This is the second annual edition of my Top 100 developmental player rankings. As detailed in more depth last year’s version, the six factors considered in ranking players are (1) Production, (2) Size and Speed, (3) College Program, (4) Pedigree and Depth Chart Status, (5) Character, and (6) The Eye Test. Having set criteria makes the near-impossible task of ranking players with a diverse range of experience and competing against a wide range of competition (both on-field opposition and against teammates for playing time) more manageable.
The goal is to provide as much context and information as possible and then allow you to adjust the rankings to make them your own based upon how the players pass the "eye-test" for you when you watch them. To that end, we have provided a link to a highlight video of as many players as possible in the Top 100 so you can take a look and make your own judgments.
Separate Rankings for Quarterbacks and Tight Ends
One small change to this year’s rankings is the decision to separate out quarterbacks and tight ends from the overall rankings. The Top 75 below is made up entirely of wide receivers and running backs and is then followed by the Top 15 quarterbacks and Top 10 tight ends.
The Top 75
1. RB Saquon Barkley (Penn St., Junior) As Penn State head coach James Franklin said, Barkley is the total package — with “attitude, demeanor, work ethic, leadership, speed, vision, quickness, strength, and size.” Fresh off of an incredible sophomore season, Barkley has added another five pounds of muscle this offseason and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash in a video released by the Nittany Lions earlier this year. Barkley is the top developmental prospect in years and is a better prospect than the guy who was #1 on this list last year, Leonard Fournette. As NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said recently, “Barkley compares favorably to LSU All-American Leonard Fournette. But I think he’s a little more elusive than Leonard is. He’s a special dude.”
2. RB Derrius Guice (LSU, Junior) In many years, Guice would be an easy choice as top devy prospect. He was the consensus top RB recruit in the country in 2015 and flashed in a huge way on his 51 carries as a true freshman (when he averaged 8.5 YPC). When Leonard Fournette went down with an ankle injury in 2016, Guice stepped in and didn’t miss a beat with an eye-popping 7.6 YPC on 183 attempts. He rushed for 160+ yards in half of his eight SEC games, including a monster 285 yard, 4 touchdown game against Texas A&M in the regular season finale. He has an incredible combination of power and game-breaking ability (8 of his 15 touchdowns last season came from 20+ yards). One of the few areas where Barkley has an advantage is in the passing game. While Guice has looked fine catching the ball, he has just 14 career receptions and hasn’t shown the same game-breaking ability as a receiver. Reported 40 times are all over the place for Guice, with a 4.61 at a high school combine but also some reports of hand times in the 4.3 range. He showed last season he is plenty fast and has a great shot at going in the Top 10 overall of the 2018 NFL draft.
3. WR Courtland Sutton (SMU, RS Junior) Sutton is a big-bodied receiver (6’3, 215 with long arms) in the mold of Mike Williams who wins with tremendous leaping ability, hands and body control. As with Williams, the big question for Sutton will be his speed. Even if he tests in the 4.6 range like Williams, Sutton still projects as a top-40 NFL pick due to his size and ball skills. As of now, late-1st round in the 2018 draft is probably a good over/under for him but there’s some upside beyond that if he tests better than expected.
4. WR Ahmmon Richards (Miami (FL), Sophomore) Richards was a relatively under the radar recruit for most of the process, but became a priority target for top teams like Alabama after an outstanding senior season. He stuck with his Miami commitment and was the fastest player on the Hurricanes in offseason testing last summer, reportedly running a 4.31-second forty (even if that time is inflated, he’s still plenty fast). Richards then went out and broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving record with 934 receiving yards, earning second-team All-ACC in the process. Richards proved to be a major big-play threat, averaging over 19 yards per catch on the season. He was also incredibly efficient, racking up his 934 yards on just 75 targets. That’s a whopping 12.5 Yards per target, while his QB Brad Kaaya averaged just 8.5 YPT on the season. Richards has impressive length at 6’1 with long arms. The next step will be for him to try to add some muscle to his wiry frame. The future is very bright for Richards, who projects as the best Miami receiving prospect in many years. He is an early leader for top receiver in the 2019 NFL draft.
5. RB Nick Chubb (Georgia, Senior) Chubb burst onto the scene with 1,547 yards as a true freshman in 2014 and once looked like a lock for the first round of the 2017 draft. But injuries derailed him along the way. He surprisingly returned for his senior season after a relatively subpar junior year in which he looked a step slower following a major knee injury and reconstructive surgery in October, 2015. Chubb averaged just 5.0 yards per carry after 7.1 as a freshman and a ridiculous 8.1 as a sophomore. He reportedly looks and feels closer to his 2014-15 form this spring, so there’s hope that he regains the burst that made him one of the most coveted developmental players over the past few seasons. Cautious optimism seems the best course. He still has immense upside, but it comes with a real risk that the past injuries will keep him from ever reaching his full potential.
6. WR Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame, Junior) St. Brown caught just one pass as a true freshman (playing behind Will Fuller and others) but quickly emerged as Notre Dame’s go-to receiver as a sophomore in 2016. He led the team with 58 receptions for 961 yards and nine touchdowns. He comes from an interesting background. His mother is German and his father, John Brown, was a two-time Mr. Universe and three-time Mr. World in weight-lifting. St. Brown has a non-typical build. He’s nearly 6’5 and 205 pounds, but is built rail thin and reportedly has had some issues keeping weight on. He has run sub-4.5 forty-yard dash times both in high school and at Notre Dame, so if he can continue to fill out his long frame, he should end up as a big-time NFL prospect. St. Brown is a serious student and it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see him put off the 2018 draft to return for his senior season, so it could be a two-year wait for him to hit the pros.
