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The 2014 college football freshman fantasy draft: Which team wins?

Which of these 11 squads would win if all were placed in the same conference? (Also, for non-recruiting fans: get to know some of these names, as these are 2014's top rookies.)

Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett (No. 15) was our No. 1 overall pick. Smart choice?
Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett (No. 15) was our No. 1 overall pick. Smart choice?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the 2014 recruiting class is wrapped up, 11 of SB Nation's recruiting writers got together to draft teams based on this year's freshmen. Afterward, we compiled the average 247 Sports Composite rating of the players on each team, just for a glance at how each stacks up.

The rules of the draft:

  • Each team must fill out a 22-man roster of one quarterback, five skill players, five offensive linemen, at least six front-seven defenders, and at least four secondary defenders.
  • Team owners had to draft players for the positions they're projected to play in college. We frowned upon allowing a two-way player to play cornerback even though he was recruited as a wide receiver. And definitely no "Randy Moss plays defensive end in pass-rush situations in 'Madden 2001'"-type stuff.
  • No junior college or prep school players.

At the end of the draft, SB Nation college football editor Jason Kirk came away with the highest-rated team on paper, but which would be the best on the field? The SEC led the way with 99 players on the list, more than twice as many as the second-place Big Ten (see chart at the bottom for the number of picks for each school and conference).

Bud Elliott, SB Nation

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
3 DB Jabril Peppers 0.9992 Michigan
20 LB Rashaan Evans 0.9918 Alabama
25 DB Marlon Humphrey 0.9941 Alabama
42 RB Royce Freeman 0.9817 Oregon
47 LB Dante Booker 0.9721 Ohio State
64 OT Trevor Darling 0.9541 Miami
69 QB Jerrod Heard 0.9653 Texas
86 WR Trey Quinn 0.9627 LSU
91 DT Derrick Nnadi 0.9514 Florida State
108 OT Jaden Gault 0.9423 Wisconsin
113 WR Justin Brent 0.9537 Notre Dame
130 DT Jay Hayes 0.9060 Notre Dame
135 C Frank Ragnow 0.8913 Arkansas
152 DE Rick Leonard 0.8878 Florida State
157 TE Jacory Washington 0.9225 LSU
174 DE Joe Henderson 0.8816 Tennessee
179 LB Korie Rogers 0.9339 Clemson
196 OG Jimmy Byrne 0.8927 Notre Dame
201 DB Germaine Pratt 0.8809 NC State
218 WR Corey Holmes 0.9233 Notre Dame
223 DB Drue Tranquill 0.8961 Notre Dame
240 OG Billy Ray Mitchell 0.8482 Virginia Tech
Offense average 0.9359
Defense average 0.9307
Team average 0.9333

My draft strategy was first to get value in the early rounds, and then to form my Xs-and-Os strategy around whatever I picked. Corner Jabril Peppers (No. 3 overall) was too much to pass up, even though it meant letting Leonard Fournette go. There are so many good running backs, that I was willing to let that happen.

I then added linebacker Rashaan Evans, who has ridiculous versatility. And corner Marlon Humphrey was still there for the taking at 25, so I grabbed him and had a pair of lock-down cornerbacks.

Having missed on the super-elite defensive linemen, I looked around and saw two remaining big values: running back Royce Freeman at 42 and linebacker Dante Booker at 47. Regarded both as top-35 type players, so while I didn't expect to take a running back and a second linebacker in my first five choices, that's what I did.

With four defenders and just one offensive player, I made sure to address offense with the next three picks, grabbing tackle Trevor Darling and receiver Trey Quinn. Texas QB commit Jerrod Heard, who is far and away the best runner at the QB position for the class of 2014, is someone with whom I can run a Gus Malzahn-style offense.

I am excited and surprised about the defensive linemen I was able to pick up in the later rounds, and think my defense has a lot of versatility, while my offense is less talented, but the pieces fit well together.

