2015 NFL Draft Big Board: Matt Miller's Latest Rankings

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterOctober 7, 2014

2015 NFL Draft Big Board: Matt Miller's Latest Rankings

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    It's always NFL draft season around these parts, and with six weeks of college football already in the books, a clear picture of the best talent available for the 2015 draft is starting to take shape.

    An early look at this class shows strength at offensive tackle, running back and edge pass-rushers on defense. The top-end talent at quarterback looks impressive midway through the year, but with conference schedules picking up, players like Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley and Jameis Winston will be under more pressure and more of a spotlight to perform well for scouts.

    Here's a look at the current top 100 players on my board, which includes underclassmen (redshirt sophomores and juniors) at this stage. You'll also get a look at the top 10 players at each position, including rankings for 3-4 defensive positions.

Overall Top 50

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    STEVE DYKES/Associated Press

    Rankings for the NFL draft are very fluid during the season. As players improve, decline or get hurt, rankings can change pretty drastically over a short amount of time.

    That said, my top 10 has been largely the same since the year started. Marcus Mariota, Cedric Ogbuehi, Leonard Williams, Vic Beasley, Brandon Scherff and Randy Gregory are mainstays inside the top of the rankings, with Landon Collins, Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley earning big moves up the board in the early season.

    While those players have moved up, Winston and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu are the players most notably moving down the board thus far. For Jameis Winston, it's more about off-field concerns than any on-field struggles. Ekpre-Olomu, on the other hand, has struggled on the field in man coverage and is moving down because of teams abusing him in the last two weeks.

    Top 50 Rankings
    RankPlayer Pos. Pos. Rk School
    1Marcus Mariota QB1Oregon
    2Cedric Ogbuehi OT1Texas A&M
    3 Amari CooperWR1Alabama
    4Leonard WilliamsDE1USC
    5Vic BeasleyOLB1Clemson
    6Todd Gurley RB1Georgia
    7Brandon Scherff OT2Iowa
    8Randy GregoryDE2Nebraska
    9Landon CollinsSS1Alabama
    10 Shaq ThompsonOLB2Washington
    11Michael BennettDT1Ohio State
    12 Jameis WinstonQB2Florida State
    13Devin Funchess WR2Michigan
    14Shane RayDE3Missouri
    15Brett Hundley QB3UCLA
    16Connor CookQB4Michigan State
    17Leonard FloydOLB3Georgia
    18Shawn Oakman DE4Baylor
    19Dante Fowler Jr.DE5Florida
    20Marcus PetersCB1Washington
    21 Shilique CalhounDE6Michigan State
    22 Ifo Ekpre-OlomuCB2Oregon
    23Mario Edwards Jr.DE7Florida State
    24P.J. WilliamsCB3Florida State
    25Melvin GordonRB2Wisconsin
    26Nelson Agholor WR3USC
    27Danny SheltonDT2Washington
    28Ty Sambrailo OT3Colorado State
    29Eddie GoldmanDT3Florida State
    30Andrus PeatOT4Stanford
    31Bryce PettyQB5Baylor
    32 Trae Waynes CB4Michigan State
    33Ronald DarbyCB5Florida State
    34Germain Ifedi OT5Texas A&M
    35Carl DavisDT4Iowa
    36 Ameer Abdullah RB3Nebraska
    37Eric StrikerOLB4Oklahoma
    38 Hau'oli Kikaha DE8Washington
    39 DeVante ParkerWR4Louisville
    40Kris FrostILB1Auburn
    41Trey FlowersDE9Arkansas
    42Sammie Coates WR5Auburn
    43 Benardrick McKinneyOLB5Miss. State
    44Mike DavisRB4South Carolina
    45 Denzel Perryman ILB2Miami (FL)
    46Kurtis Drummond FS1Michigan State
    47Ty MontgomeryWR6Stanford
    48Markus GoldenDE10Missouri
    49 Jalen MillsCB6LSU
    50Eric KendricksILB3UCLA

Quarterbacks

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Underclassmen dominate the quarterback rankings as we break into October. It's important to note that not every player listed here is a guarantee to enter the 2015 draft, either.

    Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley are solid locks to enter the draft after both were thought of as top-15 players for last year's draft. Even as redshirt juniors, it would be a shock to see either return to college. 

    Jameis Winston, Everett Golson and Dak Prescott all have high-end potential, but each needs more work before jumping to the NFL. Winston needs to mature off the field and keep his name out of the headlines, which has been there for all the wrong reasons, while Golson and Prescott need to continue developing as passers and decision-makers.

    The best senior of the group, Bryce Petty, plays in a system that produces huge numbers but doesn't ask him to make many progressions in his reads. The athleticism and stats are impressive, but he's no sure thing.

    Junior Connor Cook is the riser to watch here, though. The Michigan State offense doesn't allow him to compete with Petty, Mariota or Winston in terms of numbers, but he looks the part of an NFL starter.

    Quarterback Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1Marcus Mariota Oregon
    2 Jameis WinstonFlorida State
    3Brett Hundley UCLA
    4Connor CookMichigan State
    5Bryce PettyBaylor
    6Everett Golson Notre Dame
    7 Dak PrescottMississippi State
    8Brandon BridgeSouth Alabama
    9Cody Kessler USC
    10Jacoby Brissett North Carolina St.

Running Backs

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Two years without a running back being drafted in the first round has many wondering when we'll see that happen again. Spoiler alert—it'll happen this year.

    Todd Gurley is the best running back prospect since Trent Richardson—and I realize how odd that sounds given Richardson's struggles, but try remembering he was a can't-miss prospect out of Alabama.

    Gurley would be on par with Richardson, Adrian Peterson, Cedric Benson and Ronnie Brown in terms of being a player NFL teams "must have" and will use a high draft pick to get. This is a rare, once-in-a-decade type of talent, and Gurley has better speed and vision than Richardson showed at Alabama. In short, Gurley is what everyone thought Richardson could be.

    Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah are also first-rounders at this stage, with Gordon offering game-changing speed and Abdullah being the all-around back that's so important in the NFL right now. Even Mike Davis at South Carolina has a good chance to entice teams to spend a late first-round pick on him.

    The top-end talent and overall depth at running back is unreal for 2015.

    Running Back Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1Todd Gurley Georgia
    2Melvin GordonWisconsin
    3 Ameer Abdullah Nebraska
    4Mike DavisSouth Carolina
    5Duke JohnsonMiami (FL)
    6 Tevin ColemanIndiana
    7T.J. Yeldon Alabama
    8Jeremy Langford Michigan State
    9Malcolm BrownTexas
    10Corey GrantAuburn

Wide Receivers

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Last year brought us Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham and Kelvin Benjamin. An early look at the 2015 class doesn't indicate the strength that we saw in 2014, but this is a good class with a lot of depth.

    Alabama's Amari Cooper is a legitimate top-10 player with the speed, hands, route running and vision to be an elite player. You could say that offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin hasn't had great success turning productive wide receivers into NFL stars, but Cooper has more raw talent than Marqise Lee or Robert Woods had coming out of USC.

    Cooper is the smooth, athletic wideout, but Michigan's Devin Funchess is the physically overpowering monster on the edge. The former tight end has the size every NFL team wants right now.

    DeVante Parker is currently injured, but he's my top-ranked senior wide receiver and has room to move up big once healthy.

    Wide Receiver Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1 Amari CooperAlabama
    2Devin Funchess Michigan
    3Nelson Agholor USC
    4 DeVante ParkerLouisville
    5Sammie Coates Auburn
    6Ty MontgomeryStanford
    7 Rashad GreeneFlorida State
    8Kevin WhiteWest Virginia
    9 Kasen WilliamsWashington
    10 Stefon Diggs Maryland

Tight Ends

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    One year after Eric Ebron went No. 10 overall in the 2014 draft, there isn't a dominant must-have type of player at the tight end position. At least not yet.

    Looking at the landscape of tight end play, the senior class is strong without being super talented, and the junior class is still very raw and underdeveloped. That leaves something to be desired in terms of top-end talent, but teams looking for a versatile tight end can find one outside of Round 1.

