2018 Senior Bowl: Position Rankings

by Eric Galko

The 2018 Senior Bowl is here! Weigh-ins, practices, interviews and information gather will adjust these rankings.

Based on film study, background research, and projection to the next level, here is Optimum Scouting's pre-Senior Bowl rankings among players invited to and attending the 2018 Senior Bowl. 

1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (N)
2. Mike White, Western Kentucky (S)
3. Josh Allen, Wyoming (N)
4. Kyle Lauletta, Richmond (S)
5. Tanner Lee, Nebraska (N)
6. Luke Falk, Washington State (N)
7. Kurt Benkert, Virginia (S)
8. Brandon Silvers, Troy (S)

Mike White about Josh Allen shouldn’t be that crazy. White hasn’t received much fanfare, but the former fastball pitcher with Division I offers out of high school has plenty of velocity, coupled with a remarkable 2016 season and made the most of a loss of a supporting cast…..Kyle Lauletta isn’t that far away from Jimmy Garoppolo. Just missing Garoppolo’s experience in one college offense and some of his arm talent….Luke Falk has plenty of fans around the NFL thanks to his football IQ and quick feet.

Running Backs
1. Jaylen Samuels, NC State (N)
2. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (S)
3. Kalen Ballage, Arizona State (N)
4. Akrum Wadley, Iowa (N)
5. Darrel Williams, LSU
6. Ito Smith, Southern Miss (N)

Jaylen Samuels wasn’t utilized up to his capacity at NC State thanks to Nyheim Hines and ample talent around him. But that forced him to become a highly versatile weapon, which will bode well for his NFL future…..Rashaad Penny is a far better prospect than Donnel Pumphrey a year ago. He’ll be a second rounder with a strong Senior Bowl

Wide Receivers
1. Allen Lazard, Iowa State (N)
2. Michael Gallup, Colorado State (N)
3. Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State (S)
4. James Washington, Oklahoma State (S)
5. Jaleel Scott, New Mexico State (N)
6. DJ Chark, LSU (S)
7. Tre'Quon Smith, UCF (S)
8. DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State (N)
9. J'mon Moore, Missouri (S)
10. Braxton Berrios, Miami (FL) (N)
11. Cedrick Wilson, Boise State (N)
12. Byron Pringle, Kansas State (S)
13. Justin Watson, Penn (N)

Lazard and Gallup are basically a 1a and 1b, depending on what type of receiver you prefer. Lazard is a rarer talent, and could be a lesser AJ Green in the NFL….If he’s not already above, Marcell Ateman should leave Mobile ahead of his teammate James Washington. He’s a far more unique weapon, and dominated on third down in college….DJ Chark enters the week as the best slot prospect, but DaeSean Hamilton and Braxton Berrios may give him a run for his money.

Tight Ends
1. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin (N)
2. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State (S)
3. Mike Gesicki, Penn State (N)
4. Ian Thomas, Indiana (S)
5. Adam Breneman, Massachusetts (S)
6. Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan (N)
7. Jordan Akins, UCF (S)
8. Durham Smythe, Notre Dame (N)

Troy Fumagalli is missing a finger, but still sits atop the tight end rankings…..Goedert is a well liked prospect around the NFL, and has rare ball skills and length, but let’s see him finish against NFL safeties and linebackers this week…..If Adam Breneman’s knee checks out by all NFL teams  and he can run a decent 40-time at the NFL Combine, he’ll be a top-3 drafted tight end.

Offensive Tackles
1. Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh (N)
2. Tyrell Crosby, Oregon (N)
3. Alex Cappa, Humboldt State (S)
4. Joe Noteboom, TCU (S)
5. Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T (S)
6. Brett Toth, OT, Army (N)
7. Jamil Demby, Maine (N)
8. Desmond Harrison, West Georgia (S)

Brian O’Neill needs to start being compared to Lane Johnson. If he leaves Mobile as a Top-10 consensus prospect, I won’t be surprised….Tyrell Crosby also has a great great chance to b ea first-round pick….Alex Cappa is the real deal. Whether he’s at tackle or a big guard kicking inside, he’ll be a long-time NFL player.

