The NFL draft is so close I can nearly taste it — though I’m not sure I really want to know what an NFL draft tastes like.
It’s still unclear how the No. 1 pick will shake out, let alone the first, second or third rounds, but this is the way I rank the Top 100 prospects in the draft. There may not be a consensus No. 1 pick in the class like there was in 2012 with Andrew Luck, but this draft is deep into the second and third rounds.
When the third round is over around 11 p.m. on Friday night, many will wonder how Player A is still available. This isn’t how I think the Top 100 will shake out — that’s what mock drafts are for — just how it should. Check out my final Top 100 prospects below.
1. Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M – He should be a lock to start on the left side of the line for years to come. The former Aggie is probably the safest pick in the draft.
2. Dion Jordan OLB Oregon – Jordan reminds some of Jason Taylor, others of a longer Julian Peterson. He has the upside to be a premier pass rusher and the versatility to drop and cover tight ends.
3. Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan – Fisher is just a step below Joeckel and is probably more athletic than the Texas A&M product. The former Central Michigan tackle has more upside than Joeckel, but also has more technique issues to work through.
4. Barkevious Mingo DE LSU – Mingo is another one of the safer picks in the draft. He’s deceptively strong for his build and fires off the line of scrimmage. A lack of production might be the only thing keeping him from being a top one or two pick.
5. Star Lotulelei DT Utah – A heart issue dropped Lotulelei on some teams’ draft boards, but he’s been cleared medically since. There are rumors the former Ute doesn’t love the game, but when he’s on, he’s dominatnt.
6. Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma – Johnson is an absolute athletic freak. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. He’s only played offensive tackle for two years, but has the upside and athleticism to be the best prospect at the position in this draft.
7. Tavon Austin WR West Virginia – Austin is extremely dangerous with his speed and agility. He can fit on any team and in any system.
8. Dee Milliner CB Alabama – Some medical issues have received red flags recently, but that could be teams throwing out smoke screens. Milliner is the most complete corner in the draft.
9. Sharrif Floyd DT Florida – Floyd’s biggest strengths are his athleticism and his ability to consistently get into the backfield. He’s only 20 years old.
10. Jonathan Cooper OG UNC – Cooper is absolutely magnificent in open space. You might not find a better pulling guard in the next 20 years.
11. Geno Smith QB West Virginia – Smith is the best quarterback in a weak class, but he would still be a first-rounder in any draft. He was helped out a lot by Austin and Stedman Bailey at West Virginia.
12. Bjoern Werner DE Florida State – He doesn’t have elite athleticism, and the German product may never be a top five pass rusher in the league, but he’s smart, picked up the game fast and will be a double-digit sack artist who can be consistently stout against the run.
13. Tank Carradine DE Florida State – Werner’s teammate is coming off a torn ACL, but he’s shown incredible recovery, running a 4.7-second 40-yard dash in April after injuring himself in November. Without the injury, Carradine could have been the top overall pick — he’s that good.
14. Chance Warmack OG Alabama – Warmack’s the kind of player that teams will be able to plug in at guard for the next 10 years and never have to worry. His lack of athleticism and upside rank him lower than Cooper, but both players have the ability to be elite players in the league.
15. Jamar Taylor CB Boise State – Taylor didn’t start getting a lot of press until recently, but he’s been on our radar for quite a while. In a league that is valuing press-man corners more and more, Taylor should go high. He’s under 6-foot, but he’s physical with wide receivers and has the speed and agility to stay with any player.
16. Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU – Ansah started playing football just three years ago after coming to the US from Ghana. Those who call him a one-year wonder mean it in the most literal sense of the phrase. He’s an athletic freak, but also may have the highest bust potential in the entire class.
17. DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson – The Clemson product is probably the safest wide receiver in the draft (despite reports of his combine hotel room getting trashed during his stay in Indianapolis). Hopkins has great hands, agility and route-running skills.
18. Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri – Richardson moves like a linebacker in a defensive tackle’s body. He’s a prototypical three-technique defensive end, but never showed much interest in stopping the run at Missouri.
