:

      Have to agree with you this time Russell. BB has the capital to either move up in the draft, if a suitable prospect emerges, or make a trade. I’m not seeing any particular QB yet that would make me jump up and shout hooray but will keep looking. On a related but lower level I watched a CFL game the other day and the Winnipeg QB, Chris Streveler was outstanding in that game. Maybe someone to keep an eye on down the road?

  4. Daniel Sullivan says:

    Actually Arena Football is sounding good. Can’t wait for College Football. The Patriots
    and NFL are getting tough to enjoy. Would love NFL Network to play an old Raiders or Steelers
    Game. I Guess it’s Money that has ruined the NFL.

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