Bosa and Buckner top PFF’s first 2016 NFL Draft Board

Steve Palazzolo and the analysis team compile the first PFF Draft Board of the season.

| 8 months ago
(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

Bosa and Buckner top PFF’s first 2016 NFL Draft Board


PFF’s draft board is here. While we have two full years of grading on every FBS player, the board is not strictly based on the grades — though it’s heavily influenced by our snap-to-snap evaluations. Our analysts have gone back into the film room to break down each prospect in even more depth, bringing context to their PFF grade while also considering athleticism, upside, and any other relevant part of player evaluation. Our evaluations will continue right up until the draft, so the board is a fluid process, and we’ll continue to build it right up until Day 1.

Positional value is taken into account when compiling the board.

  1. Joey Bosa, edge defender, Ohio State

The best player in the draft has been the nation’s top edge defender against the run while ranking first and second as a pass rusher each of the last two seasons.

  1. DeForest Buckner, defensive interior, Oregon

Similar to Bosa, Buckner was the most productive interior defensive lineman by a wide margin. He’s a playmaker against the run and able to get into the backfield as a pass rusher.

  1. Jared Goff, QB, Cal

The top-graded QB in the nation this season after ranking eighth a year ago, Goff’s combination of pocket presence, toughness under pressure, and downfield accuracy make him the top option.

  1. Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

There’s some projection to Wentz’s game, but the raw tools are impressive, as was our first look at his game. While his timing isn’t always on point in the passing game, he has the big arm and athleticism to mask that inexperience as he grows.

  1. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

With six strong games under his belt in 2015, we’d like to see a larger sample size of dominant play, but Tunsil is an explosive run blocker and he handled an impressive slate of edge rushers to allow only five pressures on the year.

  1. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

Our top coverage linebacker in 2014, Jack played only 207 snaps in 2015 due to injury. He’s versatile enough to move around the formation while holding his own in coverage and he’s powerful when attacking blocks in the run game.

  1. Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State

The biggest question about Ramsey is where he plays in the NFL, but his versatility should make him a solid option at either cornerback or safety. He put together two strong years of grades despite playing at free safety, in the slot, and outside cornerback.

  1. Chris Jones, defensive interior, Mississippi State

The power is the first thing that stands out, and it was put to good use as Jones ranked fourth in the nation among interior defensive linemen at +54.2. He can move blockers at the point of attack and push the pocket, and he still has room to grow as a player.

  1. Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Interior, Louisville

With two straight years of dominant play, Rankins can play a number of positions along the defensive front, attacking blockers in the run game while providing a strong pass rush. He has only two negatively-graded games in our two seasons of data.

  1. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Whether creating separation before the catch or yards after it, Coleman’s athleticism stands out. He has the ability to make plays at all levels of the field.

  1. Shaq Lawson, edge defender, Clemson

The second-best all-around edge defender behind Bosa, Lawson is strong on the edge in the run game while posting the No. 8 pass rushing grade in the class.

  1. Noah Spence, edge defender, Eastern Kentucky

We have little information about Spence, but the upside was evident at the Senior Bowl when he dominated practice and carried it into the game. Even though he may not do much as a run defender, Spence’s burst off the edge and pass rush potential is the best in the class.

  1. William Jackson III, CB, Houston

The second-best coverage grade in the draft class, Jackson is an aggressive, good-sized corner who will contest a lot of catches and make plays on the defensive side.

  1. Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson

Trapped in a Clemson defensive scheme that hung him out to dry with a lot of soft, off-coverage, Alexander may be a far better pro player than he was in college. Has all the traits of a top, shutdown corner.

  1. Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

A good combination of speed and separation skills, Carroo was incredibly productive on only 363 snaps last season averaging 4.11 yards per route to lead all FBS receivers.

  1. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

One of the most consistent pass protecting tackles in the nation, Stanley should carry that to the next level while his run blocking is sufficient in the right scheme.

  1. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

A power scheme is ideal for Conklin who moves defenders at the point of attack while holding up well in pass protection. His two-year body of work is right up there with any offensive tackle in the nation on a snap-for-snap basis.

