The top NFL draft prospect for each Top 25 college football team

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

From potential No. 1 overall picks like Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa to dynamic playmakers like Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb and Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor, these are the top future NFL draft prospects for every Top 25 team.

No. 1 Clemson: QB Trevor Lawrence

The beauty of what Dabo Swinney has done at Clemson is that the roster no longer has just one or two future NFL stars. No, the Tigers are loaded with draft prospects, but if we have to choose only one, there's little doubt about who it'll be. Lawrence seemed like a future No. 1 selection when he was a sophomore in high school, so now that he has a national title under his belt, he's about as close to a sure thing as there is. -- David M. Hale

No. 2 Alabama: QB Tua Tagovailoa

We've already got folks in Miami using the hashtag #TankForTua in hopes of landing the star quarterback in next year's draft. And you can't blame them. Tagovailoa might be a tad undersized at 6-foot-1 and maybe his injuries last season give you pause, but his play doesn't. Although his arm strength is certainly there, it's his accuracy and anticipation that really set him apart. Not only can he hit fit the ball through tight windows but he can see those windows opening before they do. -- Alex Scarborough

No. 3 Oklahoma: WR CeeDee Lamb

The Sooners have been pumping wide receivers into the NFL lately, and Lamb figures to be the next after hauling in 111 receptions and 18 touchdowns his first two seasons in Norman. -- Jake Trotter

No. 4 Georgia: QB Jake Fromm

College football drooled over Tua Tagovailoa last season, but don't be surprised if it's Fromm who puts himself in position to be the first quarterback taken in next year's draft. What he lacks in flash, he more than makes up for in substance. Just look at how he carved up Alabama's defense in the SEC championship game. He's accurate, with a career completion percentage of roughly 65 percent, and his touchdown-to-interception ratio (54-to-13, so, better than 4-to-1) is out of this world. In an NFL that still values the prototypical pocket passer, Fromm fits the bill. -- Scarborough

No. 5 Ohio State: DE Chase Young

Young is the heir apparent to the Bosa Empire in Columbus this season. He did enough during his sophomore season to land on the radar of NFL scouts. This year, with the help of two veteran coaches who have produced enough first-rounders on the defensive line to fill an NFL roster, Young will have the opportunity to lead the pack of another talented group of Buckeyes with NFL decisions to make at the end of the season. -- Dan Murphy

No. 6 Notre Dame: DE Khalid Kareem

Kareem will be racing classmate Julian Okwara to opposing quarterbacks on a regular basis this fall. In the eyes of NFL scouts, he has a slight leg up on Okwara in the competition to be Notre Dame's best prospect. They could boost each other's stock by working in tandem in 2019. -- Murphy

No. 7 Texas: WR Collin Johnson

Johnson considered going pro after a breakout 2018 season. Now the undisputed No. 1 target for QB Sam Ehlinger, 6-6 Johnson could be in for a monster final season with the Longhorns. -- Trotter

No. 8 Florida: CB CJ Henderson

Already touted as a possible first-round pick in 2020, Henderson started every game last season and should receive consideration for preseason All-America honors after establishing himself as a shutdown corner. Henderson had 38 tackles, three sacks, a team-high seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles last year. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has called him the best cornerback he has ever coached. -- Andrea Adelson

No. 9 Michigan: CB Lavert Hill

Hill decided to spend one more season honing his cover skills in college before turning pro. He'll have three years of experience playing aggressive press man and a solid track record of frustrating wide receivers. -- Murphy

No. 10 Oregon: QB Justin Herbert

This one is easy. Herbert could have been one of the first players taken in this year's NFL draft if he had decided to leave school early. Instead, after being ranked as Mel Kiper's No. 1 QB and No. 6 overall draft prospect in December, Herbert is back to add to his illustrious Oregon career. In his first full season as Oregon's starter, Herbert threw for 3,151 yards with 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season. -- Edward Aschoff

No. 11 Texas A&M: DT Justin Madubuike

His name isn't widely known nationally, but it should be. The junior was a consistent force inside for the Aggies last year and one of several reasons A&M took such a big leap in run defense in 2018. Some of his best performances were against A&M's toughest competition (Clemson, Alabama, LSU). With a pair of key D-linemen gone, Madubuike returns into an even bigger role this fall. The 6-3, 304-pound defender is relentlessly physical, strong and disruptive, all traits that translate well to the next level. -- Sam Khan Jr.