7. RB Cam Akers (Florida St., Freshman) The last incoming freshmen who were obviously worthy of first-round developmental draft picks before playing a down in college were Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon in 2014. Akers is in the same class, with such obvious physical talent and college-ready skills that he should quickly become one of the top backs in the nation. Akers enrolled early at Florida State with incredible hype. He is the highest-rated offensive recruit in FSU history and considered by many to be the best Mississippi high school player ever. Akers has lived up to the massive expectations as an early enrollee. He had over 100 scrimmage yards in the spring game and looks like he will push his way into the starting lineup in the opener against Alabama this fall. Akers checks the boxes physically. He is a bigger back (already carrying close to 220 pounds) and ran a 4.44 at the Nike Opening Camp (also posted a 40” vertical).
8. WR Deon Cain (Clemson, Junior) Cain had some off-field issues to work through at this time last year and missed spring ball. However, he returned for the fall and put together an excellent true sophomore season despite playing second-fiddle to Mike Williams in the potent Clemson passing offense. He racked up 38 catches for 724 yards and 9 touchdowns. He had 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a big win over Louisville and caught 5 passes for 94 yards against Alabama in the National Championship game. Cain reportedly ran in the 4.40-range coming out of high school and has solid size at 6’1, 210 pounds. He’s been a big-play threat, averaging over 18 YPC in his career. Clemson’s quarterbacks struggled this spring and Cain may have to overcome some shaky play from whoever emerges as Deshaun Watson’s replacement to retain his status as top-5 receiving prospect for the 2018 draft.
9. WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M, Junior) If Christian Kirk was a couple inches taller, he would be viewed as a can’t-miss, elite NFL prospect. However, his 5’11 height is a real concern (despite his solid 200+ pound weight) and may limit him to a slot role at the next level. Kirk is an outstanding athlete, expected to run in 4.40-range and boasting a 37-inch vertical leap. He’s been one of the most productive receivers (83-928-9) and return men in the SEC as both a true freshman and sophomore. Kirk might not have quite the same fantasy upside as some of the bigger receivers, but he has a high floor and might end up being big enough to play outside at the next level and not just be limited to the slot.
10. WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama, Junior) Ridley became a big name after a monster freshman season for the 2015 national champions (89-,1,045-7). But he suffered through a bit of a sophomore slump in 2016, with just 72 catches for 769 receiving yards. Some of that was due to the change at quarterback, but Ridley also made fewer big plays. Julio Jones and Amari Cooper suffered through down sophomore season before responding with big junior years that set them up as top-10 NFL picks. Ridley probably doesn’t have the same upside. He’s almost two years older than most juniors and has struggled to add weight to his 6’1, 185-pound frame.
11. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan, Freshman) The consensus top incoming freshman receiver in the nation, Peoples-Jones only added to his considerable hype as an early enrollee by clocking a team-best 4.41-second forty-yard dash and 39-inch vertical during team testing. He has solid size as well at 6’2, 190. Michigan brought in an excellent receiving class that also includes top recruits Tarik Black and Nico Collins and it will be worth watching if Peoples-Jones can separate himself from his classmates. If he does, expect the same Michigan hype machine that boosted Jabrill Peppers to national prominence to go into overdrive Peoples-Jones.
12. RB Ronald Jones (USC, Junior) Jones is undersized, with a build similar to Jamaal Charles at 6’1, 195 pounds. He has elite speed, competing on the Trojans track team and showing game-breaking ability when he gets into the secondary. He set the all-time record for rushing yards by a USC freshman (987) in 2015, but got off to a slow start as a sophomore due to a rib injury. He came on strong down the stretch however with big games against California (223 yards), Oregon (171 yards and 4 touchdowns), UCLA (121 yards) and Notre Dame (134 yards). In two seasons, he has rushed for 2,069 yards (6.3 YPC) and 20 TDs, despite starting just six games. For a smaller guy, Jones hasn’t shown much as a receiver. He needs to prove himself in that area as he could end up fitting in best as a change-of-pace back in the NFL.
13. WR James Washington (Oklahoma St., Senior) Washington has an impressive combination of size (a solidly built 6’1, 205 pounds) and speed (probably in the 4.5 range). He has also been extremely productive as a deep-ball threat in the Cowboys offense. Those factors make him one of the safer projections as at least a mid-round pick next spring. There are two issues that make Washington’s fantasy upside a bit questionable and could keep him out of the first round of the 2018 draft. First, we have seen plenty of Big 12 receivers put up big numbers against shaky defenses in the high-scoring conference, so you have to take some of the numbers with a grain of salt. Second, Washington is high-cut and looks like he struggles changing direction at times, which makes you wonder if he ever develops into a primary target at the next level. He may end up as a secondary target who mostly catches deep balls (like Terrence Williams of the Dallas Cowboys).
14. WR N'Keal Harry (Arizona State, Sophomore) Harry was one of the more hyped incoming freshmen in the country and mostly lived up to the hype with a solid 58-659-3 season. He is a massive presence at 6’4, 210 pounds. His basketball background is obvious with the way he boxes defenders out and creates a target for his quarterback. The big question for his future will be his speed as he averaged just 11.4 yards per catch. Like Devin Funchess, he could project as either a big outside receiver or potentially grow into a flex tight end.
15. WR Auden Tate (Florida State, Junior) Tate is a huge 6’5, 225-pound receiver in the mold of Kelvin Benjamin. While he only caught 25 passes last season, he did put up 409 yards and scored six times. He was coming on late in the season before suffering a shoulder injury in the Orange Bowl. With three of FSU’s top five receivers off to the NFL, Tate should emerge as the go-to receiver (perhaps along with Nyquan Murray) for the Seminoles as a true junior in 2016.
