Here’s a position-by-position look at the top players at each position in the 2017 NFL Draft. (* = underclassman).
The NFL Draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
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|Detractors point to his 17 interceptions last year, his college spread offense and spotty accuracy. We say: Hooey. Look at what he did to Alabama on the game’s biggest stage — two years in a row.|
|This guy is right out of Central Casting. Possesses a premium blend of size, speed, and strength for the position. Uses all skills to consistently gain separation. Scored 11 touchdowns last season.|
|Corey Davis||Western Michigan||6-3||209||DNP||1st|
|Another NFL ready guy, Davis wreaked havoc on the MAC over the last four years, amassing 5,212 yards and 51 TDs. He’s big, has outstanding burst, and runs very precise routes.|
|One of the best pure athletes in the draft, settled in at receiver last season after bouncing between offense and defense. Put up more than 1,100 yards and 17 TDs for the Huskies. He needs to – and will – bulk up a tad.|
|*Curtis Samuel||Ohio State||5-11||196||4.31||1st|
|An exceptionally versatile player, you could stick this guy in any formation and he’ll make hay. He can play receiver or running back and should contribute as a returner on special teams. He’s fluid and sneaky strong.|
|A really fast guy with great body control and the ability to track the ball and go up and get it. The knock was a lack of size but he’s already added muscle since the end of the year. Could be an early steal.|
|A true home run hitter, Westbrook can fly. He piled up over 2,200 yards and 21 TDs the last two seasons, picking up the Biletnikoff Award in 2016. A history of off-the-field issues will keep him off some boards.|
|Cooper Kupp||Eastern Washington||6-2||204||4.62||2nd|
|Middle name should be production. He had more than 6,400 receiving yards and 78 TDs in four seasons. He lacks explosiveness and speed but has great hands and drive and plays with a chip on his shoulder.|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster||Southern Cal||6-1||215||4.54||2d|
|A wide body with big, powerful arms, Smith-Schuster can dominate opponents with strength. He chucks opponents at the line consistently but doesn’t have high-end speed. Can both take over a game and disappear at times.|
|*Isaiah Ford||Virginia Tech||6-1||194||4.61||2nd|
Ford is a good athlete with nice explosiveness and a flair for the big play. He’s both fast and quick. Could stand to add some muscle and he’s a little shy when it comes to downfield blocking.
|Like tight end teammate Jake Butt, Darboh has flourished under Jim Harbaugh. A good athlete with terrific size and competitive spirit, Darboh could contribute immediately. Lacks elite speed.|
Best of the rest: Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M, (6-3, 194, 4.52); *Ardarius Stewart, Alabama, (5-11, 204, 4.49); Chad Hansen, California, (6-2, 203, 4.53); Noah Brown, Ohio State (6-2, 222, DNP); KD Cannon, Baylor (5-11, 182, 4.41).
|Running backs going in the first round is back en vogue, and Fournette won’t make it out of the top 10. An eye-popping combination of size and speed, he conjures comparisons to Adrian Peterson.|
|Dalvin Cook||Florida State||5-10||210||4.49||1|
|Speedy, three-down back rushed for 3,456 yards and 38 touchdowns the last two seasons, while also displaying good hands with 57 catches for 732 yards. Has a bit of a fumbling issue but should go in the first round.|
|There’s no doubting McCaffrey’s athleticism, as he possesses breakaway speed and the versatility to line up at slot receiver and kickoff/punt returner. The only question: Does he have the size to be an every-down back?|
|One scout we spoke to called Mixon the best pure running back in the draft, with a running/receiving skill set that reminds him of Matt Forte. The domestic violence episode will cause him to fall but probably not out of the second day.|
|More of a third-down, pass-catching back, Kamara doesn’t run with the most power but makes up for it with a great burst and excellent receiver skills. Also a dynamic kickoff and punt returner.|
|The opposite of Kamara — a big-bodied, bruising back who rushed for 2,028 yards and 15 TDs in 2016, but not much of a receiver. Only started one year in college, hasn’t taken much wear and tear.|
|Former track star has great athleticism, a good size-speed combo, and the receiving skills to be a three-down back. Shined at the Senior Bowl against better competition and only fumbled once in three college seasons.|
|More of a bruising, first-down back, Perrine burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2014 and rushed for 427 yards in one game. Has a disconcerting injury history with his knee, ankle, and hand.|
|Marlon Mack*||South Florida||5-11||213||4.50||3-4|
|Productive three-year starter averaged 7.1 yards per carry in 2016 and showed good combo skills with 28 catches. Better suited as a third-down back but could be a good fit for an outside-zone, stretch-run team.|
|Donnel Pumphrey||San Diego State||5-8||176||4.49||4-5|
|Think Darren Sproles but a little faster and not quite as strong. The leading rushing in FBS history (6,405 yards), Pumphrey can do a little bit of everything and could be a great scat back and kick returner.|
Best of the rest: James Conner*, Pittsburgh (6-1, 233, 4.65, 4-5); Jamaal Williams, BYU (6-0, 211, 4.59, 4-5); Jeremy McNichols*, Boise State (5-9, 212, 4.49, 4-5); Corey Clement, Wisconsin (5-10, 221, 4.68, 4-5); Joe Williams, Utah (5-11, 210, 4.41, 4-5); Brian Hill*, Wyoming (6-1, 219, 4.54, 4-5); De’Veon Smith, Michigan (5-11, 223, 4.59, 4-5); Wayne Gallman*, Clemson (6-0, 215, 4.60, 4-5).