No. 12 LSU: S Grant Delpit

Wherever the ball is, you're likely to find Delpit. The LSU safety had a breakout 2018 and looks like college football's best safety. His speed, range and instincts, combined with his 6-3, 203-pound frame, make the junior-to-be look like a surefire first-round pick should he elect to leave DBU after the 2019 season. -- Khan

No. 13 Washington State: OT Abraham Lucas

Playing opposite a possible first-round pick in Andre Dillard on the Cougars' offensive line, Lucas more than held his own as a redshirt freshman. At 6-7, 320 pounds, he has ideal size and proved to be one of the Pac-12's best offensive linemen last season. Even with three years of eligibility remaining, it's easy to envision Lucas carving out a career at the next level. -- Kyle Bonagura

No. 14 UCF: S Richie Grant

The 6-foot, 194-pound safety had a breakout season in 2018, earning first-team All-AAC honors after recording a career-high 109 tackles, ranking No. 3 in the nation in total interceptions (six) and forcing three fumbles. Grant was all over the place on the field, using his speed, quickness and natural instincts. Another big season and the redshirt junior could consider coming out early. -- Adelson

No. 15 Syracuse: DE Alton Robinson

Robinson is an absolute beast off the edge, and if he can repeat his impressive numbers from 2018 -- 10 sacks, 17 TFLs, 11 QB hurries, ACC leader in pressure rate -- he's going to have a ton of attention from NFL execs drooling over adding a sturdy pass-rusher with upside. -- Hale

No. 16 Penn State: LB Micah Parsons

The Nittany Lions have lost quite a bit of talent to the NFL over the past few seasons, and even though Parsons isn't draft eligible yet, he is on a path to continue that streak for Penn State. As a true freshman, Parsons led the team in tackles and showed glimpses of why most recruiting services saw him as a five-star prospect in high school. He has the athleticism to play multiple positions, which is valuable in the NFL, and if he continues to progress, he should find himself on draft boards when it's his time. -- Tom VanHaaren

No. 17 Washington: OT Trey Adams

The initial thought might be to put quarterback Jacob Eason here, but when healthy, Adams is one of the best left tackles in college football. He missed 16 straight games across his past two seasons because of an ACL injury and a bulging disk. He'll be back for his redshirt senior year, and the hope is that he can get through a full season for the first time since his sophomore season. A full season on field should make Adams one of the first linemen taken in the 2020 NFL draft. -- Aschoff

No. 18 Utah: DE Bradlee Anae

The Pac-12's sack leader in 2018 with eight, Anae would have been an intriguing prospect had he declared early for the draft. Instead, he decided to return for a final season in Salt Lake City, where he figures to be one of the top pass-rushers in the country this year. There will always be a premium on guys like that in the NFL. -- Bonagura

No. 19 Northwestern: LB Paddy Fisher

Fisher had an awesome 2017 season with 113 tackles and 65 solo tackles. He followed that up with 116 tackles in 2018 and is being recognized as one of the better linebackers in the country. At 6-4, 245 pounds, he has the size the NFL is looking for, and he has become a tackling machine, which will always be a premium at every level. Fisher will have the option to enter the NFL draft after the 2019 season and should be discussed as one of the better defensive players if he decides to go. -- VanHaaren

No. 20 Stanford: OT Walker Little

Just after Little signed with the Cardinal, then-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Mike Bloomgren, now the head coach at Rice, told ESPN that Little had the potential to one day be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Although he's not exactly a household name, Little has been named first-team All-Pac-12 both seasons he's been on campus and projects as a first-round pick. Whether that will happen in 2020 or 2021 remains to be seen. -- Bonagura

No. 21 Wisconsin: RB Jonathan Taylor

Taylor has been a workhorse for the Badgers in the backfield and was named the Doak Walker Award winner and a first-team All-American this past season. His 2,194 yards rushing in 2018 was the most for any FBS player, and his combination of size, speed and ability makes him an outstanding potential high draft pick. Every team is looking for a young running back who can help improve the run game, and Taylor will be highly coveted whenever he decides to enter the draft. -- VanHaaren

No. 22 Iowa: DE A.J. Epenesa

In only his second season, Epenesa led the Big Ten in sacks with 10.5 in 2018 and ranked fourth in the conference in tackles for loss. At 6-6, 280 pounds, he is every bit the ideal size for an NFL defensive end and is on an upward trajectory at Iowa. If he can replicate this past season in 2019, NFL teams will be seriously looking at Epenesa as a first-round pick. It's unknown whether he will leave after his third season, but he should have the option to leave or stay given what he has accomplished so far and his potential. -- VanHaaren

No. 23 Auburn: DT Derrick Brown

This year's defensive line class is absolutely loaded, so it makes sense that Brown would opt against entering the draft to return for his senior season. With no Quinnen Williams or Jeffery Simmons to contend with, he could go from the fifth-best defensive tackle in the draft --- where ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. rated him --- to perhaps the No. 1 or 2. At 6-5 and 325 pounds, he's the rare interior lineman who can plug gaps in the running game and rush the quarterback. -- Scarborough

No. 24 Nebraska: QB Adrian Martinez

As long as the new generation of young quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray continues to pan out, general managers will be salivating over Martinez in a couple of years. He has the athleticism and versatility to run the type of offense that is starting to take hold at the pro level and enough size (6-2, 220 pounds) to avoid the questions that in past seasons have floated around guys with his skill set. -- Murphy

No. 25 Army: LB Cole Christiansen

Christiansen has been a tackling machine for the Black Knights with 161 tackles and 17 tackles for loss over the past two years. As the key returning part of the Army linebacking corps, Christiansen could notch even more tackles as a senior. And that sure tackling could propel the Army team captain onto an NFL roster, even if it's on special teams. -- Trotter