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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.