NEW YORK GIANTS – COLLINS, LANDON – SS – 6’0″ – 216 LBS – ALABAMA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Collins signed with Alabama coach Nick Saban amid great fanfare, earning consensus five-star grades and the top spot among all prep safeties for most recruiting sites.
Collins didn’t earn a start as a freshman but made an impact nonetheless, tying for the team lead with 10 special teams tackles and operating as a key reserve in the deep patrol. He was pressed into duty in 2013 with returning starter Vinnie Sunseri suffering a torn ACL and responded by finishing second to only star CJ Mosley with 70 tackles, including four for a loss. Collins also showed off his playmaking ability, forcing two fumbles, recovering two others and intercepting two passes, one of which he returned for a score.
He went on to lead the team with 103 tackles as a junior, along with three interceptions, 10 pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Collins has seen action at both strong and free safety and projects as a first-round pick in large part because he should be able to handle either role at the next level. He has limitations in coverage, but plays with range and is an intimidating presence in the secondary.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – SMITH, DONOVAN – OT – 6’6″ – 338 LBS – PENN STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: With a degree in criminology in hand, Smith elected to leave Penn State with a year of eligiblity remaining, though with 31 career starts – all at left tackle – he’s hardly inexperienced.
Smith looks the part of a big-time NFL tackle, sporting broad shoulders, long arms and his 320+ pounds are evenly distributed over his frame. He’s surprisingly light on his feet, making him effective both in pass protection and run blocking. The problem with Smith is consistency – he struggled with it in 2014 – and thus comes with some risk.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – EDWARDS JR., MARIO – DE – 6’3″ – 279 LBS – FLORIDA STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Edwards was a key contributor to the Seminoles’ title run in 2013, earning third-team All-ACC honors as a true sophomore, compiling 28 tackles including 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, as well as a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
As he gained strength and experience, Edwards became even more of a factor a year later, helping the Seminoles finish the regular season undefeated and winning a berth in the Rose Bowl with a career-high 44 stops, including 11 tackles for loss and three sacks, as well as batting down five passes and forcing two more fumbles.
Since his first start in the 2012 ACC championship game when he replaced an injured Tank Carradine at right end, Edwards has demonstrated an impressive combination of athleticism, strength and instincts that have enabled him to be a force both as an edge-setter against the run, and a power rusher who can threaten the pocket inside or out against the pass.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – YELDON, T.J. – RB – 6’1″ – 226 LBS – ALABAMA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A five-star running back recruit out of high school, Timothy “T.J.” Yeldon was courted by every major program in the country, verbally committing to Auburn prior to his senior season. However, he switched allegiances to Alabama when Gus Malzahn left his post as Tigers’ offensive coordinator.
Although he was Eddie Lacy’s back-up as a true freshman, Yeldon saw considerable playing time with 1,108 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 175 carries, earning Freshman All-American honors as the only freshman in school history to eclipse 1,000-rushing yards. He became the Crimson Tide starter as a sophomore in 2013 and had his most productive season with 1,235 rushing yards and 14 rushing scores on 207 carries, earning First Team All-SEC honors.
Yeldon started 10 games as a junior in 2014 and battled a few injuries, rushing for his lowest average (5.0 yards per carry) with 979 yards and 11 touchdowns on 194 carries, earning Second Team All-SEC honors. With one year left in Tuscaloosa, he decided to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
NEW YORK JETS – SMITH, DEVIN – WR – 6’0″ – 196 LBS – OHIO STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A three-star wide receiver recruit out of high school, Smith collected offers from Michigan, Notre Dame and other Midwest schools, but once Ohio State offered him a scholarship, it was a done deal.
With Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey off to the NFL, he received early playing time as a true freshman in 2011 and despite recording only 14 catches for 294 yards, it was the only season in his career that he led the Buckeyes in receptions. Smith became a full-time starter in 2012, recording 30 catches for 618 yards and six touchdowns. He tallied a career-high 44 receptions for 660 yards and eight scores as a junior, earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors.