Cam Underwood, State of the U

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
9 WR Speedy Noil 0.9951 Texas A&M
14 DT Andrew Brown 0.9941 Virginia
31 RB Sony Michel 0.9902 Georgia
36 DT Travonte Valentine 0.9672 LSU
53 QB Deshaun Watson 0.9791 Clemson
58 DB J.C. Jackson 0.9382 Florida
75 OT David Sharpe 0.9434 Florida
80 S Trey Marshall 0.9265 Florida State
97 DE Kentavius Street 0.9506 NC State
102 OT Mason Cole 0.9408 Michigan
119 OLB Dillon Bates 0.9536 Tennessee
124 WR Cameron Sims 0.9610 Alabama
141 TE Mavin Saunders 0.9017 Florida State
146 DE Davon Godchaux 0.9328 LSU
163 WR Isaiah McKenzie 0.8917 Georgia
168 S Kiy Hester 0.9054 Miami
185 CB Chris Lammons 0.9165 South Carolina
190 OG Tanner Farmer 0.9021 Nebraska
207 C Terrell Cuney 0.8632 Texas
212 LB Darrion Owens 0.8832 Miami
229 LB Melvin Keihn 0.8770 Virginia Tech
234 OG Nathaniel Devers 0.8665 Marshall
Offense average 0.9330
Defense average 0.9313
Team average 0.9309

First off let me say that I love my team. I really like how things came together and think that we have all the right talent to win this hypothetical season.

WR Speedy Noil was my first pick, followed by DT Andrew Brown. Those two, both elite talents, gave me my overall drafting philosophy: speed on offense (and lots of it) and size up front on defense. Grabbing Sony Michel at No. 31 was an absolute steal, and after missing out on DE Chad Thomas to pair with Brown on the edge, I instead beefed up the inside with DT Travonte Valentine.

To run my hyper-speed spread, I brought in Deshaun Watson, the No. 1 dual-threat QB. I turned to another elite athlete next, picking CB J.C. Jackson to help contain opposing passing games.

OT David Sharpe, S Trey Marshall, DE Kentavius Street, and OT Mason Cole continued my strategy of balancing offense and defense.

WR Cameron Sims and WR/RB/weapon Isaiah McKenzie filled out the skill positions, while DE Davon Godchaux was the final piece up front. For my Canes followers, I got S Kiy Hester and OLB Darrion Owens to be dynamic players on defense and increase my team’s swag by about a million.

Derrell Warren, @yssd

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
8 WR Josh Malone 0.9818 Tennessee
15 ILB Raekwon McMillan 0.9894 Ohio State
30 ATH Allen Lazard 0.9616 Iowa State
37 DT DeMarcus Christmas 0.9363 Florida State
52 LB Christian Miller 0.9796 Alabama
59 TE Mike Gesicki 0.9130 Penn State
74 DE Andrew Williams 0.9076 Auburn
81 ATH Terry McLaurin 0.9051 Ohio State
96 TE Bryce Dixon 0.9492 USC
103 OT Andy Bauer 0.9290 Missouri
118 S Dylan Sumner-Gardner 0.9607 Boise State
125 WR Markell Pack 0.9380 Ole Miss
140 RB Derrell Scott 0.9408 Tennessee
147 RB Donte Thomas-Williams 0.9087 West Virginia
162 QB Jacob Park 0.9433 Georgia
169 OT Kyle Trout 0.9010 Ohio State
184 DB Kendarius Webster 0.8887 Ole Miss
191 S Koa Farmer 0.8807 Penn State
206 OG Marcelys Jones 0.8806 Ohio State
213 LB Dwight Williams 0.8848 UCLA
228 WR Dallis Todd 0.9127 Oklahoma
235 DB Mattrell McGraw 0.8834 Oregon
Offense average 0.9271
Defense average 0.9253
Team average 0.9262

Initially, I employed a best-player-available strategy. With my first choice, I took Josh Malone to give me a nice blend of size and speed on the perimeter. In running a base 4­-3, I needed an athletic eraser in the middle to anchor the run defense. Who better to fulfill that role than "The Chef" himself, Raekwon McMillan?