    Ohio State's Jeff Heuerman won't lead the NCAA in stats or anything, but he's a tough, athletic, versatile player with the skills to stand up in the slot or drop down and block as an extra lineman.

    Tight End Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1Jeff Heuerman Ohio State
    2Nick O'Leary Florida State
    3Ben Koyack Notre Dame
    4Clive Walford Miami (FL)
    5Rory AndersonSouth Carolina
    6Gerald ChristianLouisville
    7E.J. Bibbs Iowa State
    8 MyCole PruittSouthern Illinois
    9Randall Telfer USC
    10C.J. Uzomah Auburn

Offensive Tackles

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    It should be no surprise that Texas A&M has another offensive tackle ranked in the top spot at his position. What might surprise you is that its right tackle, Germain Ifedi, also looks like a future first-rounder. He'll likely follow in the footsteps of Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi before him and slide over to left tackle next year with Ogbuehi heading to the NFL this spring.

    There is serious first-round talent across the board at the tackle position outside of A&M, too. Brandon Scherff may get stereotyped as an unathletic Iowa tackle, but that couldn't be further from the truth. And little-known Ty Sambrailo from Colorado State will have folks talking very soon about his total-game skill set.

    The rankings are dominated by underclassmen like Andrus Peat, Ifedi, Spencer Drango and Ereck Flowers, which potentially sets the stage for another great tackle class in 2016.

    Offensive Tackle Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1Cedric Ogbuehi Texas A&M
    2Brandon Scherff Iowa
    3Ty Sambrailo Colorado State
    4Andrus PeatStanford
    5Germain Ifedi Texas A&M
    6Spencer Drango Baylor
    7 Ereck FlowersMiami (FL)
    8 La'el CollinsLSU
    9Cameron Erving Florida State
    10Sean HickeySyracuse

Offensive Guards

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    You won't find many people getting excited about offensive guard play, but when your interior offensive line is bad, it definitely shows up.

    Teams like the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have created dominant running games by investing in guards and centers early in the draft, and any team looking to do so this year will like South Carolina's A.J. Cann.

    Cann, Alabama's Arie Kouandjio and the duo at Florida State make up a talented top four at the position. Cann, for his part, looks like a potential late first-rounder at this time and could be the cream of a talented guard crop.

    Offensive Guard Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1A.J. Cann South Carolina
    2Arie Kouandjio Alabama
    3 Tre JacksonFlorida State
    4Josue MatiasFlorida State
    5 Laken TomlinsonDuke
    6Quinton SpainWest Virginia
    7 Aundrey WalkerUSC
    8Jarvis HarrisonTexas A&M
    9John MillerLouisville
    10Miles Dieffenbach Penn State

Centers

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    Butch Dill/Getty Images

    With no clear-cut first-round talent currently at center, it's easy to lose sight of the position. And then you remember that young centers like Travis Frederick, Russell Bodine, Bryan Stork and Corey Linsley are all holding down starting jobs for top-tier teams right now. 

    Auburn's Reese Dismukes looks to be the best of the class, but he'll have to prove himself as a pass-protector coming out of a run-heavy offense. The opposite goes for Oregon's Hroniss Grasu, who is a smooth athlete in space but needs to show he can maul defenders in the run game.

    Center Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1Reese Dismukes Auburn
    2 Hroniss Grasu Oregon
    3B.J. Finney Kansas State
    4Dominic Espinosa Texas
    5Brandon Vitabile Northwestern
    6Tom Farniok Iowa State
    7Andy Gallik Boston College
    8David AndrewsGeorgia
    9Jake SmithLouisville
    10Austin BarronFlorida State

4-3 Defensive Ends

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    Winslow Townson/Getty Images

    If you want to slap a fancy label on the 2015 NFL draft, you might want to consider calling it the Year of the Pass-Rusher. And for teams running a 4-3 defense, that's incredibly valuable.

    With elite athletes like Leonard Williams, Randy Gregory and Shane Ray dominating the board's top 15, it's easy to see this position once again becoming a focal point of a strong class. Depending somewhat on the draft order, it wouldn't be a reach to think three defensive ends/edge-rushers could go in the top 10.

    Of the 10 players listed here, seven have a top-32 grade. 

