Getty Images

Top players are being injured, suspended, overrated and underrated. Basically, this means draft season is heating up.

The goal of the weekly Scouting Notebook is to inform, update and discuss all that's happening in the world of the NFL draft. We'll talk about A.J. Johnson being suspended while he's investigated in a sexual assault case. We'll talk about Marcus Peters and his rebound after being kicked out of Washington. We'll talk about players who are overrated and those who too many people are sleeping on as underrated prospects.

With another week of the regular season gone and the playoffs getting closer, here's one more look at the Scouting Notebook.


— Washington cornerback Marcus Peters was my top-ranked player at the position before being dismissed from the team, reportedly for conflicts with coaches. With more information coming in regarding his dismissal, Peters is still my No. 1 cornerback. According to sources close to the Washington program, the exact cause of his conflicts was such that his draft stock will be unaffected once the full story is told.

Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

November is here. The weather has turned cold, the days are getting shorter, and around the NFL, area scouts are putting grades on college seniors, agents are talking to underclassmen about declaring for the 2015 NFL draft, and coaches are holding on trying to win games. 

As draft season really begins this month, it's time to look at the NFL teams already out of playoff contention that are looking ahead to the upcoming draft. It's also time to look at the players who are earning a move up and down my Big Board as the season gets close to the end of the regular season. 

With the latest news, rumors and a look at updated player rankings, here's the Week 11 Scouting Notebook.


— Louisville saw Calvin Pryor, Marcus Smith and Teddy Bridgewater drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft and could see a high number drafted in Round 1 of 2015. Sources close to the team tell me they're prepared to lose free safety Gerod Holliman and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins as underclassmen. 

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

There is never a dull moment in the land of NFL draft coverage. In what is normally a quiet week in November, two top prospects (Marcus Peters, Stefon Diggs) were disciplined by their schools, a top-tier tackle prospect (Cedric Ogbuehi) is moving back to the right side due to injury and the play of senior quarterbacks continues to disappoint on film. 

Who moves up and down this week? We'll dive into that, check in on an updated Mock Draft and hit on the latest news, rumors and insights from around the NFL.


— I reported in this space last week that Washington cornerback Marcus Peters wasn't liked by head coach Chris Petersen, per an area scout assigned to the school. Peters was dismissed from the team on Thursday morning, per The Seattle Times. This could affect his draft stock once assistant coaches and head coach Petersen start talking to NFL scouts about Peters, but general managers tend to deal more in traits and upside versus on-the-ground riffs with coaches. Peters was my top-ranked cornerback this season and a potential top-10 pick. His stock is holding until more information can be gained.

— Staying at the University of Washington, two-way star Shaq Thompson had a season-high 174 yards as a running back against Colorado last week and will start in the backfield again this week against UCLA. Thompson's home in the NFL is still at outside linebacker, though. One scout I talked to this week said Thompson is the only 4-3 outside linebacker they rank in the first round currently.

AP Images

The 2014 college football regular season is down to the final month of play, which means time to evaluate NFL draft prospects is also heating up.

Looking at the 2015 NFL draft class in early November—including expected juniors and redshirt sophomore underclassman declarations—you get the sense that this isn't a great or deep group. Unlike the 2011 and 2014 drafts, both of which had exceptional top-tier talent and great depth, the 2015 class has a handful of very good prospects near the top of the rankings but a big drop-off to the second tier.

The same can be said for many positions, but the 2015 class does look very strong at running back and edge-rushers on defense. And depending on which underclassmen head to the NFL this spring, the group at quarterback could be deep on passers or very thin.

As NFL fans begin to look ahead to the offseason, here is my list of the top draft-eligible college players based on how well they will project to the next level. This is not a list of the best players in college football, but a list of how good the best players in college look to the NFL. Throw out your stat books, because this is more about talent, traits and upside.

Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

The 2014 NFL season is at the halfway mark. That means it's NFL draft season, too. 

Of the 32 NFL teams, 13 already have losing records. Teams like the Raiders (zero wins), Jets (one win), Jaguars (one win), Buccaneers (one win), Falcons (two wins) and Rams (two wins) are already focusing on next year. We are, too. 

