It's been an eventful past six days here in the building, setting up an even more eventful offseason. So, one thing Texans GM Nick Caserio noted in his presser was the fact that the Texans have the number three pick (for now) and y'all know how much I love to talk, think and consume the Draft so here's my Harris 100 Top 10, v 3.0. And, yes, I've done two versions of the Harris 100 already on my own college football site this fall. Now, I'm far from being completely done with version 3.0 but I know what my top ten will be, so let's take a look at that and see whether one of these prospects will be the Texans pick at spot #3 (or elsewhere).
Let's be dramatic too... Count 'em down from ten, let's go.
10. OG/OT Kenyon Green, Texas A&M - An Atascocita High School graduate who dominated 300 lb. large men at Texas A&M for three years. His third year was spent bouncing around to nearly every position on the offensive line but he's going to be one of the best guards in the game in due time.
9. OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State - The progress he made from one year to the next was impressive, but so are his feet, his pass pro technique and his length. He can dance and move with the quickest, speediest edge pass rushers in the game. He does need to continue to improve his upper body strength, but he's a bona fide left tackle in the NFL in the future.
8. Edge/Sub interior rusher George Karlaftis, Purdue - The (New) Greek Freak is just that - freaky off the edge. Relentless by nature, gifted by the football gods, Karlaftis disrupts nearly every play that he's on the field. There are certain pass rushers in this class that can only play a 3-4 OLB, but Karlaftis can not only live in a 4-3 on the edge, but he can thrive in it.
7. CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU - From a natural gifts standpoint, Stingley Jr. has them all. He's the closest, physically, to the guy I think is the most physically gifted CB in the NFL - Jalen Ramsey. What Ramsey had, though, was three straight years of playing ball, while Stingley Jr. has just 25 games under his belt, 15 of those coming in his true freshman season in 2019.
6. OC Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa - I'll put it this way, he's the highest rated center I've ever had in the Harris 100. I've been doing this for well over two decades and he's the best I've graded. 'Nuff said.
5. OT/OG Ikem "Icky" Ekwonu, NC State - The only true question for Ekwonu is whether he's a tackle or a guard. I've talked to plenty of people around the league and they're split on it. Either way, he's a masher, a destroyer in the run game and his 2021 tape was impressive enough to make teams really take a long, hard look at him at tackle.
4. Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon - Many people had Thibodeaux at number one overall throughout the 2021 season, and although close to being my number one overall, I think there are more elite, gifted skill sets of players in front of him. He's got a wide array of pass rush skills, a wicked first step, some position versatility and a pass rush plan throughout the game, so don't get it twisted, this dude is going to be a really solid football player in the future.
3. OT Evan Neal, Alabama - The 6-7, 350 lb. Neal might be, pound for pound, the best athlete in this draft. CFB analyst/write extraordinaire Bruce Feldman does a Freaks List every single year, highlighting the most gifted players athletically in the nation. Neal was number one this year. Number freaking ONE! And, oh by the way, just google "Evan Neal Box jump" and remember he's 6-7, 350 lb. He played guard in 2019. He played right tackle in 2020. He played left tackle in 2021. So, there's position flexibility and versatility for days, even though I believe that he's a tackle moving forward into the NFL.
2. Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan - The Heisman runner-up's dad was a star in high school at Cypress Creek High SChool, just outside of Houston, before heading off to the University of Michigan where it was his son Aidan who became a legend. The younger Hutchinson was one spot behind Neal on Feldman's Freaks List, but ended up one spot above him on the Harris 100. I watched Colts first round pick Kwity Paye and Hutchinson back in 2019 and couldn't believe that these two were on the same team. Then, Paye came to the NFL as a first rounder in 2021 after Hutchinson got hurt in the 2020 season. Hutchinson decided to return to Michigan and it paid off handsomely in the 2021 season. On the field, he's got twitch for days. He'll run in the 4.6 range at 265-lb. He's a relentless pass rusher with outstanding hands and hand placement understanding. Just an outstanding player.
Drum roll please...
1. S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame - I've often said that the best player, prospect or whatever you want to call it, that I ever saw was former University of Miami safety Sean Taylor. Every year I WANT to compare someone to Taylor but no one has ever been close enough for me to feel that kind of way. Until this year. Hamilton is the first safety/player for which I can truly make that claim. At 6-4, 221 lb., he's equal parts heat seeking missile and rangy middle of the field defender. The interception Hamilton had against Florida State in Notre Dame's week one win over the Seminoles just epitomized the full skillset of the number one player in the Harris 100, v 3.0.
Version 3.0 is being worked on as we speak, as I accumulate all the information from players declaring for the Draft, those returning, the postseason bowl games, the Senior Bowl and much more. But, I can promise you this, Hamilton will be number one in every single version.
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