With just four days to go until the NFL draft, teams likely have already made note of their main targets. Therefore, the rest of the week is sure to have a lot of rumors, that could be valid, but are most likely smokescreens so teams are in better positions to land their coveted prospects. In our mock draft, we discussed who those prospects will likely be for teams. However, who really is the best player at each position. Let’s examine, while giving each top prospect a player comparison and the best fit.
Quarterback: Kyler Murray
Murray is a very accurate and athletic quarterback who thrived in Oklahoma’s spaced out scheme. He also possesses a quick release, makes good progressions, and is absolute playmaker. Despite him having a lot of doubters, he’s a polished product with an incredible ceiling; he is well deserving of the top pick in this year’s draft.
Pro Comparison: Russell Wilson
This is definitely the easiest comparison to make. Like Murray, Wilson is an accurate and agile quarterback capable of extending plays but makes tremendous reads. Both quarterbacks even had to overcome questions about their height in the draft process.
Best Fit: Arizona Cardinals (Pick #1)
Murray fits best in a scheme that is spread out and allows him to use his athleticism to be an absolute playmaker. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme in Arizona should be very similar to what Murray ran at Oklahoma; despite lackluster supporting talent, the Cardinals probably possess the best situation for him to succeed right away since the scheme is already designed for him.
Running Back: Josh Jacobs
Though his draft stock has slipped due to positional value, Josh Jacobs should not be overlooked; he’s the total package out of the backfield. The Alabama prospect is an outstanding runner, with the ability to be an inside runner and an outside runner. He’s also a more than capable receiver, and could even work out of the slot at times. The most appealing aspect about Jacobs, however, is that since he had a limited workload in college, he’ll be able to handle the wear and tear that comes with the position. He’s a complete, three-down back, and will be a terrific weapon from whoever drafts him.
Pro Comparison: David Johnson
Jacob’s game reflects David Johnson, Sony Michel, and Alvin Kamara. He reminds me the most of Johnson, since both are complete three-down backs able of handling inside and outside runs with an exceptional ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
Best Fit: Tampa Bay Buccanneers (Second Round)
Though Jacobs will likely get selected in the back-end of the first round to either the Raiders, Eagles or Colts, the Buccaneers would be a terrific fit. Head coach Bruce Arians coached David Johnson during his best years in Arizona, and his roster is currently lacking a clear cut option at running back. This is a perfect situation for both team and player; Arians will help Jacobs develop into a star running back, while Jacobs helps take the load off of quarterback Jameis Winston.
Wide Reciever: Marquise Brown
Though he has an incredibly skinny frame and comes with injury concerns, including a foot injury suffered during the draft process, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is still the best receiver in this draft class. The 21-year-old has blazing speed that makes him an incredible deep threat, tremendous agility to shine after the catch, and excellent route running to create separation. At the worst, he’s a useful offensive weapon in the vertical passing game and with screens. Most likely, he’ll be a #1 caliber receiver that will be unguardable, even at the NFL level.
Pro Comparison: Tyreek Hill
Though he has some similarities to his cousin Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill is clearly the best comparison for “Hollywood” Brown. Both come at 5’10”, are dangerous after the catch and as deep threats, and are excellent options as return specialists. Both also are complete receivers, despite the stereotype that fast players and small receivers are always one-dimensional.
Best Fit: Green Bay Packers (Pick #30)
Could you imagine an offense with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, with Davante Adams and Brown as the top two receivers? Due to Brown’s injury concerns, he may available when Green Bay makes their second first-round selection at pick #30. Brown could shine in the vertical passing game with Rodgers and is an excellent complement to Adams, who is more of a possession receiver. Green Bay doesn’t have a lot of versatile offensive weapons on the roster, and Brown would be exactly that for them.
Tight End: TJ Hockenson
What’s there not to like with TJ Hockenson? The Iowa product has the ideal frame at 6’5”, and is a complete tight end. He’s quick, has great hands, is a tremendous route runner, and uses his frame to his advantage. Meanwhile, he’s an excellent blocker with sound fundamentals. If Hockenson had this type of talent at another position, he’d be in contention for the #1 pick. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up being the best player in this draft class.
