- Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
- Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
- Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board
of Selectors since 1999
Any NFL draft without a quarterback at the top of the board is different from most editions of the annual affair, and that’s the case this year.
Without a consensus quarterback you’ll hear more divergent opinions about how the top 20 picks will go when talking to scouts, coaches and general managers around the league. It’s an invitation for differences of opinions among decision-makers, normally pretty hearty in any draft, to get a little bigger.
After all, only four times in the past 15 drafts has a quarterback not been the No. 1 pick — Myles Garrett to the Cleveland Browns in 2017, Jadeveon Clowney to the Houston Texans in 2014, Eric Fisher to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 and Jake Long to the Miami Dolphins in 2008.
If recent history is a guide, there will be a team that is unable and unwilling to be patient when it comes to drafting a quarterback. The first quarterback of this class could come off the board within the top 10 picks, much earlier than even the team that made the pick had him slotted.
With that in mind, we present the Jeff Legwold 100. It isn’t a mock draft, but instead a ranking of the top 100 players, regardless of position. As always, the top quarterbacks will be selected well before where they have been slotted, because there are always and forever two draft boards in the NFL — the quarterback board and the board for everybody else.
And as always, if you disagree with the rankings, you’re not alone. But thanks to all who took the time to chat, answer my pile of questions and put up with this annual project, including some who have put up with it for well over three decades.
Note: Best verified or electronically timed 40-yard-dash time in parentheses.
1. Evan Neal, T, Alabama, 6-foot-7 ½, 337 (DNR)
Neal played left tackle, right tackle and left guard during 40 career starts in the SEC, which is the most NFL-ready conference in college football. He’s technically sound and fluid in his footwork. In the rare instances a defender gets an early step on him, Neal has top-shelf recovery skills. While teams have divergent opinions on where the top three tackles are on this board, Neal is the clear No. 1 here.
2. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati, 6-2 ¾, 190 pounds (4.41)
Gardner came within an evaluation eyelash of being No. 1. Beyond Gardner’s rare physical ability are his ability to maintain concentration, fundamentals and footwork while being one of the least targeted defensive backs in years. It speaks to some internal grit, motivation and pride in your work. Put that in a player who still broke up 24 passes, scored three touchdowns and runs 4.4, and that’s some secret sauce. Oh, and he didn’t surrender a touchdown pass during his career.
3. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame, 6-4 1/8, 220 (4.59)
Hamilton plays with the kind of range and awareness coveted in today’s NFL safeties. Hamilton had eight interceptions in 31 career games. He missed six games this past season because of a knee injury. Some quibble with the 40 time, but he might have led this draft class in how-did-he-get-there plays.
4. Ikem Ekwonu, T, NC State, 6-4, 310 (4.93)
Some personnel evaluators believe he’s the No. 1 player on this board. Ekwonu is certainly one of the most entertaining players for offensive line coaches, serving up more pancakes than a truck stop. He’s a powerful finisher in the run game and still ascending on the developmental curve. Everything he does screams potential.
5. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan, 6-6 5/8, 260 (4.74)
Another player many talent evaluators have at No. 1 on the board, Hutchinson is so good he was the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting. He had 16.5 tackles for loss last season to go with a school-record 14 sacks. He’s powerful, flexible, intense and has a knack for winning in the pass rush with skilled hands.
6. Travon Walker, DE, Georgia, 6-5. 272 (4.51)
Walker’s run-down of Alabama wide receiver Agiye Hall 24 yards from the line of scrimmage in the national championship game might be the best one-play clip of any defensive player in this draft. He has the rarest combination of size, speed and quickness. If a defensive line coach can unlock a pass-rusher equal to what Walker can already do in shedding blocks in the run game, Walker will be a Pro Bowler.
7. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State, 5-11 ¾, 183 (4.38)
Wilson needs to smooth some rough edges in his routes but when he’s in a battle for the ball, he wins — a skill far more valuable in evaluating future NFL wideouts than those who have simply run through open spaces against defenses unwilling to challenge them. Wilson had 65 receptions last season with no defender within 10 yards of him. He had 371 yards receiving in the final three games in 2021.
8. Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia, 5-11 ¼, 229 (DNR)
Dean is a little smaller than some personnel evaluators like at linebacker. But in today’s NFL, Dean’s coverage skills, toughness and willingness to stick his nose in as a tackler are coveted. He had shoulder surgery in spring 2021 and didn’t run at his pro day or the combine because of a chest injury.
9. Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State, 6-4 5/8, 254 (4.58)
Johnson was on a loaded Georgia defense until he transferred for the 2021 season. He had 70 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks this past season at Florida State. He also didn’t downshift — at all — as the team struggled. He has room to grow and the relentlessness to do it.
10. Devin Lloyd, ILB, Utah, 6-2 ¾, 237 (4.66)
With 201 tackles and 14.5 sacks combined over the past two seasons, as well as 43 tackles for loss in the past three seasons, Lloyd is one of the most productive players on the board. He beats blocks, can play in coverage and has played both on the edge and at inside linebacker.
11. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon, 6-4, 254 (4.58)
Thibodeaux looks far more proficient and comfortable setting the edge in run defense. While Thibodeaux has all of the attributes teams want, his technique doesn’t yet match his rare explosiveness in the pass rush. He isn’t as fluid as some of the best edge rushers in recent drafts, but there’s plenty, as in gobs, of potential if he gets to work.
12. Charles Cross, T, Mississippi State, 6-4 ¾, 307 (4.95)
Cross plays with immense power — with game-over strength in his hands — and has an 81-inch arm span. He doesn’t move as well in the open as some tackles but plays with consistency, quality technique and is calm when things get dicey. He should be a walk-in starter.
13. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas, 6-2, 225 (4.55)
Burks looks better on tape than how he tested this offseason, consistently winning matchups no matter where he lined up in the formation against some of the best defensive backs in the nation. Burks is a testament to multisport development, playing football, baseball and basketball in high school. He was the first Arkansas wide receiver since 2012 to top 1,000 yards in a season, with 1,104 yards on 66 catches in 2021.
14. Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia, 6-6 3/8, 341 (4.78)
Even the most-grizzled-40-doesn’t-matter personnel executive did a double take at Davis’ 4.78 sprint at the combine. The Outland Trophy winner will immediately have an impact against the run given his tendency to turn one-on-one blocks into confetti. He has a rare combination of size and speed.
15. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa, 6-2 1/8, 296 (DNR)
Linderbaum is a perfect fit for teams with the zone run game in their offense. He is a former high school wrestler who qualified in the shot put at the Drake Relays. He did not run at the combine or a pro day because of a foot injury he suffered in the Citrus Bowl, but he is a Day 1 starter.
16. Drake London, WR, USC, 6-3 7/8, 219 (DNR)
London’s 2021 season ended early because of a fractured right ankle, so he didn’t run a 40 at the combine, the Trojans’ pro day or his own pro day April 15. But he should transition to the league better than many at the position because of his ball skills and the savvy in his game.
17. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama, 6-1 ½, 179 (DNR)
Williams tore the ACL in his left knee on Jan. 10 in the national title game, so he has not been able to work out for teams and will need recovery time heading into the season. He caught 15 passes in two seasons combined at Ohio State before transferring to Alabama. Williams gets to top speed quickly and is a touchdown threat to score, with four TDs of at least 70 yards this past season to lead Division I. He will need to improve against press coverage in the NFL.
18. Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington, 5-10 ¾, 193 (4.44)
McDuffie plays with physicality and competes on every down, challenging every route. He consistently wins contested passes and will get involved in the run defense. His consistency in man and zone coverages will make him a target for many in the opening round, as he’s likely a walk-in starter.
19. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson, 6-0 ¼, 194 (DNR)
Booth didn’t run at the combine or a pro day because of a thigh injury. Booth played 35 games for the Tigers but was an ascending player who made 11 of his 15 career starts this past season. His one-handed interception against Virginia in 2020 is worth a look. He had five interceptions over his final 20 games.
20. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State, 6-0 3/8, 187 (4.39)
Hard to believe the Buckeyes had Wilson, Olave and Williams in the same wide receivers room in 2020. The word scouts use the most when discussing Olave is “smooth,” and when he broke 4.4 in the 40 at the combine it cemented his standing as someone who should contribute early. Olave will have to get stronger to fend off the more physical NFL cornerbacks, but should be a high-volume receiver.
21. George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue, 6-3 ¾, 266 (4.71)
Karlaftis relies on power and a high-effort approach. He will need to diversify his approach some against more powerful linemen and maintain a little more gap discipline at times. He finished his career with 25.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in 27 games.
22. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU, 6-0 ¼, 190 (4.37)
If the calendar said 2019, Stingley might be a top-five pick. But it doesn’t, and in the games he played over the past two seasons he performed well below his potential in effort and results. Stingley had a Lisfranc injury that required surgery Sept. 26. At his best, he’s a top prospect in this draft, but it has been two years since evaluators have seen his best.
