2018 NFL Draft Early Entry Underclassmen Tracker: Where Will They Be Drafted?

2018 NFL Draft Early Entry Underclassmen Tracker: Where Will They Be Drafted?

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Early Entry Underclassmen Tracker: Where Will They Be Drafted?


Where are all the early entry underclassmen going? Who’s coming out early and where will they be taken in the 2018 NFL Draft? 

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Key Underclassmen Returning

DE Zack Allen, Boston College
RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
DL Austin Bryant, Clemson
LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin
DL Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
CB Mark Fields, Clemson
QB Will Grier, West Virginia
RB Damien Harris, Alabama
OT/OG Martez Ivey, Florida
LB Kendall Joseph, Clemson
DE Cece Jefferson, Florida
QB Drew Lock, Missouri
WR Stanley Morgan, Nebraska
RB L.J. Scott, Michigan State
QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson

Early Entry Underclassmen


Josh Allen, Wyoming

Projected: Top Ten Overall
He’s got everything the NFL types dream of. 6-5, 240-pound size, great mobility, and a special arm that few current quarterbacks have. However, he wasn’t good this year, completing just 56% of his passes for 1,658 yards and 13 scores with six picks. He threw for over 3,200 yards with 28 touchdowns with seven rushing scores last year, but again, he hit just 56% of his throws. The tools are all there to be a No. 1 overall pick – but he’s going to need time.

Kyle Allen, Houston

Projected: Free Agent
Uhhhh, okay. The one-time super-recruit never kicked it in at Texas A&M, transferred to Houston, wasn’t any good, and lost the job to D’Eriq King. He’s got the 6-3, 211-pound size, and he’s Captain Checkdown when it comes to short-range accuracy, but he’s a backup. However, he could stick as a nice No. 3 practice squad option.

Sam Darnold, USC

Projected: Top Ten Overall
Yeah, he needs a ton of work. Yeah, he doesn’t have the biggest arm. Yeah, he turns the ball over way too often. But in terms of size, athleticism, attitude, and personality, he’s everything you want in a franchise starting quarterback. There are a bunch of things not to like about his game, but every once in a while he’ll show off something magical. Be patient – the upside is limitless.

Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Projected: 1st Round
One of the most interesting prospects in the draft, he’s not an easy read. He needs a TON of work as a passer, and his running ability will only work so much, but he’s got the arm, he’s got the special mobility, and he has … it. While he could make an amazing receiver, he has too much upside as a quarterback not to take a late first round flier.

Chase Litton, Marshall

Projected: Undrafted
Ugh … he could’ve turned himself into a terrific prospect going into 2019 with a decent team returning and a weaker overall quarterback draft class. He’s good enough to potentially hang around the league for a long time as a backup – he’s got the 6-6, 232-pound size and a good arm – but he threw 14 interceptions, was inconsistent, and had too many concerns to go along with the 3,115 yards and 25 scores. He could slip into the late rounds.

Tanner Lee, Nebraska

Projected: 4th Round
He’s got all the tools the NFL types are going to love, including the big-time arm as good as anyone coming out, but he’s a project. There’s enough there to work with, but the interception history is going to be an issue.

Josh Rosen, UCLA

Projected: Top Ten Overall
As talented and as ready an NFL passer as has come out in a long, long time, he was close to ready as a freshman. He takes too many chances, and he’s too much of a gambler down the field, but he’s also the type of gunslinger who can win games by himself. The problem? He’s hurt. Always. He didn’t making it through the last few seasons, has concussion concerns, and he’s not built like a big bomber who can take a beating. But neither is Aaron Rodgers.

Running Backs

Josh Adams, Notre Dame

Projected: 3rd Round
The 6-2, 220-pounder has the size, the speed, and the untapped receiving ability to be a do-it-all back. He might not bring the power, but he was able to average seven yards per carry this season with 1,430 rushing yards and nine scores. He got banged up a bit, but he had under 500 touches with the Irish – there’s tread on the tires.

Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Projected: Top Ten Overall
One of the best do-it-all backs to come out in a long, long time, he’s got the perfect blend of hands, quickness, and home run hitting burst. So what’s missing? He tends to dance a bit too often and isn’t your normal 100-yard rusher, but whatever. He’s so good that there’s an outside shot he goes No. 1 overall ahead of all the star quarterbacks.