Smith averaged 28.2 yards per catch as a senior with 931 receiving yards on 33 grabs, leading the Big Ten with 12 receiving touchdowns, although he was only recognized with All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors. He earned an invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – SMITH, PRESTON – DE – 6’5″ – 271 LBS – MISSISSIPPI STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A three-star defensive end recruit out of high school, Smith committed to Mississippi State over Kentucky and a few other programs.
He played sparingly as a true freshman in 2011 before seeing more action as a valuable reserve in 2012, recording 4.5 sacks and 35 tackles. Smith started 11 games in 2013 as a junior, posting 44 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He emerged as one of the SEC’s best defenders in 2014 as a senior, leading the team with 15.0 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries, adding 48 tackles and two forced fumbles. Smith earned First Team All-SEC honors and earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week three straight weeks at one point. He earned an invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl.
CHICAGO BEARS – GOLDMAN, EDDIE – DT – 6’4″ – 320 LBS – FLORIDA STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Like most of the star players at Florida State, Goldman signed with the Seminoles as a highly rated prep, turning down the likes of Alabama and Auburn, among others. It didn’t take Goldman long to establish himself even on Florida State’s talented roster, appearing in 10 games as a true freshman, including in the ACC Championship win over Georgia Tech.
Goldman won a starting position at defensive end a year later, helping the Seminoles rank first in the nation in scoring defense (12.1 points allowed per game) and win the national championship. His statistics (19 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks) were hardly overwhelming and he did not generate much all-conference chatter amongst the media. Meanwhile, though, scouts were already beginning to buzz about Goldman’s blend of size and power.
Moved inside in 2014 to his natural defensive tackle position, Goldman began to flourish. Though the junior again didn’t post the kind of statistics (35 tackles, eight tackles for loss and four sacks in 13 regular-season starts) to attract a lot of hype, his steady development, proven versatility and NFL-ready frame make him one of the most intriguing defensive tackle prospects in the country.
TENNESSEE TITANS – GREEN-BECKHAN, DORIAL – WR – 6’5″ – 237 LBS – MISSOURI
PLAYER OVERVIEW: An NFL prospect with rare physical traits, Green-Beckham is the type of wide receiver that even when covered, he is open due to his gargantuan size and freakish athleticism. He is still unpolished in several areas, but there is a ton of untapped potential with on-field ability that would warrant top-five overall consideration in this draft class. However, there are strong red flags that will eliminate Green-Beckham from some NFL team?s draft boards and not just legal troubles, but also underachiever tendencies and doubts whether he has the work ethic and drive in his belly to reach his full potential. Fair or not, the Josh Gordon situation will be on the minds of any team that discussion the risks and rewards of drafting him.
A five-star wide receiver recruit out of high school, Green-Beckham had every major FBS program knocking at his door, but he decided to stay in-state and enroll at Missouri. He made an instant impact as a true freshman with 28 catches for 395 yards and five touchdowns in 2012, earning Freshman All-American honors by several outlets. Green-Beckham blossomed further as a sophomore starter in 2013 with a team-high 59 receptions for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns over 14 starts, earning Second Team All-SEC honors. He was dismissed from Mizzou after a third off-field incident (April 2014) and enrolled at Oklahoma, although he had to sit out the season after his waiver to play immediately was denied. Green-Beckham decided to give up his remaining eligibility to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, having never played a down for the Sooners.
CAROLINA PANTHERS – FUNCHESS, DEVIN – WR – 6’4″ – 232 LBS – MICHIGAN
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Funchess earned Freshman All-American honors in 2012 as a true freshman tight end before becoming the full-time starter in 2013 as a sophomore, taking home the Big Ten Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year Award (although he played a receiver/tight end hybrid position).