Pro Comparison: Travis Kelce
Like Hockenson, Kelce has used his frame to be an amazing vertical threat, while also being a solid blocker. In fact, Hockenson may already be on Kelce’s caliber, and with Rob Gronkowski gone, the two tight ends may turn out to be the top two tight ends in the NFL.
Best Fit: New England Patriots (Trade Up)
As mentioned, Gronkowski retired following a Super Bowl victory. This opens a massive hole at tight end, which would be filled to perfection by Hockenson, whose ability to be a punishing blocker along with being a terrific receiver actually gives him a ceiling to be the caliber of player Gronkowski was. A trade up for Iowa’s other tight end, Noah Fant is more likely, but it is being reported by multiple sources that New England may trade up for Hockenson if he falls out of the top ten, which he probably will. If they find a way to get their hands on a player of this caliber, the rest of the NFL will be kicking themselves; the match of the Patriots and Hockenson is downright scary.
Offensive Lineman: Jonah Williams
Though his below average arm length and smaller frame may not give him as high of a ceiling as other offensive linemen in this draft, Jonah Williams is definitely one of the safest players in this draft. The Alabama product has incredible technique and is as polished as one can be heading into the draft. He’s also athletic and agile and looks to be a strong pass and run blocker. He definitely has the ability to play tackle at the next level, but he’s a versatile piece to an offensive line since he can also play on the inside. Rather than worry about where he’s going to play, the team that drafts Williams will be getting an absolute stud on the offensive trenches.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Ramczyk
Both Ramcyzk and Williams were criticized for not having the ideal length in the draft process, causing Ramcyzk to fall to the last pick in the draft class. Both are also technically sound lineman with outstanding agility. Ramcyzk has become the best offensive lineman on a talented Saints offensive line, and Williams could also have that immediate impact for the team that drafts him.
Best Fit: Minnesota Vikings (Pick #18)
The Vikings need help both at tackle and at guard in order to properly protect $84 million investment Kirk Cousins. Williams would be the immediate contributor that they desire, and his versatility would help the team tremendously as they reshuffle their offensive line.
Interior Defensive Lineman: DT Quinnen Williams
Heading into the season, Ed Oliver looked to be the clear top defensive lineman in this draft class. However, that’s no longer the case, thanks to the emergence of Quinnen Williams. Williams provided tremendous interior pressure for the Crimson Tide last year with 8 sacks, and projects to produce at an even higher number at the NFL level. He is incredibly athletic, is powerful, and also dominates as a run defender. Williams should be a Pro Bowl talent right away and should make several All-Pro teams throughout his career.
Pro Comparison: Gerald McCoy
Williams is honestly his own unique player; there isn’t a good comparison for him. He has some Aaron Donald in him, which is probably his ceiling, but for now, he should produce at a level that Gerald McCoy did in his prime. Considering McCoy made six straight Pro Bowls from 2012 to 2017, that’s a terrific floor for a player should even exceed that level of production.
Best Fit: New York Jets (Pick #3)
The Jets desperately need an edge rusher, but unless the next prospect that we’ll discuss falls to #3, there’s not a player worth taking at #3. Therefore, it makes sense for the team to complete their defensive line by taking Williams. Leonard Williams profiles well as a run stopper, while Henry Anderson proved to be a solid pass rusher with 7 sacks last season. What’s missing is a balanced, game-changing talent in Williams, who could open up lanes for the other Williams and Anderson. Plus, Leonard Williams is a free agent after this season and could be traded to acquire mid-round draft compensation that they currently don’t have, making Quinnen Williams an even better fit with pick #3.
Edge Rusher: Nick Bosa
As talented as Williams is, Nick Bosa is still the best player in this draft. The Ohio State product missed most of the season with a core injury, but other than that, they aren’t any red flags about him. Though he profiles best as a 4-3 pass rusher, he’s capable of being a 3-4 edge rusher thanks to his rare athleticism and incredible play strength. He’s explosive off the edge, already has plenty of pass rushing moves, and has natural instincts that you can’t teach. Bosa should be in contention for the sack title right away and might be a favorite to make the All-Pro team next season no matter where he ends up.
Pro Comparison: Joey Bosa
Rather than going cute with this comparison, it’s critical that we acknowledge that Nick is practically the same player his older brother was coming out of college, but better. The two have very similar pass rushing moves, are explosive, and are strong, especially in the lower half. Joey’s 23 sacks over his first two seasons for the Chargers is Nick’s floor; the younger brother is a scary prospect that should have teams drooling to try to land him in this draft.