Nyheim Hines, NC State

Projected: 4th Round
More of a jack-of-all-trades than a workhorse running back, he came up with 1,112 yards and 12 scores, 26 catches, and was a whale of a kick and punt returner. His biggest asset? Alvin Kamara. Hines isn’t quite as big, but he might be seen as that type of complementary back who can be a terrific part of the mix.

Derrius Guice, LSU

Projected: 1st Round
Saquon Barkley will probably be the first running back off the board, but Guice should be a quick No. 2. He’s not the prospect Leonard Fournette was coming out last year, but the 5-11, 212-pounder is a true NFL No. 1 back who fought through bumps and bruises to run for 1,251 yards and 11 scores. There’s untapped potential to be used as more of a receiver – he scored twice this year.

Kerryon Johnson, Auburn

Projected: 2nd Round
Compact, quick, and tough, he might have been banged up from time to time, and he might have been part of the Auburn system, but he’s a touchdown machine who can catch, too. Despite getting hurt late in the year, he finished with 1,391 yards and 18 scores, and caught 24 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. However, he averaged under five yards per carry.

Ronald Jones III, USC

Projected: 2nd Round
After the first wave of star backs, Jones will be a fantastic value get late in the first round or early in the second. The slippery-smooth 6-0, 200-pounder is a running back’s running back – others in the business love his style. Coming off a 1,550-yard, 19 touchdown season, he’ll blossom as more of a receiver in the pros.

John Kelly, Tennessee

Projected: 5th Round
He’s not another Alvin Kamara, but he’s a tough, good runner who didn’t get a whole lot of help this season rushing for 778 yards and nine scores – but four of them came in the opener against Georgia Tech. He can catch the ball and be used in a variety of ways.

Ryan Nall, Oregon State

Projected: 5th Round
While he’ll find a role in some way, he’ll be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. The 6-2, 237-pounder can catch, block, and be a workhorse back, but his best role might be as an H-back or a tight end. 255 pounds as a freshman, he can bulk up a bit and grow into a job.

Kamyrn Pettway, Auburn

Projected: 5th Round
He just couldn’t stay healthy. The 6-0, 235-pounder was terrific when he was on the field, but he only played in five games this year – running for 305 yards and six scores – after tearing off 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. He’s not going to be a receiver, and he can’t be a long term solution, but for a short burst, he could be a terrific back for a few games.

Bo Scarbrough, Alabama

Projected: 3rd Round
A huge call, the 6-2, 235-pounder has the talent, the size, and the toughness to be an NFL starting back who can stay on the field for all three downs. He was just a part of the puzzle in a crowded backfield, finishing with 596 yards and eight scores this season, but there’s a LOT of tread left on the tires. Not just big, not just fast, he can catch, too, finishing second on the team in receptions.

Mark Walton, Miami

Projected: 4th Round
There’s not enough there to think he’s an automatic franchise back, but he’s extremely quick and doesn’t take on a lot of big hits. At just 5-9 and 205 pounds, he’s not going to be a workhorse, and he missed too much time – getting knocked out in the fifth game this year – but he can be a part of a rotation.

Wide Receivers

Deontay Burnett, USC

Projected: 2nd Round
The leading receiver after becoming the No. 1 guy for Sam Darnold, he came up with 86 grabs for 1,114 yards and nine scores. The 6-0, 170-pound speedster might not be an NFL top guy, but get him the ball on the move and he’ll make big things happen.

Deon Cain, Clemson

Projected: 3rd Round
The team’s leader in receiving yards, he went from being a nice part of the puzzle in the national championship season, to the most dangerous top target with 58 grabs for 734 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-1, 190-pounder looks the part, but he’ll slide out of the second round if he runs in the mid-to-high 4.5s – he’ll be a top 100 pick.

Antonio Callaway, Florida

Projected: 4th Round
There’s no questioning his gamebreaking ability and skills, but who wants to take the chance on the off-the-field and character concerns? Someone will. He’s not all that big or physical, but if he blasts out a sub-4.4 in workouts, most of the other issues will be overlooked.

Simmie Cobbs, Indiana

Projected: 4th Round
The 6-4, 220-pounder is more than ready to go rather than come back for his fifth year. He might not blow past anyone, but he’s a tough, reliable, physical target who caught 72 passes for 841 yards and eight scores. The scouts will be all over his Ohio State performance – 11 catches for 149 yards and a score.