Funchess moved to outside wide receiver full-time as a junior in 2014, leading the Wolverines in catches (62) and earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. He leaves Ann Arbor with five career 100-yard receiving games and at least one catch in 25 straight games. Funchess switched from jersey No. 87 to No. 1 for the 2014 season, adding his name to the exclusive list of Michigan receivers who have worn that number (Anthony Carter, David Terrell, Braylon Edwards and others).
Funchess passes the eye test and physically looks similar to Kelvin Benjamin or Alshon Jeffery, boasting the size/length/athleticism to create mismatches and play above the rim. He has outstanding athletic gifts for his body type with long-striding speed and the natural flexibility to make easy adjustments on the ball at each level of the field.
Funchess’ routes and hands have shown some development, but are still inconsistent, with too many balls hitting his hands and ending up on the ground. He has a soft-spoken, go-with-the-flow type of personality and needs to improve his reliability, polish and intensity for the next level.
Funchess started his career as a “move” tight end before evolving full-time at wideout, where he projects best in the NFL. He is a high risk/high reward type of talent who boasts first-round tools and has potential to be a No. 1 1/2 wide receiver in the NFL, but due to inconsistencies his value is in the early-to-mid second round.
ATLANTA FALCONS – COLLINS, JALEN – CB – 6’1″ – 203 LBS – LSU
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Collins starred at Olive Branch High School in Mississippi and was rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals before accepting a scholarship to LSU.
He took a redshirt his first year on campus in 2011 before making an instant impact as a redshirt freshman in 2012 by appearing in 13 games and starting once. In his first collegiate start, Collins had and interception and pass break up as he finished the year with 30 total tackles, 15 solo, 2 interceptions and 6 pass break ups, earning Freshman All-SEC honors.
Collins played sparingly again as a redshirt sophomore, appearing in all 13 games and notching two starts while finishing the year with 22 tackles and two pass break ups.
The 2014 season was Collins’ first opportunity for significant playing time, although not as a full-time starter. Due to LSU having so many standout defensive backs the team constantly rotates its secondary, ensuring the most talent sees the field. Collins finished his last season in Baton Rouge with 38 total tackles, 28 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 9 pass break ups, and one interceptions in seven starts.
Collins has a very long frame to go along with equally long strides, which enable him to stay in-phase with receivers down the field with consistency.
He possesses above average athleticism and very good long speed. Collins is a smooth, fluid mover who is best when asked to play north and south rather than east and west. This is due to not being very explosive or twitched up in his lateral movements, and he can really struggle to stay with smaller, quicker receivers, particularly on slants and digs.
He wins at turning his hips and running down the field with receivers, showcasing his speed and technique to stay with them stride for stride. He does a very nice job of reading his man and turning his head, but can struggle to locate the ball. Has the ability to time his jumps and high-point the ball with ease.
Collins only had 10 starts in college and that inexperience shows up on tape. He will need time at the next level to be coached up in his technique while continuing to develop his understanding of the game before counted on to make a significant impact, but he has the tools to develop into a very good, versatile player.
HOUSTON TEXANS – MCKINNEY, BENARDRICK – ILB – 6’4″ – 246 LBS – MISSISSIPPI STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A redshirt making the transition from high school quarterback to linebacker, McKinney led all SEC players and was second among freshmen nationally with 102 tackles. McKinney led the Bulldogs in tackles (71), tackles for loss (seven) and sacks (3.5) in 2013 and nearly duplicated those numbers in 2014 (71-8-3), earning All-American honors.
McKinney statistics are impressive. His combination of size and athleticism has the NFL more intrigued. McKinney is an impressive athlete for his size, but while he’s a stout run defender, he isn’t as consistent in space. There are some concerns that his ineffectiveness defending in coverage could limit him to a two-down thumper role in the NFL.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – KIKAHA, HAUOLI – OLB – 6’2″ – 253 LBS – WASHINGTON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Washington’s all-time leading sack artist, Kikaha, who changed his last name from “Jamora” to “Kikaha” prior to his junior season, is one of the most accomplished and talented pass rushers in the 2015 draft class. He does a great job winning the edge and closing down the pocket with arc speed and outstanding effort in pursuit, making plays most others don’t because of his pure hustle and competitive drive. Kikaha’s lack of functional strength shows against the run and he lacks a power element as a rusher, but he is terrific in space, finding ways to get to the quarterback. He was asked to cut it loose and attack the pocket every play at Washington and will face some growing pains in the NFL with added responsibilities, but he has the tools to be valuable and versatile rusher best in a 3-4 defense.