Offensively, I was able to grab a traditional thunder-and-lightning backfield combo towards the middle to later rounds. Donte Thomas ­Williams will be deployed as the starter, while speedster Derrell Scott will serve as a change of pace option.

Overall, the foundation of my offense will be the run game. We'll use play action passes to take deep shots down the field, courtesy of quarterback Jacob Park. We'll no doubt present some matchup problems with tall, speedy targets Malone, Allen Lazard, and Dallis Todd. Pass-catching tight ends Bryce Dixon and Mike Gesicki will allow my offense the flexibility to stress a defense vertically.

I tried to go for value towards the middle of my draft and pick up quality talents such as defensive end Andrew Williams. I was able to pick up multi­-dimensional talents like corner Kendarius Webster and safeties Mattrell McGraw and Koa Farmer late in the draft. Their coverage ability is complimented by weak­side backer Dwight Williams, who will give us the opportunity to stay in base personnel, even vs. spread offenses. Sam backer Christian Miller will help fortify the pass rush.

Jason Kirk, SB Nation

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
5 RB Leonard Fournette 0.9996 LSU
18 S Quin Blanding 0.9966 Virginia
27 ILB Clifton Garrett 0.9857 LSU
40 OT Kc McDermott 0.9764 Miami
49 OG Braden Smith 0.9678 Auburn
62 OT Quenton Nelson 0.9678 Notre Dame
71 DT Bijhon Jackson 0.9622 Arkansas
84 CB Nick Harvey 0.9698 Texas A&M
93 OG Viane Talamaivo 0.9608 USC
106 TE Dalton Schultz 0.9513 Stanford
115 ILB Zach Whitley 0.9549 UCLA
128 RB Joseph Yearby 0.9767 Miami
137 QB Justice Hansen 0.9321 Oklahoma
150 C JC Hassenauer 0.9263 Alabama
159 DE Dontavius Russell 0.9311 Auburn
172 S Parrker Westphal 0.9379 Northwestern
181 TE Daniel Helm 0.9182 Tennessee
194 DE Dexter Wideman 0.9271 South Carolina
203 CB Nick Watkins 0.9237 Notre Dame
216 OLB Dewayne Hendrix 0.9428 Tennessee
225 OLB Andrew Trumbetti 0.9347 Notre Dame
238 WR Trevion Thompson 0.9426 Clemson
Offense average 0.9627
Defense average 0.9451
Team average 0.9539

My plan: draft skill players last, due to the class' depth and the greater importance of quality in the trenches. Thus I ended up picking a running back first. I planned on a run-heavy offense anyway, so I couldn't pass up No. 1 overall talent Leonard Fournette, especially since top target Cameron Robinson was gone.

I intended to work on my lines, but No. 6 overall freshman Quin Blanding, a safety, was available. Since everybody else would likely be loading up on receivers, I'd need to build my secondary soon anyway.

Got back on course, assembling one of the draft's two best offensive lines, a second lethal running back, my targeted value quarterback (who's also a power run threat), and two of the country's top five tight ends. Our lone receiver is also a fit, as he's a big possession target. We're running a Stanfordized Auburn offense.

Defensively, I didn't settle on a 3-4 until the end, when I converted my second DE to OLB, though that means we're #multiple. With this much front-seven beef (1,820 high school pounds -- nearly NFL size before they even get on campus), we won't have an outstanding pass rush (and tight ends would eat us alive, if anybody but me drafted them), but nobody's running on us.