  1. Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive Interior, Ole Miss

Perhaps the most disruptive interior pass rusher in the draft, Nkemdiche has some questions about his ideal fit, but he’s gotten after the quarterback the last two seasons and he improved greatly against the run in 2015.

  1. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

In 2014 Hargreaves posted the best coverage grade we have seen from this draft class across two seasons of college tape. Didn’t repeat it in 2015 but still shows a lot of impressive tape and ball skills. Only negative is size.

  1. Shilique Calhoun, Edge Defender, Michigan State

No edge rusher had a better pass rushing grade than Calhoun in 2015, and he was strong in that department in 2014 as well. He’s not nearly as stout against the run, but did show that he can be productive in the run game in 2014.

  1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

The best all-around running back in the draft and perhaps the nation, Elliott boasted the top run grade in the class in 2014 and then led the nation as a blocker in 2015. His ability to run, catch and block will put him on the field early and often.

  1. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

Injury aside, Smith’s athleticism stands out and it often shows when in coverage and as a pass rusher. He’s not bad in the run game, though he’s not as strong at the point of attack as other linebackers in the class. If healthy, Smith has a chance to be a three-down playmaker at the next level.

  1. Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona

Few linebackers possess Wright’s instincts and block-shedding ability, and he looks like a plus run defender in the NFL if he’s healthy. The question for Wright is his athleticism in space, but we’ve seen other linebackers stay productive with similar concerns.

  1. Andrew Billings, defensive interior, Baylor

One of the strongest players in the draft, Billings is stout at the point of attack and perhaps the best nose tackle option in the draft. He was also got after the quarterback among the best in the country the past two seasons.

  1. Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

Our top-graded WR before going down to injury last season, Doctson routinely makes incredible catches, turning off-target throws into big plays. That downfield ability makes him one of the most exciting playmakers in the draft.

  1. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

While he doesn’t create the same kind of separation you’d like to see from a top wide receiver prospect, Treadwell is strong (though inconsistent) at the catch point and good with the ball in his hands after the catch.

  1. Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

After ranking fourth in the nation among offensive tackles in 2014 and first in 2015, Whitehair is projected to move to guard at the next level, something we saw during Senior Bowl week. He acquitted himself well, and he has the potential to be the next successful tackle to guard convert in the NFL.

  1. Sheldon Day, Defensive Interior, Notre Dame

Disruption is the name of the game for Day who excels at shooting gaps, though he could stand to finish better. His overall grade ranked second behind only Buckner among interior defensive linemen in 2015.

  1. Jonathan Bullard, DI, Florida

Our top-graded run defender on the interior in 2015, Bullard is excellent at recognizing blocks, disrupting schemes and making plays. He doesn’t have a clean positional home, but has the versatility to play all along the defensive line.

  1. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

While some of the other linebackers are stronger in certain areas, Ragland is solid across the board. He can work downhill in the running game, and his ability to hold up in coverage and create pressure should make him a third down chess piece at the next level.

  1. Austin Johnson, defensive interior, Penn State

Boasting the No. 3 run stopping grade in the nation in 2015, Johnson beats blockers with quick hands to disrupt the backfield and that bodes well for his upside as a pass rusher. His skills were on display with a strong week at the Senior Bowl.

  1. Adolphus Washington, defensive interior, Ohio State

Another strong all-around player, Washington is stout at the point of attack, but strong and quick enough to blow up plays as well. His +32.0 pass rush grade ranked third in the nation and he was solid in the run game.

  1. Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

Production took a hit due to inconsistent quarterback play, but Thomas knows how to get open and he was a big play threat when targeted.

  1. Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

Our top-graded wide receiver in 2015, Shepard combines nifty route running with underrated downfield ball skills. Even though most of his work is done from the slot, he has the quickness to produce and validate his standing at the top of the draft.

  1. Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

Few tight ends can work the middle of the field like Henry who has averaged 14.3 yards per reception over the last two years. He’s only dropped two of his 90 catchable targets during that time.

