NFL Draft preview: Offensive player primer

Courtland Sutton #16 of the SMU Mustangs celebrates with teammates James Proche #3 and Ryan Becker #14 after scoring a touchdown against the North Texas Mean Green during the second half at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

A look at the top prospects available at each position in the upcoming NFL draft (x-denotes early entrant):



Position outlook: This is a quarterback draft. There could be as many as six taken in the first round and five in the first 15 picks. It's not crazy to come up with a scenario where four quarterbacks are taken in the first five picks.

x-Sam Darnold, 6-3, 220, USC

Strengths: Excellent arm, good size and can make accurate throws - or the occasional positive run - when the pocket breaks down. Works his progressions.

Weaknesses: Ball security. Ball security. Ball security.

Fact: His grandfather, Dick Hammer, was an Olympic volleyball player and an actor who played the Marlboro Man.

Gone by: Pick No. 3.

x-Josh Rosen, 6-4, 226, UCLA

Strengths: Polished passer with excellent mechanics and nice touch.

Weaknesses: Durability issues in college. Will force plays unnecessarily.

Fact: Was an elite youth tennis player.

Gone by: Top five or so.

Baker Mayfield, 6-1, 215, Oklahoma

Strengths: Accuracy, competiveness, and command of the offense. Gets the ball out quickly and decisively.

Weaknesses: Undersized. Elusiveness and mobility that was a plus in college might not translate to the NFL.

Fact: Went from walk-on to 2017 Heisman Trophy winner. Plus, had two other top-five Heisman finishes.

Gone by: Pick 15.

Josh Allen, 6-5, 233, Wyoming

Strengths: Arm strength, athleticism, size. It's all ideal.

Weaknesses: Accuracy and ability to change speed on his throws while still being on target.

Fact: Had no major college scholarship offers coming out of high school.

Gone by: Top 10.

x-Lamar Jackson, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Louisville

Strengths: All the arm a team would need, plus speed and elusiveness unlike anything the NFL has seen from a top quarterback prospect since Mike Vick.

Weaknesses: Repeatable and consistent throwing mechanics for reliable accuracy.

Fact: Won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 and finished third in 2017 voting.

Gone by: First 20 picks.

Mason Rudolph, 6-5, 235, Oklahoma State

Strengths: Size, strength, and ability - and willingness - to throw deep.

Weaknesses: Limited mobility. Was asked to make limited reads in the offense.

Fact: Completion percentage and yards per pass increased each of last three seasons.

Gone by: Early second round, but could be sixth first-round QB.

Others to watch: Luke Falk, Washington State; Kyle Lauletta, Richmond; Mike White, Western Kentucky.


Position outlook: Saquon Barkley is the No. 1 player on a lot of experts' boards, but there are several backs that could provide great value outside the first 20 picks.

x-Saquon Barkley, 6-0, 233, Penn State

Strengths: Quick feet, sharp cuts, top-end speed, powerful lower body, solid pass catcher, willing blocker and, by all accounts, excellent work ethic.

Weaknesses: The one knock: He needs to use that power to run through more tacklers and push piles forward.

Fact: The first Penn State player to reach 3,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving.

Gone by: Browns at No. 4.

Sony Michel, 5-11, 220, Georgia

Strengths: Three-down back with good speed, decent receiving skills and ability to pass protect.

Weaknesses: Limited shiftiness.

Fact: Ran for 3,638 yards in four seasons at Georgia while mostly sharing carries with Nick Chubb.

Gone by: Middle of second round.

x-Derrius Guice, 5-10, 212, LSU

Strengths: Runs violently once he breaks the line of scrimmage and has breakaway speed.

Weaknesses: Some durability concerns. Might not be a three-down back.

Fact: Set an SEC record with three career 250-yard games.

Gone by: Middle of second round.

x-Ronald Jones II, 5-11, 200, USC

Strengths: Darting, tough runner who finishes runs by falling forward.

Weaknesses: His style at that size could limit him in NFL.

Fact: Broke Charles White's USC freshman rushing record in 2015.

Gone by: Late second round.

Others to watch: Nick Chubb, Georgia; Rashaad Penny, San Diego State; Kerryon Johnson, Auburn.


Position outlook: No first-round locks, but expect at least one or two to go on Day 1.

x-Calvin Ridley, 6-0, 189, Alabama

Strengths: Game-breaking speed and explosive out of his cuts.

Weakness: Slender. Can he play through contact at the line?

Fact: Surpassed 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman, but limited passing game by Alabama held his numbers down in 2016 and '17.

Gone by: Top-25 pick, likely first receiver taken.

Courtland Sutton, 6-3, 218, SMU

Strengths: Big, physical red-zone target.

Weaknesses: Possession receiver-type speed.

Fact: Was recruited as a defensive back out of high school.

Gone by: A need-and-fit pick who could slip to third round.

x-D.J. Moore, 6-0, 210, Maryland

Strengths: Elusive after the catch. Excelled with underwhelming quarterback play.

Weaknesses: Needs to improve on catching contested passes.

Fact: Big Ten receiver of the year in 2017 while catching passes from four quarterbacks.