Luke Zimmermann, SB Nation

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
11 QB Sean White 0.9342 Auburn
12 RB Dalvin Cook 0.9937 Florida State
33 CB Jalen Tabor 0.9923 Florida
34 CB John Smith 0.9901 USC
55 RB Roc Thomas 0.9890 Auburn
56 DB Edward Paris 0.9786 LSU
77 DB Jamal Adams 0.9847 LSU
78 WR Budda Baker 0.9721 Washington
99 WR Michiah Quick 0.9703 Oklahoma
100 LB Ronnie Clark 0.9659 Alabama
121 WR Johnnie Dixon 0.9639 Ohio State
122 LB Bryson Allen-Williams 0.9503 South Carolina
143 DE/LB Dante Sawyer 0.9475 South Carolina
144 DE Justin Thornton 0.9422 Auburn
165 DE Jesse Aniebonam 0.9404 Maryland
166 OT Alex Bookser 0.9223 Pittsburgh
187 OT Jackson Barton 0.9043 Utah
188 OG Chris Brown 0.9079 USC
209 OG Will Clapp 0.9054 LSU
210 C Connor Mayes 0.8726 Minnesota
231 DT Anthony Moten 0.9266 Miami
232 DT Sam Mustipher 0.9123 Notre Dame
Offense average 0.9396
Defense average 0.9574
Team average 0.9485

Though I used subjective perspective of players I'd scouted in the past as a tiebreaker (and my personal affinity for Auburn commit Sean White's game to make him my "franchise" player), when in doubt, I just went straight down the 247Sports Composite rankings. The net result is what you see.

A few thoughts: Our secondary would be one of the best in the country within two years or so. Our offensive line would be a bit of a bullfighting act in Year One, with both tackles counting as project types.

Back on defense, the lack of a real inside linebacker and an abundance of edge rushers and hybrids would probably result in us needing to play some 4-2-5 type of base defense.

I like our chances to move the ball and keep the opposing offense off the field overall, though.

Miles Joseph, Land-Grant Holy Land

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
4 QB Kyle Allen 0.9950 Texas A&M
19 RB Bo Scarbrough 0.9916 Alabama
26 WR KD Cannon 0.9853 Baylor
41 DB Damon Webb 0.9820 Ohio State
48 RB/WR Curtis Samuel 0.9695 Ohio State
63 C Demetrius Knox 0.9518 Ohio State
70 ILB Kain Daub 0.9647 Florida State
85 OL Roderick Johnson 0.9415 Florida State
92 WR Drake Harris 0.9663 Michigan
107 DB Todd Kelly Jr. 0.9686 Tennessee
114 DT Matt Elam 0.9272 Kentucky
129 OLB Sam Hubbard 0.9230 Ohio State
136 CB Kalvaraz Bessent 0.9419 Auburn
151 OT Juwann Bushell-Beatty 0.9010 Maryland
158 ILB Gavin Bryant 0.8976 Tennessee
173 S Cortez McDowell 0.9235 Tennessee
180 DE Lawrence Marshall 0.9250 Michigan
195 C Brian Allen 0.8915 Michigan State
202 DE Garrett Dickerson 0.9122 Northwestern
217 WR Mark Andrews 0.9387 Oklahoma
224 LB/DE Denzel Ware 0.9051 Kentucky
239 OG Natrell Curtis 0.8863 Oklahoma
Offense average 0.9471
Defense average 0.9337
Team average 0.9404

Going into the draft my plan was to take an elite quarterback and take multiple play-makers on the offensive side of the football in the early rounds. The plan was to wait on defense, as I love the depth in the 2014 class.

On offense, we're going to pass early and often. For my first pick, Kyle Allen, the top player on my board, was still available. Next I wanted to get him some weapons. With my second round pick I took Bo Scarbrough, who will mainly play at running back, but can also play in the slot. Right after that, I took KD Cannon, one of the top overall receivers. To round out the receiving corps I took Curtis Samuel, Drake Harris, and Mark Andrews (Allen's former high school teammate).

The offensive line isn't elite, but I was able to get a couple of solid guys, headlined by Demetrius Knox and Roderick Johnson.