19. Jarvis Jones OLB Georgia – A degenerative spine issue may make some teams wary, but Jones was incredibly productive at Georgia. His skills in the open field are underrated.
20. Xavier Rhodes CB Florida State – Rhodes will appeal to those looking for the next Richard Sherman, but Sherman he is not. That doesn’t mean the former Seminole won’t make a great player, though. He uses the sideline well and has optimal athleticism for the position.
21. Datone Jones DE UCLA – Jones may still project better at defensive tackle, but he’ll likely be used as a strong-side defensive end early in his career. Jones has a non-stop motor and showed a great aptitude at getting pressure inside.
22. Da’Rick Rogers WR Tennessee Tech – Without drug issues that got him kicked out of Tennessee, Rogers would likely be the highest ranked wide receiver in the draft. He has the hands, speed, agility and route-running skills needed. There are also rumors of coachability issues.
23. Alec Ogletree LB Georgia – Ogletree is a major character issue, but he’s everything teams will be looking for in a coverage linebacker.
24. Keenan Allen WR Cal – Injury issues, lack of speed and a down senior season will likely keep him from being drafted in the first round, but they shouldn’t. With a real quarterback, Allen will be dangerous.
25. Kenny Vaccaro SAF Texas – He’s the best safety in the class, but he’s also being slightly overrated because of that. Vaccaro doesn’t have the elite athleticism you would usually look for in a first-round safety, but he’s still solid against the run and pass.
26. Ryan Nassib QB Syracuse – Nassib seems to be moving up draft boards of some of the smartest draft analysts out there. He could be the first quarterback drafted on Thursday.
27. Desmond Trufant CB Washington – Trufant was never a lockdown cornerback for the Huskies, but he has the size, athleticism and pedigree to go first round. He can succeed in zone or man coverages.
28. Sylvester Williams DT UNC – Williams is slightly older, but he’s a dream from a character perspective. The former Tar Heel is one of the safer prospects out there.
29. Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame – Eifert is the top tight end in the draft and is reportedly “moving up draft boards.” He has a great combination of size and speed, which may remind some of Rob Gronkowski.
30. Jonathan Cyprien SAF Florida International – Cyprien didn’t face the competition that Vaccaro did, but he’s a flying missile out on the field, and he is surprisingly adept in pass coverages.
31. Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee – Patterson may be the biggest question mark in this draft not named Ziggy Ansah. He struggles in route running, body catches the ball and only had one year at the FBS level. But his after-the-catch ability is off the charts.
32. Blidi Wreh-Wilson CB UConn – The former Husky looks like a man corner, but plays better in zone. His character is reportedly very high, and he has great upside at the position. His name is pronounced blee-dee ray-wilson.
33. Markus Wheaton WR Oregon State – Wheaton is frequently compared to Mike Wallace, but he has less speed and more refined route-running skills.
34. D.J. Fluker OT Alabama – Fluker will go in the top half of the first round, but his lack of coordination is concerning.
35. Arthur Brown LB Kansas State – Brown is a very stable linebacker prospect, who has the athleticism and instincts to shine in the NFL.
36. Johnthan Banks CB Mississippi State – A lack of speed is concerning for Banks and may eventually force a move to safety.
37. Robert Woods WR USC – Woods came from a complex offense at USC that should help him transition to the NFL easily.
38. EJ Manuel QB Florida State – The former Seminole is perfect for teams looking to use some read-option looks.
39. Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame – Te’o can be a great two-down linebacker in the league, but lacks athleticism to cover.
40. D.J. Hayden CB Utah – Hayden nearly died on the practice field, but he’s flown up draft boards this offseason.
41. Eric Reid SAF LSU – He’s not as complete of a safety as Vaccaro or Cyprien due to frequent risks taken.
42. Eddie Lacy RB Alabama – The Alabama product is the best back in this class, but he did his work behind the best offensive line college football will see in years.
