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  • Top prospect on each team in CFB Playoff Top 25

    Top prospect on each team in CFB Playoff Top 25
    By Kyle Crabbs
    Published on October 31, 2017

    It is officially the heart of college football season. The CFB Playoff committee debuted their first Top 25 rankings of the 2017 season, a barometer of where the heavyweights across the land stand with their playoff resumes.

    The battle for a spot in the final four has just begun, as November and conference championships in early December will prove essential in sorting out the quagmire of teams slotted 3 through 13 (all with 1 or 0 losses).

    In the meantime, this is a great excuse to introduce the country to the best eligible 2018 draft prospect on each team in the CFB Playoff committee’s Top 25.

    1. Georgia Bulldogs (8-0) – RB Nick Chubb. Chubb gets notable competition from fellow RB Sony Michel and LB Lorenzo Carter. But Chubb has returned to form this year and brings balance, power and vision as a runner that in almost any other class would be widely regarded as a top talent.

    2. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0) – DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is a true junior and widely regarded as one of the top overall players in the country. His size (6’1, 202 lbs) is notable for a Free Safety prospect, and Fitzpatrick pairs it with tremendous ball skills.

    3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1) – OG Quenton Nelson. Nelson is one of the 5-10 best players in this class hands down. But because he plays a non-premium position, the odds are he’ll slip into the teens. A middle of the road franchise looking to take the next step would love nothing more.

    4. Clemson Tigers (7-1) – DE Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell and fellow DE Austin Bryant (junior) have eclipsed double digit sack totals on the season and lead the way for a defensive line that may be comprised of four future first round picks. Ferrell is the best blend of traits out of that group.

    5. Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) – QB Baker Mayfield. LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was close. But Mayfield’s ascension as a prospect is one of the most impressive improvements I’ve seen this year. Losing Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine might have been the best thing to ever happen to Mayfield, who now puts the load on his shoulders alone.

    6. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1) – CB Denzel Ward. Do the Buckeyes ever run out of defensive backs? Ward follows in the footsteps of rookie sensation Marshon Lattimore as the latest Buckeye to emerge as a top prospect at the position.

    7. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-1) – RB Saquon Barkley. I mean…come on. Barkley is a national sensation and the favorite for the 2017 Heisman Trophy for a reason. A true generational talent who does wonders for a Penn State team that would be high and dry without him.

    8. Texas Christian Horned Frogs (7-1) – LB Travin Howard. He’s a bit undersized, but Howard is a fast, twitchy hybrid player that fits Gary Patterson’s fast flowing style of defense perfectly. In the NFL, he may have to play the role of a nickel defender or “moneybacker”. But team speed is coveted in today’s NFL, he’ll find a home.

    9. Wisconsin Badgers (8-0) – EDGE Garrett Dooley. First of all, please “pour one out” for LB Jack Cichy, who is in the midst of sitting out the year with an injury: he’d have snatched this spot if healthy. Dooley gets the edge over SAF D’Cota Dixon thanks to making a lot of splash plays since taking over for Vince Biegel and TJ Watt (he’s the team leader in sacks and TFL).

    10. Miami Hurricanes (7-0) – DL R.J. McIntosh. McIntosh has been the more active of Miami’s interior duo with Kendrick Norton (also a potential top target). His functional play strength allows him to press through contact and be a presence in the backfield.

    11. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-1) – QB Mason Rudolph. Rudolph’s a gifted passer but what is his ceiling? Regardless of his handle of pressure in the pocket and footwork, he has great command of his offense and continues to be one of the most productive QBs in college football.

    12. Washington Huskies (7-1) – WR Dante Pettis. Pettis is flourishing without fellow WR John Ross across the formation in 2017. He’s taken to the featured receiver role well and continues to be a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands on return duties. Pettis boasts some of the best ball skills in the nation.

    13. Virginia Tech Hokies (7-1) – LB Tremaine Edmunds. Edmunds is big, physical and can *move*. His range and ability to turn and run with pass catchers down the field makes him a rare bird, one who will stand out for his tackling and versatility when the NFL comes calling.

    14. Auburn Tigers (6-2) – OL Braden Smith. Smith has played up and down the offensive line throughout his career with the Tigers, versatility that should make him a universal prospect to any offensive system.