23. Trevor Penning, T, Northern Iowa, 6-7 1/8, 325 (4.89)
Penning is tough and physical, finishes plays and has good flexibility. He was a three-year starter and consistently won his matchups at the Senior Bowl practices. He will, however, have to clean up the flags (16 this past season) or defensive linemen will spend much of his rookie year baiting him.
24. Daxton Hill, S, Michigan, 6-0 ¼, 191 (4.38)
There are some defensive backs coaches who believe Hill could be a full-time cornerback, or at least initially line up as the nickel. He had 115 tackles over his past two seasons combined, so he’s active to the ball and a willing tackler. Hill broke up 16 passes over his final 20 games.
25. Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia, 6-2 7/8, 304 (4.77)
When Wyatt ran the 4.77 40, he forced some evaluators to reconsider the belief that he was a performance-over-traits player. He likely fits better in a one-gap system, at least initially, where his lateral quickness is an advantage. Wyatt’s best football is in front of him, especially in the pass rush.
26. Bernhard Raimann, T, Central Michigan, 6-6 1/8, 303 (5.05)
Raimann, a native of Austria, was a tight end in his first two seasons at Central Michigan before switching to tackle in 2020, so the growth potential is immense. He could use more power in his game but plays with the savvy and instinct of someone who has been at the position far longer.
27. Quay Walker, ILB, Georgia, 6-3 ¾, 241 (4.52)
Some say this is too high for Walker, and he won’t consistently make the splash plays. Trust your eyes, he understands what offenses are trying to do, plays with recognition and is disciplined in his assignments. Walker waited his turn to play in a star-studded defense, with 15 of his 17 career starts coming in 2021.
28. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida, 6-0 ¾, 208 (4.39)
Elam had a better year in 2020 as a sophomore than he did this past season, when he was a little too quick to grab receivers when he got in trouble. He had five of his six career interceptions during his first two seasons. But Elam has the size, speed and quickness to match up in man coverages as a rookie.
29. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty, 6-0 ½, 219 (DNR)
Willis will be selected long before this, but he is QB1 on this board with the caveat of patience. He will likely need a long runway to be ready, but there is so much to like about his potential, demeanor, rare arm and physicality. Willis needs to clean up some accuracy issues, especially in high-stress situations.
30. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati, 6-3 3/8, 211 (4.52)
The more you watch Ridder, the more he looks like a future starter. There’s a toughness, heart and get-off-my-lawn edge in his game. Those characteristics are more important than pro-day throws against nobody. Ridder’s team won 44 of his career starts, and he was 26-0 during his home starts. He closed out his career with 87 passing touchdowns and 28 rushing touchdowns.
31. Boye Mafe, OLB, Minnesota, 6-3 ¾, 261 (4.53)
Mafe will be drafted more for what he could become than for his college production — 11.5 sacks in his final two seasons combined, with 13 starts in 19 games. But he has rare explosiveness, and there is a productive NFL pass-rusher in him waiting to emerge.
32. Arnold Ebiketie DE, Penn State, 6-2 3/8, 250 (4.65)
Ebiketie is far more proficient in the pass rush than setting the edge in the run game, but his ability to put tackles off balance at first contact in the rush — to go with his nonstop effort — easily overpowers concerns about run defense. Ebiketie played three seasons at Temple before finishing with 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks for the Nittany Lions in 2021.
33. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State, 5-11 ¼, 217 (4.39)
Hall is an assembly line for touchdowns, with 56 during his career (50 rushing and six receiving). He gets the tough yards when it’s a necessity and has the vision to find the seams for the big play, with five touchdowns runs of at least 70 yards in his career. Hall also had one of the best overall workouts at the combine.
34. Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor, 5-11, 198 (4.44)
Defensive backs coaches say they want to coach Pitre. He understands what offenses want to do and routinely is around the ball, with 19 tackles for loss last season and 36 in his career. The team that looks past his limitations in coverage situations and asks him to do what he does best will get a gem.
35. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn, 5-11 3/8, 190 (4.50)
McCreary has a physical edge to his game, so he’s far better when he can match up on receivers at the line of scrimmage. McCreary had 37 passes defensed and six interceptions over the past three seasons.
36. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State, 6-3 5/8, 246 (4.53)
It is a deep class of tight ends, and how they are selected will be determined by what a team is looking to add. McBride, the Mackey Award winner, had 112 receptions during his final 16 games, 90 in 12 games this past season. McBride is a willing blocker but needs to smooth rough edges in his technique. The quibble for some is only one touchdown in 2021 despite all the receptions, but he can’t throw himself the ball in the red zone.
