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[INSIDER] McShay's top 32 prospects of last 5 drafts

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by FishBulb913, Apr 23, 2014.

  1. FishBulb913

    FishBulb913 Contributing Member

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    http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draf...-mcshay-top-32-prospects-five-years-nfl-draft



    Top 32 prospects of past five years

    How do this year's best stack up? We rank the highest grades since 2010

    The premise of this project is not to identify the best NFL players to be drafted in recent seasons, but instead to identify the 32 best prospects to come out in the past five years. In other words, if I had to rank all of the players I've evaluated in the past five draft classes with zero benefit of knowing what they went on to become in the NFL, what would that ranking look like?

    This includes the 2014 class, so part of this is about seeing how guys like Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, Khalil Mack and Sammy Watkins compare to the top prospects of previous years.

    I developed this ranking by ordering my final player grades for each of the past five years. This required a little after-the-fact subjectivity, as comparing guys with the same grades from different seasons can be tricky, but I put myself on the honor system and tried to do my best to remember how I felt about prospects at the time they were coming out.

    Here is my Top 32 of the past five draft classes, including each prospect's grade and notes from their scouting reports from when they were coming out.


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    1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (2012)
    Grade: 99


    Then: I gave Luck the highest grade of any player I've ever evaluated, as he was as close to a can't-miss prospect as you could get. "Rare grasp of the offense. ... Ideal mental and physical toughness. ... Short-to-intermediate anticipation and accuracy are outstanding. ... Other QB prospects are faster and more dangerous but few have better pocket presence."

    Now: Luck was selected No. 1 overall in 2012 and is entering his third season as the Colts' starting quarterback and coming off back-to-back postseason appearances. He's been a top-11 finisher in ESPN Total QBR each season, and looks well on his way to becoming a star quarterback at the NFL level.

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    2. Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M (2011)
    Grade: 98

    Then: Miller was my top-ranked player in the 2011 class. "An explosive speed rusher off the edge. ... Closing burst is exceptional and is relentless getting to QB. ... Possesses explosive power in the upper body [and] very good overall range [versus the run]."

    Now: Miller was the No. 2 overall pick by the Broncos in 2011, and he got off to an excellent start to his career, recording a combined 30 sacks, eight forced fumbles and one interception through his first two seasons. He was suspended six games to begin the 2013 season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy and was then lost to a season-ending torn ACL in December.

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    3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (2014)
    Grade: 98



    Now: Clowney is the clear-cut No. 1 prospect in this year's draft, and the most physically talented defensive lineman I've ever evaluated. I've never given a defensive end a higher grade. He has a rare combination of size, speed, power and athletic ability.

    Future: If he doesn't get drafted No. 1 overall by the Texans, it's hard to see him falling past the No. 2 pick (if the Rams draft him or another team trades up to get him). There have been work-ethic issues raised about Clowney, but I think those have been overblown. When he gets one-on-one opportunities to rush the passer in the NFL, watch out.

    4. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma (2010)

    Grade: 98

    Then: Bradford was my top-ranked player in 2010, as I rated him as above average or exceptional in every category except mobility and durability. "Flashes ability to throw accurately with pressure in his face and into tight windows. Ability to drop the ball in between defenders is outstanding. Shows excellent anticipation, timing and touch. ... Consistently gets the ball out quickly. ... Arm strength is adequate-to-good but not elite."

    Now: Bradford is entering something of a make-or-break season in 2013. The Rams haven't made the playoffs in the four seasons since drafting Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick, and he's missed 15 of their 64 games during that stretch due to injury, including a torn ACL last season. I did a tape study of Bradford last season and came away believing he's still capable of developing into St. Louis' franchise QB, but he'll have to start proving that in a hurry.


    5. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (2012)

    Grade: 98

    Then: RG III was a notch below Luck coming out, but he was still one of the best QB prospects I'd ever evaluated. Outside of durability ("one of the biggest areas of concern with Griffin as a top-tier prospect"), I graded him as above average or exceptional in every category. "Has a lot to learn about identifying coverage, [but] has a great work ethic and is capable of digesting a new system quickly. ... Shows the ability to make accurate throws from many different release points. ... Arm strength is just a notch below NFL elite. ... Rare speed and athleticism for the position. Will become one of the most dynamic dual-threat QBs in the NFL once he takes over as a starter."

    Now: Griffin got off to a great start to his NFL career after being drafted No. 2 overall by the Redskins, leading them to the playoffs in his rookie season. But he suffered a torn ACL to end that season, and the effects were felt into 2013 as he struggled during the Redskins' 3-13 campaign (40.1 QBR, after 73.2 his rookie season).

