Mel Kiper's Big Board and position rankings: Top 2018 NFL draft prospects

March 2, 2018, 5:25 PM

— -- We're without football now until training camps begin in late July. But that means it's NFL draft season. I've released my first Mock Draft before the Senior Bowl, and version 2.0 will be out next week.

Below is my updated Big Board (ranking of the top 25 prospects for the Class of 2018) and position rankings (my top 10 prospects for the 2018 Class at every position).

A reminder about my Big Board:

  • I'm projecting to the NFL. This is about much more than stats. My projections are based on size, athletic ability, statistics and what I hear from people around the league.
  • Speaking of size, what's listed here is provided by the schools in most cases, unless they were at the Senior Bowl. These numbers could vary greatly when players show up at the NFL combine. True height and weight matter a lot for almost every position.

Note: One asterisk denotes the player is a junior, and two asterisks denote the player is a redshirt sophomore for the 2017 season.

Click here to go to the position rankings, which are listed after the Big Board.

1. * Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Previous rank: 1

Barkley is a lights-out athlete?with?tremendous balance, a great lower body and quick feet. He's a stellar runner -- both inside and outside the tackles -- and he showed?in 2017 that he's a true three-down back. He had 54 catches after having 48 combined in his first two seasons at Penn State. I think Barkley will run under a 4.4 40-yard dash and test well at the combine at 5-foot-11, 230 pounds. Is he likely to go No. 1 overall in April? Probably not. But he could be a top-five pick, and?he has an elite grade from me.

2. * Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Previous rank:?3

Fitzpatrick (6-1, 203) has played corner and safety?at Alabama, and?he could play either position at the next level. The versatility is a huge plus.?Fitzpatrick is really a defensive coordinator's dream: a modern-day big corner who plays safety. He's versatile enough to line up in the slot and lock down receivers, but he also can be a center fielder. Fitzpatrick had nine career interceptions (including four that were returned for touchdowns), so he has elite ball skills. He isn't afraid to make a tackle, either, which is why I think he'll be a top-five pick in April.

3. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Previous rank:?2

Chubb could have entered the 2017 draft and been in the first-round discussion. He was dominant early in the season against Florida State with two sacks and a forced fumble. At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, he?shows?good takeoff from the edge as a pass-rusher, and he has an excellent mix of speed and power.?Chubb had 10 sacks and?25 tackles for loss (tied for second in the FBS)?in 2017 and had 10 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2016. He is the top-ranked pass-rusher in this class, and it's not close at this point.

4. * Quenton Nelson, G,?Notre Dame

Previous rank:?8

Nelson and Mike McGlinchey formed the best left side of an O-line in college football. Both could be top-15 picks. At 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, Nelson causes destruction in the interior. I wrote last year that he was entertaining to watch, and you just don't say that about guards. He is a dominant run-blocker who is powerful at the point of attack and athletic enough to pull and get into space.

5. * Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Previous rank:?4

Allen (6-5, 237) is super raw, but he can really sling it. There's a reason he went No. 1 in my Mock Draft 1.0. He got better every day at Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Alabama, where he was on the same team as Baker Mayfield. His numbers weren't great?in 2016 (28 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions while completing 56 percent of his passes), and his numbers weren't great in 2017 (16 touchdown passes,?six interceptions while completing 56.3 percent of his passes), but NFL teams will take into account the talent around him.?The Wyoming offense lost 47 touchdowns from last season's team, along with its center. I think?Allen's?numbers will be much better in an NFL offense with NFL players. He put some strong film together in the Cowboys' bowl win, throwing three touchdown passes in the first half, even while recovering from a shoulder injury.

6. ** Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California

Previous rank:?6

Darnold?played better down the stretch, but he had an up-and-down?season. He finished with 13 interceptions and?nine lost?fumbles. His 22 turnovers were tied for most in the FBS. He had an outstanding 2016 season but didn't match it, which makes his evaluation difficult. Now, I think Darnold has a chance to be special, and I believe in his talent long term. Darnold has a big frame (6-4, 225), makes quick decisions and is an accurate, natural passer. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes last season and ranked second in the nation in Total QBR (86.8), but he?finished at 63.1 percent and 74.6 in 2017.

7. * Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Previous rank:?5

Coming off a stellar?freshman season in 2015, Rosen struggled in 2016 and made only six starts before injuring his shoulder. He had a great start to the 2017 season and finished with 26 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. He missed a game because of a concussion late in the season, however, and was pulled in the second half of UCLA's win over Cal "for precautionary reasons" after taking a few big hits and was held out of the Bruins' bowl game. The?6-foot-4, 218-pounder throws a great ball and has rare arm talent.?There aren't many quarterbacks who can make the throws he does. He went No. 2 overall in my first Mock Draft. The combine is an important step to see how he performs against the other top guys.

8. * Tremaine Edmunds, OLB,?Virginia Tech

Previous rank:?10

At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Edmunds is a gifted athlete and physical specimen, and he lives in the backfield. A year after recording 106 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, he had 109 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks this season. Edmunds isn't a traditional linebacker; he could play inside in a pinch and disrupt some throwing lanes, and he also could play outside and pressure quarterbacks. He even does a good job covering pass-catchers out of the backfield. He's an impressive athlete, and you could make a case that Edmunds has the most upside of any linebacker in this?class. Check out the recognition to get to the quarterback in the video clip above.?

9. * Roquan Smith, ILB,?Georgia

Previous rank:?7

At 6-foot-1, 225, Smith is an extremely athletic linebacker. He?can get sideline to sideline in a hurry.?A season after having 95 total tackles and five tackles for loss, Smith had 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2017. He can blitz up the middle or off the edge, and I think he could play inside or outside linebacker. He's just a fun player to watch, and he was one of the best players on the field in both of the Bulldogs' College Football Playoff matchups. He's not a huge linebacker, and I want to see what he measures in at the combine in Indianapolis.

10. Baker Mayfield, QB,?Oklahoma

Previous rank:?13

As I wrote in December,?Mayfield is one of the most difficult evaluations in this class. I love him on the field -- he's not afraid to take shots downfield, has an underrated arm, and he has won a ton of games. He measured in a 6-foot-0 at the Senior Bowl, and there isn't much history of 6-0 quarterbacks having success in the NFL. Is Mayfield a similar athlete to Russell Wilson? No, he's not. That's why it's important for Mayfield to get in front of scouts and interview, like he did at the Senior Bowl. And he'll get the opportunity again at the combine. The Heisman Trophy winner put up huge numbers the past three seasons, and he completed better than 70 percent of his passes since the beginning of the 2016 season. He had 83 touchdown passes and only 14 interceptions over that span.

11. * Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Previous rank:?9

I said before the season that I think Ward has a chance to be the next great Ohio State cover corner and first-round pick. He's polished. He didn't have an interception last season, but he plays the ball well and showed good instincts in coverage, as proved by his nine pass breakups. He had two interceptions this season, as well as 15 more pass breakups.?Listed at 5-foot-10, 191 pounds, Ward plays bigger than that. I really liked what I saw on his 2016 tape, even as the Buckeyes had two other corners who went in the first round of the 2017 draft. He has a good chance to be the top corner picked in 2018, as Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore was in 2017.

12.? Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio

Previous rank:?15

Scouts have been buzzing about Davenport, and it didn't stop after Senior Bowl practices. He's one of the best pure pass-rushers in this class, even if he hasn't developed an arsenal of moves yet. At 6-foot-6, 259 pounds, Davenport is a quick-twitch athlete who can play on his feet or with his hand in the dirt. He had 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss this season, and he?had 6.5 sacks in 2016.

13. * Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

Previous rank:?25

Miller reminds me of Patriots left tackle Nate Solder, who went in the middle of the first round in 2011. They both have huge 6-foot-8 frames, and they have great feet. Miller was an under-the-radar prospect coming into the season because of a foot injury that forced him to miss most of 2016. But he came into his own this season, and he has a high ceiling. This offensive tackle class is fluid, and Miller has moved atop my board.

14. * Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Previous rank:?12

Ridley is the?2018 draft's clear No. 1 receiver?right now.?What I really like about him is his competitiveness. He's a nightmare to try to tackle in the open field.?Ridley (6-foot-1, 188 pounds)?had 63 catches?for 967 yards and five touchdowns in 2017, including touchdowns in both of the Crimson Tide's College Football Playoff games. He averaged 15.3 yards per catch with inconsistent quarterback play. He has?been one of the nation's top wide receivers since he stepped onto the field as a freshman in 2015 --? he had 161 catches and 14 touchdown receptions in his first two collegiate seasons.

15. * Josh Jackson, CB,?Iowa

Previous rank:?20

Jackson was the best corner in college football in 2017, and he showed it by picking off Ohio State's J.T. Barrett three times in an upset win. He was phenomenal and showed off stellar hands. Jackson had eight total interceptions and broke up 18 passes in 2017, his first season as a starter. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder has also pitched in on punt returns, though he didn't break off any big returns.

16. * Orlando Brown, OT,?Oklahoma

Previous rank: NR

I wrote about Brown earlier in the 2017 season, when?the 6-foot-8, 345-pound left tackle was outstanding in the Sooners' win at Ohio State. He?helped protect OU quarterback? Baker Mayfield from a defense that is loaded with future NFL talent. Brown is nimble for a big man, getting to the second level with ease. He has great feet and can easily slide outside to pick up blitzing linebackers.?Brown might have to move over to the right side at the next level, but I think he'll get a shot at left tackle to start his career.

17. * Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

Previous rank:?14

Finally healthy after being hampered by a groin injury, Evans stood out on a defense loaded with NFL talent. He played outside early in his career at Alabama, and the versatility will help at the next level. Evans (6-foot-3, 234 pounds) also can rush the passer; he had 15 career sacks. He finished the 2017 season with 13 tackles for loss, too. The Crimson Tide have a long history of producing talented linebackers, including Reuben Foster?in the 2017 draft, and Evans?is next up.

18. ** Derwin James, S, Florida State

Previous rank:?11

James is a tough evaluation because he just hasn't played many games.?The former five-star recruit was terrific as a freshman for the Seminoles in 2015, with 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. But he played only two games in 2016 after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder came back healthy in 2017 and finished with two interceptions, 11 pass breakups?and 84 total tackles. James just doesn't have much tape, and scouts want to see how he tests at the combine.

19.?* Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

Previous rank:?22

Hughes emerged as a shutdown corner in his lone season at Central Florida, showing good anticipation in coverage and playing the run well, too. At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds,?Hughes?has good size, and he's exceptionally fast. He had four interceptions this season, including one pick-six, and added 11 pass breakups. Hughes is also a phenomenal punt and kick returner -- he had three more touchdowns on returns. The arrow is pointing way up on Hughes, who really came out of nowhere after playing at North Carolina in 2015 and a junior college in 2016.

20.?* Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Previous rank:?17

Payne (6-2, 319) is a reliable presence for the Crimson Tide, and he might have had his best two games in the College Football Playoff. Georgia couldn't block him in the title game, especially in the first quarter. Payne isn't going to put up huge numbers on the stat sheet -- he had only three career sacks -- but he consistently beats interior offensive linemen and gets good push, and he's a solid prospect with some upside. Check out the athleticism on his interception and return against Clemson in the video clip above.

21. * Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Previous rank:?19

At 6-foot-4, 346 pounds, Vea is more than a space-eater. He has some explosion and quickness off the ball and can penetrate along the interior. He had five sacks and 39 total tackles in 2016, and he had 3.5 sacks in 2017. I think Vea can be an every-down player in the NFL, not just a two-down tackle. He reminds me of Haloti Ngata, who had three consecutive NFL seasons with at least five?sacks.

22. * Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Previous rank: NR

After picking up a nagging knee injury early this season, Guice broke out with a 276-yard rushing performance in the Tigers' win at Ole Miss. He isn't the athletic specimen Leonard Fournette?is, but I liked everything I saw from him last season, too. Guice rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns -- and averaged 7.6 yards per carry -- while Fournette battled injuries. Guice (5-foot-11, 218 pounds) showed good burst running between and outside the tackles, and he's a physical runner.?The LSU offense doesn't use its backs much in the passing game, so that's one area in which Guice is behind Barkley and other backs in this class.

23. * James Daniels, C,?Iowa

Previous rank:?NR

This is a great group of centers at the top. Daniels or Ohio State's Billy Price could be first-round picks, depending on how teams value centers. We've seen in recent years that first-round centers can turn out well ( Travis Frederick is the most recent example). Daniels (6-foot-4, 296 pounds) is an athletic and talented interior lineman. He can move his feet and get to the second level, and he is perfect as an anchor for today's NFL. Iowa has produced some great linemen under coach Kirk Ferentz, and Daniels could join that list.

24. Mike McGlinchey, OT,?Notre Dame

Previous rank:?16

McGlinchey is a massive athlete (6-foot-8, 315 pounds) who looks like a tight end with pads on. He was dominant from the left side in the rout of USC in October.?He plays with solid technique, and he can get to the second level for combo blocks, all while driving defenders off the ball in the running game. He played right tackle in 2015, then replaced?first-round pick? Ronnie Stanley?on the left side in 2016, and he has stayed at left tackle in 2017. The versatility will help McGlinchey in the NFL.

25. Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

Previous rank: NR

After leading the nation in sacks (16.5) last season, Landry could have been a late first- or early second-round pick if he had entered the 2017 draft. He also had 22 tackles for loss. There is value in the places he could line up. The 6-foot-3, 257-pound Landry can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense or end in a 4-3. He missed the Eagles' last five games of the season with an ankle injury, but he had five sacks -- including three in a tough loss to Virginia Tech --?and?8.5 tackles for loss?in eight games.


1. * Josh Allen, Wyoming
2. ** Sam Darnold, USC
3. * Josh Rosen, UCLA
4. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
5. * Lamar Jackson, Louisville
6. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
7. Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
8. Luke Falk, Washington State
9. Mike White, Western Kentucky
10. * Chase Litton, Marshall

Running backs

1. * Saquon Barkley, Penn State

2. * Derrius Guice, LSU

3. Sony Michel, Georgia

4. * Ronald Jones II, USC

5. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

6. Nick Chubb, Georgia

7. * Nyheim Hines, NC State

8. * Mark Walton, Miami (Fla.)