    15. Iowa State Cyclones (6-2) – WR Allen Lazard. How well regarded was Lazard as a prep star? He had offers at Notre Dame, Stanford and Oregon but chose to enroll at Iowa State. His commitment is paying off in 2017, as the team sits at 6-2 with wins over two CFB Playoff Top 25 teams (Oklahoma and TCU). Lazard is a massive target at 6’5, 220+ lbs and has caught over 200 passes for 28 touchdowns during his time with the Cyclones.

    16. Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-2) – OL Martinas Rankin. Rankin. Rankin entered this season well known for his run blocking skills but the offensive tackle started the year strong in pass protection as well. CFB Film Room credited Rankin with a 97.8% pass block efficiency rate through the month of September.

    17. Southern California Trojans (7-2) – RB Ronald Jones III. Stop, right now. I can hear it already: “What about Sam Darnold?!” Darnold is a player who I’m expecting more and more every week to return to USC for 2018. He’s a potential franchise quarterback. But he’s got some things to iron out and thus, I’m giving the nod to a much more polished prospect at this point in time, Jones III.

    18. Central Florida Knights (7-0) – CB Mike Hughes. Hughes played 11 games with UNC in 2015 before a misdemeanor assault charge cost him his place with the Tar Heels. After a year in JUCO, Hughes is back with a vengeance for the Knights, who have stormed out to a 7-0 start and are staring a likely 11-0 regular season in the face. Hughes has logged 2 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in his seven games, while sitting T-6th on the team’s tackle leaderboard. Hughes, at 5’11, 191 lbs, has filled out his frame nicely and has the look of an NFL CB.

    19. Louisiana State Tigers (6-2) – EDGE Arden Key. This was a coin toss between Key and Derrius Guice. Key’s length, burst and bend are all that defense coaches look for, meaning he’s likely to get drafted high even if he never fully turns it on in his junior season with the Tigers.

    20. North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-2) – DE Bradley Chubb. Chubb reminds me of former Tennessee Vols DE Derek Barnett, though Chubb has more versatility in his pass rush counters at this point. Chubb has played himself into Top 10-15 conversation with his play on the field this year.

    21. Stanford Cardinal (6-2) – RB Bryce Love. One of my National Scouts, Jonah Tuls, is going to be devastated that I didn’t give the nod to CB Quenton Meeks. But how do you look the other way on a player in Love that has hit over 100 yards rushing in his last 9 games going back to 2016, including over 150 in every game this year minus his last one against Oregon (“only” 147 yards rushing). Lightning quick with great center of gravity, Love has made a believer out of me.

    22. Arizona Wildcats (6-2) – QB/Athlete Khalil Tate*. No, Tate isn’t eligible for 2018, but I don’t care. The addition of Tate to the starting lineup has likely saved Rich Rodriguez his job, especially after Tate gouged Colorado and UCLA for 557 combined rushing yards in consecutive weeks. Tate is a player we’ll have the chance to enjoy for at least another season, but he’s worth every look: quite an electric football player.

    23. Memphis Tigers (7-1) – WR Anthony Miller. Miller isn’t the biggest of receivers, but few have had his presence on the field in 2017. Miller’s hands are unbelievably sticky and his route running prowess makes him an attractive supplementary piece to an NFL passing offense.

    24. Michigan State Spartans (6-2) – C Brian Allen. The senior captain was named a semi-finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy last month, so you know he’s got the smarts to handle line calls and process defenses. Allen isn’t overwhelming in any area but he’s a rock solid Center prospect.

    25. Washington State Cougars (7-2) – DL Hercules Mata’afa. Mata’afa has played an excellent season this year in spite of being played out of position on an odd man front for the Cougars defense. Occasionally found at nose tackle, Mata’afa is much more likable as an edge rusher, where his motor and first step can shine without having to fight through heavy traffic.

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  • Nick
    Dane Brugler’s Top-60 Draft Board: Seven quarterbacks crack updated list
    by Nick
    Dane Brugler’s Top-60 Draft Board: Seven quarterbacks crack updated list
    Dane Brugler
    1h ago 15

    Four quarterbacks made my preseason draft board. Over a month into the season, the same four quarterbacks remain, but now they are joined by three more passers – one expected, two not as expected.