    6. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma (2010)

    Grade: 98

    Then: I gave McCoy the slight edge in my grades over Ndamukong Suh as the top defensive player in the 2010 draft class. "Displays exceptional quickness [and] outstanding balance, change-of-direction skills and closing burst for the DT position. ... Consistently penetrates and disrupts [versus the run]. ... Mentally and physically tough."

    Now: McCoy had a quiet, injury-riddled start to his career after being drafted No. 3 overall by the Buccaneers, but has shown improvement the past two seasons, earning consecutive Pro Bowl bids. Pro Football Focus graded him as the NFL's top D-tackle in 2013 for his 9.5-sack campaign.


    7. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska (2010)

    Grade: 98

    Then: Suh ranked just behind McCoy in 2010, with durability being the only area in which I didn't grade him as above average or exceptional. "Rare upper-body strength and above-average lower-body strength. Few prospects control the point of attack the way he does. ... Does not display elite first-step quickness but does show good overall agility. ... Displays excellent straight-line power as a bull-rusher."

    Now: Suh has played well in the four years since being drafted No. 2 overall by the Lions, and has missed only two games during that span (to suspension, not injury; he's earned his fair share of fines, as well). He was the defensive rookie of the year in 2010 and has established himself as one of the best D-tackles in the game.



    8. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia (2011)

    Grade: 97

    Then: The only wide receiver I've ever given a higher grade than Green is Calvin Johnson. Some guys just make it easy on you when you go to evaluate them, and Green was easy. "What he lacks in elite top-end speed he makes up for with fluidity and crafty route-running. ... He's a huge threat vertically because he does his separating in the air. ... His focus and body control are rare. Possesses strong and reliable hands."

    Now: In three years since being drafted No. 4 overall by the Bengals, Green has established himself as one of the best receivers in the NFL. His career yards-per-catch average is 14.6 and he's coming off of a 98-catch, 1,426-yard, 11-touchdown 2013 campaign.


    9. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU (2011)

    Grade: 97

    Then: Peterson is the highest-ranked defensive back on this list. "Possesses rare combination of height, bulk and top-end speed for the position. ... Confident in his abilities and plays with a swagger. At his best when lined up in press-man coverage. ... Shows above-average hands and can come down with tough interception. ... More effective than most CBs in run support."

    Now: Peterson is already one of the NFL's better cornerbacks. He has played in every game since being drafted fifth overall by the Cardinals, and has 12 career interceptions to go with four return touchdowns (all in his rookie season).



    10. Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama (2011)

    Grade: 97

    Then: Dareus was one of the top-ranked players coming out in the 2011 draft, with no real concerns to his game. "Thick, wide-body DT with very good natural strength and outstanding agility for his body type. ... Consistently disruptive as a pass-rusher. ... Very agile for his size. ... Motor is better than most DT prospects we evaluate on the college level. No questioning his toughness, either."

    Now: Dareus has gotten off to a good start to his NFL career. He has played in every game since being drafted No. 3 overall by the Bills, and he recorded a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2013, earning a Pro Bowl bid.



    11. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn (2014)

    Grade: 97

    Now: Robinson is the most dominant offensive lineman at the point of attack that I've ever evaluated, and I gave him one of the highest grades I've ever given an O-lineman. He has elite size, strength, length and power. He has some mechanical work to do as a pass protector, but he has very good change-of-direction skills for his size.

    Future: The Rams look like a possible fit for Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick, but if he does make it past St. Louis he won't last long.




    12. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee (2010)

    Grade: 97

    Then: I had Berry ranked just behind Bradford, McCoy and Suh in the 2010 draft class. "Very high football IQ. ... Explodes out of backpedal and can eat up cushions in a flash. ... Relentless in pursuit [in run support], shows above-average range and always seems to be around the ball at the end of the play. ... Dangerous open-field runner."

    Now: The jury is still out on Berry as to whether he'll ever develop into an elite NFL safety. He has eight interceptions in three seasons to go with three defensive touchdowns. In 2013, he graded out as Pro Football Focus' third-best safety.



    13. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU (2012)

    Grade: 97

    Then: Claiborne was my third-ranked player in the 2012 class behind Luck and RG III, and was the clear-cut best cornerback prospect in the class. "Outstanding foot quickness and fluid hips for a taller corner. ... Shows legitimate second gear and can gain ground when ball is in the air. ... Can continue to improve upper-body strength and needs to become more consistent with press technique. ... Few college cornerbacks show his awareness and ability to track the ball over his shoulder."

