This is the 56th year that I have done rankings of NFL draft prospects. In the early years, from 1960-66, we put together a pre-fall rankings because from 1960 until the first common draft in 1967, the draft took place on the first Monday after Thanksgiving Day (for example, the 1966 draft took place on Nov. 27, 1965).
In those days, we had about one percent of the information on prospects that we have today. Back then, there were not a lot of confirmed heights, weights and speed times that we have access to today.
Prior to 1960, interest in the draft was almost nonexistent. At the 1964 draft, which was held on Dec. 2, 1963, we had less than 10 media personnel attend. This year, according to Greg Aiello of NFL PR, the league will issue around 1,700 credentials to media from around the world.
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Tunsil (6-foot-6, 310 pounds, no 40 time) missed seven games during the 2015 season. In the six games that Tunsil did start, he didn’t allow a sack, was called for one holding penalty and three false starts. Tunsil will play in the NFL for many years at a high level.
Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Ramsey (6-1 1/4, 209, 4.41 40) was a three-year starter for the Seminoles, and started 14 games as a true freshman (three at cornerback and 11 at safety). He was the first true freshman since Deion Sanders in 1985 to start at cornerback for FSU.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Elliott (5-11 3/4, 4.47 40) rushed for 1,800-plus yards the previous two seasons. In the national championship win over Oregon, Elliott rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns. He’s a very good blocker with plus-type hands. Elliott is durable, very competitive and smart. He will be a very strong candidate to be the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2016.
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Bosa (6-5 5/8, 274, 4.75 40) worked out better at Ohio State’s pro day than he did at the NFL Scouting Combine. He father — John Bosa — and uncle — Eric Kumerow — were both first-round draft picks of the Miami Dolphins. Bosa had 26 sacks over three seasons at Ohio State.
Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
Jack (6-1, 243, no 40 time) has not yet run the 40-yard dash for scouts, but had a good pro-day workout on March 15 (40-inch vertical and 10-foot-4 broad jump). Jack played just 140 snaps before going down with an injury early in the 2015 season. Jack is an outstanding athlete who could also play safety or all three linebacker positions. Jack will be a Week 1 starter in the NFL.
DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Buckner (6-7 1/4, 286, 5.05 40) was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 after finishing the season with 10.5 sacks. He was a two-time team captain at Oregon. Buckner has big hands (11 3/4 inches), long arms (34 3/8 inches) and performed 21 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at Oregon’s pro day. Buckner has a tendency to play too high at times.
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Wentz (6-5 1/4, 237, 4.77 40) was a walk-on athlete at North Dakota State, and his first year as a starter was in 2014. He missed eight games in 2015 with an injury, but returned for the FCS championship game win and was voted its most outstanding player. Wentz is very smart and has a lot of upside.
Jared Goff, QB, California
Goff (6-4, 215, 4.82 40) started 37 games in three seasons at Cal, and had 96 touchdown passes. He didn’t have a good team around him, and was often plagued by poor offensive line play (he was sacked 86 times in his college career). He had a poor game against Utah last season, throwing five interceptions. Goff threw 43 touchdown passes in 2015, which were good for third in FBS.
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Stanley (6-5 3/4, 312, 5.2 40) has 35 5/8-inch arms. He made 39 starts over three seasons, including two games as a true freshman in 2012 before getting injured. He allowed just two sacks, three holding calls and four false starts on 750 plays during the 2015 season.
Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Conklin (6-5 3/4, 308, 5.0 40) was a walk-on and redshirted at Michigan State. He went on to make 38 starts for the Spartans. Conklin has played both left and right tackle, but his best position might be at guard. He’s very tough and competitive. Conklin should be a starter in the NFL for a long time.
Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Rankins (6-1 1/8, 299, 5.03 40) made 26 starts over the past two years. Rankins is a very athletic and active player, but not very big; he has everything but size. Rankins has good short-area quickness and burst, and looked good in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl.
Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Floyd (6-5 5/8, 248, 4.6 40) is a very good athlete. He had 4 1/2 sacks and 69 tackles in 2015 for the Bulldogs. Floyd looks better than he plays, but has great upside and some team will get that talent out of him. Floyd might play defensive end because of his speed and burst.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Robinson (6-3 5/8, 307, 5.2 40) is a big man with power who also moves well. Robinson played both tackle and end at Alabama, and also played 139 snaps on special teams. As a five-star recruit in high school, Robinson excelled on both sides of the ball.