16. WR Bryan Edwards (South Carolina, Sophomore) In a freshman wide receiver class lacking in elite talents, Edwards emerged from way back in the pack to stake his claim to being one of the top receivers in his class (and the 2019 NFL draft). He flew slightly under the radar as a recruit because he missed much of his senior season with a knee injury. Edwards came out of the gates quickly with 101 yards in Week 1 of the 2016 season and went on to have the second-best true freshman season for a Gamecock receiver in history (behind only Alshon Jeffery). He started all but one game (due to a minor injury) and finished third on the team with 44 catches for 590 yards. Edwards has great size (6’3, 210) and surprised many by running a 4.53-second forty at a Nike combine the summer before his senior season of high school.
17. RB Damarea Crockett (Missouri, Sophomore) Crockett had a very impressive true freshman campaign in 2016, rushing for 1,062 yards at 6.9 YPC. He came on especially strong in his final two games, with 154 yards against Vanderbilt and 225 yards against Tennessee. Crockett has an ideal build at 5’11, 220 pounds. While he showed impressive explosion and change of direction at the Nike Combine in high school, his 40-yard dash times were in the 4.7 range.
18. WR Trevon Grimes (Ohio State, Freshman) Grimes entered his senior season ranked as a 5-star receiver and one of the top overall players in his class, but tore his ACL early in his senior season and slid down the rankings a bit as a result. The recovery seems to be progressing well and Grimes is likely to be ready for fall camp. He has one of the most intriguing combinations of size and speed of any player entering college football this fall. At 6’4, 202 pounds, he ran a 4.47 at The Opening (with an impressive 4.01-second short shuttle). He was one of the top hurdlers in the nation as a sophomore (one of the best tests of “football speed”).
19. WR Jerry Jeudy (Alabama, Freshman) A 5-star early enrollee, Jeudy has exceeded lofty expectations in his first spring in Tuscaloosa. While his classmates were finishing up senior year and preparing for prom, Jeudy was shining in the Tide’s spring game. He finished with five catches for 134 yards and the two scores and was named MVP of Alabama’s A-Day. Jeudy looks headed towards starting as a true freshman opposite of Calvin Ridley. Jeudy ran a 4.47-second forty-yard dash during Alabama’s spring testing. While he isn’t the biggest receiver (6’1, 180 pounds), he does have a few years to fill out his frame.
20. Demetris Robertson (California, Sophomore) Robertson was a 5-star recruit out of Georgia who surprised many by picking California. He had a big freshman season, with 50-767-7. While Robertson isn’t the biggest guy at just 6’0, 175 pounds, he is an absolute blazer. In fact, he missed most of spring football while competing with the Cal track team. A best-case comparison for Robertson is John Ross, another undersized Pac-12 speedster.
21. WR Collin Johnson (Texas, Sophomore) Johnson came on strong down the stretch of his true freshman season in 2016. In his final three games, he caught 15 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns. He carried the momentum into the offseason and ended a productive spring on a high note in the Texas spring game, with eight catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. He looks every bit the part of a No. 1 receiver. The quotes from Texas coaches are encouraging. ”He has the talent and ability to do it," offensive coordinator Tim Beck said. "Collin causes a major matchup issue," Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando said. "I'm excited about him. I know I'm a defensive guy, but once that kid gets it all put together he's going to be a special player." Johnson has made major progress filling out his 6’5 frame (210 pounds) and looks to have maintained his 4.50 speed. Still a boom/bust NFL prospect, Johnson has the type of upside worth gambling on in devy drafts.
22. RB JK Dobbins (Ohio State, Freshmen) Dobbins missed his entire senior season of high school due to an ankle injury but was still ranked as one of the top 50 players in the nation. Dobbins is a freak athlete, earning the top overall SPARQ score at the 2016 Nike Combine, he reportedly ran the 40 in 4.45 seconds, posted a vertical jump of 43.1 inches, timed at 4.09 seconds in shuttle agility and threw the power ball 42 feet at 5’10 200 pounds. He enrolled early in the spring and has quickly moved up the depth chart (passing highly ranked 2016 recruit Antonio Williams). He has impressed in spring scrimmages and Ohio State coaches have been raving about his performance.
23. RB Bo Scarbrough (Alabama, 4th year Junior) Scarbrough is already an older prospect (enrolling at 20 years old) and probably should have come out and tested the NFL waters after rushing for a school-record for a bowl game with 180 yards in the National Semifinal win over Washington. He suffered a broken leg against Clemson that limited him in the spring and perhaps led to his return. Physically, Scarbrough is a Derrick Henry clone, right down to the freakish athleticism (At 6’2, 240 has reportedly run in the 4.4-range.) He has had multiple injuries and was suspended for four games in 2015, but Scarborough’s size/speed combination is worth gambling on in devy drafts.
24. RB Najee Harris (Alabama, Freshman) Harris is ranked as one of the top overall incoming recruits in the nation. The San Francisco prospect chose to go cross country to join a stacked Alabama backfield. At 6’2, 225 pounds, Harris has ideal speed and plenty of athleticism. From a fantasy perspective, the most exciting aspect of Harris’ game is his receiver-like skills as a pass catcher. As an early enrollee, Harris had a quieter spring than classmates Cam Akers and JK Dobbins, mostly due to the face he was recovering from surgery on a torn meniscus that sidelined him at times. However, Harris shined in the Alabama spring game, rushing 17 times for 70 yards and catching three passes for 37 yards with Bama’s top three backs all held out as a precaution. It will be interesting to see how quickly Harris can ascend the depth chart at Alabama that boasts a handful of legitimate NFL prospects.
25. RB Trayveon Williams Williams was a standout performer for the Aggies as a true freshman, rushing for a school freshman-record 1,057 yards (6.8 YPC) and also catching 19 passes. He showed incredible quickness and breakaway speed that stood out even against athletic SEC defenses. Size and power will be the biggest questions for Williams, but at 5’9 and 200 pounds, he is built solidly enough for at least a change-of-pace role in the NFL.
