Top NFL prospects for every Way-Too-Early Top-25 team

1. Alabama

WR Calvin Ridley: First it was Julio Jones. Then came Amari Cooper. And pretty soon it will be Ridley’s turn to make his way in the NFL. Ridley appears to be a mirror image of Cooper, with the same roots in South Florida, a similar 6-foot-1 frame and what should turn out to be similarly big career numbers. Through his first two seasons, he has 161 catches, 1,814 yards and 14 touchdowns. — Alex Scarborough


2. Florida State

DB Derwin James: No doubt it’s James, who could be the best prospect in the entire 2018 draft class. He is already hailed as a safety in the same class as Ed Reed and the late Sean Taylor. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see James go in the top five, rare air for a safety. He just needs to remain healthy after missing most of 2016. — Jared Shanker

3. USC

QB Sam Darnold: It’s fair to wonder if Darnold would have been the first quarterback selected if he were eligible for this year’s draft. That’s how impressive he was in his 10 starts for the Trojans last season. His combination of size, athleticism, arm talent and playmaking ability is rare, and he could leave Los Angeles with two years of college eligibility remaining. He could be the No. 1 overall pick in 2018.– Kyle Bonagura


4. Ohio State

DE Sam Hubbard: There is enough elite talent on Ohio State’s defensive line to satisfy multiple franchises in the draft next year, but Hubbard’s dynamic athleticism might make him the most appealing of the bunch. After starting his career as a defensive back before finding a home up front as a pass-rushing terror, the Buckeyes are now even toying with packages featuring Hubbard in a stand-up role. His ability to fit in a variety of systems will tantalize scouts and general managers. — Austin Ward


5. Penn State

RB Saquon Barkley: There are scouts who say Barkley would be the top running back off the board in this year’s loaded class if he were eligible for the draft now. The reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year, Barkley is a weight-room freak with legs like tree trunks and ran a hand-timed 4.33 40-yard dash this winter. He could well be a top-10 pick in 2017. — Brian Bennett


6. Clemson

DT Dexter Lawrence: We can choose only one? Clemson is loaded with NFL talent, and even if we narrow it down to the defensive line, it’s tough to pick one star as the top NFL prospect. But if forced, how can we pass up on Lawrence, the monstrous 6-foot-5, 340-pound force in the middle of Clemson’s line. He dominated opposing offenses last year, collapsing the pocket, stuffing the run and pummeling QBs. And he was just a freshman. The upside for Lawrence seems infinite, and even though he’s still two seasons away from eligibility, NFL scouts are drooling. — David M. Hale


7. Washington

LB Azeem Victor: Before Victor’s 2016 season ended prematurely because of a broken leg, one Pac-12 coordinator said he was without question the best linebacker in the conference. There are no arguments here. Victor enters the 2017 season as the Pac-12’s best defensive prospect for the 2017 draft and could play himself into the first round. — Bonagura


8. Oklahoma

LT Orlando Brown: Oklahoma’s starting left tackle since 2015, Brown is a rugged run blocker who also has done well protecting QB Baker Mayfield’s blind side. Whether he ends up on the right side at the next level, Brown could become one of the top tackles on the board come next draft. — Jake Trotter


9. LSU

DE Arden Key: Whether you pick Derrius Guice or Key, you’ll have a winner. They both rank among the top NFL prospects in the entire SEC. But I’ll go with Key if he straightens out the personal issues that kept him sidelined during LSU’s spring practice. He has the same number of career sacks against SEC opponents (12) as Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, who might well become the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, and he got there in seven fewer games.– David Ching


10. Oklahoma State

QB Mason Rudolph: He considered leaving early for the draft but elected to come back for his senior campaign. With a monster final season, Rudolph could play his way into becoming one of the top QBs on the board at next year’s draft. — Trotter


11. Auburn

OT Braden Smith: Rather than get carried away with Jarrett Stidham’s potential, look to his offensive tackle, Smith. After making 26 starts, Smith could have turned pro early, but he opted to return for his senior season. Not only does he have experience, he has the kind of measurables that pro scouts will covet: At 6-6, 305 pounds, he can squat 600 pounds and broad jump 9 feet. — Scarborough


12. Wisconsin

TE Troy Fumagalli: The Badgers have produced a string of NFL-caliber tight ends over the years, and Fumagalli is the latest to emerge. Already, multiple mock-draft projections rank him as the top tight end draft prospect in the 2018 class. Fumagalli led Wisconsin with 47 receptions as a junior last season, and he’s likely to become an even bigger focal point of the offense this year. At 6-6 and 249 pounds, he’s a massive target with nimble route-running skills and catches seemingly everything thrown his way. — Jesse Temple