I'm going to be running a 3-4 defense, with big Matt Elam in the middle. I got two corners I really like in Damon Webb (my first defensive pick) and Kalvarez Bessent, to go along with two good safeties in Todd Kelly Jr. and Cortez McDowell. I was also able to get good value at the linebacker position, headlined by Kain Daub and the ultra-athletic Sam Hubbard.

I think opposing defenses will struggle to stop my offense, with elite play-makers and Allen running the show. While the defense isn't elite, I definitely think it's formidable and will be able to get stops.

Nam Le, California Golden Blogs

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
6 DB Adoree Jackson 0.9959 USC
17 DE Malik McDowell 0.9843 Michigan State
28 RB Joe Mixon 0.9898 Oklahoma
39 WR Ermon Lane 0.9889 Florida State
50 DT Josh Frazier 0.9609 Alabama
61 OT Casey Tucker 0.9617 Stanford
72 QB Will Grier 0.9758 Florida
83 DB Erick Smith 0.9665 Ohio State
94 OG Toa Lobendahn 0.9383 USC
105 LB Michael Ferns 0.9284 Michigan
116 OLB Lorenzo Featherston 0.9219 Texas
127 TE Tyler Luatua 0.8946 Notre Dame
138 DB Steven Parker 0.9466 Oklahoma
149 OT Donell Stanley 0.9317 South Carolina
160 WR De'Andre Thompkins 0.9098 Penn State
171 CB Stephen Roberts 0.9415 Auburn
182 LB Chris Register 0.8929 Clemson
193 DL Derek Barnett 0.9164 Tennessee
204 DB Evan Berry 0.8934 Tennessee
215 WR Erik Brown 0.9306 California
226 OG Larry Allen 0.8641 Harvard
237 OG George Panos 0.8849 Wisconsin
Offense average 0.9334
Defense average 0.9408
Team average 0.9372
I went for versatility in my base 11 personnel, which allows for a balanced attack. Team Le can slide into the power run game or stretch the field with multiple receivers equally well, thanks to Ermon Lane, Joe Mixon, and Tyler Luatua in particular. Each boasts gamebreaking potential, with the absolutely-lethal-in-space Mixon certain to be a matchup nightmare for opposing backers. Sling away, Will Grier. Sling away. Up front, the strength of this line is definitely on the left side, with tackle Casey Tucker and guard Toa Lobendahn, two of the finest the West had to offer.

Nick Polak, Black Shoe Diaries

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
7 DE/LB Da'Shawn Hand 0.9978 Alabama
16 DT Thomas Holley 0.9628 Florida
29 LB Tre Williams 0.9856 Auburn
38 RB Jalen Hurd 0.9793 Tennessee
51 WR Travis Rudolph 0.9781 Florida State
60 S Laurence Jones 0.9753 Alabama
73 OT Ross Pierschbacher 0.9646 Alabama
82 CB Malkom Parrish 0.9659 Georgia
95 LB Jacob Pugh 0.9657 Florida State
104 OT Alex Bars 0.9471 Notre Dame
117 OG Isaiah Wynn 0.9456 Georgia
126 DT DeShawn Washington 0.9333 Texas A&M
139 CB Tyler Whiley 0.9259 Arizona State
148 DE/LB Qualen Cunningham 0.9289 Texas A&M
161 WR Saeed Blacknall 0.9369 Penn State
170 S Dravon Henry 0.9353 West Virginia
183 OG Corey Martinez 0.9061 Florida State
192 C Joshua Casher 0.8956 Alabama
205 QB David Cornwell 0.9624 Alabama
214 WR Parris Campbell 0.9359 Ohio State
227 S Marcus Allen 0.8877 Penn State
236 TE Ian Bunting 0.8904 Michigan
Offense average 0.9402
Defense average 0.9513
Team average 0.9457

I went into this draft without the mindset of drafting for a certain scheme.