26. WR D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss, Sophomore) Metcalf was one of the most hyped wide receiver recruits in the devy community at this time last year. While he had a quiet true freshman season, he has been generating buzz this offseason. He made some highlight plays in the spring game and looks to have locked down a starting spot opposite fellow sophomore A.J. Brown. He’s also been a standout in the weight room and has the look of a future NFL receiver at 6’4, 225 pounds.
27. WR Antonio Callaway (Florida, Junior) At this time last year, Callaway was a major question mark despite a promising freshman season (678 receiving yards) because he was suspended indefinitely. He was reinstated in time to improve on his freshman season with a 54-721-3 line as a true sophomore. 2017 will be his first year actually participating in spring camp. While Callaway is slightly undersized at 5’11, 197 pounds and will probably never be much of a red zone threat, his speed and ability after the catch make him a solid NFL prospect.
28. RB Mike Weber (Ohio State, RS Sophomore) Weber was a highly-ranked recruit coming out of Detroit in 2015 and subject of a heated recruiting battle between Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer. He injured his knee in the summer before the 2015 season and was forced to redshirt. While Weber racked up a relatively impressive 1,096 yards as a redshirt freshman starter, it’s worth noting that he did much of his damage against over-matched opponents. He was held to 3.4 YPC on 21 attempts against Penn State and totaled just 50 yards in the final two games against Michigan and Clemson. Weber is a solid all-around prospect with no major weaknesses to his game, but doesn’t yet stand out with any one special trait. It’s possible he makes a big jump in his second season and will likely look to make the jump to the NFL next spring.
29. RB Damien Harris (Alabama, Junior) Harris, one of five former 5-star recruits at RB for Alabama, led a deep backfield rotation with 1,037 yards (7.1 YPC) as a true sophomore. He has the pedigree as one of the top recruits in the class of 2015 and also boasts ideal RB size at 5’11, 215 pounds. He shows excellent speed (4.51 in spring testing) and change-of-direction skills as well. He probably should receive more attention as a potential top prospect, but he sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of all the talent in Tuscaloosa and could be the rare Bama back who is a better pro than collegiate.
30. RB Miles Sanders (Penn State, Sophomore) Sanders was ranked by many as the top running back recruit in the country for the class of 2016, but saw only limited action behind Saquon Barkley as a freshman. He did flash big-play potential, averaging 7.4 YPC on his 25 carries. He was featured primarily as a kick-returner, where he finished the season with the second-most kick return yards in Penn State history. This offseason, he has reportedly packed on 19 pounds of muscle and checks in at 5’11, 224 pounds.
31. WR Dante Pettis (Washington, Senior) While John Ross drew most of the headlines, Pettis also had a monster 2016 for the Huskies, catching 15 touchdowns. Like Ross, Pettis is undersized (6’1, 180 pounds) but an absolute blazer. He ran a 4.39-forty and notched a 41-inch vertical in testing last year.
32. WR A.J. Brown (Ole Miss, Sophomore) Ole Miss has had a lot of talent at receiver in recent seasons, so it was especially impressive when Brown was able to come in and win a starting job Week 1 as a true freshman. He finished the season with 29 catches for 412 yards, despite battling a knew injury. “He’s really talented, and he’s healthy now,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said this spring. “A lot of people really didn’t know he battled a knee injury last year, and we got that cleaned up as soon as the season was over. He had a really good spring.”
33. WR Tee Higgins (Clemson, Freshman) One of the top incoming freshman receivers in the nation, Higgins will look to continue to the pipeline of 1st-round receivers for Clemson. Higgins is the third five-star wide receiver recruit to sign with Clemson in Dabo Swinney’s tenure as head coach, following Sammy Watkins (2011) and Deon Cain (2015).
34. WR Tarik Black (Michigan, Freshman) The 6-foot-4, 206-pounder from Connecticut was an early enrollee at Michigan and has reportedly had a strong spring. Black was the most productive receiver in Michigan’s spring game, hauling in four catches for 50 yards. He’s a big body who moves well and should have plenty of early opportunities on a Michigan team that lost it’s top three pass catchers.
35. WR Binjimen Victor (Ohio State, Sophomore) Victor came to Ohio State in 2016 as a rail-thin 6’4, 163-pound project out of Florida. Somewhat surprisingly, he avoided a redshirt and was playing extended snaps by the end of his true freshman season. “Anything he wants,” Urban Meyer said when asked what Victor can do on a football field. “That's how good he is. He's not good yet, that's just how talented he is.” That’s the rub with Victor, he has battled inconsistency early in his career. While that is typical for younger players, he will have to put it all together soon with so many other talented players competing for time. Victor has come a long way in transforming his body. “He looked like Bambi when he walked in here,” said Mickey Marotti, OSU’s assistant AD for football sports performance. Victor’s now up to 195 while also having gotten faster, going from being a high 4.5 (40) guy to probably a high 4.4 guy, according to Marotti, but the coach cautions that he’s still got a long way to go. He holds up a pencil. “That’s Ben Victor. He just needs time. You can only get so strong, so quick. He’s gotta get stronger. Not even been here a year. He’s got all the genetics. He just needs more time. In the summer he’ll make the biggest improvement.”
36. WR Parris Campbell (Ohio State, RS Junior) The speedy Campbell has a good chance to emerge as OSU’s top receiver this fall after a strong spring. He was a high school running back and graduated high school at just 16-years old, so he was a bit of a project in converting to receiver. Campbell is still only 19-years old despite heading into his fourth season and is starting to emerge as one of the Buckeyes top playmakers. Campbell has the size (6’1, 210 with long arms) and speed (4.41-forty at the Opening high school).
37. WR Drake Davis (LSU, Sophomore) Davis has been a standout this spring for LSU, where players say he can run a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at 6’3, 215 pounds. He is the favorite to win the #2 receiver job opposite of veteran DJ Chark. While LSU has been the school where top WR recruits have gone only to underperform (see Malachi Dupre and others), it hasn’t been long since the Tigers produced players like Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. Davis has the physical skills to be a top NFL prospect.