43. Matt Barkley QB USC – Barkley lacks elite arm strength, but his character has impressed in the pre-draft process.
44. Terron Armstead OT Arkansas Pine-Bluff – He’s an athletic freak, but shows issues in technique. Some have suggested a move to tight end.
45. Matt Elam SAF Florida – Elam will be a liability in deep coverage, but he can cover out of the slot and he’s a great run stopper.
46. Sio Moore LB UConn – Moore has great athleticism and a bright future as a weak-side linebacker in the league.
47. Margus Hunt DE SMU – Hunt is a terrifying prospect, but at the very least he has the ability to shine in special teams blocking kicks.
48. Jesse Williams DT Alabama – The Aussie has great athleticism for his size, but struggled to consistently get into the backfield.
49. Darius Slay CB Mississippi State – Some have him ranked higher than his taller teammate, Banks.
50. Kawann Short DT Purdue – Short showed the ability to play three-tech defensive tackle as a penetrating defensive tackle his senior year at Purdue.
51. Cornelius Washington DE Georgia – There was a striking difference between his 2011 tape when he was allowed to rush the passer outside and his 2012 tape when he was forced into a five-technique defensive end role. His future is as a seven-tech or nine-tech defensive end.
52. Giovani Bernard RB UNC – Bernard has big play ability, but he’s also durable enough to be an every-down back.
53. D.J. Swearinger SAF South Carolina – Swearinger is a terrifying hitter, who also has the coverage skills to play deep middle.
54. Brennan Williams OT UNC – The son of long-time NFL defensive tackle Brent Williams, Brennan has some of the best blocking technique in the draft.
55. Zach Ertz TE Stanford – Ertz has been described as some as an oversized wide receiver, which is fair. He’ll play more of a joker role than traditional inline tight end.
56. Justin Hunter WR Tennessee – Hunter has great size and speed, but doesn’t flash as much on tape as wideouts ranked higher.
57. Tyrann Mathieu CB LSU – Countless failed drug tests (seriously, he lost count) hurt his stock big time, but you won’t find a better slot cornerback in this draft.
58. Stedman Bailey WR West Virginia – Bailey was extremely productive as a Mountaineer and should pan out as a great slot wide receiver.
59. Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA – Franklin could wind up being the top running back drafted.
60. Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas – He’s undersized, and he withstood a brutal 2012 season, but he’s the toughest quarterback in the draft.
61. Menelik Watson OT Florida State – Watson is still extremely raw at the position, and sometimes doesn’t look like he knows what he’s doing, but his athleticism and upside will appeal to NFL coaches.
62. Dwayne Gratz CB UConn – Teams will love Gratz’s 6.70-second 3-cone time and his 4.44-second 40-yard dash.
63. John Jenkins DT Georgia – Jenkins is massive, but he’ll likely only be a one- or two-down player in the NFL.
64. Jon Bostic LB Florida – Bostic is a dream from a character perspective and could wind up being an every-down linebacker due to his athleticism and coverage ability.
65. Andre Ellington RB Clemson – Ellington is surprisingly tough given his size. He plays much bigger than he actually is.
66. Travis Kelce TE Cincinnati – Kelce was suspended for an entire season for an unknown reason. Without that and injuries, Kelce could be the top tight end taken.
67. Quinton Patton WR Louisiana Tech – Patton doesn’t excel in any one aspect, but should be a safe pick as a No. 2 or slot receiver.
68. JJ Wilcox SAF Georgia Southern – The former running back is an athletic freak. He made the transition to safety look seamless.
69. Kyle Long OT Oregon – The song of Howie and brother of Chris took the long route to the NFL, but his athleticism, length and athletic ability has him projected in the first or second round.
70. Zac Dysert QB Miami (OH) - The former RedHawk doesn’t just draw comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger due to the school they attended. He has Big Ben’s escapability and toughness.
71. Robert Alford CB Southeast Louisiana – Alford has great speed at the position, but lacks great football knowledge.
72. Travis Frederick OC Wisconsin – Frederick is one of the slowest prospects to come out in a while, but he’s tough to move from the center position.