It's officially anonymous scout season, and I wanted to spend the beginning of this article addressing that. I will not use rumors or notes from coaches, executives, players or scouts that aren't vetted. If I share things like last year's comparison of Teddy Bridgewater to fictional quarterback Willie Beaman, it's to show the readers how NFL teams think. Much like retweets aren't always an endorsement, sharing information from anonymous sources isn't always an endorsement of their opinion. It's only to peel back the curtain on how NFL teams operate. So, what are NFL teams thinking?


— The 2015 draft class doesn't look particularly strong overall, but there are a few players NFL scouts feel are safe picks. One NFC college scouting director told me this week that USC's Leonard Williams is viewed by his team right now as the safest pick in the class. Williams projects as a 5-technique in a 3-4 defense or a 3-technique one-gap player in a 4-3 scheme. He's currently my No. 3 overall player in the draft.

USA Today

Week 8 of the NFL season has come and gone. Some teams are playing well and in control of their playoff destiny—other teams are limping to the finish and already looking ahead to 2015. The halfway point between now and then is the 2015 NFL draft, and with it comes hopes and dreams for every NFL franchise.

Whether you're a struggling team trying to rebuild or a successful top-tier team looking to add a piece or two to secure a Super Bowl, the NFL draft is incredibly important. And with an upcoming class that looks to be stocked well at quarterback, running back, pass-rusher and cornerback, every team can head into the offseason feeling good about its chances.

Using an updated draft order based on current standings, here's a look at the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL draft.

Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press

Every game matters in college football, but as the season turns to premier matchups between top-tier teams, every evaluator gets excited about the star power on both sides of the field.

This past weekend delivered as Notre Dame and Florida State went down to the wire—allowing Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston to show off his clutch ability with the game on the line. And while one player excels, others struggled.

How did the past week in college and NFL football affect player rankings and the upcoming draft class? 


— Let's get the weekly Jameis Winston talk out of the way. After a thrilling fourth quarter against Notre Dame, this text came in from one NFL college scouting director: "Too bad about the off-field, because Winston is the best player in the country." More on Winston, and some closure on him, in Five Up, Five Down. 

Ryan Kang/Associated Press

With the NFL season nearing the halfway mark, it is becoming obvious (painfully so in some locker rooms) where each team needs to improve. That's what this list will tackle.

But beyond simply looking at which teams need what positions, let's go one step farther and look at draft-eligible college players who can fill those needs at a realistic draft position for each team based on Week 7 standings. For example: The Seattle Seahawks may need a defensive lineman, but they won't be listed next to USC's Leonard Williams, as he's projected as a top-five pick in the draft. Make sense?

Of course, things will change as players develop, free agents are signed and coaches are fired and hired, but this is a great list to get started on those offseason projections.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It may not be draft season yet for all NFL and college football fans—unless you live in Oakland, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Tennessee or root for the New York Jets. Then it's probably safe to start spending your Saturdays checking out the top talent available in the 2015 draft.

Or you can just read this article every Friday morning.

This week's Scouting Notebook will look at my updated top 10 players and check in on five players moving up in the rankings and five players moving down my board. We'll also discuss rumors, news and notes from around the draft landscape. 


— In talking with area scouts this week, guys assigned to the West are torn on Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong. One scout has him ranked as a top-15 player, while another has Strong among his most overrated players by the media and more of a second-rounder.

Getty Images

The job of evaluating football players is one filled with misses and some hits. But the good people at home rarely remember when you get one right—they'll always remember when you miss. 

When you work in media and are asked to evaluate players, I've found it is best to be up-front and honest about missing on players. No one wants to hear excuses from analysts on why Jimmy Clausen didn't become a franchise quarterback—the fan at home wants to laugh at your misfortune and hear honest analysis on why Clausen didn't pan out. 

I've been evaluating players since the 2002 draft, and I like to think I've improved with age. This article will peel back the curtain, though, showing you my top 10 players ever graded at each position. You'll also get notes on why certain players failed or why I was higher on some players than other analysts and even NFL teams were.