  1. Jarran Reed, defensive interior, Alabama

With our second-best grade against the run in 2015, Reed is rarely moved at the point of attack and he knows how to shed in make plays, as indicated by his nation-leading run stop percentage of 13.4 percent. He can play nose tackle, but also looks the part of a 3-4 defensive end if needed.

  1. Kenny Clark, defensive interior, UCLA

Another strong interior defensive lineman, Clark is excellent at feeling and defeating all types of blocks — a big reason he was the No. 2 interior defensive lineman against the run in 2014. He took a slight step back in that area in 2015, but added more pass rush to his game.

  1. Emmanuel Ogbah, edge defender, Oklahoma State

A one-dimensional player in 2015, Ogbah boasted the third-best pass rush grade among all edge rushers, though he settled in around average against the run. The potential is there to improve in that department but it may limit his usage early on.

  1. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

The size and arm strength are impressive, as is Lynch’s three-year development at Memphis, but he’s just a notch below the other quarterbacks in this class. His accuracy at the intermediate level is concerning, particularly outside the numbers where his accuracy percentage is among the worst in the nation.

  1. Joe Schobert, OLB, Wisconsin

One of the nation’s most productive players the last two seasons, Schobert may be viewed as a traditional linebacker at the next level, but he should be given a chance to rush the passer where he ranked fourth in pass rush productivity in 2015 and led the nation in 2014.

  • Trayvon

    You did not watch any Clemson games if you thought Alexander played soft, off coverage.

    • Jacob M. Lundeen

      Um, doesn’t that comment fly in the face of what PFF does? They watch every single play, of every single player during every single game.

      • Trayvon

        It should. But Clemson doesn’t play much, if any, soft coverage. Try typing “single” a couple more times.

        • Jacob M. Lundeen

          Again, PFF watched every single snap the guy played, yet you think you know better based on what?

          • Zach

            I tried to get a job with PFF and while it doesn’t require a PHD in statistics, it does require A LOT of time watching film and charting alignments. And probably an advanced background in statistics helps a lot. I never even got to be in a position to actually grade plays but based on the stuff I did for them when I was trying to get the job I believe what they say

        • Keet Bailey

          These kids at PFF like to play with metrics and make claims saying that they watch all of these players, then backing it up as if their opinions can’t be wrong. Don’t fret. They’ll hire just about anyone with a scouting background.

          • Jacob M. Lundeen

            Considering a personal friend of mine works for PFF and has a PhD in statistics, I’ve seen what goes into their film break down.

          • Keet Bailey

            Uh, congrats? But you don’t need a PhD to study statistics. Good for him though.

          • Jacob M. Lundeen

            My point is that they just don’t hire anyone, it is one of the more stringent hiring processes I’ve seen.

            As far as not needing a PhD to study statistics, that is kind of like saying you don’t need a PhD to study physics. If you want to do the high level stuff, you kind of need a PhD.

          • Keet Bailey

            Here are the requirements. https://www.profootballfocus.com/about/jobs-at-pff/

            Sounds like a bad infomercial for a website featuring Mike Clay (who truly is exceptional) and a bunch of duds. And you just compared statistics to physics. You can stop posting at anytime. And having a PhD doesn’t mean shit. It means you have money to pay for school. Must be nice. I’ll stick to the research I’ve successfully worked with since youth.

            If you want to be the guy that goes balls deep into these ridiculous metrics, be my guest. I’ll be the guy over here telling you that you can’t moneyball your way to NFL draft prospects. Granted, I am a Browns fan and now have to deal with Sashi and his bullshit. But oh well. You keep on keepin’ on there, guy.

          • Jacob M. Lundeen

            If you think you can’t moneyball your way into the NFL, then you haven’t been paying attention to what the Patriots do every year.

            And you do realize that outside of fees, most people don’t pay for school above a bachelors, right? Most of us were all on assistantships. If you choose to go to an ivy league school for a degree in music and end up with $200,000 in debt, that is your own fault. I got my school payed for because I went to Afghanistan and got shot at and watched my friends die.