|Started all 43 games in three years, winning the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best lineman. But allowed 10 sacks in his career, doesn’t have the quickest feet, and might be better suited for right tackle.|
|An athletic tackle who excels in the run game with quick feet and good technique. But only played one season at the FBS level and is coming off surgery for a torn labrum.|
|A 25-year-old rookie who played only one year at the FBS level after transferring from junior college, Bolles has great length and athleticism to excel in a zone-blocking scheme.|
|Forrest Lamp||G||Western Kentucky||6-3||309||5.00||1-2|
|Played left tackle in college but has the build of an NFL guard. Stood out against good competition at the Senior Bowl and was among the leaders in the bench press and three-cone drill at the Combine.|
|Versatile lineman mostly played center in college but also right guard and right tackle. A bit oversized for an interior player and needs to add strength but makes up for it with great speed and footwork.|
|Four-year starter is a scrappy, physical run blocker, but he comes with an injury risk. Missed four games with a concussion last year and a Lisfranc fracture caused him to miss the 2013 season.|
|Aggressive, powerful blocker played left tackle in college but is more suited for right tackle or guard in the NFL. Needs to work on his footwork but held up well against better competition at the Senior Bowl.|
|Pat Elflein||G/C||Ohio State||6-3||303||5.32||3-4|
|The Big Ten offensive lineman of the year in 2016 has played all three interior positions. Has great strength and work ethic but is a bit undersized to handle NFL defensive tackles.|
|Taylor Moton||G/T||Western Michigan||6-5||330||5.00||3-4|
|Massive, aggressive blocker has the versatility to play all across the line. Played right tackle in college but has the strength and body type to play guard in the NFL.|
|A two-year starter at left guard, Asiata (cousin of Vikings RB Matt Asiata) has excellent size and strength, particularly in the run game. Not the most athletic guard and needs to work on pass protection.|
Best of the rest: OT Antonio Garcia, Troy (6-6, 293, 5.15, 3-4); OT David Sharpe*, Florida (6-6, 343, 5.44, 3-4); G Jordan Morgan, Kutztown (6-2, 313, 5.36, 3-4); G Danny Isidora, Miami (6-3, 311, 5.03, 3-4); OT Roderick Johnson*, Florida State (6-7, 298, 5.15, 4-5); OT Julie’n Davenport, Bucknell (6-6, 318, 5.45, 4-5); G Kyle Kalis, Michigan (6-4, 305, 5.33, 5-6); OT Chad Wheeler, Southern Cal (6-7, 306, 5.48, 5-6); G Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State (6-4, 318, 4.98, 5-6).
|Myles Garrett*||DE||Texas A&M||6-4||274||4.64||1|
|An exceptionally explosive player in terms of speed and tackling ability. The term “freakish athleticism” gets tossed around a lot, but it’s apt here. Could play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.|
Has exceptional instincts and gets underneath pass protectors quickly and will deliver a jolt. Lacks prototypical burst but is relentless in pursuit. Has the strength to set the edge against the run.