    Now: Claiborne has struggled in his two NFL seasons since the Cowboys traded up to draft him with the No. 6 overall pick. He'll need to show improvement this season for a Dallas defense that had a rough 2013 campaign.


    14. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (2012)

    Grade: 96

    Then: I thought he was one of the best players in his draft class, coming off an incredibly productive college career. "A tackling machine. ... Has some man-to-man coverage limitations, [but] his awareness in coverage is outstanding. ... Overall range versus the run is not elite but is better than average. ... Elite instincts. ... Surprisingly good closing burst to the ball carrier."

    Now: Since being drafted No. 9 overall by the Panthers, Kuechly has quickly become one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He won the defensive rookie of the year award in 2012, following that up with the AP defensive player of the year award this past season. He has recorded 320 tackles over two seasons.


    15. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama (2011)

    Grade: 96

    Then: I had Jones as being clearly a notch below Green, but he was still one of the top-ranked players on my board. "Big, strong and physical route-runner. ... Flashes strong hands and makes some spectacular catches. ... Will suffer from some focus drops. ... He might not play as fast as his 4.34-second 40 time, but he has enough field speed, size and leaping ability to threaten vertically."

    Now: Jones has been very productive since the Falcons traded up to take him No. 6 overall, and he is one of the best receivers in the league, although durability has been an issue; he missed 11 games in 2013 after suffering a season-ending foot injury.




    16. Matt Kalil, OT, USC (2012)

    Grade: 96

    Then: Kalil was one of the best offensive linemen I've evaluated in recent seasons. "Possesses a strong combination of size and athleticism as a blind-side protector. ... Instinctive and appears to have a thorough understanding of assignments. ... Possesses above-average quickness with first step and lateral movements and consistently gets into proper position."

    Now: We're still in wait-and-see mode with Kalil, who was picked No. 4 overall by the Vikings. He went to a Pro Bowl as a rookie but appeared to take a step back in 2013.





    17. Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State (2010)

    Grade: 96

    Then: Okung was our top-ranked offensive tackle in 2010, even though there were some limits to his athleticism. "He has very good foot quickness in his set and very long arms to ride the DE wide. ... Angles as a run blocker are inconsistent. ... He's big and shows very good strength at the point of attack. ... Impressed by his toughness."

    Now: Okung has struggled with injury issues since being drafted No. 6 overall by the Seahawks, and he hasn't been the most consistent performer when he's been healthy, either. He hasn't lived up to his draft position (or pre-draft grade) to this point.


    18. Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina (2011)

    Grade: 96

    Then: I gave Quinn a very high grade, largely on the basis of his pass-rushing ability, but he was an interesting evaluation in that he'd sat out the previous season as a result of being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. "Excellent athlete for size. Changes direction smoothly and moves well laterally. ... Has potential to become a very solid RDE versus the run if he improves leverage and diagnostic skills. First-step quickness [as a pass-rusher] is good but not elite."

    Now: Quinn, who was drafted No. 14 overall by the Rams, has developed into one of the best pass-rushers -- and defensive players overall -- in the NFL. He recorded 19 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 2013, earning PFWA defensive player of the year honors.



    19. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo (2014)

    Grade: 96

    Now: I have Mack graded slightly below Jadeveon Clowney as the best defensive player in this draft, but he is still an excellent prospect. He brings versatility as a guy who can hold up against the run and in pass coverage, and he has the tools to excel as a pass-rusher in the NFL.

    Future: In my most recent mock draft, I had Mack going to the Jaguars with the No. 3 pick. He'd be a great fit in their defensive scheme playing the "Leo" hybrid DE/OLB position. If Jacksonville doesn't take him, however, or if he doesn't go in the first two picks, he should still be off the board in the first five or six picks.


    20. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (2013)

    Grade: 96

    Then: Joeckel was our highest-ranked prospect in the 2013 draft class, slightly ahead of eventual No. 1 pick Eric Fisher. "Plays with good balance and consistently stays under control [in pass protection] despite aggressive style. ... Fires off the line with excellent first-step quickness. Takes very good angles and has great range as a run blocker. ... Needs to improve overall strength, but he is tough."

    Now: Joeckel saw limited action as a rookie after being drafted with the No. 2 overall pick as he suffered a season-ending injury in October.



    21. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (2014)

    Grade: 96

    Now: Watkins is one of four elite prospects in the 2014 class, and I have him ranked just below Robinson and Mack (all three are a step below Clowney). He'll have an adjustment to make going from Clemson's spread scheme to an NFL offense, but he has everything you want in a wide receiver from an athleticism and skill-set standpoint. He has an elite second gear.