    4-3 Defensive End Rankings
    RankPlayerSchoolOther Pos.
    1Leonard WilliamsUSC4-3 DT
    2Randy GregoryNebraska3-4 OLB
    3Shane RayMissouri3-4 OLB
    4Shawn Oakman Baylor3-4 DE
    5Dante FowlerFloridaNone
    6 Shilique CalhounMichigan State3-4 OLB
    7Mario EdwardsFlorida State3-4 DE
    8 Hau'oli Kikaha Washington3-4 OLB
    9Trey FlowersArkansas3-4 OLB
    10Cedric ReedTexas3-4 OLB

4-3 Defensive Tackles

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    A 4-3 defensive tackle is generally asked to be a dual-threat player as a run-stopper and a pass-rusher. When looking at the 2015 draft class, there is plenty to like for both spots.

    Ohio State's Michael Bennett is an ideal 3-technique defender with the quickness to be a threat as a pass-rusher and the tenacity to get after it in the run game. He isn't super stout at the point of attack yet, but he's an Aaron Donald-like prospect.

    Big Danny Shelton and Carl Davis are able to step in as run defenders and collapse the pocket as pass-rushers, and Florida State's Eddie Goldman does each well enough to be a legitimate first-round prospect.

    4-3 Defensive Tackle Rankings
    RankPlayerSchoolOther Pos.
    1Michael BennettOhio StateNone
    2Danny SheltonWashingtonNone
    3Eddie GoldmanFlorida StateNone
    4Carl DavisIowa3-4 DE
    5Ellis McCarthyUCLANone
    6Christian Covington Rice3-4 DE
    7Jordan PhillipsOklahomaNone
    8 Malcom BrownTexasNone
    9Grady JarrettClemson3-4 DE
    10 Tyeler Davison Fresno State3-4 DE

4-3 Outside Linebackers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    A 4-3 outside linebacker has to be able to play in pass coverage, stop the run on the edge and, in some defenses, pull the trigger and get after the quarterback. When looking for a draft prospect at the position, each team may have different rankings based on what it wants at the position in terms of coverage, pass rush and run defense.

    Below is a look at a basic 4-3 outside linebacker ranking, with the understanding that certain teams may value a pass-rusher like Leonard Floyd over an all-around athlete like Shaq Thompson. The good news is that the top four players here all look like first-rounders and are incredibly versatile for today's ever-changing job responsibilities of an outside linebacker.

    4-3 Outside Linebacker Rankings
    RankPlayerSchoolOther Pos.
    1Vic BeasleyClemson3-4 OLB
    2 Shaq ThompsonWashingtonNone
    3Leonard FloydGeorgia3-4 OLB
    4Eric StrikerOklahoma3-4 OLB
    5 Benardrick McKinneyMississippi St.ILB
    6Kris FrostAuburnILB
    7Zach HodgesHarvard3-4 OLB
    8Jordan JenkinsGeorgia3-4 OLB
    9Jake RyanMichiganILB
    10 Geneo Grissom Oklahoma3-4 OLB

3-4 Defensive Ends

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The spread of the 3-4 defense in the NFL means more and more scouts are tasked with finding big, athletic bodies to play defensive end in a three-man front. The task is not easy, as many colleges are still running four-man fronts.

    The ideal 3-4 defensive end is built like a defensive tackle with the strength and athleticism to both stop the run and rush the quarterback. Think of J.J. Watt, Muhammad Wilkerson and Justin Smith as the ideal athlete for the position.

    USC's Leonard Williams is a ridiculous athlete, as is big Shawn Oakman at Baylor. Both are tailor-made for the 3-4 and could be top-15 picks.

    3-4 Defensive End Rankings
    RankPlayerSchoolOther Pos.
    1Leonard WilliamsUSC4-3 DT
    2Shawn Oakman Baylor4-3 DE
    3Mario EdwardsFlorida State4-3 DE
    4Carl DavisIowa3-4 DE
    5 Arik Armstead Oregon4-3 DE
    6Christian Covington Rice3-4 DE
    7Grady JarrettClemson3-4 DE
    8 Tyeler Davison Fresno State3-4 DE
    9Henry AndersonStanford4-3 DT
    10Gabe WrightAuburn4-3 DT

3-4 Outside Linebackers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    A 3-4 outside linebacker is equal parts pass-rusher and run defender, so it requires a unique skill set to be athletic enough and versatile enough to play the position.

