The NFL Draft begins this coming Thursday night, and this year I sifted through enough video to compile an 85-man draft board. These are players I’ve seen play a minimum of three games each, and I have given consideration to each prospect’s college production, size, and athletic profile. If the player was injured, and did not work out prior to the draft, he did not make the cut (sorry, Billy Price). As for others who do not appear in these rankings, I either did not see enough of them to establish a firm grade, graded them as a “free agent,” or felt they were lacking a baseline level of production, athleticism, or both. I will be happy to try to answer any specific questions in the comments section, or on twitter (@afc2nfc).
KEYRd = Round Grade
Pos = Projected NFL Position
Age* = Age as of 12/31/18
HT = Height (6025 = 6’2 5/8”)
WT = Weight
Hand = Hand Size (938 = 9 3/8”)
Arm = Arm Length (3418 = 34 1/8”)
Bench = # of reps at 225 lbs
40 yard = 40-yard dash time in seconds
VJ = Vertical Jump in inches
BJ = Broad Jump in inches
3C = 3-cone time in seconds
SS = 20-yard (short) shuttle time in seconds
Blue = Top of the Line
Green = Above Average
Yellow = Average
Orange = Below Average
Red = Concerning
Gesicki is one of the freakiest athletes to ever play tight end, and he’s produced his share of highlight-reel catches during his four-year college career. Still, Penn State’s all-time leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns by a tight end has been heavily scrutinized by draftniks for his blocking, or lack thereof. Gesicki is a guy who sometimes looks like he’s playing patty cake, or just flinging himself at a defender and trying to get in the way, but sometimes that’s enough. And call me crazy, but blocking seems like something he can practice, unlike the other-worldly agility and leaping ability he’s capable of at nearly 250 pounds.
Key Stat: 105 catches for 1242 yards and 14 touchdowns over the past two seasons
I’m probably being overzealous on Thomas, who effectively had three noteworthy games at the FBS level, but the junior college transfer was at his best against the two best teams in the Big Ten. Thomas can block in the run and pass game, has decent speed for a big man, and made tough catches against skilled defensive backs. He’s a projection, but at a position where guys generally take some time to get their footing at the pro level, I’m willing to take the gamble.
Key Stat: 15 yards per catch and five touchdowns in nine games last season
Goedert vs. Thomas was kind of a wash for me, but I gave the edge to Thomas for youth, and experience against tougher opposition. It was clear that Goedert was just a different level of athlete than defenders at the FCS level, and South Dakota State was able to manufacture touches for Goedert that I’m not sure would have translated to the FBS. Like Thomas, Goedert is a more aggressive blocker than Gesicki, but Goedert never ran a 40 due to a lingering hamstring issue, so questions about his speed persist. It’s not a deal-breaker - my guess is he falls into the 4.75-4.8 range - it’s just a box left unchecked on a small-school evaluation. I’m still fairly confident he’ll develop into a productive pro.
Key Stat: 164 catches and 19 total touchdowns in 27 games over the last two seasons
Andrews plays like a big receiver, but checks in with some middling athletic testing. Like Gesicki, he’s not a fearsome blocker, but Andrews also doesn’t possess the same strength and athletic upside. I really like what he brings to the table as a pass catcher, I’m just not sure he sees the same volume of snaps at his peak that the first three players on this list will. Worth noting, Andrews has Type I diabetes, and has been able to manage it effectively as a college athlete.
Key Stat: 15.8 yards per catch on 112 career catches
Hurst played two seasons of minor league baseball, so he enters the NFL as a 25-year old rookie. This has somehow given credence to the idea that he is more pro-ready than other players. This was an argument used to justify early-round grades on Brandon Weeden, who entered the NFL as a 28-year old rookie in 2012, and it’s complete nonsense. Age does not equal maturity, and in fact, a legitimate argument can be made that athletic growth has been capped. Luckily, Hurst is not such an extreme example, entering the league as an above-average athlete at the position. But at 25 he has to hit the ground running, while his peers will be given more leeway.
Key Stat: Four total touchdowns in 38 career games