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2015 NFL Draft: Brett Kollmann's First And Final Top 40 Big Board

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Brett Kollmann has been working hard since the day the 2014 season ended to put together a comprehensive projection of the top 40 NFL prospects in the 2015 class. At long last, that list is finally done.

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After months of film study, roughly 31,000 words of notes, 60 pages of grades, and nearly 150 hours of work, my first and final Top 40 Big Board for the 2015 NFL Draft is finally here! This draft class is tough to predict. I personally only see six truly "blue chip" players (translation – bonafide studs) in this class: Leonard Williams, Jameis Winston, Marcus Peters, Todd Gurley, T.J. Clemmings, and Randy Gregory (with Kevin Johnson being right there next to them as well). Of those six elite talents that project to have immediate and lasting success in the NFL, three of them have a major red flag of some kind, whether it be for medical or character concerns. One could argue that outside of Williams and Winston, no pick in this entire draft is even close to being a proverbial "lock". The talent evaluation process leading up to the NFL Draft is all about projection, and this class will certainly test the projection skills of every general manager in the league to the fullest.

In regards to how I personally built my own big board, each prospect is graded on a 100 point scale that takes into account physical attributes, skill sets for various positions, injury histories, and off the field issues to effectively rank a diverse set of talented players across all position groups. Every number you see here is based upon endless hours of film study and exhaustive googling of the personal histories of each player I could find time to grade. I guarantee you that I love and hate certain high profile players a lot more (or less) than most other media outlets; I’m okay with that. I project players differently than a lot of other people, and I’ve learned to trust in my own projections more and more over the last few years rather than caving into the media consensus. For example, I had Aaron Donald going in the top five of my mock drafts last year to the outrage of some rather vocal people in other corners of the internet, and yet a year later here we are talking about Donald being one of the most dominant interior pass rushers to enter the league in quite some time. I trusted my gut, stuck with my projection, and it turns out I was right. I think I’ll continue to do that this year despite how wacky this big board might look to some. Who knows?  Maybe in a year I’ll look back on this post and be a little less wrong than everyone else...or perhaps I'll look like a fool. This could go either way, to be honest.

So without further ado, here are my top 40 players in the 2015 NFL Draft, with their grade listed in parentheses.

1. Leonard Williams, DE, USC (88)

2. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (87)

3. T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh (84)

4. Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (84)

5. Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (83)

6. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford (83)

7. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (83)

8. Danny Shelton, DT, Washington (83)

9. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (82)

10. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE/OLB, UCLA (81)

11. Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky (81)

12. Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska (80)

13. DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (80)

14. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (80)

15. Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State (80)

16. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (80)

17. Byron Jones, CB, UCONN (80)

18. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC (79)

19. Cameron Erving, OT/OG/C, Florida State (79)

20. Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida (79)

21. La’El Collins, OG, LSU (78)

22. Landon Collins, S, Alabama (78)

23. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (78)

24. Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana (77)

25. Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF (77)

26. Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State (77)

27. D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida (77)

28. Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon (77)

29. Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon (77)

30. Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson (77)

31. Carl Davis, DT, Iowa (77)

32. Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (77)

33. Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (77)

34. Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (77)

35. Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson (76)

36. Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa (76)

37. Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA (76)

38. Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State (76)

39. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State (76)

40. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State (75)

You may notice some fairly high profile absences from that list, most notably MSU corner Trae Waynes, Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown, and Missouri edge rusher Shane Ray. Believe it or not, none of those players graded within my top 40 after all was said and done, though they all were very close to making it in. Here are all of their grades, as well as grades for a few other big names that I’m not too fond of as potential first round picks. In the cases of Denzel Perryman and Devin Smith in particular, I personally graded both of those players as fourth–ish round prospects.

41. Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State (74)

42. Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota (74)

43. Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (73)

44. Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia (73)

45. Shaq Thompson, ILB, Washington (72)

46. Benardrick McKinney, ILB (72)

47. Malcom Brown, DT, Texas (72)

48. Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri (71)

49. Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami (69)

50. Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State (68)

For those wondering how this big board translates into traditional position rankings within the top 40 itself, here is what the list would look like if it were sorted as such, with my grade in parentheses next to each player. Please note that I tacked on the non-top-40 players as well in order to give some more context to their individual grades.

Quarterback

1. Jameis Winston (87)

2. Marcus Mariota (80)

Wide Receiver

1. DeVante Parker (80)

2. Amari Cooper (80)

3. Nelson Agholor (79)

4. Breshad Perriman (77)

5. Kevin White (77)

6. Phillip Dorsett (77)

7. Tyler Lockett (76)

8. Jaelen Strong (75)

9. Devin Smith (68)

Running Back

1. Melvin Gordon (83)

2. Todd Gurley (82)

3. Tevin Coleman (77)

Tight End

1. Maxx Williams

Offensive Tackle

1. T.J. Clemmings (84)

2. Andrus Peat (83)

3. Cedric Ogbuehi (78)

4. D.J. Humphries (77)

5. Jake Fisher (77)

6. Ereck Flowers (77)

Interior Offensive Line

1. Cameron Erving (79)

2. La’El Collins (78)

3. Brandon Scherff (76)

Defensive Line

1. Leonard Williams (88)

2. Danny Shelton (83)

3. Preston Smith (80)

4. Arik Armstead (77)

5. Carl Davis (77)

6. Eddie Goldman (76)

7. Malcom Brown (72)

Edge Rusher

1. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (81)

2. Bud Dupree (81)

3. Randy Gregory (80)

4. Dante Fowler (79)

5. Vic Beasley (76)

6. Eli Harold (73)

7. Shane Ray (71)

Inside linebacker

1. Stephone Anthony (77)

2. Eric Kendricks (76)

3. Shaq Thompson (72)

4. Benardrick McKinney (72)

5. Denzel Perryman (69)

Cornerback

1. Kevin Johnson (84)

2. Marcus Peters (83)

3. Byron Jones (80)

4. Ronald Darby (74)

5. Trae Waynes (73)

Safety

1. Landon Collins (78)

2. Damarious Randall (77)

So there we have it – the big board is finally out. For a while I wondered if I ever get this thing done, to be honest. It is 1:30 in the morning on the day before the draft, and I am just now wrapping this baby up. If that’s not cutting it close, I don’t know what is.

What are your initial reactions, BRB? Am I way off base here, or do you agree with how this list shakes out? Sound off below.