    Future: I don't see a likely scenario in which Watkins slips out of the top five. He is a possibility for the Rams at No. 2, Jaguars at No. 3, Browns at No. 4 and Raiders at No. 5.



    22. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (2012)

    Grade: 96

    Then: Richardson earned the highest grade among running back prospects that I've given out in the past five years. "A big, powerful runner. ... Impressive natural instincts. ... Not overly elusive in space and change-of-direction skills are adequate-to-good but not elite. However, he's light on his feet and shows outstanding stop-and-start ability for a bigger back. ... Productive as a pass-catcher."

    Now: Richardson stands out as one of the bigger misses on this list, at least to this point in his career. Last year's midseason trade to the Colts (the Browns drafted him No. 3 overall in 2012) didn't do anything to increase his productivity. He'll need to make some strides in 2013. He has a career yards-per-carry average of just 3.3.




    23. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan (2013)

    Grade: 96

    Then: I had Fisher graded just behind Joeckel in my 2013 rankings. "Very good range protecting the edge. ... Comes off the ball with good pad level and leverage. ... Displays very good football intelligence. He shows more awareness in pass protection than as a run blocker at this point."

    Now: The Chiefs had a turnaround season in 2013 after drafting Fisher at No. 1 overall, but Fisher himself struggled during his rookie campaign. He was one of the worst-performing offensive tackles in the league according to Pro Football Focus' grades. He'll need to show improvement in his second season.



    24. Tyron Smith, OT, USC (2011)

    Grade: 95

    Then: I really liked Smith when he was coming out, so much so that I was surprised to see I hadn't graded him higher. He was an elite athlete coming out of USC, with the only concerns being whether he could maintain enough weight and develop his awareness and instincts. "Possesses natural LT feet. ... Uses long arms and hands well. ... Above-average first-step quickness. ... Still raw with natural instincts."

    Now: Since being drafted with the No. 9 overall pick by the Cowboys, Smith has developed into one of the NFL's top tackles.




    25. Joe Haden, CB, Florida (2010)




    Grade: 95

    Then: I would have had Haden ranked higher had he not run a poor 4.57-second 40-yard dash time, but he still graded out as one of the best players in his class. "Quick feet and shows excellent burst coming out of cuts. ... Can snatch the ball out of the air and a dangerous open-field runner. ... Competitor who consistently matches up with the opponent's top receiver and doesn't appear to dwell on mistakes. ... Solid in run support for elite cover corner, but can certainly improve."

    Now: Haden has had a good four years for the Browns after being drafted No. 7 overall, including intercepting 13 passes during his career and earning an All-Pro selection in 2013.


    26. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah (2013)




    Grade: 95

    Then: I was a big fan of Lotulelei's and likely would have had him graded even higher had there not been the pre-draft concern over his heart condition (which was later resolved). "Versatile run defender in terms of defensive scheme fit and ability to defend power versus zone. Tough to move off the ball with one man and strong enough to stonewall double-teams when teams try to run at him. ... Above-average first step for a defensive tackle and flashes the ability to knife in the backfield but doesn't have elite initial quickness. ... Can get under skin of offensive linemen and doesn't back down."

    Now: Lotulelei had a very good rookie season for the Panthers in 2013, helping to fuel the team's playoff run.



    27. Earl Thomas, S, Texas (2010)




    Grade: 95

    Then: Thomas was one of our top-ranked prospects in the 2010 class, even though he lacked ideal height and bulk for the safety position. "Outstanding instincts. ... Generally effective reading QBs' eyes and gets a lot of early jumps on throws. ... Shows good initial pop for his size. ... Excellent fluidity for the safety position [and] exceptional closing burst. ... Displays very good ball skills."

    Now: Thomas, who was drafted by Seattle with the 14th overall pick, is one of the NFL's best defensive backs, and was a key contributor to the Seahawks' Super Bowl title last season.




    28. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State (2010)




    Grade: 95

    Then: I had a high grade on Bryant, but concerns about potential off-the-field baggage with him kept me from putting him quite as high as his talent might have warranted. "Can still improve as a route-runner. Breaks aren't always crisp. Still, blessed with rare combination of size, speed and athleticism. ... Focus can wane at times and will drop some 'catchable' passes, as a result. But when dialed in, few WRs in the NFL catch the ball as smoothly. ... Displays good initial burst and top-end speed for his size. Not as fast as Calvin Johnson but should have vertical presence similar to Andre Johnson in the NFL. ... Unusually gifted as an open-field runner for a bigger wide receiver. ... Competes like crazy when ball is in the air and when the ball is in his hands. Could work harder in practice and takes some plays off in games."

