When I began preparing my 2016 NFL Draft Eligible Player Preview, I spent months watching games, studying technique, finding elite assets and establishing baseline draft-round projections. As I went through each position with a fine toothed comb, one player continually stood out as the best player on film. Unfortunately, that guy isn’t yet draft eligible.
In my estimation, there isn’t a more dominant, ready-for-the-NFL-yesterday player than Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. There isn’t a player in the nation with his combination of elite skills, work ethic and on-field production. No one.
As a true freshman, he set the Texas A&M school record for sacks in a season with 11. In fact, he broke the record in the sixth game of the season. That’s right, it took him all of six games to break a record at a school known for its legendary Wrecking Crew history. He broke Jadeveon Clowney’s freshman sack record by week nine. In addition, he had 14 tackles for a loss and nine quarterback hurries. It was criminal he earned only second team All-SEC honors. Lest I forget, he also played with just one hand, fighting through torn ligaments in his hand that required surgery in the offseason.
So, heading into his sophomore season, he’s seemingly a marked man. But, that hasn’t stopped him in the slightest. He’s tied for eighth in the nation with 7.5 tackles for a loss and tied for second in the nation with 6.5 sacks through four games.
He’s 6-foot-5, 262 pounds and runs like a cornerback. He reportedly runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and some say he’s gone as low as 4.4. That seems legitimate too, as I saw him run from one end of NRG Stadium to join his teammates on the other after the win over Arizona State. I don’t need a stopwatch to know that joker can fly.
I see Clowney every day with my job with the Texans and he’s the only comparison point I have to Garrett. I believe Garrett’s a bit quicker/faster but I’ve yet to find anyone as powerful as Clowney in years of draft study off the edge.
But alas, he’s not eligible for the 2016 draft. That got me thinking though, while many of the Internet big boards track only draft-eligible players, what about constructing a ranking that stacked all of the college football world’s top talent according to their NFL appeal. What would that look like?
The answer is below, and it’s a list led, clearly, by Garrett.
Top 10 College Players by NFL Potential
1. Myles Garrett
DE/OLB | Texas A&M | True Sophomore
The full package of power, speed and production, not to mention, he’s only played 17 college games to this point.
2. Laremy Tunsil
LT | Ole Miss | Junior
He hasn’t gotten on the field this season due to an eligibility concern but he’s a prototype left tackle at the next level.
3. Joey Bosa
DE | Ohio State | Junior
Not as twitchy as Garrett but plays with a rare combination of leverage and power on the edge.
4. Nick Chubb
RB | Georgia | True Sophomore
Many would put LSU’s Leonard Fournette in this space, but I think Chubb has the complete package of vision, power, speed and outstanding balance.
5. Leonard Fournette
RB | LSU | True Sophomore
A few more performances like the one against Auburn and Syracuse and I might be the lone wolf placing Chubb ahead of Fournette.
6. Ronnie Stanley
LT | Notre Dame | Senior
He can play either left or right tackle and excel in both the run and pass games. His versatility, feet and athleticism shine.
7. Vernon Hargreaves III
CB | Florida | Junior
Smooth, explosive and instinctive, he’s got tremendous transitional quickness to make plays on nearly every throw his way.
8. Robert Nkemdiche
DT/DE | Ole Miss | Junior
The nation’s top recruit in 2013 has lived up to all the billing, in large part, due to his speed-to-power conversion and quickness off the ball.
9. Adoree Jackson
CB/WR/ATH | USC | True Sophomore
He possesses the versatility to play any perimeter position on either side of the ball and the elite speed and explosiveness to be a next-level stud.
10. Jalen Ramsey
CB/S | Florida State | Junior
Most players want to play corner but he’s a top-three safety in the NFL within two years of an NFL career. He’s a playmaker from a number of different alignments at that position.
Just outside the Top Ten
QB Kyle Allen (Soph., Texas A&M)
QB Jared Goff (Jr., Cal)
QB Christian Hackenberg (Jr., Penn State)
QB Deshaun Watson (Soph., Clemson)
RB Ezekiel Elliott (Jr., Ohio State)
WR Tyler Boyd (Jr., Pittsburgh)
WR Laquon Treadwell (Jr., Ole Miss)
OT Cam Robinson (Soph., Alabama)
OG Greg Pyke (Jr., Georgia)
DT/DE A’Shawn Robinson (Jr., Alabama)
OLB Leonard Floyd (Jr., Georgia)
LB Jaylon Smith (Jr., Notre Dame)
CB Tre’Davious White (Jr., LSU)
Would be under consideration if not for injury
OLB Myles Jack (Jr., UCLA)
WR Mike Williams (Jr., Clemson)
John Harris contributes to the Washington Post’s NFL draft coverage. He is the sideline reporter and football analyst for the Houston Texans and owner of footballtakeover.com.