37. Tyler Smith, T, Tulsa, 6-4 5/8, 324 (5.02)
It’s possible somebody moves Smith to guard initially to get him on the field quicker because he is an upper-tier steamroller in the run game. Smith overpowers defenders so often, but he doesn’t always have his footwork in pass protection. There’s too much potential here for Smith to wait long to hear his name on Day 2.
38. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State, 5-10 5/8, 178 (4.43)
Dotson will contribute quickly in the slot or in bunch sets to keep cornerbacks from pushing him around before he gets his release. He had a 242-yard receiving game against Maryland in 2021 and is one of the best returners on the board, with a ridiculous 24.6-yard punt-return average in 2020.
39. Zion Johnson, G, Boston College, 6-2 5/8, 312 (5.18)
Johnson started some games at left tackle, including 11 in 2020, but he projects as a power-first guard in the league. He finishes blocks with plenty of zest and usually causes defenders some concern at first contact. His footwork in pass protection will need to improve, especially against some of the quicker interior players.
40. Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M, 6-3 7/8, 323 (5.24)
Green started games at four different positions on the line last season alone — all but center — but projects as a guard who could play at tackle if needed. He’s a powerful presence in the run game who consistently stalls pass-rushers with his initial punch.
41. David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan, 6-4, 250 (4.55)
Ojabo, who ruptured the Achilles tendon in his left foot during his pro day workout last month, could be selected well above this point. However, the combination of work needed to smooth some of his rough edges combined with his injury recovery could nudge him down the board. He had 11 sacks in 2021 and has astounding physical ability and upside.
42. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss, 6-1 5/8, 212 (DNR)
Corral will require evaluators to find the player he can become after peeling away the benefits of the scheme he played in. There is a top-level quickness to his game, both as a runner and in how he delivers the ball. But Corral takes far too much punishment for a player his size, and that can be a tough lesson as a pro.
43. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington, 5-11 ½, 194 (4.52)
Twelve of Gordon’s 14 career starts came last season, and some parts of his game are raw. But his physical ability is clear and he’s on the upswing, as he showed a huge jump in his level of play from 2020 to 2021. He knocked down nine passes and intercepted two this past season.
44. Christian Harris, ILB, Alabama, 6-0 ½, 226 (4.44)
He played 41 games over three seasons in an elite program with a long history of NFL defenders. Harris had 27 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in his career and had three seasons with at least 63 tackles. He played inside plenty for the Tide but has the look of an outside linebacker in the NFL.
45. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh, 6-3 3/8, 217 (4.73)
Pickett won’t wait this long to hear his name called, and his production is undeniable — 12,303 career passing yards and 13,112 yards of total offense. He needs to work through footwork issues and impatience in the pocket, sometimes when there is no reason for it, that lead to accuracy issues.
46. Travis Jones, DT, UConn, 6-4 3/8, 325 (4.92)
Jones consistently creates interior pressure in the pass rush and made the most of his week at the Senior Bowl. He doesn’t have the explosiveness off the snap some defensive line coaches covet, but once the play begins he consistently collapses things and plays with discipline at the point of attack.
47. Nik Bonitto, OLB, Oklahoma, 6-3, 248 (4.54)
Bonitto should contribute immediately as a spot rusher, given his physical ability, flexibility and quickness off the snap. Bonitto had 32 tackles for loss during his career with the Sooners — 25.5 the past two seasons combined — to go with 18.5 sacks over the past three seasons. He gets overpowered in the run game at times but has too much to offer as an impact rusher.
48. Lewis Cine, S, Georgia, 6-2 ¼. 199 (4.37)
Oh, hey, another Georgia defender. Cine plays with toughness and physicality, as he routinely finishes plays with an exclamation point. He will need the right fit in the NFL in terms of what is asked of him in coverage, but he has size, elite speed and passion in his play.
49. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State, 5-9 ¼, 211 (4.38)
Walker played one season for the Spartans after 20 games over two seasons at Wake Forest. He had eight 100-yard games in 2021 as the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year and four games of at least 172, including a 197-yard, five-touchdown effort against Michigan. He fumbled just once last season in 276 touches.
50. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State, 6-4 1/8, 208 (4.36)
Watson is one of the prospects who benefitted the most from a week at the Senior Bowl, as evaluators saw him match up with some of the draft’s best defensive backs. Watson offers more than he was asked to do as largely a down-the-field threat in North Dakota State’s offense. Watson is a long strider with elite top speed. He has return skills to go with 57 plays in his college career of at least 20 yards.