38. RB Mark Walton (Miami, Junior) Walton had a strong true sophomore season, rushing for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Miami-Herald talked o an AFC front office official who said Walton is UM’s best prospect in next year’s draft if he turns pro and he “has a chance to be a second or third round pick. Tough, good body control, good hands. Does a lot of good things.”
39. RB Myles Gaskin (Washington, Junior) Myles Gaskin has had impressive production in his first two college seasons. He is quick and has been able to handle a surprisingly heavy workload for the Huskies with over 230 touches in each of his two seasons. He has also improved his speed this offseason, improving his 40-yard dash time from 4.5 seconds in 2016 to 4.4 this spring. The problem is that he’s listed as just 5’10 and 195 pounds (and that may be generous) and is likely to be limited to a part-time role at the next level.
40. RB Royce Freeman (Oregon, Senior) In three seasons in Eugene, Freeman has rushed for 4,146 yards and is likely to break the school record for rushing yards in his senior season. He had a monster sophomore season (1,836 yards), but was slowed by an early injury as a junior. Freeman is a 230-pound power back with excellent hands. The only question for Freeman is speed (and it is a big one). We’ve seen plenty of highly productive college runners from high-powered offenses without the athleticism to make an impact at the next level.
41. WR Michael Pittman Jr. (USC, Sophomore) The son of former-NFL running back Michael Pittman, Pittman Jr. is a big-bodied receiver in the mold of JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’s not a speedster but at 6’4, 215 pounds has NFL size. With Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rodgers off to the NFL, Pittman has a good shot to win one of the two vacant starting outside receiver jobs and has reportedly had a good spring.
42. WR Jhamon Ausbon (Texas A&M, Freshman) A consensus top-10 WR recruit, Ausbon enrolled early and made a major impression on the Aggies coaches. He is a physically imposing, 6’2, 220-pound receiver. "Here's a guy who's supposed to be going to prom next month, and he already looks like he's been here two or three years," Sumlin said. He has been tabbed as the top breakout candidate for Texas A&M and is favored to win a starting job in the fall.
43. RB Rodney Anderson (Oklahoma, RS Sophomore) Anderson is one of the more intriguing deep sleepers this offseason, flying well below the radar in devy leagues. He was a highly-rated 4-star recruit out of Katy, Texas but not the type of blue-chip level talent that attracts early devy draft attention. He has also yet to see a snap on offense in college. He suffered a season-ending broken leg on special teams in Week 2 of his true freshman season in 2015 and then another season-ending injury (neck) last August. Now healthy, the 6’2, 223 pounder has impressed this spring and looks likely to step in as the lead back (Abdul Adams is also in the mix) as Oklahoma tries to replace Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Anderson’s talent is intriguing according to the Oklahoma coaches. “He's a freak,” offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “He's at the top or near the top of every test we have. He's strong, fast, smart. Every quality you would put down for a great running back or just a great football player, he checks a lot of the boxes.”
have to add weight.
44. RB Ty Johnson (Maryland, Junior) There are few, if any, backs in the country who were as explosive as Johnson last season. He was a big-play machine, with 10 runs over 40 yards in the final 10 games. On the season, he averaged a ridiculous 9.1 YPC and rushed for 1,004 yards . At 5’10, 205 pounds Johnson has a solid build, but ideally could add another 10 pounds over the next season or two. He has already put on 30 pounds since he arrived at Maryland as an under the radar, 17-year old, 175-pound freshman.
45. RB Kalen Ballage (Arizona St., Senior) Ballage is an interesting physical specimen at 6’3, 230 pounds with surprising speed (reportedly the fastest player on the Sun Devils). Despite the physical talent (he has some flashes where he looks like Derrick Henry), Ballage averaged just 4.3 YPC and had just 536 rushing yards last season. He did notch 44 receptions for 469 yards however and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Ballage may fit in best as an H-Back in the mold of Marcel Reese at the next level.
46. RB D'Andre Swift (Georgia, Freshman) The 5’9, 218-pounder from Pennsylvania is rated as a top-5 recruit at the running back position for the 2017 class. As with some of the other top 2017 RB recruits, he is especially intriguing as a devy stash in PPR leagues because he is very talented in the passing game. He joins a loaded Georgia backfield behind seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and will compete with Elijah Holyfield for the #3 spot. The Bulldogs are likely to land the top 2018 RB recruit (Zamir White) as well, so there should be a spirited 3-way competition for the lead role in 2018 between Swift, Holyfield and White.
47. RB Sony Michel (Georgia, Senior) Michel was a highly-regarded recruit, but was immediately outshone by his fellow classmate Nick Chubb as a freshman in 2014. When Chubb went down midseason in 2015, Chubb stepped up and ran for a career-best 1,136 yards. Michel has had a solid career, but his career 5.5 YPC is just average. He has caught 48 passes over the past two years and boasts a well-rounded game.
48. RB Rawleigh Williams III (Arkansas, Junior) Williams is a load at 5’10, 226 pounds with a low center of gravity. He emerged as a sophomore with 1,360 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams reportedly has run the 40 in the 4.5-range, but his speed is probably the biggest question about his game and how well he will translate to the NFL. The concern is that Williams is a product of an Arkansas system (and previously at Wisconsin) that has allowed some average backs to put up big numbers (Alex Collins, Montee Ball, etc.).
Update: In the final spring practice of 2017, Williams suffered a scary injury that was initially reported as a stinger. However, it could be something more serious and he could end up walking away from football entirely.
49. WR Tre'Quan Smith (Central Florida, Senior) Offensive coordinator and receivers coach Troy Walters believes Smith is capable of producing an All-American season. Smith managed to increase his production slightly (853 yards and five touchdowns) despite picking up the nuances of a completely different offense. “The way he’s practiced this spring, he’s practiced at All-American standards,” said Walters, a former All-American and Biletnikoff winner at Stanford. “For him, it’s just to continue to take those standards into the summer time and just keep working and grinding. I expect not only all-conference teams but I think he can be an All-American, one of the best in the country.” Smith is the best receiver prospect out of UCF since Breshad Perriman.
