Those crazy college kids just finished their all-star games. The Super Bowl is over. The NFL Combine is the next big life event for the NFL. Because of where we are in the calendar, Pro Football Focus released their top 32 draft prospects.
I watched zero college football games this year, so I’m sorry, Shelly, I got nothing to offer you analysis-wise. The list is here. However, I do know what the Texans need this offseason, so I can copy, paste, and provide PFF’s insight about players who should be of interest to the Houston Texans (so they should be of interest to you, too).
1. Myles Garrett, Edge, Texas A&M
2. Jonathan Allen, DI, Alabama
3. Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennesssee
4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
5. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
6. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
7. Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
8. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
9. Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The NFL should enjoy the various safety options in the class and Adams is right at the top of the group due to his ability to affect the run game while also playing strong in coverage. Adams showed great consistency, ranking fourth in the nation in both grade against the run (83.1) and coverage grade (89.0), showing that he can have an impact in both phases, but he also did so from multiple alignments. He has the skills to play near the line of scrimmage or on the back end and he’s been a major contributor to LSU’s defense since his true freshman season in 2014. Adams has made impact plays, but also shown to be a sure tackler, where he’s only missed 24 of his 191 attempts over the last three years.
10. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
One of the most fascinating prospects during the draft process, Watson is extremely talented, though his season felt underwhelming due to the incredibly high expectations put on him as a potential No. 1 overall pick. His accuracy and decision-making were inconsistent throughout the season, but Watson has a knack for bouncing back from mistakes and making big plays when it counts, something he’s done throughout his career and culminating with an incredible fourth-quarter comeback in the CFP title game against Alabama. He could stand to improve his instincts in the pocket, and read through his progressions more efficiently, but he throws with great touch and he has the zip to put the ball into tight windows up the seam. Watson is likely a starting NFL quarterback, but the question remains just how good can he be, and the NFL will ultimately determine where he lands on draft night.
11. Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
A new addition to the draft board since declaring for the draft, Hooker is intriguing for the range and ball skills that he showed in his one year of action at Ohio State. As a redshirt sophomore, Hooker stepped right in with immediate splash plays on the back end of Ohio State’s defense, and his interception of Watson in the College Football Playoff semifinal was a prime example of the incredible range he brings to a defense. Few free safeties have shown those skills in recent years, making Hooker a rare commodity, perhaps so rare that teams will overlook his tackling woes that saw him miss a tackle every 6.5 attempts, good for 135th out of 242 qualifying safeties in the nation. Still, Hooker can be a game-changer in coverage, and he’ll get plenty of looks near the top of the draft.
12. Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
13. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
14. Tim Williams, Edge, Alabama
15. Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
16. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
17. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
18. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
19. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
20. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
21. Desmond King, CB, Iowa
While there has already been buzz that King is better suited for safety, he has three excellent years of production at cornerback and he should excel in a zone-heavy scheme due to his feel for the game and excellent route recognition. That has led to King ranking among the nation’s top cornerbacks for three straight years while allowing only 43.4 percent of targets to be completed to go with an NFL passer rating of 48.1. King has also gotten his hands on 14 interceptions and 24 pass breakups in the three years, while complementing his ball skills with sure tackling that has seen him miss only 11 of his 197 tackle attempts during that time span. Senior Bowl week was not King’s finest showing, perhaps reinforcing the thought that he’s limited schematically at the next level.
22. Malik McDowell, DI, Michigan State
23. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
One of the biggest stories of the season, Ramczyk has made an incredible rise from Division 3 player to potential first-round pick. His skills were evident immediately in Week 1 against LSU and he rarely slowed down as he finished with the No. 1 run-blocking grade in the nation while allowing only 12 pressures on the season. Ramczyk is an efficient mover in the run game, winning at the point of attack and in space, and he’s smooth in pass protection, leading to perhaps the top offensive tackle in the draft.
24. Charles Harris, Edge, Missouri
25. Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
As our analysts go back and review each prospect, Trubisky continues to build momentum as he showed the arm to drive the ball outside the numbers and the pocket movement to create plays when pressured. He only has one year of action at UNC, raising questions about his coming out of school, but his talent is evident and worth a first-round investment. While there’s more good than bad to Trubisky’s game, he often left a few plays on the table in each game so there’s still room for improvement after posting an 84.4 overall grade that ranked 11th in the nation in 2016.
26. Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
27. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham’s name continues to become more and more familiar as his strong play continues for Vanderbilt. He’s very strong against the run, able to shed blocks and make plays as well as any linebacker in the nation. Cunningham’s 56 solo run stops lead in the Power-5. One thing he’ll need to work on is his tackling, as he’s missed 34 total over the past two seasons. But if he can improve on that, he could be one of the best linebackers in this draft class.
28. Solomon Thomas, Edge, Stanford
29. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Peppers has started to fall down our board just a bit, as his play on the field as of late hasn’t quite lived up to his hype. While his elite athleticism and ability as a returner is blindingly apparent every time he steps on the field, his play on the back end has been less than stellar. When targeted in coverage this season, he yielded receptions on 20 of 27 targets and did not have a single pass defended when he was the primary defender (his lone interception against Ohio State was a case of him being in the right place at the right time off a pass tipped in front of him). He also lacks the size to consistently take on and shed blocks going forward, as the majority of his impact plays this year have come when he has been unblocked. Teams considering him will need sell themselves on the idea that his coverage struggles could be due to his hybrid role, but it may be difficult for some to come to terms with the thought that he may be a two-down player at the next level.
30. Taco Charlton, Edge, Michigan
31. Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
With three straight years of top-five finishes in our offensive tackle rankings, Lamp has plenty of good tape and he proved himself in his limited time in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Before an injury ended his week after only one practice, Lamp showed well against top competition while playing both guard and tackle at practice. His short arms will likely make him a guard at the next level, though he’s shown the skills to play tackle, including the best game any tackle played against Alabama’s strong defensive front.
32. Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
Whoop! There it is.
Which of these fine young men do you have your eyes on? Sound off in the comments below.