Draft News & Notes: A look into one team's top 15

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Team boards are rounding into final shape, especially at the top. So how do some teams view the top 15 prospects?

In conversations last week, the day before Josh Allen had his pro-day workout, a team picking in the top 15 -- who shall remained unnamed -- shared the order of top 15 players on its board. It went like this:

1 - Sam Darnold/QB/USC

2 - Josh Allen/QB/Wyoming

3 - Josh Rosen/QB/UCLA

4 - Bradley Chubb/DL/North Carolina State

5 - Saquon Barkley/RB/Penn State

6 - Quenton Nelson/G/Notre Dame

7 - Minkah Fitzpatrick/DB/Alabama

8 - Denzel Ward/CB/Ohio State

9 - Tremaine Edmunds/LB/Virginia Tech

10 - Roquan Smith/LB/Georgia

11 - Baker Mayfield/QB/Oklahoma

12 - Derwin James/S/Florida State

13 - Vita Vea/DL/Washington

14 - Leighton Vander Esch/LB/Boise State

15 - Calvin Ridley/WR/Alabama

First thoughts: I was surprised all three signal callers ranked at the top of the board, as Chubb and Barkley are graded significantly higher on our big board. It should be noted that I was informed that the top spot was fluid, and much depended on the team’s final grade of Josh Allen.

I was also surprised Da'Ron Payne of Alabama did not rank among the top 15. Payne is presently ranked third on our board, and he’s someone I will stubbornly keep there as I craft my grades based on what I expect 2-3 years down the road versus what’s going to happen on draft day.

This team has Roquan Smith as a top-10 prospect, while there are others who believe he could fall into the middle part of Round 1 for a variety of reasons.

I was gratified to see Leighton Vander Esch ranked at No. 14. We presently list Vander Esch at No. 12 on our board, and I posted during the combine that he could be selected as early as the Green Bay Packers -- and got a lot of grief over it -- who ironically own the 14th pick of Round 1.

Thoughts on Josh Allen’s pro day: I thought Allen had a terrific pro day and did what he needed to do. As someone who was there said to me, his deep passes were superb while his short and intermediate throws lagged behind Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. The issues with the short and intermediate passes are more geared towards lack of touch on the ball rather than accuracy concerns.

While I understand that Allen is prone to criticisms of inaccuracy based off the film -- and while I also believe that pro day is not the end-all or be-all -- no one can deny that Allen has made significant strides with his footwork and accuracy since the Senior Bowl. To his credit, Allen manned up throughout the week in Mobile and told teams he understood he needed to improve those aspects of his passing; and he has done exactly that over the past two-plus months. 

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Visits & Workouts Update: San Diego State tight end David Wells, who worked out for the Dallas Cowboys on Friday, is working out for the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.

Fast-rising small-school defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd of Fort Hays State will be working out for the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texas this week. He’s also drawing a lot of interest from the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons will work out linebacker Jack Cichy of Wisconsin this week. Cichy, who sat on the sidelines last season after suffering a knee injury in August camp, will go much higher than most people predict. As we reported last September, scouts were confident he would land in the middle rounds, likely in the fourth-round area, if his knee checked out -- which it did at the combine.