51. Logan Hall, DE, Houston, 6-6 1/8, 283 (4.88)
He had elbow surgery to close out the 2021 season, but he did a partial workout at the scouting combine. Hall showed a bigger variety of moves in pass-rush situations than many of his peers and should contribute quickly. He does not fare as well at times in run defense.
52. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State, 6-1 3/8, 199 (4.49)
The one 40-yard dash he ran at the combine was a good one (4.49 before he said his back tightened up), and evaluators know he played with a shoulder injury at times in 2021. His skill set in coverage fits today’s NFL and will get him on the field quickly.
53. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan, 5-9 5/8, 195 (4.41)
His draft position will be impacted by how teams separate his top-shelf production (1,292 yards receiving in 2021, 1,680 yards receiving over his final 17 games) as well as his knack to break tackles. A slight concern? He doesn’t always create the kind of separation coming in and out of his breaks he will have to in the NFL.
54. Daniel Faalele, T, Minnesota, 6-8, 384 (5.61)
Faalele, a native of Australia, has played football since 2017 and did not play in 2020 (opting out), so he has four years in the game. He is the draft’s largest player, with plenty of room to grow in his technique and understanding of the position. Faalele will need work in pass protection, specifically against some of the quick-burst speed rushers, but the power game already suits him.
55. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M, 6-0 3/8, 217 (4.62)
Some won’t like his 40 time, but he didn’t run a 40 at the combine because of a hamstring injury and ran the 4.62 at his pro day. On his side of the ledger, however, are three 900-yard rushing seasons and his potential impact as a receiver.
56. Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma, 6-3 5/8, 290 (4.89)
Winfrey ran one 40 at the combine before injuring his left hamstring, but teams had already seen the mayhem he caused blockers at the Senior Bowl. At his best, Winfrey is a highly disruptive defender who made more than 40% of his tackles behind the line of scrimmage (17 of 42 in his two seasons). But there are also periods of inactivity (11 solo tackles in 12 games), and he is rarely first off the ball.
57. Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati, 6-0 ¾, 206 (DNR)
Cook, who suffered a left shoulder injury in November and had surgery after the season, did not work out at the combine or at his pro day. He is a former cornerback whose physicality along the line of scrimmage and ability in coverage — he played as a slot defender among his many duties — will make him a popular prospect.
58. Josh Paschal, DE, Kentucky, 6-2 5/8, 268 (4.77)
He is the only three-time, full-season captain in Kentucky’s history. With one of the longest résumés on the board, with 52 games (37 starts) and 37 career tackles for loss, Paschal should contribute immediately as a nickel rusher. He consistently wins off the snap and plays with plenty of grit.
59. Sam Williams, OLB, Ole Miss, 6-3 5/8, 261 (4.46)
On one hand, he is a player who struggled, and mightily at that, against the run. On the other hand, Williams is a 261-pound human who ran a 4.46 40-yard dash with 22.5 career sacks, including 12.5 and four forced fumbles this past season. Ask him to rush the passer, work on the rest, and he plays immediately.
60. Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama, 6-4 ¼, 310 (DNR)
He didn’t run at the combine and then told scouts he would not run at his pro day because of a hamstring injury. A power player who projects as a nose tackle in the NFL, Mathis has been coached well and plays a more advanced game than many of his peers. Mathis had 12 tackles for loss in 2021 to go with nine sacks. He figures to be more of an early-down player as a pro.
61. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama, 5-11 ¼, 187 (DNR)
Metchie tore the ACL in his left knee in the SEC championship, and his recovery will impact his rookie season. He projects as a slot receiver with craftiness in his routes and elusiveness when he has the ball. He had 1,142 yards receiving in 2021. Metchie was born in Taiwan and lived in Ghana and Canada before coming to the U.S. in high school.
62. DeMarvin Leal, DE, Texas A&M, 6-3 7/8, 283 (5.00)
Leal is a prospect who entered the 2021 season far more highly ranked. Some of the drop is attributed to the work others did to move up, and some has to do with his performance against players like Neal and Cross. At his best he beats blocks and creates havoc, but some in the league believe they just didn’t see enough of his best this past season. Finding the right position for Leal may take some time.