Gone by: Middle of second round.

x-Christian Kirk, 5-10, 200, Texas A&M

Strengths: Good hands and slippery runner. Could be a game-breaking return man.

Weakness: Size could limit him to slot receiver.

Fact: Returned six punts and one kickoff for touchdowns in three seasons at A&M.

Gone by: End of second round.

Others to watch: James Washington, Oklahoma State; D.J. Chark, LSU; Dante Pettis, Washington.


Position outlook: Some intriguing athletes and potential receiving mismatches, but no early-off-the-board picks.

Mike Gesicki, 6-5, 247, Penn State

Strengths: Big-time athlete who can make plays downfield.

Weaknesses: Blocking needs a lot of work.

Fact: A highlight-reel dunker on the basketball court.

Gone by: Maybe Day 1. Maybe Day 2.

Dallas Goedert, 6-5, 255, South Dakota State

Strengths: Was used effectively all over the field.

Weaknesses: Needs to refine route running and be a more physical blocker.

Fact: Two-time AP FCS All-American.

Gone by: Middle of second round.

x-Hayden Hurst, 6-4, 250, South Carolina

Strengths: Good hands. Powerful runner.

Weaknesses: At 24, concerns that he has limited ceiling.

Fact: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round in 2012, played two seasons of minor league baseball before college football.

Gone by: Late second round.

Others to watch: x-Mark Andrews, Oklahoma; Ian Thomas, Indiana; Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin.


Position outlook: A lack of clear left tackle prospects and some tackles who might have to move to guard.

Mike McGlinchey, 6-8, 312, Notre Dame

Strengths: Good athlete, solid technique and team leader.

Weaknesses: Could use more bulk and might be better suited for right tackle.

Fact: Four-year starter.

Gone by: Top-20 pick.

x-Kolton Miller, 6-9, 310, UCLA

Strengths: Length, quickness and effort.

Weaknesses: Pass protection technique needs work.

Fact: Only played one season at left tackle in college.

Gone by: Middle of second round.

x-Connor Williams, 6-5, 320, Texas

Strengths: Good footwork and strong technique with his hands.

Weaknesses: Size and power issues have led to projections as a guard.

Fact: Missed much of last season with a knee injury, but played like an elite prospect in 2016.

Gone by: Late second round.

x-Orlando Brown, Oklahoma

Strengths: Massive man who plays with a healthy mean streak.

Weaknesses: Lacks athleticism across the board.

Fact: Brown's late father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, played 11 seasons in the NFL.

Gone by: Bad combine. Better pro day. Difficult to predict when he goes. Late Round 1? Day 3?

Tyrell Crosby, 6-5, 325, Oregon

Strengths: Gets good push off the line as a run blocker.

Weaknesses: Pass protection technique could land him at guard.

Fact: A foot injury cost him much of his junior season or he would likely already be in the NFL.

Gone by: End of Day 2.

Others to watch: Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State; x-Brian O'Neill; Pittsburgh; Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan.


Position outlook: Not a position that NFL teams see as great draft value, but the top players here are probably better prospects than the top tackles.

Quenton Nelson, 6-5, 329, Notre Dame

Strengths: Maybe the most likely to succeed of any player in this draft class. Powerful, tenacious and sound.

Weaknesses: Not much to complain about. Could do better at getting off the line and getting to second level.

Fact: Watch Nelson block and expect to see plenty of defenders being pushed to the ground.

Gone by: Pick 10. And that would probably be about five picks too low.

Will Hernandez, 6-2, 345, UTEP

Strengths: Quick feet for a massive and powerful player.

Weaknesses: A little short in height and arm length.

Fact: Four-year starter.

Gone by: Top-40 pick.

Isaiah Wynn, 6-3, 313, Georgia

Strengths: Good athleticism and attitude.

Weaknesses: Power to drive defenders off the line could use improvement.

Fact: Played left tackle last season and did it well, but that height makes him an NFL guard.

Gone by: Versatility gets him off the board in top 75 picks.

Others to watch: Braden Smith, Auburn; Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech; Austin Corbett, Nevada.


Position outlook: A few low-risk prospects who could step into starting roles right away.

Billy Price, 6-4, 312, Ohio State

Strengths: Very strong. Very aggressive. Played at lot of guard with the Buckeyes, too.

Weaknesses: That aggressiveness can lead to sloppiness.

Fact: Started a school-record 55 games at Ohio State.

Gone by: End of second round.

x-James Daniels, 6-3, 295, Iowa

Strengths: Quick off the line and into linebackers.

Weaknesses: Straight-up, one-on-one power could be a problem.

Fact: Played with brother, running back LeShun Daniels, during first two seasons at Iowa.

Gone by: Early second round.

Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

Strengths: Big and powerful with good awareness.

Weaknesses: Lacks great athleticism.

Fact: Ragnow's father, Jon, died of a heart attack during the 2016 football season. Frank managed to play, and play well, through the season.

Gone by: End of third round.

Others to watch: Bradley Bozeman, Alabama; Mason Cole, Michigan; x-Will Clapp, LSU.


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