This led to some interesting scenarios with my roster. The strength of my team clearly lies in the defensive line and linebacking corps, but due to the somewhat unorthodox combination of talents, we will run a 3-3-5 on defense. The defensive line will consist of Holley and Washington, with Hand and Cunningham alternating between standing up and starting down. Standout linebackers Tre' Williams and Jacob Pugh will account for the rest of the linebackers, giving me a ridiculous amount of athleticism around the line of scrimmage.

The theme of versatility carries over the secondary as well, which is full of playmakers. It's not a perfectly constructed defense, but I didn't want to sacrifice talent for positional need early on.

The offensive line is solid, with Pierschbacher and Bars as the foundation. I had my sights set on two Penn State commits for my offense in Gesicki and Thompkins, but both were snatched away from me in the rounds I was set to take them. I instead chose to go with three big bodies for opposing defenses to deal with at the wide receiver slots in Rudolph, Blacknall, and Campbell. I chose David Cornwell to be under center, as his big-time throwing arm should fit well with the playmakers on the outside. I'm banking on Jalen Hurd putting on some weight to develop into a more powerful, between-the-blocks runner.

I reached for Thomas Holley in the second round, but he was a priority, and I didn't think he would last to my next pick. I also was able to hit on some Penn State targets/decommitments that the Nittany Lions missed out on in real life, such as Holley, Dravon Henry, and Alex Bars.

Paul Crewe, And The Valley Shook

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
1 DE Myles Garrett 0.9992 Texas A&M
22 WR Malachi Dupre 0.9915 LSU
23 DE Lorenzo Carter 0.9911 Georgia
44 QB Keller Chryst 0.9745 Stanford
45 OG Roderick Taylor 0.9758 Ole Miss
66 OT Brian Wallace 0.9574 Arkansas
67 RB Jeff Jones 0.9689 Minnesota
88 WR Artavis Scott 0.9661 Clemson
89 OT Bentley Spain 0.9433 North Carolina
110 S C.J. Hampton 0.9534 Ole Miss
111 RB Elijah Hood 0.9760 North Carolina
132 DT Nifae Lealao 0.9501 Vanderbilt
133 CB Nick Ruffin 0.9432 Auburn
154 S Montae Nicholson 0.9174 Michigan State
155 LB Bobby Okereke 0.9268 Stanford
176 LB Shaun Hamilton 0.9173 Alabama
177 CB Wesley Green 0.9279 South Carolina
198 DT Khairi Clark 0.9226 Florida
199 LB Brandon Lee 0.8962 Missouri
220 TE Nic Weishar 0.9037 Notre Dame
221 OL Reilly Gibbons 0.8877 Stanford
242 C Coleman Thomas 0.8584 Tennessee
Offense average 0.9458
Defense average 0.9405
Team average 0.9431

Much like the NFL, I put a premium on three things: protecting the pass, making the pass, and rushing the pass. From that grouping, I thought Myles Garrett was simply the best prospect. He's got elite physical tools. I think he can play with his hand in the dirt or as a standing, rush LB. I'm sure he'll be moving all over the formation in College Station.

From there, I really just went best-player-available, which started to make things convoluted. I don't love taking WR high, but Chi Dupre at 22 was hard to pass up, especially as an LSU guy. That pick works fine, but it's Lorenzo Carter that's a bit more confusing. His skill set is similar to Garrett's. So that gives me two rush end-types. My pass rush will be dynamite, but this might be a redundancy, considering I was gearing more toward a 3-4 or a 4-3 under.

After taking two rush ends in my first three picks, I went heavy offense with seven of my next eight. Thought I got great value on Roderick Taylor, who is one of my favorite OL in this class, even if he projects inside only. Keller Chryst is a good QB headed to a great QB coach. Brian Wallace gives me a super athletic OT. And Jeff Jones looked as good as any back during UA practices, so long as his academic issues are overcome.

Throw in Bentley Spain, Artavis Scott, and Elijah Hood, and I think I probably have the most dynamic offense of any team that participated. It'll be a pro-style, power rushing attack.