63. George Pickens, WR, Georgia, 6-3 ¼, 195 (4.47)
He tore the ACL in his right knee in spring drills last year and played four games this past season. The scouts who like Pickens really like him, and those who quibble a bit wonder if he’s physical enough to consistently win the ball in contested situations. He averaged 15 yards per catch during his Georgia career, 21.4 per catch in limited duty last season (four games, five receptions).
64. Channing Tindall, ILB, Georgia, 6-1 7/8, 230 (4.47)
Tindall doesn’t always play to his top-end speed, but when he does, the potential is easy to see. When he commits and is decisive in his movements, he has rare athleticism. He started one year in the ridiculously loaded Bulldogs defense but finished with 67 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss in 2021.
65. Brian Asamoah, ILB, Oklahoma, 6-0 1/4, 226 (4.56)
He’s 4 inches shorter but six pounds heavier than Hamilton, who is the top safety on the board, so some evaluators see a tweener linebacker/safety. He is explosive in his pursuit of the ball, and 56% of his tackles were solo efforts. Special teams coaches will take note.
66. Nick Petit-Frere, T, Ohio State, 6-5 1/8, 316 (5.14)
Among the top tackles on this draft board, Petit-Frere carries some of the “yeah, but” caveats. He started games at both left and right tackle for the Buckeyes and projects, at least initially, as a left tackle in the NFL. But there are some parts of his game that need attention, including holding his ground against power in the pass rush.
67. Tariq Woolen, CB, Texas-San Antonio, 6-4 1/8, 205 (4.26)
He is a converted wide receiver who has played cornerback only since the final game of the 2019 season. Woolen has elite speed (his 40 was tied for the fourth fastest in combine history) and a defensive lineman-like arm span of 79 inches. He carries some uncertainty, but also so much potential.
68. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina, 6-0 5/8, 218 (DNR)
He set the school record for total offense with 11,292 yards, including three 3,000-yard passing seasons to go with an 828-yard rushing season in 2021. His accuracy, especially when he tries to put some heat on the ball, is going to need attention, as will his penchant for taking too many hits.
69. Darian Kinnard, T/G, Kentucky, 6-5 3/8, 322 (5.31)
Scouts will always raise the red flag on a lineman who spends too much time on the ground, and Kinnard gets knocked off his feet too often on the interior. He is more likely a guard initially after three seasons as a tackle at Kentucky, but when his footwork is right and he latches on, he finishes blocks with power.
70. Cade Otton, TE, Washington, 6-5, 247 (DNR)
He missed two games last season with a left foot/ankle injury, which also kept him from working out at the combine and the Huskies’ pro day. In a deep class of tight ends, Otton is one of the best receiver/blocker combinations because of his precise routes that consistently create separation.
71. Nick Cross, S, Maryland, 6-0 ¼, 212 (4.34)
He has said he didn’t start playing football until his freshman year in high school and initially learned the game from YouTube videos. Cross offers a rare size-speed combination at the position and should continue to improve. He finished the 2021 season with 67 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
72. Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State, 6-5 ½, 252 (DNR)
Like many Ohio State tight ends who came before him, Ruckert wasn’t a high-volume option in the Buckeyes’ offense — 54 career receptions in four seasons. But he’s shown good hands and is a ready-made blocker with plenty of toughness. He did not run at the combine or Ohio State’s pro day because of a left foot injury.
73. Marcus Jones, CB, Houston, 5-8, 174 (DNR)
He had surgery on his right shoulder following the season and several weeks later had surgery on his left shoulder, resulting in an inability to work out for teams. Jones is an athletic slot cornerback who offers high-end return skills. He had two kickoff return touchdowns this past season.
74. Dominique Robinson, OLB, Miami (Ohio), 6-4 7/8, 253 (4.72)
Robinson was a prep quarterback who arrived at Miami as a wide receiver and moved to defense in 2020. With the right coaching and a little patience, he has the potential to be an impact rusher. He had two sacks in 2020, 4.5 this past season and has shown the kind of bend/flexibility that could result in higher production.
75. Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State, 6-3 ½, 243 (4.42)
A unique athletic profile that includes prep state titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, first-team All-Big Sky Conference quarterback his sophomore season and Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year last season with 150 tackles. Andersen had the rare combination of a sack and 102 rushing yards with two touchdowns during the same game in 2019.
76. Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia, 6-3, 321 (DNR)
Salyer played at all five spots on the offensive line during his career with the Bulldogs, including nine starts at left tackle in 2020 to go with 11 starts at left tackle this past season. He projects as a guard or right tackle. He has proven versatility for the best team in the best conference last season.