Keke Coutee, Texas Tech

Projected: 4th Round
Not just another Texas Tech receiver with inflated stats, he’s the real deal. He caught 93 passes for 1,429 yards and ten scores, and occasionally did big things as a kick returner. He’s not just at 5-11 and 180 pounds, but he’s lightning quick with great route-running ability.

Quadree Henderson, Pitt

Projected: 6th Round
He’ll make a splash in offseason workouts with his speed and quickness, but he’ll mostly be a kick returner. He’ll drop because he’s not a receiver – catching just 17 passes this season – but he’s got enough skill to get a look as a special teamer.

Richie James, Middle Tennessee

Projected: 4th Round
A devastating slot receiver, he’s not all that big, but he’s really, really quick, a great route runner, and sucks in everything that comes his way. He missed the entire season with a broken collarbone, but the year before he caught 105 passes for 1,625 yards and 12 scores and ran for four touchdowns.

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

Projected: 4th Round
The all-around playmaker will be a perfect No. 2 or No. 3 option, and an occasional kick returner. He finished with 71 catches this season for 919 yards and ten scores, return both a punt and a kick for a score, and he was one of the few playmakers on a team that couldn’t find anything that consistently worked.

Jordan Lasley, UCLA

Projected: 3rd Round
An interesting prospect, there are a slew of question marks about his personality and his steadiness, but he’s a dangerous 6-1, 210-pound deep threat who averaged more than 18 yards per catch, making 69 grabs for 1,264 yards and nine scores despite missing four games. Amazing late, he came up with back-to-back 200-yard games.

Tavares Martin, Washington State

Projected: 4th Round
The quick speedster lead Washington State with 70 catches for 831 yards and nine scores. He’s got the 6-1, 185-pound size and the deep speed, but he had issues with Mike Leach, was kicked off the team/left – depending who you want to believe, and now he’ll be an interesting prospect in the evaluation process with a big upside.

Ray-Ray McCloud, Clemson

Projected: 4th Round
Speed, speed, speed, he didn’t hit enough home runs for the Tigers, but the 5-10, 180-pounder will take the top off the workouts when he flirts with a 4.3 40. He’ll be used more as a punt returner than a top receiver – he caught 49 passes for 503 yards and a touchdown.

D.J. Moore, Maryland

Projected: 3rd Round
Maryland – for the most part – didn’t have a quarterback over the last three years, but Moore still managed to come up with 17 scores, catching 80 passes for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Expect him to be a much better pro with a good quarterback throwing his way. He’s not all that tall, but he’s built well – he’ll be a tough No. 2 target.

Byron Pringle, Kansas State

Projected: 4th Round
An interesting prospect for a variety of reasons, the 24-year-old’s off-the-field concerns before joining Kansas State are well in the past – Bill Snyder handled the vetting process for the pros. A devastating home run hit,r he averaged over 24 yards per catch, but only caught 30 passes this year. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, he’s got the size, the speed, and the upside to be a good No. 3 part of a receiving puzzle.

Trey Quinn, SMU

Projected: 4th Round
After missing the 2016 season, he burst on the scene last year with a ridiculous 114 yards for 1,236 yards and 13 scores, catching everything that came his way including a three game stretch with 47 grabs on lots and lots and LOTS of short-to-midrange plays. He’ll find a starting role right away as a sure-handed slot receiver.

Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Projected: 1st Round
SMU’s Courtland Sutton might have the better look and measurables, but Ridley might still be the first receiver off the board. A solid 4.4 runner with 6-1, 190-pound size, he’s got it all. The only thing the Bama passing game had going at times this season, he caught 63 passes for 967 yards and five scores – the team’s No. 2 wideout caught 14 balls.

Korey Robertson, Southern Miss

Projected: 5th Round
Solid in his first two seasons, he blew up this year with 76 catches for, 1,106 yards and 12 scores. Build well, the 6-2, 210-pounder can get physical, and he proved he can be reliable. He’ll be consistent, and he’ll make a few deep plays, but he’ll have to fight to be a No. 3 target.

Tre’Quan Smith, UCF

Projected: 4th Round
A 6-1, 210-pounder with deep speed, he was one of the main parts of the passing puzzle this season, leading the Knights with 50 catches for 1,171 yards and 13 scores averaging almost 20 yards per catch. He’ll be around a high 4.5 runner at the Combine, but if he tears off something special, he’ll be a top 100 pick.

Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame

Projected: 3rd Round
At 6-5 and 203 pounds, he’s a big, dangerous matchup problem who did what he could in a passing-challenged offense with 58 catches for 961 and nine scores this season. If he really tears off a 4.5 – that’s around his range – or under, he could be a top 50 pick.

Courtland Sutton, SMU

Projected: 1st Round
Get ready for him to be part of one of the biggest debates of the first round. The 6-4, 215-pounder has the prototype size, great speed, and can explode with the look of a true No. 1 target. He followed up a 76-catch, 1,246-yard, ten touchdown season with 68 grabs for 1,085 yards and 12 scores. He’s what the NFL is looking for.

Tight Ends

Jordan Akins, UCF

Projected: 3rd Round
Ready to go despite having another year of eligibility, he could be one of the first tight ends off the board if his knee – he suffered a torn ACL a few years ago – is sound. The 6-4, 262-pounder has size, and he can stretch the field, catching 32 passes for 515 yards and four scores.

Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

Projected: 2nd Round
One of the top receiving tight ends to come out in the last few years, the 6-5, 255-pound veteran can stretch the field, make plays in the red zone, and be a No. 1. target, making 62 catches for 958 yards and eight scores.

Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

Projected: 3rd Round
The concern? Age. After spending a few years playing baseball, he’s a wee bit overaged, but he’s a good receiver who came through for an offense that lacked weapons.

Ryan Izzo, Florida State

Projected: 4th Round
The coaching change cemented the call. The 6-5, 250-pounder has prototype skills and upside, he caught just 19 passes for 306 yards and three scores, but he can stretch the field, and he can block. Underutilized at FSU, the pros will like him.

Dalton Shultz, Stanford

Projected: 5th Round
While he looks the part, and he might get plenty of love as another prototype Stanford tight end, he didn’t do enough. He can be physical, and he can hit, but the 6-6, 242-pounder only finished with 22 catches for 212 yards and three scores this year. He’ll have a job for a long time as a solid No. 2 option.

Offensive Tackles

Orlando Brown, Oklahoma

Projected: 1st Round
Watch out for a ton of debate on him. He’s a blaster of a run blocker and a big attitude guy – in a good way – but is he quick enough in pass protection to warrant a top ten overall spot? Some are going to kill him with the Right Tackle Only tag, but it only takes one – someone will want him in the top 20.

Nick Gates, Nebraska

Projected: 5th Round
Is he a guard or a tackle? He’s not big enough to be a blaster in the interior, but the 6-5, 295-pounder is versatile enough to see time anywhere but center. He’ll be more of a swing player who’ll move around and fill in where needed.

Kolton Miller, UCLA

Projected: 1st Round
Right there with Orlando Brown and Connor Williams as one of the top tackle options. at 6-8 and 310 pounds, he’s not as big as Brown, and he’s not the same mauler, but he’s an almost sure-thing left tackle. Brown might not be.

Brian O’Neill, Pitt

Projected: 3rd Round
Well past the first wave of good tackle prospects, his versatility will matter. A rock for a good line over the past few years, he started out as a right tackle, spent this season on the left side, and showed off the production to handle either spot just fine. He’s a bit lean, but the former tight end can move.

Connor Williams, Texas

Projected: 1st Round
If the 6-6, 320-pounder isn’t the first tackle off the board, he won’t be far off. He likely would’ve been the top tackle taken in last year’s draft with the right size and right quickness, but he’s at his best blasting away for the running game. He’ll go in the top 20.


James Daniels, Iowa

Projected: 2nd Round
The prototype who might just be a ten-year fixture for someone’s line, he’s a tough 6-4 and 295 pounds who can get on the move and blast away for the ground game. He’ll be as steady as they come and ready from Day One.

Offensive Guards

Taylor Hearn, Clemson

Projected: 4th Round
Ultra-dependable, the 6-5, 330-pounder has the size, the hitting ability, and the experience to be ready to roll from Day One. He’s purely a guard, but he can work at either spot. Having already graduated, he’s ready – he’ll be a safe mid-round choice.

Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

Projected: 1st Round
This might be a sexy class of quarterbacks, and there’s a lot of splash at running back and with a few good pass rushers and safeties. But Nelson might be the safest pick in the draft. the 6-5, 327 pounder is a killer of a run blocker who’ll sit on the inside of someone’s line at a Pro Bowl level for the next ten years.

