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5 takeaways from Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 50 NFL Draft prospects

Posted Jan 31, 2018

Penn State’s Saquon Barkley leads the way in group full of SEC standouts

Five takeaways from NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s annual top 50 prospects...

1. Saquon Barkley is No. 1

Penn State’s star running back has been touted as a game-changing player who could immediately contribute as a rookie. Barkley, the 2017 Paul Hornung Award winner (given to the nation’s most versatile player), finished his final season in State College with 1,271 rushing yards, 632 receiving yards and 21 total touchdowns. Jeremiah writes Barkley is one of the “most dynamic running backs to enter the NFL in the last decade” and is “capable of becoming the best player at his position” early in his career.

2. But the SEC dominates the list

Seventeen of Jeremiah’s 50 players hail from the Southeastern Conference. Perhaps unsurprisingly, reigning national champion Alabama led the way with a team-high five prospects — DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (No. 5), WR Calvin Ridley (No. 22), DL Da’Ron Payne (No. 24), LB Rashaan Evans (No. 27) and DB Ronnie Harrison (No. 38) — while Georgia featured four players, including outside linebacker Roquan Smith (No. 19) and running back Sony Michel (No. 28).

3. California QBs above the rest

USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Rosen are Jeremiah's top two quarterbacks, checking in at 7 and 8, respectively. The pair of California born-and-bred signal-callers are widely expected to be top 10 picks and Cleveland, owners of the first and fourth-overall picks, will surely take a close look at both of them. In all, five quarterbacks made Jeremiah's top 50. Oklahoma quarterback and 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield checked in at No. 13, Wyoming’s Josh Allen at No. 14 and Louisville star and 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson at No. 43. 

4. The CB class could be deep

Ohio State’s Denzel Ward (No. 9) and Iowa’s Josh Jackson (No. 18) have garnered a lot of early attention as future first-round picks, but four other cornerbacks made Jeremiah’s top 50. 

Central Florida’s Mike Hughes, who checked in two spots ahead of Jackson, was a defensive star for the undefeated Knights with four picks and 11 breakups last season. LSU’s Donte Jackson (No. 20) posted 45 tackles and nine pass breakups in his final year with the Tigers. Louisville's Jaire Alexander (No. 23 ) made seven interceptions in three seasons and Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver (No. 36) had 25 pass breakups in that same span.

Ward, in his first year as a full-time starter for the Buckeyes, had 15 pass breakups and two interceptions last year. Jackson, meanwhile, made eight interceptions and 18 breakups. In all, Jeremiah ranked five cornerbacks in the top 23.

5. Expect these names to gain attention in coming months

You probably expected to see names like Barkley, Darnold, Fitzpatrick and Mayfield high on the list. Perhaps you’re less familiar with players such as Allen, Hughes, Virginia Tech outside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (No. 3), Washington defensive tackle Vita Veah (No. 9) or UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport (No. 10).

Edmunds, a two-year starter for the Hokies, totaled 202 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and five pass breakups during that span. Jeremiah wrote the multi-talented defender “has All-Pro ability” with an outrageous upside.

Davenport, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound end who shined at the Senior Bowl, made 185 tackles, 37.5 TFLs, 21.5 sacks, 8 pass breakups and nine forced fumbles in his career at Texas-San Antonio.

You can read Jeremiah’s entire list at NFL.com. ​

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