Moved to outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense of Chris Petersen as a senior. saw action as a true freshman (seven starts), but missed almost all of the next two seasons (2011-12) due to two ACL tears, both to his left knee.
He returned healthy in 2013 as a junior and finished among the Pac-12 leaders in sacks (13), also leading the Huskies in tackles for loss (15.5) and forced fumbles (three).
MINNESOTA VIKINGS – KENDRICKS, ERIC – ILB – 6’0″ – 232 LBS – UCLA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Between Eric, older brother Mychal (California, Philadelphia Eagles) and father, Marvin (former UCLA and CFL running back), the Kendricks’ have been terrorizing Pac-12 opponents for decades.
Eric Kendricks led the Pac-12 with 150 tackles in 2012, his first full season as starter for the Bruins. Voted a team captain last year, Kendricks again led the team in tackles (106) despite the fact that he missed two games and was limited in a variety of others due to lingering shoulder and ankle issues.
Kendricks capped off his spectacular career by earning the Butkus Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy, leading the country with 101 solo tackles among 149 total stops.
Critics can quibble about the talent surrounding him at UCLA, but Kendricks is a football magnet with his instinctive read-react quickness and relentless motor to finish. He lacks a “wow” skill set but routinely shows up at the ball and is a highly underrated prospect, worthy of top 50 consideration.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – TARTT, JAQUISKI – SS – 6’1″ – 221 LBS – SAMFORD
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Tartt spent much of his high school days on the basketball court, only making the jump to the gridiron as a senior. As such, he didn’t generate a great deal of recruiting interest despite playing in the football hotbed of Mobile, Ala. He redshirted his first season at Samford and saw mostly backup duty in 2011.
Tartt exploded onto the scene as a redshirt sophomore. He led the Bulldogs with 94 tackles, 10 passes breakups and four interceptions, earning recognition as a Buck Buchanan finalist, which goes to the top defensive player at the FCS level. Though opponents generally avoided him the next two seasons, Tartt was recognized as an All-American each year, earning a trip back to his hometown for the 2015 Senior Bowl – where he quickly proved up to the task of playing with the “big boys.”
As his surname suggests, Tartt isn’t sweet. While not as fluid in coverage as his 20 career pass breakups and six interceptions suggest, Tartt is an imposing defender whose size, aggression and heavy-hitting make him one of the more intimidating run-defending safeties of the 2015 draft.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – ROWE, ERIC – CB – 6’1″ – 205 LBS – UTAH
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A three-year starter and all-conference pick at free safety, Rowe made the transition to cornerback in 2014 to help the Utes recover from the loss of Keith McGill (a fourth-round pick by the Oakland Raiders). Rowe demonstrated the awareness and physicality that could earn him an even higher selection in 2015.
Rowe’s length, broad-shouldered frame and straight-line speed (Utah coaches reportedly clocked him at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash) make him an intriguing prospect regardless of where he ultimately lines up. He’s a heady, physical defender who is well-versed in pro-style schemes given Utah’s heavy man coverage philosophy, and has proven a standout since first stepping onto campus.
Rowe recorded 69 tackles and nine pass breakups while starting all 13 games (10 at free safety, three at strong safety) as a true freshman in 2011, earning Freshman All-American honors by several publications. Rowe earned Second Team All-Pac-12 honors in 2014 at cornerback, registering 57 tackles and 13 passes broken up in just 11 regular-season games.