Maea Teuhema, SE Louisiana

Projected: 5th Round
Who wants to take the chance? The former LSU Tiger has a world of talent, but he was suspended from LSU for alleged academic issues, but he’s big, he can work at right tackle, and he might be versatile enough to be tried out at a few different spots in a swing role.

Defensive Ends

Olasunkanmi Adiniyi, Toledo

Projected: 4th Round
A bit of a tweener, the 6-2, 248-pounder exploded, going from a nice pass rusher to a killer, making 66 tackles with 8.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. He might be a situational prospect, but he’s got the burst worth taking a long look at.

Dorance Armstrong, Kansas

Projected: 2nd Round
Don’t be fooled by the lack of pass rushing production in his junior year – it was a different sort of Kansas defense. He did more against the run, coming up with 63 tackles with 1.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss. He’s a bit of a tweener with 6-4, 246-pound size, but he’s still the guy who made ten sacks and 20 tackles for loss in 2016. If anything, he showed his versatility this year.

Rasheem Green, USC

Projected: 3rd Round
The 6-5, 280-pounder has the right size to go along with his pass rushing ability, coming up with ten sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss on the season with 43 tackles. He’s got a quick first step for his bulk, and can hold up against the run enough to be a late second round pick, but will likely be an early third rounder.

Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

Projected: 2nd Round
He’s got the size and he’s got the experience, but the jury is out a bit on whether or not he’s a late first rounder or will go early in the third. He came up with 42 tackles with seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. With the versatility to work as an outside linebacker, he’ll get into the backfield in just about any scheme.

Arden Key, LSU

Projected: 1st Round
One of the biggest question marks and biggest calls of the draft, he has perennial Pro Bowl pass rushing talent, but can he stay healthy and can he be steady enough to be worthy of a top ten overall pick? With his athleticism, the 11 sacks he came up with as a sophomore, and the upside, he’s too good not to take a chance on.

Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State

Projected: 5th Round
Some scout is going to pound the table for the Cougar star, but where does he play? A defensive tackle by nature, he’s only 6-2 and around 250 pounds, but he’s not a linebacker, he’s not really a defensive end, he’s just a football player with a great motor. He came up with 45 tackles with 10.5 sacks snd 22.5 tackles for loss.

Breeland Speaks, Ole Miss

Projected: 3rd Round
Versatile enough to be used in a variety of ways, the 6-3, 285-pounder rose up as the season went on, coming up with seven sacks with 67 tackles. The talent is there to grow into a part of a rotation, he didn’t do enough in the backfield – he only came up with one tackle for loss outside of his sacks – but he was solid against the run.

Josh Sweat, Florida State

Projected: 4th Round
Where does he play? A true tweener, he’s more of an outside linebacker than a true pass rushing defensive end. He made 56 tackles with 5.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. It’s always a plus to go if a guy is ready, but he’s around a 3-4 rounder now, and might’ve generated a second round buzz if he returned.

JoJo Wicker, Arizona State

Projected: 4th Round
Where does he fit in? He’s a football player, but he’s undersized for a tackle, and he’s just an okay NFL pass rushing prospect on the outside. The 6-3, 273-pounder came up with 39 stops with six sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

Jalen Wilkerson, Florida State

Projected: 6th Round
An intriguing prospect, the former tight end is a great athlete, but he was a backup in the FSU defensive line rotation making just 19 tackles with six tackles for loss. He could’ve used another year to boost his stock, but at 6-5 an 283 pounds with good quickness, there’s untapped potential.

Defensive Tackles

Taven Bryan, Florida

Projected: Mid-to-late 1st round, early 2nd Round
A high-riser in the draft circles, he’s a sure-thing second-rounder and could find his way into the first round with 6-5, 293-pound size and a great motor. He’s got freakish skills and upside with the potential to be use more as an end.

Du’Vonta Lampkin, Oklahoma

Projected: 4th Round
Really, really, really physical – despite how the Sooner run defense looked at times – he came up with 23 tackles with a sack as part of a rotation this year. There were a few academic issues, but he’s got the 6-4, 335-pound size and the strength to gum things up inside.

RJ McIntosh, Miami

Projected: 3rd Round
He’s not massive, but the 6-4, 293-pounder is a slippery interior pass rusher with 2.5 sacks with 12.5 tackles for loss, making 52 stops. Best of all, he’s active in all three phases, knocking down seven passes and doing a great job of finding ways into the backfield.