Offensive Guards/Centers
1. Will Hernandez, UTEP (N)
2. Mason Cole, Michigan (N)
3. Scott Quessenberry, UCLA (N)
4. Isaiah Wynn, Georgia (S)
5. Bradley Bozeman, Alabama (S)
6. Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech (N)
7. Austin Corbett, Nevada (S)
8. Colby Gossett, Appalachian State (S)
9. Cole Madison, Washington State (N)
10. Sean Welsh, Iowa (N)
11. Taylor Hearn, Clemson (S)
12. Skyler Phillips, Idaho State (S)

Will Hernandez will be this year’s version of Eric Fisher: a smaller conference lineman who shoots up draft boards. He won’t go first overall, but I won’t be surprised if he vaults to a Top-20 pick….Mason Cole is the top center prospect here, but I think Scott Quessenberry, though he won’t be drafted as high, will show this week he’s a 10-year NFL starter….Colby Gusset of Appalachian State is really good. If not for a loaded interior OL class, he might be a Top-100 pick. Still may be.

Defensive Tackles
1. BJ Hill, NC State (N)
2. Harrison Phillips, Stanford (N)
3. Andrew Brown, Virginia (S)
4. Justin Jones, NC State (N)
5. Poona Ford, Texas (S)
6. Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State (N)
7. Greg Gilmore, LSU (S)
8. Christian LaCouture, LSU (S)

BJ Hill is not only a great three-technique with added versatility and run stuffing ability, he’s a great person and leader. He’s a better version of Dalvin Tomlinson from a yea ago, and may leave the Senior Bowl as a first0round prospect….Poona Ford was a Shrine Game call-up. He’s this year’s undersized defensive tackle people are excited about, but he didn’t dominate at the Shrine Game as expected. Hopefully round two makes the difference.

Defensive Ends
1.Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State (N)
2. Marcus Davenport, UTSA (S)
3. Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama (S)
4. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma (N)
5. Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State (N)
6. Chad Thomas, Miami (FL) (N)
7. Kylie Fitts, Utah (S)

Marcus Davenport will likely leave the Senior Bowl as the top pass rusher and potentially the top overall defender. We’ve had a top-100 grade on him since the pre-season, so his rise isn’t surprising. But let’s hold off calling him a Top-10 pick until he dominates in Mobile….Da’Shawn Hand was ranked over Myles Garrett in high school. Let’s see if he lives up to that….Okoronkwo may kick inside to linebacker at the next level. Devastating pass rusher, but not many guys at his size make it at defensive end in the NFL.

1. Uchenna Nwosu, USC (S)
2. Shaquem Griffin, UCF (S)
3. Kemoko Turay, Rutgers (N)
4. Darius Leonard, South Carolina State (S)
5. Tre' Williams, Auburn (S)
6. Micah Kaiser, Virginia (S)
7. Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss (S)
8. Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State (N)
9. Mike McCrary, Michigan (N)
10. Garret Dooley, Wisconsin (N)
11. Dorian O'Daniel, Clemson (S)
12. Fred Warner, BYU (N)
13. Dewey Jarvis, Brown (N)
14. Myles Pierce, Citadel (N)

Shaquem Griffin may be a feel-good story, but he’s also among the top linebacker prospects here. Explosive, active, tremendous motor, and has elite special teams ability. He may earn Top-100 grades after the Senior Bowl….Lots of small school players have been invited. Darius Leonard is one of the legit ones.

1. Kameron Kelly, San Diego State (S)
2. Christian Campbell, Penn State (N)
3. MJ Stewart, North Carolina (S)
4. Duke Dawson, Florida (N)
5. Danny Johnson, Southern (S)
6. Levi Wallace, Alabama (S)
7. Siran Neal, Jacksonville State (S)
8. Jamarcus King, South Carolina (N)
9. Darius Phillips, Western Michigan (N)
10. Isaac Yiadom, Boston College (N)
11. Taron Johnson, Weber State (N)
12. D'Montre Wade, Murray State (S)
14. Michael Joseph, Dubuque (N)
15. Chandon Sullivan, Georgia State (S)

Kelly and Campbell both have 6’1+ length, and flashed press Cover 3 upside in college. Both should have strong weeks and earn first-round consideration….Siran Neal of Jacksonville State played linebacker earlier in his career. Now he’s a physical press cornerback who may be a Top-100 pick.

1. Kyzir White, West Virginia (N)
2.. Armani Watts, Texas A&M (N)
3. Quin Blanding, Virginia (S)
4. Marcus Allen, Penn State (N)
5. Tay Matthews, Auburn (S)
6. Trayvon Henderson, Hawaii (N)
7. Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama (S)

Kyzir White and Armani Watts are 1a and 1b. among safeties at the Senior Bowl. Both should impress like second round picks this week….Marcus Allen and Quin Blanding had plenty of college production and national recognition, but athleticism and range will need to be displayed in practices.