    Washington’s Jacob Eason is expected. A 6-5, 230-pound passer with elite arm talent, it hasn’t been surprising to see him performing well. The impressive skill set was obvious when he took the field as a true freshman at Georgia, but after missing the last two seasons, the sample size wasn’t there. Now that he has put five games on film for the Huskies, it is impossible to keep him off this list.

    The two other quarterback additions to the draft board are much more unexpected: LSU’s Joe Burrow and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts. In fact, I extended this list from my top-50 to my top-60 to include both of them.

    It’s important to note that Burrow didn’t come out of nowhere. He was highly recruited out of high school and narrowly lost the quarterback battle with Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State. Last year in his first season at LSU, Burrow was solid and received mid-round draft grades from myself and others around the league. But so far in 2019, he looks like a much more confident and seasoned passer, flashing NFL starting traits.

    Facing Houston, South Dakota, UCLA and Texas Tech this season, Hurts has yet to be truly tested by a defense with a pulse, which clouds the evaluation. But that doesn’t mean you ignore what Hurts has put on tape, showing tremendous development as a passer, especially within the pocket. He benefits from an elite supporting cast with terrific protection, dynamic skill players and an offensive system that caters to his strengths. However, the execution and production are the responsibility of the quarterback and Hurts has been stellar. Five weeks into the college football season, I’m glad I don’t have to put a final grade on him yet, but NFL scouts are starting to believe in Hurts’ next level potential.

    It is still early in the process and this list will continue to fluctuate as we gain more information and learn about these prospects. But if the 2020 NFL Draft was tomorrow…

    *Indicates draft-eligible underclassman

    1. *Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State (6-5, 266, 4.76)

    Once the 2019 NFL Draft ended, Young was the clear No. 1 draft-eligible prospect for the 2020 draft class. Over a month into the 2019 season, he has only improved and widened that gap between him and the next-best nonquarterback in April’s draft.

    2. *Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (6-0, 232, 4.78)

    No, I don’t think Tagovailoa will be the consensus top quarterback for next year’s class. He won’t be for everyone due to his size and average arm...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nick
    CBS Sports' Nov. 2 NFL Draft Big Board for 2017
    by Nick
    NFL Draft Big Board: Alabama-LSU stocked with plenty of top-tier talent
    Five of the top 10 players on the Big Board line up in Death Valley on Saturday night
    by Rob Rang The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com Nov 02, 2016 • 9 min read

    The polls might say LSU is not a top-10 team, but from an NFL Draft perspective, the Tigers' showdown with No. 1 Alabama Saturday night rates as the game of the season.
    A collection of future first-round picks will be on the field with five of the top 10 prospects on the Big Board squaring off. Five of my top 10 share the field in Death Valley on Saturday.

    The most fascinating battles of the game should be near the line of scrimmage with LSU's freakishly gifted running back Leonard Fournette and a powerful offensive line matching up against Alabama's No. 1-rated run defense, led by top-rated senior Jonathan Allen and inside linebacker Reuben Foster, the most explosive hitter in college football.

    Players are listed by name, position, school, year, height, weight and 40-yard dash time

    1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M, Jr, 6-5, 262, 4.74
    With a nagging ankle injury, the Aggies held Garrett out against New Mexico State a week after he registered seven tackles, including 3.5 for loss in the October 22 showdown with No. 1 Alabama. The former consensus five-star recruit has been a terror since stepping onto the field for the Aggies, answering his breakout freshman season (53 tackles, including 14 for loss and 11 sacks) with an even better one last year (59-19.5-12.5). Boasting a prototypical blend of explosiveness, flexibility and length off the corner, Garrett has the look of a future Pro Bowl regular.

    2. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama, Sr, 6-3, 292, 4.85
    With all due respect to Garrett, Allen was the best player on the field Oct. 22, registering six tackles, including a sack that showed eye-popping athleticism and technique as well as a momentum-stealing fumble recovery and return for a touchdown. Allen has recorded 18 sacks over the past 23 games, a pace more typical among speedy edge rushers. Quite the contrary, Allen is position versatile, making many of his flashiest plays inside while at defensive tackle. He reminds me a little of Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowler Michael Bennett, winning with an explosive upfield burst and powerful, coordinated hands.