50. WR Richie James (Middle Tennessee St., RS Junior) Nobody has been more productive than James. In two seasons, James has 212 catches, 2,959 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. He also has 497 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. His size (5’9, 171 pounds) will be a major question mark, but James has the speed and play-making ability to potentially earn a spot in the middle rounds of the NFL draft.
51. RB Chris Evans (Michigan, Sophomore) Evans showed up at Michigan as a tweener WR/RB in the mold of Curtis Samuel, but was able to gain 12 pounds over the winter and now checks in at 5’11, 212 pounds. He looks poised to take over the starting running back position as a true sophomore. While Evans plays fast, his 4.67-second forty-yard dash during spring testing is a bit concerning for a smaller back.
52. RB Joshua Jacobs (Alabama, Sophomore) Jacobs is an interesting story. He had no major offers after his senior senior season of high school in Oklahoma. But when his senior tape made its way to college coaches, he saw a flood of late interest in the month before signing day. He chose Alabama and quickly made an impact with 567 rushing yards (6.7 YPC) as a true freshman. He also caught 14 passes and is Bama’s best returning back as a receiver. Jacobs gets up to top speed as quickly as any back at Alabama and packs surprising power at 5’10, 210 pounds. The Tide are loaded at running back, but Jacobs athleticism, ability as a pass catcher and top pass blocker at the position will make him an intriguing NFL prospect.
53. WR Tyrie Cleveland (Florida, Sophomore) Cleveland was one of the top ranked receivers in the 2016 class, but his career has started slowly with just 14 catches as a freshman. He has decent size, excellent speed and some long-term upside if he can put it all together. “If you look at it, Tyrie this is his first real camp of any sort because he didn’t go through Fall camp,” WR Coach Terry Dixon said. “And you can kind of see at the beginning, you know he was awesome but then once the install got to going he kind of tapered off a little bit, but now he’s starting to come back.”
54. RB LJ Scott (Michigan St., Junior) Scott’s numbers are relatively pedestrian with just 1,693 yards (5.1 YPC) over his first two seasons. He shows flashes of exciting talent however, with an excellent mix of power and quickness. He has missed the spring with an undisclosed injury but has also been dogged with rumors of off-field issues. A risky devy pick, but possessing legitimate upside if he matures and puts it all together.
55. RB Justin Crawford (West Virginia, Senior) At 5’11, 198 pounds Crawford lacks the size to be a starter in the NFL. However, his explosiveness and natural feel for the position make him an interesting change-of-pace prospect. He was a JUCO star in Mississippi and burst onto the scene in his first year in the Big 12 with 1,184 rushing yards (7.3 YPC) for West Virginia last season. He disappeared in some games and struggled through some injuries and fumbling issues. But when the Mountaineers fed him the ball, he delivered some monster performances (331 rushing yards vs. Oklahoma and 209 vs. Baylor).
56. RB Akrum Wadley (Iowa, Senior) Rushed for 1,085 yards and was the team’s second-leading receiver as well with 36 catches for 315 yards. Great elusiveness in the open field, but has a very skinny build that could make it tough to hold up in the NFL. Projects as a change-of-pace and third down specialist at the next level.
57. RB Elijah Holyfield (Georgia, Sophomore) Holyfield was one of the more highly regarded running back recruits in the class of 2016. But he has done little to distinguish himself early in his Georgia career. He ran for just 29 yards as a freshman (though playing behind two top prospects) and reportedly wasn’t a standout in spring ball this season.
Update: In early May, Holyfield was charged with a misdemeanor for possession of marijuana. It should have been a non-story but made national news. It shouldn’t have any impact upon his NFL future.
58. WR Juwan Johnson (Penn State, RS Sophomore) A massive 6’4, 218-pound receiver, he has been touted as a major breakout candidate after a fantastic spring.
59. WR Evidence Njoku (Miami, Freshman) The younger brother of 2017 first-rounder David Njoku also possesses a freakish size-speed combination. He’ll start at receiver but could eventually outgrow the position and end up at tight end.
60. WR Joseph Lewis (USC, Freshman) A five-star receiver standing 6’1, 200 pounds, Lewis will enroll this summer and compete for playing time on a wide-open receiver depth chart.
61. WR Tyrell Shavers (Alabama, Freshman) Standing 6’5 with reported speed in the 4.4-range, Shavers is the textbook definition of the high-upside, long-term project for Nick Saban.
62. WR Tyron Johnson (Oklahoma State, Sophomore) An LSU transfer, Johnson has garnered plenty of buzzand should start opposite of James Washington.
63. WR Allen Lazard (Iowa State, Senior) Lazard has been on top devy lists for years since the top prospect stayed home to play for the Cyclones. He’s a big body at 6’5, 223 pounds and is coming off of a productive junior season with 69 catches for 1,018 yards and 7 touchdowns.
64. RB Ty Chandler (Tennessee, Freshman) The consensus #5 class of 2017 back should immediately compete for the #2 job behind John Kelly at Tennessee after both Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd left. At 5’11 and 190 pounds, he will have to add weight.
65. WR Trent Irwin (Stanford, Junior) Known for his excellent route-running ability, the former 5-star recruit had a solid sophomore season with 37 catches for 442 yards. He still has just one college touchdown however and hasn’t yet had the big impact many predicted.
66. RB Kamryn Pettway (Auburn, RS Junior) There’s nothing fancy about Pettway, he’s a 240-pound hammer who pounds it between the tackles. He shows enough athleticism to possibly project to a two-down role at the next level.
