We released our first TDN100 NFL draft rankings a month ago here at The Draft Network. Three weeks of college football have passed, and good or bad performances can change where players rank.
Our scouts updated and released the latest version of the TDN100 this week. As with any set of rankings, there will be players who some believe are ranked too high and others believe are ranked too low. Following a review of the rankings, I identified five players who I believe should be higher on the consensus NFL draft list.
Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (No. 51)
Cedric Tillman is the Tennessee Volunteers’ No. 1 receiver and one of the best wide receivers in the SEC. Unfortunately, offensive concepts do not completely complement his skill set. There is no movement for Tillman; teams know he will be on the offensive right side. Despite these flaws, Tillman possesses the frame and physicality required to succeed as a boundary wide receiver. It’s thrilling to watch him attack the ball at its highest point and box out defenders. He does a good job of stemming his routes for a bigger-bodied receiver to create enough separation between himself and the defender.
Tillman deserves a little more attention in an NFL draft class where the second tier of receivers is wide open. His game is similar to that of Denver Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton. The NFL’s wide receiver preferences change and shift from year to year, but it appears that the league is once again favoring bigger-bodied receivers, which bodes well for Tillman.
Georgia SAF Christopher Smith
Christopher Smith is a versatile playmaker who can line up anywhere on the Bulldogs’ defense. As a heavy and violent striking tackler in the run and pass game, he sets the tone. When tested, he adds alignment flexibility and makes plays on the football. His high football IQ shines through, and playmakers like Smith are desperately needed!
I believe he is one of the top safety prospects in this year’s NFL draft class. Smith is showcasing his coverage prowess and difference-making abilities in the back end of his defense in a full-time role. The NFL prefers hybrid safeties who can defend from deep, in the slot, and in the nickel. With cornerback ball skills, Smith embodies that specific skill set.
Ole Miss RB Zach Evans
From a talent standpoint, this running back class is one of the deepest I can recall. Zach Evans is a gifted runner with exceptional feel and vision. Evans is built like an NFL running back and runs with toughness.
Evans fits the bill as a zone runner who can also produce between the tackles. He’s done well in Lane Kiffin’s offense and will have plenty of opportunities to show off his full skill set as the season progresses. Evans is currently ahead of a few backs ranked higher on this list in terms of production after three games.
Verse, Jared Florida State University, EDGE
The NFL is looking for edge rushers who can effectively pressure quarterbacks. Jared Verse has made a name for himself since transferring to Florida State. He has three sacks, six pressures, and a blocked field goal in three games.
Verse has performed admirably thus far, displaying athleticism, strength, and a rush package. In Week 1, he launched his campaign to move up the ranks on national television. I believe he deserves to be ranked higher, but I’m looking forward to seeing how his season unfolds.
Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes
Mississippi State is better known for Mike Leach’s air raid offense, but they have a standout cornerback. So far this season, Emmanuel Forbes has played solid defense. He has nine catches on 19 targets for 104 yards and a 47% completion percentage.
Forbes’ arm length and ball skills make for difficult throwing lanes. He’s not a household name among casual draft watchers, but he should be. Teams value cornerbacks who can make plays on the field and force turnovers. Forbes has nine interceptions and 11 pass breakups in his career.
What did you think of the first version of TDN’s top-100 NFL draft rankings in August? Tell us what you think on Twitter and Instagram. Stay tuned for the next TDN100 edition next month.