73. Jordan Poyer CB Oregon State – Poyer will annoy the crap out of opposing wide receivers, but he doesn’t excel in any one aspect of the game.
74. Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M – Moore had a disastrous offseason due to an atrotious 40-yard dash, but teams will love the production he showed at Texas A&M.
75. Johnathan Hankins DT Ohio State – Like Jenkins, his lack of versatility will hurt him, but he’ll make a great nose tackle.
76. Kevin Minter LB LSU – He may only be a two-down prospect due to lack of top-tier athletic ability, but he’s a great downhill hole filler.
77. Montee Ball RB Wisconsin – Ball’s a highly productive back with underrated athleticism and agility.
78. Phillip Thomas SAF Fresno State – Thomas will likely be one of the first safeties off the board in the second round.
79. Jordan Reed TE Florida – Reed is a poor man’s Aaron Hernandez. He hasn’t been getting a lot of pub, but the comparisons to the Patriots tight end will help.
80. Brian Schwenke OC Cal – Schwenke had a huge senior season that moved him from a likely undrafted player to second- or third-round consideration.
81. Leon McFadden CB San Diego State – McFadden showed very well in combine drills due to his balance in his backpedal and fluid hips.
82. Sam Montgomery DE LSU – Montgomery flashed some off the field issues that have become common with LSU products.
83. Brandon Williams DT Missouri Southern – Williams is unheralded, but he’s massive, athletic and can get into the backfield.
84. Jamie Collins LB Southern Miss – Collins has the speed/strength combination to play weak-side linebacker, strong-side linebacker, 3-4 OLB or defensive end.
85. Larry Warford OG Kentucky – He won’t thrill anyone with his movement skills, but he’ll be impossible to move off the line.
86. David Bakhtiari OT Colorado – Bakhtiari will appeal to teams due to his versatility. He could likely play any position on the line.
87. Quanterus Smith DE Western Kentucky – A torn ACL hurts, but Smith is one of the best pass rushers in this class when healthy.
88. Mike Glennon QB NC State – Glennon’s statuesque and inaccurate, but he’s got a huge arm.
89. Denard Robinson WR Michigan – The former quarterback certainly doesn’t have the accuracy to play the position in the pros, but his athleticism will ease his transition to running back or wide receiver.
90. Brandon McGee CB Miami – McGee has the right athleticism and fluidity to flourish, but never played great at Miami until 2012.
91. Gavin Escobar TE San Diego State – Escobar’s a nice all-around tight end, but his timed drills were disappointing at the combine and in his pro day.
92. Christine Michael RB Texas A&M – A team will fall in love with Michael’s speed and agility. He ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, 6.69-second three-cone drill and 4.02-second 20-yard shuttle at 220 pounds.
93. Baccari Rambo SAF Georgia – Off-field issues could push him down, but he has excellent ball skills and his best football may be ahead of him.
94. Marquess Wilson WR Washington State – Quitting Washington State’s football team over supposed abuse from coaches won’t help Wilson’s stock, but he was highly thought of going into the 2012 season for good reason.
95. Devin Taylor DE South Carolina – Taylor has the right size and athleticism, but it didn’t always translate to the football field.
96. Logan Ryan CB Rutgers – Ryan can be a fine zone or nickel cornerback in the league, but will struggle if asked to play outside in man.
97. William Gholston DE Michigan State – Gholston is a huge 5-tech defensive tackle prospect who has the unfortunate distinction of being draft-bust Vernon Gholston’s cousin.
98. Justin Pugh OT Syracuse – May project better as a guard due to his height, but certainly has the ability to play tackle in the league.
99. Aaron Dobson WR Marshall – He has prototypical size for the position, but turned out a slightly disappointing 2012 season.
100. Vance McDonald TE Rice – McDonald shined at the combine, running a 4.60-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4, 267 pounds.
Photo via Facebook/Dion Jordan