9. * Kerryon Johnson, Auburn

10. Royce Freeman, Oregon


1. Jaylen Samuels, NC State

2. Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma

3. Nick Bawden, San Diego State

4. DeAndre Goolsby, Florida

5. Khalid Hill, Michigan

6. Austin Ramesh, Wisconsin

7. Deon Yelder, Western Kentucky

8. Daniel Marx, Stanford

9. Marcus Martin, Slippery Rock

10. Donnie Ernsberger, Western Michigan

Wide receivers

1. * Calvin Ridley, Alabama

2. * Jordan Lasley, UCLA

3. James Washington, Oklahoma State

4. * Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

5. * D.J. Moore, Maryland

6. * Courtland Sutton, SMU

7. Dante Pettis, Washington

8. D.J. Chark, LSU

9. DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State

10. Michael Gallup, Colorado State

Tight ends

1. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

2. * Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

3. * Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

4. Mike Gesicki, Penn State

5. * Jordan Akins, Central Florida

6. Ian Thomas, Indiana

7. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin

8. * Ryan Izzo, Florida State

9. Durham Smythe, Notre Dame

10. Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan

Offensive tackles

1. * Kolton Miller, UCLA

2. * Orlando Brown, Oklahoma

3. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

4. * Connor Williams, Texas

5. * Geron Christian, Louisville

6. Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State

7. Desmond Harrison, West Georgia

8. * Brian O'Neill, Pitt

9. Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan

10. Tyrell Crosby, Oregon

Offensive guards

1. * Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

2. Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

3. Austin Corbett, Nevada

4. Will Hernandez, UTEP

5. Braden Smith, Auburn

6. * Sam Jones, Arizona State

7. Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech

8. Cole Madison, Washington State

9. Skyler Phillips, Idaho State

10. Sean Welsh, Iowa


1. * James Daniels, Iowa

2. Billy Price, Ohio State

3. Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

4. Mason Cole, Michigan

5. * Will Clapp, LSU

6. Scott Quessenberry, UCLA

7. Coleman Shelton, Washington

8. Jake Bennett, Colorado State

9. Brian Allen, Michigan State

10. Bradley Bozeman, Alabama

Defensive ends

1. Bradley Chubb, NC State
2. Marcus Davenport, Texas (San Antonio)
3. * Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
4. * Rasheem Green, USC
5. Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State
6. Andrew Brown, Virginia
7. * Arden Key, LSU
8. Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State
9. * Hercules Mata'afa, Washington State
10. Chad Thomas, Miami (Fla.)

Defensive tackles

1. * Da'Ron Payne, Alabama

2. * Vita Vea, Washington

3. Maurice Hurst, Michigan

4. * Taven Bryan, Florida

5. * Harrison Phillips, Stanford

6. Derrick Nnadi, Florida State

7. * Tim Settle, Virginia Tech

8. * R.J. McIntosh, Miami (Fla.)

9. Deadrin Senat, South Florida

10. Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State

Inside linebackers

1. * Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

2. * Roquan Smith, Georgia

3. Rashaan Evans, Alabama

4. Josey Jewell, Iowa

5. Micah Kiser, Virginia

6. Darius Leonard, South Carolina State

7. Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State

8. Oren Burks, Vanderbilt

9. Skai Moore, South Carolina

10. Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama

Outside linebackers

1. Harold Landry, Boston College

2. Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

3. Uchenna Nwosu, USC

4. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma

5. Kemoko Turay, Rutgers

6. * Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

7. * Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas

8. * Jeff Holland, Auburn

9. * Jerome Baker, Ohio State

10. * Malik Jefferson, Texas


1. * Denzel Ward, Ohio State

2. * Josh Jackson, Iowa

3. * Mike Hughes, Central Florida

4. M.J. Stewart, North Carolina

5. * Donte Jackson, LSU

6. * Carlton Davis, Auburn

7. * Isaiah Oliver, Colorado

8. * Jaire Alexander, Louisville

9. * Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

10. Anthony Averett, Alabama


1. * Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

2. ** Derwin James, Florida State

3. * Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

4. * Justin Reid, Stanford

5. * Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech

6. * DeShon Elliott, Texas

7. Armani Watts, Texas A&M

8. Kyzir White, West Virginia

9. ** Jessie Bates, Wake Forest

10. Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama

Kickers, punters and long-snappers

1. Johnny Townsend, Florida (P)

2. JK Scott, Alabama (P)

3. Daniel Carlson, Auburn (K)

4. * Eddy Pineiro, Florida (K)

5. * Michael Dickson, Texas (P)

6. Shane Tripucka, Texas A&M (P)

7. Trevor Daniel, Tennessee (P)

8. Ryan Winslow, Pitt (P)

9. Drew Brown, Nebraska (K)

10. Tanner Carew, Oregon (LS)