Best Fit: San Francisco 49ers (Pick #2)
The 49ers have DeForest Buckner, Soloman Thomas, and Arik Armstead on the interior; there isn’t any room for Quinnen Williams. Rather, Bosa would form a deadly duo with new acquisition Dee Ford that should rival the duo his older brother has formed with Melvin Ingram in Los Angeles. Bosa fits versatility to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 makes him a great fit for San Francisco’s versatile defense, which uses different looks up front to create different looks. With Bosa, Ford, Buckner, Thomas, Armstead, and a solid secondary, the 49ers defense could surprise people and emerge as a top unit next season.
Linebacker: Devin White
LSU’s Devin White is an absolute freak of nature; he ran a 4.42 40 yard dash and is incredibly strong as well. He’s a sideline to sideline type linebacker with amazing pursuit and changes direction with ease. He’s not as polished as a defensive player as Williams and Bosa are, but his upside is still off the charts with the chance to be a consistent All-Pro talent.
Pro Comparison: Myles Jack
Like White, Jack was a converted running back who didn’t possess the ideal linebacker frame. In addition, but have superb athleticism and move sideline to sideline to track down ball carriers. Jack quickly developed to a key part of the Jaguars defense, and White will probably be even better.
Best Fit: Oakland Raiders (Pick #4)
Outside of Bosa, there aren’t any 4-3 pass rushers that can provide Oakland with the production needed to be worthy of a top-five pick. Therefore, the team should look hard at White, who would provide athleticism to a defense that lacks much of it. Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall were signed as veteran stop gaps, but they aren’t long-term answers; White could be the leader of the defense that they currently lack. As Oakland looks to build a young defense, they need someone to be at the center of it. If Bosa and Williams are off the board, White should be the pick.
Cornerback: Greedy Williams
Though his draft stock is for some reason falling, Greedy Williams should be a high-level player at the next level. The LSU product showcased his speed with a 4.37 40-yard dash, while his 6’2” frame gives him a rare speed and length combination. Williams also is a ball hawk, hence his name, and is capable of locking down top receivers at the next level. He clearly has the potential to be a shutdown cornerback at the next level, and considering he’ll likely be drafted in the middle to the back-end of the first round, he’ll be an absolute steal.
Pro Comparison: Stephon Gilmore
Coming out of South Carolina, Stephon Gilmore had very similar measurements to Williams with a 4.40 40 yard dash and solid length. Both corners are also terrific in man coverage, and have excellent ball hawk skills. The Patriots got the best out of Gilmore’s talent last season – he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ best corner last year – and whoever drafts Williams should be getting a corner with the potential to develop into the same type of player.
Best Fit: Pittsburgh Steelers (Pick #20)
Though they signed Steven Nelson in free agency, cornerback is still a weakness for the Steelers. They struggled last season to defend the deep ball and don’t have a lot of speed on their defense. Williams would provide Pittsburgh with an elite man coverage cornerback who can guard a team’s top deep threat, and with a long-term option to replace Joe Haden, a free agent after this season.
Safety: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
Though he’s unlikely to be drafted in the first round, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson still profiles as a long-term building block for a team’s defense. The Florida product is extremely versatile, with the capability to play free safety and slot corner, as a result of his excellent speed and coverage ability. Where he ends up depends on the team that drafts him, but no matter what, he should be an impact contributor at the next level.
Pro Comparison: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Coming out of college last season, Fitzpatrick has valued due to his versatility to play free safety and slot corner. Sound familiar? Fitzpatrick hasn’t terrific in his rookie season, but like Gardner-Johnson, makes an impact that goes beyond his stats. Gardner-Johnson is probably a bit faster and better in coverage, while Fitzpatrick is probably a better tackler, but the comparison is valid; both are swiss-army knives for defensive coordinators to utilize.
Best Fit: Carolina Panthers (Round 2)
In their hybrid defense, the Panthers have needs at both free safety and slot cornerback. In addition, they have no one who can defend over the top, making Gardner-Johnson an even better fit. If the Florida product makes it to the second round, Carolina needs to be all over him, even if it requires trading up; his impact on what already is a solid defense could be the difference for a Panthers team looking to make the postseason next season.