67. WR Brandon Martin (Arkansas, Junior) The top JUCO receiver (played at “Last Chance U”) in the nation in 2017 steps in with a great chance of emerging as the top receiver for Arkansas after a strong spring.
68. WR Devin Duvernay (Texas, Sophomore) Duvernay is one of the fastest players in college football, running a 10.2 100-meter and a legitimate 4.3 40-yard dash. One of many young Texas receivers fighting for playing time.
69. RB Tavien Feaster (Clemson, Sophomore) One of the top-rated backs in the 2016 recruiting class, Feaster received only garbage time carries as a freshman playing behind Wayne Gillman and others. Has been able to add weight and heads into his sophomore season a solid 5’11, 210. Exits spring ball as a backup to veteran CJ Fuller, who is more reliable in pass protection. Feaster is a great athlete and one to watch if he can win the starting job.
70. RB Ryquell Armstead (Temple, Junior) Armstead has a nice size/speed profile, reportedly running in the 4.40-forty range at 205 pounds. He rushed for 919 yards and 14 touchdowns while splitting carries with Jahad Thomas last year.
71. WR Van Jefferson (Ole Miss, RS Soph) While AJ Brown and DK Metcalf get most of the buzz, Jefferson was the most productive of the Rebels young receiver with 49 catches for 543 yards last season. The 6’2, 190-pound slot receiver is a technician with impressive polish who should find a role in the NFL.
72. WR Blake Lynch (Baylor, RS Sophomore) The 6’3, 210-pound speedster is expected to emerge as the top weapon in the Baylor passing offense. One year after KD Cannon and Ismael Zamora went undrafted in 2017 however, so it is worth wondering if the NFL has grown frustrated at the lack of polish Baylor’s offense provides.
73. RB Stephen Carr (USC, Freshman) One of the top recruits on the West Coast should come in this fall and compete for immediate playing time.
74. RB Salvon Ahmed (Washington, Freshman) One of the top recruits in the pacific northwest, Ahmed should be the next man up after Myles Gaskin in the high-powered Washington offense.
75. WR Nate Craig-Myers (Auburn, Sophomore) Craig-Myers was one of the top recruits in the nation in 2016, but had a quiet freshman season. He looks like he is poised to make a big leap in his second season. He led all Auburn receivers with 154 yards in the spring game.
The Quarterback position has a “Big 3” with Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen all projecting as big-time prospects with a solid case for #1 quarterback. There’s a big drop after that and it’s wide-open with some lower-ceiling veterans like Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk and Jake Browning. It’s always very difficult to project the younger guys who have barely played and incoming recruits, but in deeper Superflex leagues, it is worth targeting players like Jalen Hurts, Jacob Eason, Davis Mills and Jarrett Stidham.
1. Josh Allen (Wyoming, RS Junior) Allen came out of nowhere as a sophomore at Wyoming to enter the conversation as potentially the top quarterback in the 2017 draft. He strongly considered declaring after his first season as a starter, but instead decided to return for his junior season. He has a good chance to be the top quarterback in the 2018 draft. He has prototypical NFL size at 6’5, 220 pounds. He also shows above-average athleticism (523 rushing yards and 7 rushing TDs). For more, Brent Sobleski did an in-depth breakdown of Allen for Bleacher Report with more details on his rise from obscurity. For my money, he’s the top devy QB prospect just narrowly over Darnold.
2. Sam Darnold (USC, RS Sophomore) Redshirt freshman Sam Darnold was inserted as the starter early in the 2016 season after a slow start for USC. Once he took over, USC quickly became one of the best teams in the nation. Unlike some previous USC quarterbacks who were overhyped as NFL prospects, Darnold has a big arm and ideal size at 6’4, 225 pounds. He still has lees than a full season as a starter under his belt and will face an entirely different level of pressure after an offseason of hype.
3. Josh Rosen (UCLA, Junior) Rosen was the top quarterback recruit in the nation in 2015 and had an incredibly impressive true freshman season in which he threw for 3,670 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was off to a solid start in 2016, but injured his shoulder in early October and missed the second half of the season. He had surgery in November and started throwing again in March, reportedly showing no ill effects from the injury. The top three quarterbacks enter the 2017 season closely bunched and Rosen has as good a chance of going #1 overall as Allen and Darold do.
4. Lamar Jackson (Louisville, Junior) The Heisman winner is hardly a secret. If he is ever able to win a starting job in the NFL, his elite athleticism could make him a fantasy force. However, his projection to the next level is questionable due to questions about his accuracy and whether he can make successfully make the transition to more of a pocket passer in the NFL. Boom/bust, but that’s the case for everyone beyond the top three.
5. Luke Falk (Washington State, RS Senior) Falk has added another 10 pounds this offseason and is up to 6’4, 225 pounds. He has been incredibly productive and flashes an NFL arm, but questions about the Air Raid offense and his ability to transition to the NFL will be many. Jared Goff (who played in a similar system) showing signs of progress in 2017 would be a big boost to Falk’s stock.
6. Jacob Eason (Georgia, Sophomore) Eason is an NFL prototype at 6’5, 236 pounds and possessing a big arm. While his freshman numbers were relatively unimpressive, it is typical for a true freshman to struggle in the SEC. If Eason can put it all together over the next few years, he has Matthew Stafford-like upside.
7. Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma St., Senior) Many thought Rudolph might make the jump to the NFL this year, but he returned for his senior season. The 6’5, 235-pounder has a solid arm and has been very efficient, averaging over 9 yards per attempt each of the past two seasons and throwing just 4 INTs on 448 attempts in 2016.
8. Jarrett Stidham (Auburn, RS Sophomore) Stidham started his career in 2015 at Baylor. After a late-season injury to starter Seth Russell, Stidham stepped in as a true freshman and threw for 419 yards and 3 touchdowns in a win on the road against Kansas State in his first start. He went down with an injury of his own two games later. When scandal hit Baylor, Stidham decided to transfer and attended a JUCO in 2016 before enrolling at Auburn. He has had an excellent springand could be poised for a breakout season in 2017.