|Shocker alert: There’s a stud tackle coming out of the Tide defense. With an exceptionally strong upper body and hands, he sheds defenders in a flash before hunting the ball. Finished 2016 with 10½ sacks.|
|Strong and quick off the ball with exceptional instincts and a relentless motor. Has the versatility to play inside or on the edge. Could step in and be star from the get-go.|
|Despite being a tad undersized, he possesses excellent playing power with strong hands and really long arms. Can rag-doll blockers with those meat hooks. Works hard to get to the ball even when he’s being hugged and mugged.|
|Malik McDowell*||DT||Michigan State||6-6||295||4.85||1|
|Has a massive frame and will get even bigger and stronger. Excellent quickness and fluidity, allowing him to slip blocks and crash the ball carrier (24½ tackles for losses). Can plug in and play now.|
|After three nondescript seasons, he flourished in Don Brown’s 4-3 defense. Has excellent size and upper-body strength and will leave blockers flat-footed. Gives max effort.|
|He might be the fastest guy off the line in this class and uses that burst to make up for a lack of bulk. Adding some muscle will be priority No. 1. Played both DE on OLB for Tide and likely will do that in NFL.|
|This dude already put on 10 pounds of mass since the season ended. Has excellent strength and deceptive quickness, allowing him to be a backfield menace. Also has the girth and trunk to anchor against the run.|
|DeMarcus Walker||DT||Florida State||6-4||280||4.88||2|
|Proved staying in school was a smart move, registering 21½ tackles for losses and 16 sacks. Had 10 sacks as a junior. Explosive and decisive and often lauded for his film work and preparation.|
Best of the rest: DE T.J. Watt*, Wisconsin (6-4, 252, 4.69); DE Carl Lawson*, Auburn (6-2, 261, 4.67); DE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State (6-4, 248, 4.61); DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State (6-4, 255, 4.53); DE Dawuane Smoot, Illinois (6-3, 264, 4.77); DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa (6-3, 316, 5.38); DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama (6-3, 310, 5.19); DT Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte (6-3, 305, 4.97); DT Jarron Jones, Notre Dame (6-6, 316, 5.33); DT Vincent Taylor*, Oklahoma State (6-3, 304, 5.07).
A speedy, explosive linebacker with great instincts and the ability to lay big hits, but his stock may drop after testing positive for a diluted urine sample at the Combine and getting in a heated argument with a hospital worker.
Was a DE at Missouri, racking up 16 sacks and 30½ tackles for loss the past two seasons, but is better suited as a 3-4 rush linebacker in the NFL. One red flag is he had surgery on both shoulders in college.
Undersized for an edge rusher, Reddick still has great speed and instincts to get to the QB, recording 10½ sacks and 22½ tackles for loss last year. Will be either a 3-4 edge rusher or inside linebacker in the NFL.
Has great combination of size, speed, and instincts to excel as a three-down linebacker in the NFL. Also impressed scouts at the Combine with a 35-inch vertical jump, 81-inch wingspan, and 10-foot-5-inch broad jump.
Didn’t have a great 2016 season, but Davis is still a solid all-around prospect, with great speed, instincts, leadership skills, and blitz ability. Leg injuries that forced him out of three games could hurt his stock.
|Raekwon McMillan||ILB||Ohio State||6-2||240||4.61||2-3|
Doesn’t have great pass coverage skills, but should be drafted on the second day as a run-stuffing inside linebacker. Racked up 221 tackles the last two years and has good size and instincts.
A terrific athlete who had the best vertical jump of any linebacker at the Combine (37½ inches), Bowser had 8½ sacks and 12 tackles for loss last year, but his best fit is likely as an outside linebacker.
One of those “high motor” prospects who can chase down ballcarriers and has excellent upper-body strength to shed blockers. Was a productive strong-side linebacker in 2016 and projects as the same in the NFL.
Would probably be ranked higher if not for a torn ACL suffered at the end of the 2016 season. Has great size and power, and projects as a starting middle linebacker in the NFL.
Explosive edge rusher had nine sacks and 20 tackles for loss in his one year as a starter. Has a few off-field concerns, but is an intriguing prospect who can easily add some muscle to his lanky frame.
Best of the rest: ILB Alex Anzalone*, Florida (6-3, 240, 4.63, 3-4); ILB Duke Riley, LSU (6-0, 232, 4.58, 3-4); OLB Demarcus Walker, Florida State (6-4, 280, 4.83, 3-4); OLB Dawuane Smoot, Illinois (6-2, 255, 4.77, 3-4); ILB Elijah Lee*, Kansas State (6-2, 229, 4.70, 4-5); ILB Ben Boulware, Clemson (6-0, 238, 4.85, 4-5); ILB Anthony Walker*, Northwestern (6-1, 238, 4.65, 4-5); OLB Carl Lawson*, Auburn (6-2, 261, 4.67, 4-5).
@GlobeJimMcBride. Follow Ben Volin on Twitter at @BenVolin.