    Now: Bryant has performed well for Dallas since falling to the Cowboys with the No. 24 overall selection. Through four seasons he has 40 touchdown catches and has averaged 14 yards per reception, although some of his immaturity issues have been on display at times.



    29. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (2013)




    Grade: 95

    Then: Milliner was one of my top-rated prospects in the 2013. "Rarely caught out of position. ... Has the range and closing speed to excel in a zone-heavy scheme. Fluid and long enough to develop into an effective press corner with increased upper-body strength. ... Long arms mean he doesn't have to be in perfect position to get a hand on the ball. ... Plays with an edge and doesn't shy away from contact."

    Now: Milliner struggled as a rookie in 2013 after dropping to the Jets with the No. 9 pick, but he still has time to turn things around in his second season.


    30. Cameron Jordan, DE, California (2011)

    Grade: 95

    Then: I really liked Jordan as he was coming out, particularly for his athleticism. "Prototypical size and very good top-end speed for a 5-technique. Also has massive hands (11 1/8 inches) and extremely long arms (35 inches). ... Versatility [and nonstop motor are among] greatest strengths. ... Shows good overall strength at the point of attack. ... He has very good agility for his size and has upside [as a pass-rusher]."

    Now: Jordan, who slid to the 24th overall pick (Saints) in 2011, had a really strong 2013 season, earning a Pro Bowl invite and recording 12.5 sacks.




    31. Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri (2011)




    Grade: 95

    Then: Smith was one of my top-ranked defensive prospects in the class, despite some concerns over his lean frame for the position. "Struggles to anchor at the point of attack versus bigger offensive tackles. ... First-step quickness is good but not elite. ... He shows quick feet and excellent change-of-direction skills on double-moves and delayed twists. ... Works hard as a pass-rusher all of the time. Motor is a bit inconsistent versus the run."

    Now: Smith has been very effective with his on-field play since he was drafted No. 7 overall by the 49ers, recording 42 sacks in three seasons. But his off-field issues have made his long-term future with San Francisco uncertain.

    32. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse (2012)

    Grade: 95

    Then: Jones just barely sneaks into this Top 32, having earned a 95 grade in 2012 based in large part upon his upside. "Possesses above-average snap anticipation and first-step quickness. ... Best fit will be as a LDE for a 4-3 scheme. ... Overall instincts are adequate but have room for improvement. ... Bottom line: He has the size, athleticism and tools to develop into one of the premier pass-rushers in this year's class when it all is said and done."

    Now: Jones has recorded 17.5 sacks in his two seasons since being drafted 21st overall by the Patriots. It's still early to know whether he'll fully realize his immense potential, but he's gotten off to a solid start.





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    Honorable mentions


    These players all earned grades of 95 in my rankings, but were rated slightly below the 95s who cracked our Top 32 here. They are listed alphabetically below.

    Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska (2011); Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU (2013); Mark Barron, S, Alabama (2012); Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (2012); Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi State (2012); Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida (2013); Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma (2013); Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon (2013) Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (2014); Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech (2010); C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson (2010); Chance Warmack, G, Alabama (2013); Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma (2010)
     
  2. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    No JJ Watt = ranking system fail.
     
  3. treyk3

    treyk3 Contributing Member

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    You don't always catch the sleepers but something that sticks out is that nearly everyone on the list has had a significant amount of early career success. Clowney being so high speaks loudly.
     
  4. FishBulb913

    FishBulb913 Contributing Member

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    I'm pretty sure he had Blaine Gabbert as a 96, so leaving him off this list seems a little shady on McShay's part.
     
  5. Cannonball

    Cannonball Contributing Member

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    He did. In the same draft, he had Da'Quan Bowers as a 96 as well.

    [​IMG]

    He had Cam Newton as a 94.

    Watt was a 95 so I'm not sure why he isn't listed.

    I'd say it's very shady to omit all the guys you whiffed on.
     
  6. endoftheworld

    endoftheworld Member

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    McShay had Blaine Gabbert at 96, Big Fail
     
  7. Remii

    Remii Member

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    Forget the 96... He said he was better than Cam... Lol.
     
  8. Remii

    Remii Member

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    Most of those guys on McShay's list that had success were consensus highly ranked players. It's not like he was the only one who thought Suh was good.
     
  9. treyk3

    treyk3 Contributing Member

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    Reading that some of his high rated players were omitted such as Gabbert negates anything positive I said about that list. I tend to not put a lot of weight in the media's opinion and stick to who the Texans draft and evaluate them as they play in the NFL. This helps display why it is hard to put any weight into ESPN's opinion, they fail to list their failures in a top 32 list.
     

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