9. Jake Browning (Washington, Junior) Browning has been incredibly productive. He threw for 43 touchdowns and led Washington back to national relevance as a true sophomore. He is a bit undersized (6’2, 209) however and there are legitimate questions about his arm strength.
10. Jalen Hurts (Alabama, Sophomore) Hurts was a run-first quarterback as a true freshman and hasn’t received much NFL hype. However, that could change if he continues the positive progress he has made this spring. The most intriguing aspect of Hurts from a fantasy perspective is his 4.38-forty time. Hurts is very boom/bust and it wouldn’t even be a shock if he lost his job at some point to talented freshman Tua Tagovailoa.
11. Shea Patterson (Ole Miss, Sophomore) Patterson doesn't look as big as his listed 6'2, 200 pounds but comes with a pedigree as one of the top recruits overall in the 2016 class. He took over as the starter for the final three games of the 2016 season and passed for 300+ yards in two of the three games.
12. Jake Bentley (South Carolina, Sophomore) Bentley had a surprisingly strong freshman season and posesses decent NFL measureables. He is having a strong offseason and could make a big leap in his second season as a starter.
13. Davis Mills (Stanford, Freshman) The top incoming quarterback recruit in the country, Mills will have a shot to win the starting job as a true freshman.
14. Deondre Francois (Florida St., RS Sophomore) Francois showed incredible toughness, getting up from some big hits suffered during his freshman season. He has decent size at 6'2, 205 pounds and above-average athleticism. Jimbo Fisher has a strong track record of developing quarterbacks that bodes well for the future of Francois.
15. Trace McSorley (Penn State,RS Junior) McSorley isn't the most physically gifted quarterback, with below-average size and arm strength. But he plasy with a passion and had a knack for making the clutch plays when needed in his first year as a starter.
Last year’s version of the Devy Top 100 was loaded with Tight Ends. With nearly all of those guys now in the NFL, there is currently a dearth of obvious NFL talent at the position in the college ranks. Mike Gesicki and Mark Andrews are the cream of the crop and they would barely crack the top-50 overall. However, as we see more and more devy leagues utilizing TE-Premium scoring and/or Start-2 TE lineups, it is worth digging deeper to try to find some hidden gems like Dallas Goedert.
1. TE Mike Gesicki (Penn State, RS Junior) Gesicki had a breakout junior season, catching 48 passes for 679 yards, with five TDs. He led the Big Ten in receptions by a tight end and was No. 7 nationally. Gesicki is a big-time leaper with a basketball background and plays the game like a power forward. He briefly considered leaving early for the NFL, but wisely returned for his fourth season. He should be a top-40 pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
2. TE Mark Andrews (Oklahoma, RS Junior) Andrews is a 6’5, 250-pounder with wide receiver skills. Through his first two seasons, he has caught 14 touchdowns. With Dede Westbrook, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon off to the NFL, Andrews will be asked to take on a much bigger role in the offense in 2017. Bob Stoops noted, Mark's a big part of what we're doing and will be a bigger part the more we go. He's such a big, unusual target.”
3. TE Dallas Goedert (South Dakota St., RS Senior) One of my favorite deep sleepers, Goedert could come out of nowhere to be a top tight end in the 2018 draft. The former walk-on who played 9-man high school football in Britton South Dakota, emerged as a sophomore before really breaking out with an incredible junior season. Goedert recorded a school-record 92 receptions last season for 1,291 yards and 11 touchdowns and was an FCS All-American. In addition to the gaudy stats and highlight catches, Goedert has some impressive measurables as well, including a 1.58 10-yard dash time that would have ranked him amongst the leaders of the WR group at the NFL combine.
4. TE Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin, RS Senior) Fumagalli had a breakout junior season with 47 catches for 580 yards. He started the year off with a big 7 catch, 100-yard outing against LSU and then capped it off with a dominant 6 catch, 83-yard performance against Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.
5. TE Isaac Nauta (Georgia, Sophomore) Nauta isn’t the biggest guy, at 6’4, 246 pounds. But he has plus athleticism and managed a productive freshman season in which he caught 29 passes for 261 yards. He should have a bigger role in 2017 and is one of the most talented young pass-catching tight ends in the nation.
6. TE Adam Breneman (UMass, RS Senior) The top-ranked tight end way back in the 2013 class has taken a long and winding road. He played well as a true freshman for Penn State, but injuries in his second and third seasons stalled his progress. He transferred to Massachusetts and showed why he was so highly regard as a prep prospect, catching 70 passes for 808 yards and 8 touchdowns. The loaded 2017 TE draft class caused Breneman to decide to return for his senior season.
7. TE Alize Mack (Notre Dame, Junior) Formerly Alize Jones, Mack was suspended all of 2016 due to academics. He made his presence felt upon his return this spring and the talented receiver could be poised for a breakout season.
8. TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe (USC, RS Sophomore) A 6’4, 245-pound TE/WR hybrid who began his career at Florida, Imatorbhebhe came on strong down the stretch for USC in 2016. He made a number of key catches in a big win over Washington. “If you remember what Daniel was in high school, he was a big receiver that transformed into a tight end,” Helton said. “He was, I recall, right around a 217-pound wideout coming out of high school. And now he’s looking at about 245 and really has made himself into a really quality tight end.”
9. TE DeAndre Goolsby (Florida, Senior) Goolsby was held back by a hand injury in 2016. He started to come on late in the season, including a strong SEC Championship game performance against Alabama in which he caught 7 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.
10. TE Irv Smith (Alabama, RS Freshman) Smith is a high-upside, boom/bust receiving prospect battling for playing time on a loaded Alabama depth chart. He ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash as a redshirt freshman in Alabama spring testing.