NCAA

2016 NFL Draft Positional Rankings

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Quarterback

  1. Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
  2. Jared Goff, California
  3.  Paxton Lynch, Memphis
  4. Vernon Adams, Oregon
  5. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Analysis:

The top-three are virtually the same for every evaluator, but the interesting name in this top-five is Vernon Adams. The pint-sized passer from Oregon is one of the more polished quarterbacks in this class. He is accurate with good arm strength and he can make throws at all three levels of the defense with a variety of concepts. None of the quarterbacks carry a legitimate first-round grade, but you can bet that the top three will go there for sure.

Running Back

  1. Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State
  2. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
  3. Paul Perkins, UCLA
  4. Derrick Henry, Alabama
  5. Jordan Howard, Indiana

Analysis:

Ezekiel Elliot is the consensus top running back, but there is a ton of variation for each analyst after that. Kenneth Dixon is the most well rounded of the group and he is a very gifted runner. Paul Perkins is the most elusive of the group with his game-breaking cuts and spins. Derrick Henry and Jordan Howard are similar, but Henry’s incredible speed and play-making ability give him the nod.

Wide Receiver

  1. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
  2. Josh Doctson, TCU
  3. Sterling Shepherd, Oklahoma
  4. Corey Coleman, Baylor
  5. Michael Thomas, Ohio State

Analysis:

Laquon Treadwell is a man among boy in college and his bully mentality will bode well for him in the NFL. Josh Doctson is the best receiver at the catch point as he routinely makes plays above the rim. Sterling Shepherd is the best pure receiver with his hands and route running ability, but his size hurts him. Corey Coleman is a high-variance player, but he is as explosive as there is in this class. Michael Thomas is a great possession receiver who will keep the chains moving in the NFL.

Tight End

  1. Hunter Henry, Arkansas
  2. Austin Hooper, Stanford
  3. Nick Vannett, Ohio State
  4. Jerell Adams, South Carolina
  5. Thomas Duarte, UCLA

Analysis:

Hunter Henry is a fantastic inline receiver as a tight end and he can be a potential big-time playmaker in the NFL. Austin Hooper is a well-rounded tight end and the only one who can really block well among the top-five. Nick Vannett wasn’t used a lot, but he showed a few great translatable traits when targeted. Jerell Adams and Thomas Duarte are move tight ends that don’t give much as blockers.

Offensive Tackle

  1. Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
  2. Taylor Decker, Ohio State
  3. Ronnie Stanely, Notre Dame
  4. Jack Conklin, Michigan State
  5. Jason Spriggs, Indiana

Analysis:

Laremy Tunsil is a generational talent and may be the No. 1 overall pick. Taylor Decker is a solid offensive tackle who will be a 10-year starter in the NFL. Ronnie Stanley is a gifted offensive tackle, but his motivation concerns and issues against power-rushers put him behind Decker. Jack Conklin is limited from a footwork perspective, but he is a mean and gritty player. Jason Spriggs is an athlete that his big concerns from a power and footwork point of view.

Interior Offensive Line

  1. Ryan Kelly, Alabama, Center
  2. Cody Whitehair, Kansas State, Guard
  3. Christian Westerman, Arizona State, Guard/Center
  4. Joshua Garnett, Stanford, Guard
  5. Nick Martin, Notre Dame, Guard/Center

Analysis:

Ryan Kelly is the best center to come out since Travis Frederick and he is worthy of a first-round pick. Cody Whitehair is a converted tackle who should be a Pro-Bowl caliber interior offensive lineman once he gets into the league. Christian Westerman isn’t talked about a lot, but he is a great interior lineman who could surprise many and be the best of this class. Joshua Garnett is a beast in the run game and he will step in and make an impact. Nick Martin isn’t as good as his brother, Zack Martin, but his position flex and technique makes him a great mid-round pick.

Interior Defensive Line

  1. Deforest Buckner, Oregon
  2. Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
  3. Andrew Billings, Baylor
  4. Jonathan Bullard, Florida
  5. Javon Hargrave, South Carolina State

Analysis: 

DeForest Buckner can play anywhere on a defensive line, but he is a blue-chip talent at defensive tackle or as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Sheldon Rankins is the best pure under tackle in this class. Andrew Billings is a powerful nose tackle who will be almost impossible to move off his spot. Jonathan Bullard is a versatile playmaker who is a better run defender but has been slowly developing as a pass-rusher. Javon Hargrave is the most underrated player in this class and he will be a steal in the mid rounds.

Edge Defenders

  1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State
  2. Shaq Lawson, Clemson
  3. Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky
  4. Ronald Blair, Appalachian State
  5. Kevin Dodd, Clemson

Analysis:

The edge defender class is extremely thin this year as there aren’t many players who can get 10 sacks per year. Joey Bosa is a great defensive end who is as technically sound with his hands as they come. Shaq Lawson is a powerful edge rusher who could have a Melvin Ingram-type of career. Noah Spence didn’t test well, but he is the best pass-rusher in this class. Ronald Blair is underrated and from a small school, but watch how well he did against Clemson and you will see that he is a great talent. Kevin Dodd is a technically proficient pass-rusher who plays the run well.

Off-Ball Linebackers

  1. Myles Jack, UCLA
  2. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
  3. Reggie Ragland, Alabama
  4. Kentrell Brothers, Missouri
  5. Darron Lee, Ohio State

Analysis:

Myles Jack is another generational talent and he could be a perennial All-Pro if he doesn’t get injured. Jaylon Smith is close to Jack in terms of talent, but a serious knee injury will likely lead to him falling far in this draft. Reggie Ragland is a bruising linebacker who does serious work against the run. Kentrell Brothers has the best instincts in this draft and he will compile a ton of tackles in his NFL career. Darron Lee doesn’t have great instincts, but his athleticism and play-making ability are hard to pass up.

Cornerbacks

  1. Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
  2. William Jackson III, Houston
  3. Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
  4. Eli Apple, Ohio State
  5. Xavien Howard, Baylor

Analysis:

Vernon Hargreaves doesn’t have great size, but he has the movement and ball skills you covet in a cornerback. William Jackson III is a great cover cornerback who uses his size, length and aggressiveness to make a ton of plays. Mackensie Alexander is a cocky, aggressive and fluid cornerback who would be a great fit in a zone scheme. Eli Apple is a little raw in terms of technique, but his size and athleticism are great indicators to a prosperous future in the NFL. Xavien Howard may have the best ball skills in this class, but he needs to work on his transitions at the top of routes.

Safety

  1. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
  2. Karl Joseph, West Virginia
  3. Darian Thompson, Boise State
  4. Vonn Bell, Ohio State
  5. Keanu Neal, Florida

Analysis:

Jalen Ramsey is the most athletic player in this draft class and he is a fantastic defensive back who can play any position in the secondary. Karl Joseph is a heat-seeking missile who also displays elite coverage skills. Darian Thompson is a safety who can play the deep middle or take away the deep half. Vonn Bell is a solid all-around safety who isn’t great at one thing. Keanu Neal is a big hitter who has surprising movement skills.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com