After Nick Bosa and Clelin Ferrell, I’ve been looking for someone to emerge as the No. 3 edge-rusher in this loaded class, and I think I found him.
Boston College’s Zach Allen is a monster at 6-foot-5 and 280-plus pounds with impressive athleticism for his size, plenty of power, and most importantly, a developed arsenal of pass-rushing/block-shedding moves. He has positional versatility too. I can see him lining up inside and using his length and hand use to slip past slower, bigger guards at the NFL level.
By the way, I won’t be shocked if Allen ultimately passes Ferrell on my Big Board, especially given how the two players have been trending of late. The Eagles star has 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, five batted passes, an interception and forced fumble in his last six games.
Here’s my updated Top 20 prospects list.
1. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Bosa’s top spot is still safe for the time being.
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2. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Williams was outstanding against Mississippi State, a team with the most challenging collective pass-rush he’s seen all season. While some pro clubs may seen him as a guard, if Isaiah Wynn can be picked in the first round to play left tackle in the NFL, so can Williams.
3. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Williams looked the part of CB1 with three pass breakups against Arkansas. His size, length, and smooth athleticism make him an ideal outside cornerback at the next level. Also, he’s not solely a man to man corner or zone defender. He has experience in and production from a variety of different coverages.
4. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Oliver has now missed three games with a knee injury, and while he’s still listed as day-to-day, I’m starting to think he’s already played his final snap for the Cougars. If that’s the case, Oliver ended his collegiate career on a tear with 24 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in his final three contests.
5. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
After two games without a pass breakup, Baker logged one against Auburn in Georgia’s victory over the Tigers. He’s a super-sticky man-to-man cornerback with immense experience. If he runs relatively well at the combine, Baker should go within the top 10 picks in Round 1. He’s that good.
6. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams was at it again, as he had two tackles for loss and a sack to add to his breakout resume in the dominant performance against Mississippi State. Williams doesn’t win with sheer explosiveness but a tremendous combination of power and pass-rushing moves, proving that refinement at any of the defensive line positions is absolutely vital.
7. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Harry stayed hot with seven catches for 100 yards in the win over UCLA. He now has 28 receptions for 447 yards with four scores in his last four outings. Teams know Harry’s going to see around 10 targets a game but they can’t stop him because of his size, surprisingly acceleration, and tremendous ball skills.
8. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Ferrell had one sack and one tackle for loss against Boston College but I’d like to see more consistency in pass-rushing situations from him. At 6-5 and 260 pounds with long arms he uses to keep offensive linemen off his chest, Ferrell checks the physical and athleticism boxes without question.
9. Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
Jones did not find his way onto the stat sheet against Michigan State but did flash his typical martial arts repertoire of pass-rushing moves in obvious passing situations. The Spartans double teamed him often, and he was used on twists more often than usual, which negated some of the impact he could’ve had.
10. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Brown has picked up the slack for the injured D.K. Metcalf over the past months, and he tacked on six catches for 127 yards in the loss to the Texas A&M over the weekend. Importantly for Brown’s resume as a draft prospect, he’s been able to demonstrate the ability to win on the outside as opposed to being pigeon-holed as a “big slot only” at the next level. The star wideout puts on show every week after the catch, and he certainly did so against the Aggies.
11. Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Allen isn’t super explosive but is easily one of the most calculated outside pass-rusher in college football when it comes to efficiently using his hands to beat blocks in any situation. Oh, and he’s a tank at 6-5 and 280 pounds playing on the edge. He was immovable against Clemson and showed how well he changes directions for his size.
12. Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
Harmon had 15 catches for 134 yards in NC State’s surprising loss at home to Wake Forest on Thursday. He’s become the consummate chain-mover for Ryan Finley at the Wolfpack and showcases his elite body control and ball skills on an array of back-shoulder tosses each game. Harmon looks like a No. 1 receiver at the NFL level ready to deal with larger cornerbacks on the outside.
13. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Thompson registered a tackle for loss in Alabama’s shutout of Mississippi State on Saturday night, and a strong start to the season led to Thompson flying to the top of the safety board. Down the stretch, as the Crimson Tide play in huge games, I’d like to see more game-changing plays from the versatile defensive back. For a safety to go early in Round 1, he has to get his hands on the football on somewhat of a regular basis.
14. Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
Risner is the premier right tackle prospect in this class and wins with anchoring power, deceptively light feet, and the ability to recover if he’s beaten by a counter move. As a redshirt senior with going on three full years as Kansas State’s starting right tackle, he’ll be a plug-and-play starter for an NFL team in 2019.
15. Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Tillery was held without a tackle in Notre Dame’s win over Florida State, a little surprising given how bad the Seminoles offensive line has been this season. I’ve still be very impressed with Tillery’s motor and violent hand use as a taller defensive tackle.
16. Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington
BBK and Washington were off over the weekend and take on Oregon State before what should be an awesome Apple Cup in Pullman the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
17. Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo (down)
Johnson only had three receptions for 26 yards in Buffalo’s blowout of Kent State, but the Bulls got a huge lead via the run game and cruised to victory. The Buffalo star has a complete game. He can beat you in so many ways, particularly down the field.
18. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Against Tennessee, Allen had one tackle for loss and a sack but didn’t make his normal, gigantic impact on the game. Teams who want hybrid outside linebacker / defensive ends and will ask them to drop into coverage relatively often are going to have Allen potentially in their top 5 or top 10 overall prospects. Allen’s a high-motor pass-rusher with some bend, but he doesn’t use his hands well by way of counter moves.
19. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
While he’s going to be an older prospect, Wilkins will enter the league with a high floor because of his vast experience playing multiple roles and multiple positions, and his athleticism and power. He scrapes down the line of scrimmage while being blocked to get to the ball-carrier as well as any defensive linemen in the country and has taken a step forward as a pass-rusher in 2018.
20. Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Burns has started to lean on an effective pass-rushing moves — an inside swim. I’d still like to see more of a humming motor from him, especially when he’s utilizing his speed rush to the outside.
Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State, Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State, Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss, Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson, Drew Lock, QB, Missouri, Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida, , Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma, Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia, Devin White, LB, LSU, Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State, Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia, Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
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