Kahlil McKenzie, Tennessee

Projected: 5th Round
It never worked out. The superstar recruit was supposed to be the key piece of a resurgence of Tennessee football, but he was just okay, not great. He still has the 6-3, 320-pound size and the quickness, but he had a hard time staying healthy and he doesn’t take over games. On the measurables, though, he’s it.

Kendrick Norton, Miami

Projected: 4th Round
His teammate, RJ McIntosh, might be more disruptive, but the 6-3, 312-pounder is more of a space-eater. He made 26 tackles with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss as a run stopper who can hold his own on the inside.

Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

Projected: 1st Round
Yeah, he’s known for his big plays against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, but he’s a lot more than a fluky touchdown catch. The 6-2, 308-pounder is a dangerous interior pass rusher who can disrupt everything an offense tries to do – he can get up and down the line in a hurry. He finished the year with 53 tackles and a sack, but he’ll get into the backfield more in the NFL.

Harrison Phillips, Stanford

Projected: 2nd Round
While he’s not the prospect Solomon Thomas was last year coming off the Stanford line, he’s a good all-around playmaker who should go in the late first, early second round. He led the team with 102 tackles with seven sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss – he’s always working. He’s bigger than Thomas, but Thomas is a whole lot quicker.

Tim Settle, Virginia Tech

Projected: 4th Round
A massive run stuffer on the inside, the 6-3, 335-pounder came up with 36 tackles on the season, but he can also get behind the line, making 4.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. The problem? He’s a huge projection and not a physically mature prospect. However, he’s a shot for the stars.

Vita Vea, Washington

Projected: Mid-to-late 1st round, early 2nd Round
This is the Coke machine in the middle of the defensive front that everyone is looking for. However, he’s not just a giant 6-5, 240-pound run-stuffer; he can get into the backfield. He finished this year with 44 tackles with 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. This is the all-around tackle who can collapse the pocket, occupy double-teams, whatever you need.

Eddy Wilson, Purdue

Projected: 5th Round
He’s got the 6-4, 295-pound size, and he’s a decent enough prospect to be a late consideration after coming up with 27 tackles with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss, but there were a few off-the-field issues over his career, and he was left out of the bowl game for alleged academic issues.


Jerome Baker, Ohio State

Projected: 3rd Round
The 6-1, 225-pounder isn’t all that big, and he’s not necessarily going to fit every scheme, but he can really, really move. His lack of bulk should knock him down a bit, but he’s a three down defender who led the team with 72 tackles with 3.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. He’ll be everywhere.

Jack Cichy, Wisconsin

Projected: 4th Round
He could’ve come back for a sixth year after missing all of 2017 recovering from a torn ACL, but with his injury history and his age, he’s ready to go to the next level with what tread is left on the tires. As a pure pass rusher, though, he could be a GM favorite as the draft process rolls on.

Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Projected: 2nd Round
There’s a chance he slides into the late stages of the first round if his workouts are terrific. The film is fantastic, leading the Hokies with 109 tackles with 5.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. A three-down defender, the 6-5, 250-pounder can do it all, especially as a potential terror of an NFL pass rusher.

Frank Ginda, San Jose State

Projected: 5th Round
The type of defender who slides down the draft process because he’s not going to test all that well, and his numbers are boosted because San Jose State stunk and spent too much time having to make plays – he can ball. Great in the open field, he came up with 173 tackles with two sacks, 13 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He’ll find a roster spot somewhere.

Joel Iyiegbuniwe, WKU

Projected: 4th Round
You know those guys that you’ve probably never heard of or saw play, and then turns into top NFL tacklers? Here you go. The 6-1, 230-pounder is close to graduating – he’s ready – and he can pop, leading the Hilltoppers with 117 tackles with two sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.

Andre Smith, North Carolina

Projected: 4th Round
Is he healthy enough? The 6-0, 240-pounder is a pure inside run stopper who came up with 113 tackles two years ago, but he suffered a knee injury early on this season after seeing time in just two games. If and when he’s right, he has the upside to grow into a quarterback of a defense. But that knee has to be tested out.

Roquan Smith, Georgia

Projected: 1st Round
While the 6-1, 225-pounder is a bit undersized, and he’s not necessarily a sure-thing fit for any one NFL spot … whatever. He’s a likely top ten overall pick who can rush the passer, get all over the field, and hit like a ton of bricks whenever he gets to the ball. The Butkus Award winner made a team-high 137 tackles with 6.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss for the national championship runner-up.

Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Projected: 2nd Round
An absolute terror of a playmaker this season, the 6-4, 240-pounder led the team with 141 tackles with four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Always working, always moving, and always around the ball, he’s not a next-level pass rusher, but he’ll get in on everything against the run.


Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Projected: 2nd Round
Hurt throughout most of the year, he came back to make a few tackles and pick off a pass, but his upside as a lockdown playmaking corner comes off his terrific sophomore season. Very quick, very shifty, and with great ball skills, he came up with five picks in 2016. The broken hand isn’t any big deal – he’s good now.

J.J. Dallas, ULM

Projected: Undrafted
Okay … the 6-0, 198-pounder has good size, and he can hit a little bit, but he was only able to play half of his one season at ULM making 16 tackles with five broken up passes. He can move, and the decent measurables are there, but he’s purely a projection.

Carlton Davis, Auburn

Projected: 2nd Round
An all-star playmaker, he came up with 36 tackles with a pick and 11 broken up passes, even through he was out for the Peach Bowl. With 6-1, 200-pound size, good hitting ability, nice ball skills, and the potential to be moved to safety if needed, he might just sneak into the first round.

Holton Hill, Texas

Projected: 2nd Round
The 6-3, 200-pound size and skill are there, but he was suspended for violating team rules and missed time – that might drop him a wee bit. He made 51 stops and came up with two interceptions – both for scores. The suspension, though, is the question.

Mike Hughes, UCF

Projected: 3rd Round
While he might slip out of the first five picks, he’ll be a steal late in the second rough or early in the third. He’s a solid 5-11, 185-pounder who made 49 tackles with four picks and a touchdown. Quick, he’s been used as a return man, with one punt return for a score and two kickoff returns for a touchdown.

Donte Jackson, LSU

Projected: 3rd Round
For now, he’s around a low third round prospect with 5-11, 175-pound size, enough toughness to come up with 49 tackles last season, and the ball skills to break up ten passes with a pick. But his stock will go up when he runs. Get ready for a 4.2 in Indy.

JC Jackson, Maryland

Projected: 3rd Round
The measurables are there. He’s 6-1, 193 pounds, and he’ll flirt with a sub-4.5 in the workouts. There might be a slew of off-the-field issues from his time at Florida, but all was fine at Maryland, coming up with 40 tackles with three picks and seven tackles for loss. If the vetting process turns out solid, he could go in the top 50.

Josh Jackson, Iowa

Projected: 1st Round
A rock-solid ball-hawker, the best corner in college football this season came up with eight interceptions including two pick-sixes against Wisconsin. He went to Iowa – he can tackle. He came up with 48 stops last year and was terrific in the open field, but with his size and quickness, his job will be to lock down No. 1 targets.

Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

Projected: 3rd Round
The only concern might be his position – he might be a better football player than a pure workout warrior. Depending on how he tests, he might not have the raw speed to be a lockdown corner – even with ten broken up passes this year. However, at 6-2 and 205 pounds, and with good quickness, he could eventually transition into a terrific safety.

Quenton Meeks, Stanford

Projected: 3rd Round
A great tackler, strong in coverage, and Stanford smart, he’s an NFL starter, but he’s just not fast enough to become a lockdown No. 1 star. The 6-2, 197-pounder hit – coming up with 65 tackles – and he’ll make plays when the ball is in the air with two picks last year and eight broken up passes.

Nick Nelson, Wisconsin

Projected: 4th Round
Ultra-productive, the 5-11, 208-pound Hawaii transfer came up with a whopping 21 broken up passes and 35 tackles this season – and no interceptions. A terrific punt returner and with decent toughness in the open field, he can do a little of everything, but he might be a walking pass interference penalty at the next level.

Isaiah Oliver, Colorado

Projected: 1st Round
A really fast, really productive playmaker, he might slip into the late first round and won’t last long in the second if he drops. At 6-1 and 195 pounds he has the size to go along with the speed, and he can get after the ball with 13 broken up passes and 1two picks this year.

D.J. Reed, Kansas State

Projected: 3rd Round
While he’s not all that big, the 5-9, 188-pounder is a feisty baller. A killer of a return man, he averaged almost 15 yards per punt return, and over 34 yards per kickoff return, he’s ultra-quick with dangerous deep speed. Able to tackle, he can hit in the open field with four interceptions and nine broken up passes.