            And why the hate for statistics? You obviously don’t understand how important statistical analysis is to every day life. And if you don’t like PFF’s method, why are you here? Another keyboard cowboy who just wants to spew vitriol instead of having a legitimate conversation.

          • Keet Bailey

            Awe, going for low-blows huh. Can’t have a civil conversation without acting like an immature, entitled prick.

            The Patriots draft philosophy is simple. BPA. You can stretch it out anyway you want, “Mr. Keyboard Cowboy”, but it really is that simple. They go in and they get the best talent and then make that talent produce on the field.

            As for the collegiate debt, apprenticeships, work-study, scholarships and all that is available, but other variables such as out of state tuition. Either way in your case you didn’t really earn anything, but now feel entitled because you backed your way into taking govt money. I prefer to do it the old fashioned way and earn it.

            And I absolutely appreciate statistical analysis. I just didn’t need school to learn how to do it. Maybe that’s just because I actually work for things, unlike yourself.

          • Jacob M. Lundeen

            So you changed your comment and removed the nice little part about me backing into government money because I bled for my country. I appreciate people like you who are adamant about your beliefs, but I respect no man who thinks I took the easy way to my education. Believe what you want man, but you don’t deserve the attention I’ve given you, and you won’t get any more of it.

          • Keet Bailey

            I decided to be nice, yes. I did some research on you. Wasn’t impressed. Regardless, I wanted you to stop running your mouth a few posts ago. But thanks for playing the military card to back me into a corner knowing if I make an anti-military comment that I’ll get jumped on by everyone else. Touche.

          • realitybytez

            wow. if that’s you “being nice” . . .

          • ndstruktabl

            I’ll say it. It seems as tho you didn’t bleed enough.

      • crosseyedlemon

        They’ve got you quoting the company line so there must be something good in that Kool-aid. Even if the statement were true, there is a distinct difference between ‘watching’ and ‘seeing’.

        • Jacob M. Lundeen

          For starters, I use PFF as a reference from which I compare to other scouts/companies and form my own opinion. And considering you refuse to answer my question, its easy to conclude that you are simply a Clemson fan that watches the games, yet you do no further tape analysis and have no proof to back up your statements.

  • Johnny

    I don’t understand Wentz being so high since he played against weaker opponents. I just hope my boys make the right decision.

    • Jacob M. Lundeen

      They discussed it on the podcast. Once they got more of his film and started to break it down, they felt his ceiling is much higher then anyone else.

  • Jeffrey Diamond Vancho

    As someone who watched a lot of Pac-12 and was hoping for Scooby to drop to Chicago in the 2nd or maybe even 3rd round because of his measurables, I would appreciate if you could please take him off this list.

  • shaunhan murray

    Awesome, this will give me a boost in my annual which corners will the steelers not take in the 1st round.on a different note, I wonder what type of corners do the steelers like, they used to have Keenan lewis and ike taylor who r both 6 foot 1 but now they r all 5foot 10.I dont care that much but maybe the steelers like short corners now because of general league wide dislike and the steelers see a marhet dysfunction. That was my first thought after picking Golson and trading 4 boykin.I have a feeling the steelers like smart experienced tough corners who will put there body into the run game gut after watching Antwon Blake get murderd over and over, its hard to say.

    • shaunhan murray

      Either way I hope VH3 measures in at 5foot 10 and the steelers nab after a fall

  • Chase

    Where is Kevin Dodd?

  • bill jaffe

    incredibly strong DT/DL availability good players will get pushed down, which means talent will be available a lot longer than usual

  • Peter Picerelli

    It is amazing the range in which Paxton Lynch can be reasonably picked. The hype around Lynch was even late in his season so it is crazy to see him now picked at the 38 spot. Do you think his showing at the senior bowl was considerably lower than Carson Wentz. I guess I am just surprised to see him so low after one point only a couple months ago, he was arguably a top 5 prospect.

    Peter Picerelli
    Tulane University
    Expected Graduation May 2016