    Clemson's Vic Beasley is a terror coming off the edge, and he makes up for his smaller stature (6'2", 236 lbs) with exceptional quickness and length. Nebraska's Randy Gregory is a monster (6'6", 245 lbs) and has the speed and strength to be an instant starter in the NFL.

    The class is dominated by college defensive ends, and players like Leonard Floyd and Gregory are the rare breed that come into the NFL with experience playing in a role similar to a 3-4 outside linebacker.

    3-4 Outside Linebacker Rankings
    RankPlayerSchoolOther Pos.
    1Vic BeasleyClemson4-3 OLB
    2Randy GregoryNebraska4-3 DE
    3Leonard FloydGeorgia4-3 DE
    4Shane RayMissouri4-3 DE
    5 Shilique CalhounMichigan State4-3 DE
    6Eric StrikerOklahoma4-3 OLB
    7 Hau'oli Kikaha Washington4-3 DE
    8Trey FlowersArkansas4-3 DE
    9Noah SpenceOhio State4-3 DE
    10Markus GoldenMissouri4-3 DE

Inside Linebackers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The talent at inside linebacker is unique in that the top-tier players are all versatile enough to play outside linebacker, too. 

    There is no elite talent here, but there are quality starter-level players in the top seven. You also get a ton of potential in Kris Frost, Benardrick McKinney and Trey DePriest, while others like Denzel Perryman and Eric Kendricks are battle-tested and ready to roll in the NFL.

    Inside Linebacker Rankings
    RankPlayerSchoolOther Pos.
    1Kris FrostAuburn4-3 OLB
    2 Benardrick McKinneyMississippi St.4-3 OLB
    3 Denzel Perryman Miami (FL)4-3 OLB
    4Eric KendricksUCLA4-3 OLB
    5 Ramik WilsonGeorgiaNone
    6A.J. JohnsonTennesseeNone
    7Trey DePriest AlabamaNone
    8 Stephone AnthonyClemsonNone
    9Bryce Hager BaylorNone
    10Ben Heeney KansasNone

Cornerbacks

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Look around the NFL right now and it's obvious that the level of play at cornerback is pretty bad for many teams. That will put the pressure on scouts to find starting-quality players at the college level for the upcoming draft. 

    NFL teams increasingly desire long, fast, agile athletes at cornerback, and in the 2015 class, they'll find that with Marcus Peters, P.J. Williams and Trae Waynes. And while Ifo Ekpre-Olomu isn't the biggest guy (just under 5'10"), he has the quickness to be a starter as a slot cornerback early in his career with the potential to be moved outside.

    Of the 10 players here, the top six have first-round potential.

    Cornerback Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1Marcus PetersWashington
    2 Ifo Ekpre-OlomuOregon
    3P.J. WilliamsFlorida State
    4 Trae Waynes Michigan State
    5Ronald DarbyFlorida State
    6 Jalen MillsLSU
    7 Quandre Diggs Texas
    8 Doran GrantOhio State
    9Steven NelsonOregon State
    10Kevin JohnsonWake Forest

Safeties

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If your favorite NFL team needs safety help, this is a good year to need one. 

    Alabama's Landon Collins is a truly elite-level talent at the position and has shown the ability to play free safety or strong safety at the next level. Collins ranks higher than former Alabama safeties Mark Barron and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

    Collins isn't the only starting-quality player here, though. Kurtis Drummond, Derron Smith and Cody Prewitt are all players with the talent to start in the pros.

    Safety Rankings
    RankPlayerSchool
    1Landon CollinsAlabama
    2Kurtis Drummond Michigan State
    3Derron SmithFresno State
    4Cody Prewitt Ole Miss
    5Jordan RichardsStanford
    6Anthony HarrisVirginia
    7Tyler HunterFlorida State
    8Jermaine WhiteheadAuburn
    9 Kyshoen JarrettVirginia Tech
    10Justin CoxMississippi State