Kevin Toliver, LSU

Projected: 4th Round
Not nearly as fast as teammate Donte Jackson – almost no one is – he’s a 6-3, 204-pound future safety who’ll get tried out on the outside early on. He came up with 29 tackles with just one interception, but with his size, he’ll be intriguing if he runs under a 4.5.

Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Projected: 1st Round
While he’s not quite considered the superstar talent that recent Buckeye defensive backs are/were, he’s still good enough to likely be a first rounder. While he skipped the Cotton Bowl, he came up with 37 tackles with two picks and 15 broken up passes as an all-star playmaker at one corner spot.


Jessie Bates, Wake Forest

Projected: 4th Round
He’s not all that huge, but he’s got nice size. The 6-2, 195-pounder is quick enough to have been used as a returner, and good enough to be a nice tackler making 79 stops with a pick. He’s a bit of a tweener – he’ll make a nice nickel option.

Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Projected: 3rd Round
While he might not be the prospect his linebacker brother Tremaine is, he’s what the NFL types are looking for – a big safety who can hit. Just okay in pass coverage – he came up with two picks last year and is getting better – but he cranked up 59 tackles. His draft stock will come down to how he runs. He can’t be in the high 4.6s.

DeShon Elliott, Texas

Projected: 2nd Round
All of a sudden, it all worked. He wasn’t a bust in his first few years, but he didn’t play up to the hype. This year, though … boom. The 6-2, 210-pounder was second on the team with 63 tackles with six interceptions – taking two for scores – and nine broken up passes. He also came up with 8.5 tackles for loss.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Projected: Top ten overall
He’s the safety everyone is looking for, The 6-1, 202-pound playmaker made 60 tackles with a pick and eight broken up passes, getting all over the field and doing a little bit of everything for the Tide D. He’s fast enough to work at corner if needed, can do well in run supposed, and is a dream of an NFL free safety. He’s a lock to go in the top ten, if not top five.

Rashaan Galden, Tennessee

Projected: 3rd Round
Big, tough, and strong in pure passing situations, he came up with 65 tackles with a pick and five broken up passes. He might need to be more of a ball-hawker, but the 6-1, 193-pounder can be used in a variety of ways, including at corner.

Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

Projected: 2nd Round
Get ready for a total steal. The 6-3, 214-pounder will slide just a wee bit, but he’s an all-around baller who’ll be a high-level starter for a long, long time. Harrison led the national champs with 74 tackles with three picks and four broken up passes, but his only big knock his lack of top-end speed. Whatever – he’ll be terrific.

Marcell Harris, Florida

Projected: 4th Round
Is he back to healthy? The Gators’ leading tackler in 2016 tore his Achilles’ heel and missed all of 2017. The 6-1, 211-pounder is a good hitter who can get all over the field, with just enough ball skills to worry about when the ball is in the air. But again, first he has to prove he’s 100%.

Derwin James, Florida State

Projected: 1st Round
The prototype, he came back from missing all of 2016 hurt and did everything he was supposed to. At 6-3 and 215 pounds he has the size, and he can hit, making 84 stops with 11 broken up passes and two interceptions – taking one for a score.

Justin Reid, Stanford

Projected: 3rd Round
The team’s second-leading tackler, Reid is a solid 6-1, 204-pound tackler who came up with 99 tackles with a sack and five picks – he’s always around the ball. He could sneak up into the late second round after workouts and interviews, but he’ll be a rock-solid third round get who’ll be an instant starter.

Van Smith, Clemson

Projected: 5th Round
The 5-11, 185-pounder might not be all that big, but he can hit. He came up with 49 tackles on the year with a pick, but he made 95 stops in a terrific sophomore season with two interceptions. He can play either safety spot, but he’s a mid-to-late round prospect.


Eddy Piniero, Florida

Projected: Free Agent
Known mostly for being the one who solved the Gators’ woeful kicking issues, he hit 38-of-43 field goal tries and with 50-yard range. There’s a shot he gets taken anywhere from the fifth round on, but he’ll most likely be a key priority free agent.


Michael Dickson, Texas

Projected: 3rd Round
The best punter in college football might just be good enough to sneak into the top 50 – the gushing from the Texas coaching staff is at another level about the game-changer. He averaged 47.4 yards per kick with 42 of his 84 kicks – including ten in the bowl win over Missouri – inside the 20. He’s a weapon.

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