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Hargreaves (5-10 1/2, 204, 4.50 40) made 37 starts at cornerback for the Gators. In 2015, Hargreaves was targeted 48 times, and he allowed one touchdown and had four interceptions. Hargreaves will be an NFL starter and play for a long time.
Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
Lee (6-0 3/4, 232, 4.47 40) was a high school quarterback who played just two seasons at Ohio State. He is very athletic and can play in space. Some team might draft Lee and try to make him into a safety.
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Dodd (6-5, 277, 4.86 40) has a breakout season in 2015 and was outstanding in the national championship game against Alabama, registering three sacks and five tackles for loss. Dodd has good quickness to be a productive pass rusher. He plays hard and has a good bend.
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Coleman (5-10 3/4, 194, 4.38 40) has outstanding physical tools. In 2015, he had 74 receptions and 20 touchdowns. Coleman can also return kickoffs. He lacks big hands. Also, Baylor does not run a lot of pass routes, so it might take Coleman some time to excel.
Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
Ragland (6-1 1/4, 242, 4.72 40) stayed in school for a fourth season and it shows. He’s a very competitive middle ‘backer, but did play some snaps with his hand in the ground.
Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Decker (6-7, 310, 5.15 40) made 42 starts at Ohio State, including 14 at right tackle and 28 at left tackle. In 2015, Decker had allowed just one sack, had one holding call and allowed four quarterback pressures in 606 snaps. Decker was also a very good high school basketball player and could have gone to a MAC school to play the sport. He should be able to play left tackle in the NFL.
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Lynch (6-6 5/8, 244, 4.86 40) started 38 games and finished with a 22-16 record. Watch Memphis’ upset of Ole Miss for the best of Lynch; watch the game against Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl for his worst. Lynch did well at Memphis’ pro day. He has a strong arm, is a good athlete, and might need some time to develop. Lynch does have a chance to be special.
Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Reed (6-2 7/8, 307, 5.2 40) is very strong and competitive. He played very well against the run, and had 53 tackles last season. Reed is a never-give-up type of player. He can play both defensive end and tackle.
Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
Butler (6-3 5/8, 323, 5.17 40) had a very good week at the Senior Bowl. He’s a young player (just 21 years old), but is very strong and can push the pocket. He competes on every play. Butler will start on Day 1 in the NFL.
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Nkemdiche (6-3 1/2, 294, 4.87 40) was a three-year player for the Rebels who started 10 games as a true freshman. He has Warren Sapp-like ability. Nkemdiche has great power. If he can stay out of trouble, he will be a very good player.
Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Kelly (6-4, 311, 4.93 40) is a very good and smart player who made 36 starts at Alabama. He didn’t allow a sack or get called for holding in 2015. Kelly will be a first-game starter in the NFL and play in the league for a long time.
Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Neal (6-0 1/2, 211, 4.59 40) was very good against the run and will be average against the pass. His brother, Clinton Hart, played seven seasons in the NFL. Neal will be a great special teams player, and I think he will be a surprise with his play.
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Fuller (6-0 1/8, 186, 4.32 40) had the fastest 40 time among receivers at the combine. He’s a straight-line runner who needs to work on his route-running. Fuller is thinly built and had a lot of dropped passes. You can coach him to be a better route-runner and pass-catcher, but you can’t coach speed.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Treadwell (6-2, 221, 4.63 40) has the size you want and is a lot like former Dallas Cowboys receiver and Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. Treadwell plays faster than his timed speed. He has very strong hands and toughness for the position; he will block. Treadwell will fight for the ball. He wants to be good, but will he work as hard as Irvin did as a player?
Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Doctson (6-2, 202, 4.5 40) ran a faster 10-yard time than world-class sprinter and teammate Kolby Listenbee. Doctson has excellent ball skills. He was also an excellent basketball player in high school. Doctson missed the final three games of the 2015 season with a wrist injury. He’s fine now, and will catch a lot of passes for some NFL team.
Kamalei Correa, DE, Boise State
Correa (6-2 5/8, 243, 4.69 40) is a very good athlete who plays hard on every down. Correa’s best position might be outside linebacker in a 3-4 base defense. He is a lot like former Seattle Seahawks and current Oakland Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin.