    3. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, Jr, 6-1, 230, 4.45
    Fournette returned from a four-week hiatus with a vengeance against Ole Miss in Week 8, setting a new school record with a staggering 284 rushing yards (and three touchdowns) in a 38-21 victory. Alabama is obviously a more formidable opponent. Fournette is an exceptional talent who I believe is the most exciting prospect at the position since Adrian Peterson. Like Peterson, Fournette gets a lot of attention because of his rare combination of size, speed and power but his vision and agility are the stuff of legend....
    -11-05-2016, 07:33 AM
  • Nick
    Mel Kiper's way-too-early Big Board: Top 25 2018 prospects
    by Nick
    Mel Kiper's way-too-early Big Board: Top 25 2018 prospects
    May 11, 2017
    Mel Kiper Jr.
    Football analyst

    Say so long to the Class of 2017. It's time for my annual way-too-early look at next year's (potential) NFL draft class.

    So how'd I do last year? Well, three from my top five went in the top six in the 2017 draft -- Myles Garrett (1), Leonard Fournette (4) and Jamal Adams (6) -- and another went 12th (Deshaun Watson). Tim Williams, on the other hand, dropped all the way to No. 78 after an inconsistent season. A few others dropped big time or returned to school for another season, but overall it was pretty solid.

    A few notes on my first 2018 Big Board:

    I'm not going to be too scouting-heavy here. My own reports on these guys are still half-formed, and so much will change between now and the 2018 draft.

    Keep in mind that several prospects here have only started one season, and so I'm projecting based on size, athletic ability, statistics and what I hear from people around the league.

    Speaking of sizes, what's listed here is what schools give out. These could vary greatly when players show up for the 2018 combine. True height and weight really matters for almost every position.

    Check out Todd McShay's first 2018 mock draft, and come back next week for my way-too-early rankings across every position group.

    Note: One asterisk denotes a junior, and two asterisks denote a redshirt sophomore for the 2017 season.


    1. **Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California

    Darnold has everything NFL teams want in a starter. He has a big frame (6-foot-4, 225 pounds), makes quick decisions and is an accurate and natural passer. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes last season and ranked second in the nation in Total QBR (86.8). He does have an unorthodox, long delivery, however, that will have to be retooled. And the third-year sophomore has only started 10 games.



    2. *Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

    There is some projection here because Fitzpatrick (6-1, 195) has played both corner and safety and appears likely to stick at safety in 2017. But the versatility is a plus, and he could be really good at either spot. He has eight interceptions in two seasons, and four of those were returned for touchdowns. I also like that Fitzpatrick will get after it on special teams. He had 11 special-teams tackles in 2016.


    3. *Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

    The buzz has been growing around the 6-5, 216-pound Allen, who can really throw. His numbers weren't great last season -- 28 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions while completing 56 percent of his passes -- but NFL teams will take into account the talent around him. And Wyoming is losing a few offensive players to the NFL, including center Chase Roullier, running back Brian Hill, wide receiver Tanner Gentry and tight end...
    -05-12-2017, 05:42 AM
  • Nick
    Mel Kiper's way-too-early Big Board: Top 25 2018 prospects
    by Nick
    Mel Kiper's way-too-early Big Board: Top 25 2018 prospects
    May 11, 2017
    Mel Kiper Jr.
    Football analyst

    Say so long to the Class of 2017. It's time for my annual way-too-early look at next year's (potential) NFL draft class.

    So how'd I do last year? Well, three from my top five went in the top six in the 2017 draft -- Myles Garrett (1), Leonard Fournette (4) and Jamal Adams (6) -- and another went 12th (Deshaun Watson). Tim Williams, on the other hand, dropped all the way to No. 78 after an inconsistent season. A few others dropped big time or returned to school for another season, but overall it was pretty solid.

    A few notes on my first 2018 Big Board:

    I'm not going to be too scouting-heavy here. My own reports on these guys are still half-formed, and so much will change between now and the 2018 draft.