Defensively, I had to make up ground, though. I did so by targeting guys with high athletic upside like Nick Ruffin, Bobby Okereke, Brandon Lee and Khairi Clark. For going offense heavy, I was pretty pleased with my defensive haul. Don't love Wesley Green, but I wanted another CB with size. I slipped up taking Shaun Hamilton, who should be a fine player, when I should have grabbed Derik Calhoun, who I really love as a playmaking LB.

Pete Volk, Testudo Times

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
10 CB Tony Brown 0.9951 Alabama
13 OT Damian Prince 0.9858 Maryland
32 OG Damien Mama 0.9808 USC
35 DE Chad Thomas 0.9877 Miami
54 RB Nick Chubb 0.9835 Georgia
57 DE Derick Roberson 0.9675 Texas
76 DT Bryan Mone 0.9434 Michigan
79 LB Nyles Morgan 0.9727 Notre Dame
98 S Davion Hall 0.9753 Baylor
101 OG Garrett Brumfield 0.9517 LSU
120 ILB Kenny Young 0.9253 UCLA
123 OLB Kyle Berger 0.9285 Ohio State
142 WR Treon Harris 0.9417 Florida
145 OT Dyshon Sims 0.9084 Georgia
164 S Jaleel Wadood 0.9433 UCLA
167 CB Adarius Pickett 0.9373 UCLA
186 RB Christian McCaffrey 0.9556 Stanford
189 OLB Derik Calhoun 0.9271 Arizona State
208 WR Jalen Brown 0.9471 Oregon
211 QB Drew Barker 0.9425 Kentucky
230 WR Juwann Winfree 0.9010 Maryland
233 C Jared Cohen 0.8771 North Carolina
Offense average 0.9432
Defense average 0.9548
Team average 0.9490

I'm quite happy with my squad -- focused on the offensive line and the defense first, as there is an abundance of talented offensive skill players in the class. We're going to run a zone read-style offense, with Nick Chubb and Christian McCaffrey in the backfield and Treon Harris available for some gadget plays from the slot position. Barker can move, and his throwing ability on top of that will help stretch the field with Jalen Brown and Juwann Winfree.

The offensive line might be the strongest unit, landing Damian Prince and Damien Mama along with Jared Cohen, a guy I'm real high on.

On defense, we're running a 3-4 with Bryan Mone at the center of it all. Nyles Morgan and Kenny Young give a solid base up the middle as the two inside linebackers, while Derik Calhoun and Kyle Berger offer two different kinds of player at the outside positions. My first pick, Tony Brown, helps lock down the secondary, and grabbing Jaleel Wadood and Adarius Pickett out of UCLA late was also quite nice.

Wescott Eberts, SB Nation

Pick Position Player Composite rating Actual school
2 LT Cameron Robinson 0.9979 Alabama
21 DE Solomon Thomas 0.9881 Stanford
24 DT Gerald Willis 0.9824 Florida
43 OT Jamarco Jones 0.9696 Ohio State
46 CB Arrion Springs 0.9595 Oregon
65 DT Lamont Gaillard 0.9358 Georgia
68 CB Marshon Lattimore 0.9729 Ohio State
87 QB Brandon Harris 0.9645 LSU
90 DE Jalyn Holmes 0.9622 Ohio State
109 TE Jeb Blazevich 0.9381 Georgia
112 WR Frank Iheanacho 0.9589 Texas A&M
131 LB Delvin Purifoy 0.9212 Florida State
134 RB Nathan Starks 0.9210 UCLA
153 WR Armanti Foreman 0.9448 Texas
156 LB Otaro Alaka 0.9273 Texas A&M
175 S Armani Watts 0.9160 Texas A&M
178 OG Steven Moss 0.9157 Virginia
197 S Devin Voorhies 0.9156 LSU
200 WR Jamil Kamara 0.9377 Virginia
219 OG Montel McBride 0.8761 Alabama
222 C Dalton Risner 0.8681 Kansas State
241 LB Edwin Freeman 0.9264 Texas
Offense average 0.9357
Defense average 0.9461
Team average 0.9409

I wasn't really worried about drafting for value too much in the early rounds, but mostly wanted to focus on building my offense and defense with the toughest pieces to find first -- offensive tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end, and cornerback. As a result, the cornerstone of my draft was Cameron Robinson, the elite left tackle who looks like he might start for Alabama as a true freshman.