13. Georgia

RB Nick Chubb: Chubb had so much promise after rushing for 1,547 yards (7.1 YPC) and 14 touchdowns as a true freshman, but he blew out his knee halfway through his sophomore year. Before his injury, he averaged an unheard of 8.1 YPC and had 747 yards on 92 carries. Chubb wasn’t 100 percent last year but still rushed for 1,130 yards, averaging 5.0 YPC. He still has first-day talent. — Edward Aschoff


14. Michigan

DE Rashan Gary: This spring he visited Michigan’s busy pro day, where teammates told Gary it wouldn’t be long before he was a main attraction at this kind of event. While he’s just finishing up his freshman year of college, he is already showing the potential to be a high pick whenever he decides to go pro. An explosive, 290-pound defensive end, he has at least a couple of more seasons of college ball to build his résumé. — Dan Murphy


15. Stanford

OLB Peter Kalambayi: Though his numbers dipped in 2016, Kalambayi has the potential to become an effective pass-rusher in the NFL. He has 14.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss in his three seasons for the Cardinal and will be one of the most feared edge rushers in the Pac-12 in 2017. — Bonagura


16. Miami

DT Kendrick Norton: At this time last year, Brad Kaaya would have been the best NFL prospect on the roster, so that indicates how quickly a season can change projections. For now, keep an eye on Norton, a 6-foot-3, 312-pound force on the interior of the defensive line who is poised for a breakout season. He has the size, strength and power to start climbing up draft charts on a defense that should be among the best in the country in 2018. — Andrea Adelson


17. Kansas State

OL Dalton Risner: A two-year starter, Risner moved from center to right tackle as a sophomore in 2016. His versatility helps place him among the top returning linemen in the nation. If he leaves a year early in 2018, Risner might rate as one of the best centers in the draft. — Mitch Sherman


18. Louisville

CB Jaire Alexander: What, no love for the Heisman winner? Sure, Lamar Jackson has drawn favorable comparisons to Michael Vick, but when he decides to depart for the NFL, he’s also likely to endure some next-level nitpicking. Jackson is a high upside player, for sure, but the safer pick here is Alexander, who established himself as one of the ACC’s top cover corners last season, racking up five interceptions and nine pass breakups. He also was a dangerous punt returner. His combination of skilled technique at corner and overall athleticism make Alexander a legitimate NFL prospect moving forward. — Hale


19. Colorado

WR Bryce Bobo: The Buffaloes have a talented group of receivers with Bobo playing alongside Shay Fields and Devin Ross, but for now, Bobo is considered the top NFL prospect. At 6-2, he’s a little bigger than the other two and was a Pac-12 honorable mention selection in 2016 after catching 41 passes for 523 yards. — Bonagura


20. South Florida

QB Quinton Flowers: He opted to return to school for his senior season and hopes to refine his skills as a passer under coordinator Sterlin Gilbert. There’s not much more he needs to prove as a runner — Flowers already holds the USF record for single-season rushing yards (1,530) and single-season rushing touchdowns (18). — Adelson


21. Washington State

QB Luke Falk: He had valid reasons for leaving following the 2016 season, but ultimately decided for another year on the Palouse, where he will again be among the nation’s top quarterbacks. There is a stigma around Mike Leach quarterbacks in the NFL, but Falk, a former walk-on, has all the tools to be successful at the next level. — Bonagura


22. West Virginia

Kyzir White: Oozing athleticism and with good bloodlines to boot, White wreaks havoc for the Mountaineers as a hybrid safety-linebacker. At 6-2 and 220 pounds, he could fit now in the NFL at either level of defense. WVU gets him and older brother Ka’Raun, a receiver, for another season. — Sherman


23. Texas

OL Connor Williams: It’s rare to see a true freshman take over the starting left tackle job as soon as he gets to campus. Williams is a rare talent. An athletic 6-6, 320-pound lineman, he was a first-team All-American as a sophomore and is a prototypical blind-side protector who’s also terrific in the run game. NFL scouts are going to fall in love with him this fall. — Max Olson


24. Boise State

QB Brett Rypien: He might be better suited for the 2018 draft, but going into his junior season, Rypien has already been named first-team All-Mountain West twice. If he turns in another strong year for the Broncos, he could become an early-entry candidate. The nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien, he has already thrown for 6,999 yards and 44 touchdowns. — Bonagura


25. Virginia Tech

S Devon Hunter: He is not even on campus yet, but Virginia Tech believes it has its next great defensive back in Hunter, who was No. 126 in the ESPN 300 and is a top-10 safety in the 2017 class. At 6-1, 206 pounds, Hunter has been clocked at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash. — Shanker

Source: WWW.ESPN.COM

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