    Keep in mind that several prospects here have only started one season, and so I'm projecting based on size, athletic ability, statistics and what I hear from people around the league.

    Speaking of sizes, what's listed here is what schools give out. These could vary greatly when players show up for the 2018 combine. True height and weight really matters for almost every position.

    Check out Todd McShay's first 2018 mock draft, and come back next week for my way-too-early rankings across every position group.

    Note: One asterisk denotes a junior, and two asterisks denote a redshirt sophomore for the 2017 season.


    1. **Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California

    Darnold has everything NFL teams want in a starter. He has a big frame (6-foot-4, 225 pounds), makes quick decisions and is an accurate and natural passer. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes last season and ranked second in the nation in Total QBR (86.8). He does have an unorthodox, long delivery, however, that will have to be retooled. And the third-year sophomore has only started 10 games.


    2. *Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

    There is some projection here because Fitzpatrick (6-1, 195) has played both corner and safety and appears likely to stick at safety in 2017. But the versatility is a plus, and he could be really good at either spot. He has eight interceptions in two seasons, and four of those were returned for touchdowns. I also like that Fitzpatrick will get after it on special teams. He had 11 special-teams tackles in 2016.


    3. *Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

    The buzz has been growing around the 6-5, 216-pound Allen, who can really throw. His numbers weren't great last season -- 28 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions while completing 56 percent of his passes -- but NFL teams will take into account the talent around him. And Wyoming is losing a few offensive players to the NFL, including center Chase Roullier, running back Brian Hill, wide receiver Tanner Gentry and tight end Jacob Hollister....
    -07-15-2017, 07:11 AM
  • Nick
    Mel Kiper's Too-Early 2017 Big Board
    by Nick
    Mel Kiper's Too-Early 2017 Big Board
    May 11, 2016
    Mel Kiper Jr.

    In what has become an annual tradition, here's the too-early look at next year's (potential) NFL draft class.

    The quick audit on last year?

    Not too bad!

    Joey Bosa was at No. 1, and a number of other early picks were close by. Jared Goff was my No. 1 quarterback, Jalen Ramsey was my No. 1 option in the secondary and the top three tackle prospects were Laremy Tunsil, Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin, just the way I ended up. It could always be worse.

    A couple of notes on what you see below:

    1. I'm not going to be too scouting heavy here. My own reports on these guys are still half-formed at this point.
    2. I also have (too-early) rankings across every position group done and will publish those next week.

    With that said, here you go.

    An asterisk denotes a junior for the 2016 season. Two asterisks denotes a redshirt sophomore.


    1. *Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M Aggies
    The value of guys who can apply consistent pressure in a pass-happy league has never been higher -- did you catch the Super Bowl? -- and Garrett is that long edge monster all teams covet. He has 24 sacks and 33.5 tackles for loss in two seasons.


    2. Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama Crimson Tide
    On a per-snap basis, Williams is as disruptive as any player in America, and I think he would have easily been a first-rounder in the 2016 draft. The question is whether he can be as dominant when he's playing more snaps.


    3. *Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU Tigers
    Big, bruising, fast ... but let's keep an eye on the mileage. Fournette is a dynamic talent, that rare running back who generates excitement for teams drafting in Round 1. But he carried 300 times last season and is at 487 carries in two years. Will LSU use him up?


    4. *Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson Tigers
    Had he been available for the 2016 draft, Watson could have challenged Jared Goff to be the first quarterback taken. Sure, he's a gifted mover (1,105 rushing yards in 2015), but Watson is a very good passer; he can drive it down the field and displays consistent accuracy and touch.


    5. *Jamal Adams, S, LSU Tigers
    I had his dad, George, in the 1985 draft guide, and Jamal might be even better. He was the top safety in the country as a high school senior and has continued to dominate at LSU. He plays with tenacity and aggressiveness. He can cover, attack the line and has good ball skills.



    6. *Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State Spartans
    A versatile, highly athletic interior defender who can be moved anywhere along the line, McDowell has length and strength. And he was disruptive last season, piling up 13.0 tackles for loss. Sparty lost a lot of talent on the defensive line to the 2016 draft, so McDowell faces...
    -08-01-2016, 12:35 PM
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