After that, I wanted to draft a defensive tackle, but with Andrew Brown already off the board, I couldn't resist picking a Texas kid in Solomon Thomas, who is as stout against the run as any high school defensive end and has shown some upside as a pass rusher despite coming in at 260 pounds. Then it was back on track, picking defensive tackle Gerald Willis to provide a disruptive force at the three-technique.

I didn't want to wait too long to take another offensive tackle, so I grabbed Jamarco Jones and stayed in Texas to grab a lock-down corner with elite speed in Arrion Springs. Keeping with the defensive theme, I added a nose tackle in Lamont Gaillard and another cover corner in Marshon Lattimore, valuing height and ability to press opposing wide receivers in man coverage.

With Jerrod Heard off the board with the No. 69 pick, I was getting concerned that I might lose out on the dual-threat quarterback that I really wanted to run my spread-and-shred offense. So I picked Brandon Harris, a kid who doesn't have the relative polish of Heard, but has a better arm and reasonably equal athleticism.

I noticed that defensive end Jalyn Holmes was still on the board, a guy I consider a physical freak with fantastic ability to get to the quarterback, so that felt like a no-brainer. I turned my focus towards skill players, grabbing a tight end in Jeb Blazevich who has the size to block and the athleticism to make a difference in the passing game, as well as a big possession wide receiver to convert red-zone opportunities into points in Frank Iheanacho, who can really move around for his size.

I still needed some strength in the middle, even with a defensive line that I think has to be among the best anyone picked, so I picked up Delvin Purifoy, an inside linebacker who is really physical.

With many of the top running backs off the board, it was bit disappointing not to see many truly special playmakers left, but I felt like that I could still take a guy like Nathan Starks and get good production. To make sure there was some playmaking on offense, I grabbed Armanti Foreman, who has the dynamic ability to turn short passes into big gains.

The end was about picking players who fit what I wanted my defense to look like, so I took three players from Texas: linebackers Otaro Alaka and Edwin Freeman to provide some sideline-to-sideline range and a really good athlete with hitting ability in Armani Watts. I also wanted some size on the back end, a guy to come up into the box if necessary, so Devin Vorhees seemed like a good fit.

Filling out the offense were Jamil Kamara, an outside wide receiver and tremendous value, a mobile offensive guard in Steven Moss, and Montel McBride, a guy who stood out because Alabama evaluates offensive linemen extremely well. Then it was Dalton Risner at center because Bill Snyder at Kansas State knows what he's doing, too.

My offense might not have the most highly-rated players at the skill positions, and it would have been nice to grab a difference-making running back, but I think that my team is really strong at the positions I believed would be hard to find late in the draft.

Player distribution by school and conference

Not surprisingly, seven of the top 10 schools were in the SEC. The only non-SEC schools to make the top-10 cut were traditional powers Ohio State, Florida State, and Notre Dame. While the SEC stole the show in the conference ratings, the much-maligned Big Ten was second, if only because it was aided by Ohio State's 16 selections.

School Players selected Conference Players selected
Alabama 17 SEC 99
Ohio State 16 Big Ten 42
Florida State 13 ACC 37
LSU 13 Pac-12 29
Notre Dame 13 Big 12 19
Tennessee 13 Independent 13
Auburn 10 FCS 1
Georgia 10 Mountain West 1
Texas A&M 9 Conference USA 1
Florida 8

With assistance by Chris Fuhrmeister and Kevin Trahan.