William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Jackson (6-0 3/8, 189, 4.37 40) has man coverage skills, as well as the size and speed you’d want. He is very good in press coverage. He had 24 passes defensed in 2015, which was the best in FBS last year.
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Henry (6-2 5/8, 247, 4.54 40) is a power runner with good hands. He had 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing in his Heisman Trophy season of 2015, including four 200-yard-plus rushing games (only Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson had previously done that in the SEC).
Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Henry (6-4 7/8, 250, 4.66 40) is a very good athlete who needs to get stronger and become a better blocker. He ran very well at Arkansas’ pro day, and has good hands. Henry had no drops last season and has an ability to get open.
Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Spriggs (6-6 5/8, 301, 4.94 40) has 34-inch arms and athletic ability. He started 47 games for the Hoosiers. Spriggs has very good feet, but needs to be tougher.
Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Joseph (5-9 5/8, 205, no 40 time) was a four-year starter for the Mountaineers, but suffered a knee injury during his final season. That will prevent Joseph from working out before the draft, but he expects to be ready in time for training camp. Joseph is a hitter who also has coverage ability.
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Ogbah (6-4 1/4, 273, 4.63 40) has the speed needed to be a special pass rusher. He posted 13 sacks in 2015. He also has very long arms (35 1/2 inches). Ogbah needs to be better against the run.
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Apple (6-0 5/8, 199, 4.37 40) has the size needed for the position, but is not the best against the run. He was the defensive MVP in Ohio State’s win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Apple has very good quickness and catches the ball well.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Alexander (5-10 3/8, 190, 4.47 40) has the speed and quickness needed for the position. He does a lot of trash talking, and has not had an interception in two years. However, he has not given up a touchdown pass in two years as a starter.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Shepard (5-10 1/4, 194, 4.48 40) will be an excellent slot receiver in the NFL. He was a three-year starter for the Sooners, and also can be a punt returner. Whoever drafts Shepard will be very glad that they did.
Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois
Ward (6-5 1/8, 297, 5.11 40) was a high school wide receiver and safety. He’s very raw, but has great upside. He will be a starter by his second NFL season and he’ll play well.
Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Jones (6-5 3/4, 310, 5.03 40) has very good athletic ability. He has the ability to dominate, but does not always play hard. If Jones can play hard on every play, he has a chance to be special.
Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
Johnson (6-4 3/8, 314, 5.32 40) is very good against the run because of his lower-body strength. Johnson was also a very good high school basketball player. He plays faster than his timed speed.
Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
Whitehair (6-3 3/4, 301, 5.08 40) has started 51 games, playing left and right tackle, and left and right guard. Whitehair could also play center. He will play well and for a long time in the NFL.
Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Clark (6-2 5/8, 314, 5.06 40) plays with good leverage and body control. He plays with power, but his production fell off late last season.
T.J. Green, S, Clemson
Green (6-2 1/2, 209, 4.34 40) was a wide receiver before moving to safety; he didn’t have good enough hands for the receiver position. He’s very athletic, but needs to get stronger and lacks instincts for the position. Green is a very good special teams player.
Germain Ifedi, OG, Texas A&M
Ifedi (6-5 7/8, 324, 5.27 40) has 36-inch arms and is a very big man who has played both right guard and right tackle. Ifedi has a lot of upside, but needs to cut down on his penalties.
Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida
Bullard (603, 285, 4.93 40) has played both defensive end and tackle. His best position is at end. He’s an athletic player with good strength.
Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
Bell (5-10 3/4, 199, 4.5 40) is a very good athlete who is good against the run and in pass coverage. Bell plays fast and has the ability to start in his first NFL season.
Su’a Cravens, OLB, USC
Cravens (6-0 3/4, 226, 4.64 40) is this draft class’ version of Shaq Thompson, who was a first-round selection of the Carolina Panthers in 2015. Cravens is a very competitive player, but he is a prospect without a true position.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
Boyd (6-1 1/2, 197, 4.5 40) ran better at Pittsburgh’s pro day than at the NFL Scouting Combine. He is a very good route-runner, and made 254 catches in three seasons. Boyd also brings an ability to return kickoffs and punts. He has outstanding hands.