77. Chad Muma, ILB, Wyoming, 6-2 ¾, 239 (4.63)
His draft position may depend on which special teams coach in the league lobbies the loudest. Muma is a highly productive player who had 129 tackles last season. He does get caught leaning on some misdirection plays and pre-snap motion.
78. Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama, 6-1 1/8, 194 (4.49)
He was a three-sport athlete in high school before he missed his freshman season with the Jaguars because of a knee injury. Tolbert’s 143-yard effort against Tennessee this past season has gotten plenty of attention in the draft windup. He had six games last season with at least 140 yards.
79. Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State, 6-4 1/8, 267 (DNR)
He didn’t work out at the combine or his pro day due to a left hamstring injury. Overall, Thomas doesn’t have the explosiveness of other rushers in this class and needs to get stronger at the point of attack when he’s squared up on a blocker. But his 20.5 tackles for loss this past season are worth a long look, as he routinely dominated the linemen he faced.
80. DeAngelo Malone, OLB, Western Kentucky, 6-3 ¼, 243 (4.56)
With an added COVID-19 season, Malone became one of three players in program history to earn five letters. He was slightly lighter at his pro day (239 pounds) than he was at the combine. His game video shows a player who understands leverage against bigger blockers in the pass rush. Malone’s production — 49.5 tackles for loss over his final 39 games and 34 sacks — deserves a long look.
81. Leo Chenal, ILB, Wisconsin, 6-2 5/8, 250 (4.53)
Chenal has a tough, physical presence and is one of the best run-defenders on the board. He will need the right scheme fit given he’s not nearly as proficient in coverage as some others, but defensive coordinators who keep him busy with what he does best will be rewarded. Chenal had 115 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks last season and 42 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.
82. Cole Strange, G, Tennessee-Chattanooga, 6-4 7/8, 307 (5.03)
Strange started two games at left tackle last season, and a game at center in 2019, but he spent the majority of his time at left guard. He should fit nicely in a scheme that puts him on the move. He needs some additional play strength as he grows into the NFL but could play quickly in a zone scheme.
83. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati, 6-1 3/8, 193 (4.54)
The Thorpe Award winner doesn’t have the top-end speed some of the other cornerbacks on the board, but coaches love his all-business approach. Bryant stayed busy opposite Gardner in the Bearcats’ defense given few challenged Gardner in a meaningful way. Bryant played an astounding 63 games during his career — with an added COVID-19 season. He had 51 starts and finished with 10 career interceptions.
84. Dylan Parham, G, Memphis, 6-2 5/8, 311 (4.93)
He started games at both guard spots as well as right tackle and projects as a guard in the NFL. Parham plays with awareness and makes good decisions on the move. In the right offense, he’ll contribute quickly.
85. Max Mitchell, T, Louisiana, 6-6¼, 307 (5.32)
Mitchell is a player with long arms who started games at left and right tackle. He routinely shocks rushers with his initial contact and plays with an edge. Mitchell also has a long résumé, with 51 games played over four seasons.
86. Kingsley Enagbare, OLB, South Carolina, 6-3 ¾, 258 (4.87)
Ask a scout about Enagbare and the first two words you hear most of the time are “heavy hands.” That’s why, despite testing numbers that aren’t all that noteworthy, he consistently moves blockers off their spots. Some in the league may ask him to add some weight and be a defensive end in a 3-4 or an interior rusher in some specialty packages.
87. Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois, 6-1, 203 (DNR)
Joseph was the first Illini safety since 1989 to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors, and he did it in his one full season as a starter. A late bloomer, he elected to not run a 40 at the combine or his pro day. He has top-level ball skills, is smooth in coverage and has the length (a 79½-inch arm span) of a lineman.
88. Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky, 5-8, 178 (4.44)
With the right coaching, Robinson should quickly produce big plays. He runs with vision and works his way through crowds of defenders with elusiveness. He played one season at Kentucky (after two years at Nebraska) and was second in the SEC in receiving yards in 2021 with 1,334.
89. Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida, 5-9 5/8, 218 (4.59)
Play after play it’s clear Pierce should have had far more than his 100 carries in 2021 and 106 in 2020. He’s tough, physical, has good vision and finishes runs with intent. It is one of college football’s great mysteries why he didn’t have more than 13 carries in any game last season and had eight or fewer in 10 games.
90. Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA, 6-4, 243 (4.69)
A former walk-on wide receiver for the Bruins, Dulcich developed into a quality prospect in the passing game at tight end. Far more proficient as a receiver than a blocker at the moment, he had two 100-yard receiving games last season and two 100-yard games (during a seven-game season) in 2020.
91. Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State, 6-1 5/8, 201 (4.53)
Emerson has reach and fluidity in his game that has some defensive backs coaches saying he’s worthy of a second-round pick. Some will point to one career interception — none in the past two seasons — and say he was too content to knock away 16 passes during his career instead of turning more into picks.
92. Drake Jackson, OLB, USC, 6-2 5/8, 254 (DNR)
He is a developmental prospect who weighed 254 at the scouting combine and then bulked up to 273 at his pro day. Some evaluators believe Jackson should have played heavier this past season. He shows the kind of bend and flex in the pass rush that is coveted, but had seven sacks in the past two seasons combined.
93. Carson Strong, QB, Nevada, 6-3 3/8, 226 (DNR)
Some teams will decide Strong’s right knee is too big of a medical concern to put him on the board in the first three rounds. At the Senior Bowl, Strong called it osteochondritis dissecans, a joint condition that can cause pain and hinder motion. He’s had two surgeries on the knee that required pins since the 2020 season ended, but performed in Mobile at the Senior Bowl without a brace. Strong has one of the biggest arms on the board and an effortless release that is worth a long look.
94. Damone Clark, ILB, LSU, 6-2 ½, 239 (4.57)
Another productive player with a medical concern. Clark had a herniated disc in his back flagged at the combine and has since had surgery that puts his rookie season in question. Others have played after similar procedures, so his draft status will depend on the medical grade each team gives him. Clark’s 135 tackles — 15.5 for loss — in 2021 make a powerful argument in his favor.
95. Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis, 5-7 ¾, 170 (4.32)
The tape measure says he’s undersized, but his on-field courage and production say otherwise. Austin had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, averaged 21.1 yards per carry on eight rushing attempts during his career and offers some of the best punt return skills on this draft board.
96. Abraham Lucas, T, Washington State, 6-6 3/8, 315 (4.92)
His athleticism hasn’t yet translated to consistency in the run game, but Lucas’ work in pass protection is more than good enough for a Day 2 look. Some offensive line coaches believe he might be a guard in the future, but he projects as a right tackle initially. A durable, athletic player who started in all four of his seasons.
97. Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina, 6-4 ½, 245 (4.83)
His potential may not match the excitement over his ability to be a quality presence in a locker room. Likely’s on the upswing as a player, with 12 of his 27 career touchdowns coming last season and with a quality week at the Senior Bowl.
98. Luke Goedeke, T, Central Michigan, 6-5, 312 (DNR)
He did not run at either the combine or his pro day because of a hamstring injury, but he did go through offensive line drills on campus and drew quality reviews. He began his college career as a tight end, moved to tackle and may end up a guard. Goedeke plays with an edge and there’s an awareness in his game.
99. Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee, 6-0 1/8, 199 (4.36)
Taylor is a player whom special teams coaches will pound the proverbial table for given he is one of the best punt cover players on the draft board. He is comfortable in press man or zone coverages and has elite speed.
100. Isaiah Weston, WR, Northern Iowa, 6-3 ½, 214 (4.42)
Through the years, No. 100 isn’t always the 100th-best player, but someone who deserves a little more attention. Past No. 100s have included wide receiver Brandon Marshall, linebacker Shaquem Griffin, linebacker Davion Taylor (selected at No. 103 by Philadelphia in 2020) and last year, Malcolm Koonce, who was swept up by the Raiders at No. 79. Weston didn’t just turn heads with his combine workout, he spun them around as evaluators were forced to go back and look why he had six games this past season with two or fewer receptions. He missed the 2018 season with a knee injury and had two seasons — no games in 2020 and three games played in the spring of 2021 — disrupted by COVID-19.
Close, but not quite: Kellen Diesch, T, Arizona State; Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati; Lecitus Smith, G, Virginia Tech; Logan Bruss, G, Wisconsin; Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State; Brian Robinson, RB, Alabama; Tycen Anderson, S, Toledo; Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia; Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson; Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State; JoJo Domann, LB, Nebraska; Zach Tom, C, Wake Forest; James Cook, RB, Georgia; Zamir White, RB, Georgia; Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama; Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M; Sean Rhyan, G, UCLA; David Bell, WR, Purdue; Micheal Clemons, DE, Texas A&M; Brandon Smith, ILB, Penn State; Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia; John Ridgeway, DT, Arkansas; Ed Ingram, G, LSU; JT Woods, S, Baylor; Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee; Cam Taylor-Britt, S, Nebraska and Jalyn Armour-Davis, S, Alabama.
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