Rowe shows good balance, a functional turning motion and steady acceleration in coverage. He’s alert to come up in run support and against underneath routes and breaks down well to make the efficient open-field tackle. Rowe is poised in coverage but he’s not a ball-hawk. Of his 34 career passes broken up, he only intercepted three passes.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – PERRYMAN, DENZEL – ILB – 5’11” – 236 LBS – MIAMI (FLORIDA)
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Voted first-team All-ACC by the coaches and a third-team All-American following a senior season with a career-high 110 tackles. Perryman’s impact has been felt seemingly since day one in Coral Gables, as he saw action in 12 games and was the team’s second-leading tackler as a true freshman in 2011, then earned All-ACC Honorable Mention accolades as a sophomore after playing in nine games with six starts at middle linebacker.
Moved outside as a junior (108 tackles, five for loss, 1.5 sacks) and earned All-ACC honors before switching back inside as a senior to record career-highs in tackles (110), tackles for loss (9.5), forced fumbles (three) and sacks (two).
His skill set and physical makeup suggest he’d be best suited to play inside at the next level, but Perryman is not just an in-the-box defender. He has the athleticism and awareness to remain on the field on passing downs.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – MORSE, MITCH – OG – 6’5″ – 305 LBS – MISSOURI
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Morse took over for Seattle Seahawks’ second-round pick Justin Britt as the Tigers’ left tackle in 2014 and promptly starred, earning Second Team All-SEC honors in his first season on the blindside. Switching positions is nothing new for Morse, who initially worked his way into the starting lineup at Mizzou at center in 2012 before injuries pushed him to right tackle, where he’d started the 17 games prior to that. It is this kind of dependability and versatility that could result in Morse competing for a starting role relatively early in his NFL career.
Morse possesses the frame to remain outside, though he projects better back to the right side. He has good, but not elite footwork to handle speed rushers. Morse has a powerful punch that could also prove effective inside at guard, as well.
BUFFALO BILLS – DARBY, RONALD – CB – 5’11” – 193 LBS – FLORIDA STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Like most of the players at Florida State, Darby signed with the Seminoles as a very highly regarded prep prospect, ranking as a consensus top 50 overall prospect by recruiting services. The fascination with Darby extended beyond just the football field and onto the track, where he was a member of the gold medal-winning USA medley relay at the 2011 World Youth Championships in France and not surprisingly won the 100-yard and 200-yard dashes to help Potomac High School win the state 3A track championship in Maryland.
Darby immediately proved a difference-maker with the Seminoles, playing in all 14 games as a true freshman and earning the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award with 22 tackles and tying for the team-lead with eight pass breakups. He wasn’t as flashy as a sophomore, registering just 14 tackles despite playing in all 14 games again (including nine starts) and intercepting two passes.
Darby recorded a career-high 43 tackles for the Seminoles in 2014 and broke up four passes. Shortly after Florida State’s loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl, he announced his intentions to enter the 2015 draft.
Scouts can check off a lot of boxes with Darby. He possesses extraordinary speed and proved with greater physicality in 2014 that he’s not just a track guy in shoulder pads. Darby has also shown improved awareness and ball-skills throughout his career. He isn’t as polished as some of the top corners in the 2015 class, but possesses a tantalizing upside that could warrant Day Two consideration.
CLEVELAND BROWNS – ORCHARD, NATE – DE – 6’3″ – 250 LBS – UTAH
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A high school wide receiver, Orchard (full name is Napaa Lilo Fakahafua Orchard) committed to Utah early in the process and moved full-time to defense in 2011 as a true freshman reserve for the Utes.
He became the starting left defensive end in 2012 as a sophomore and finished among the team leaders in tackles for loss (9.5), sacks (3.0) and forced fumbles (3), earning All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention honors. Orchard started 12 games at left defensive end in 2013 as a junior, recording 9.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, but had his best season in 2014 as a senior defensive end and linebacker.
He finished second in the FBS in sacks (18.5), first on the team in tackles for loss (21.0) and second in total tackles (84), earning First Team All-America and All-Pac 12 honors and winning the Ted Hendricks and Morris Awards. He went by Nate Fakahafua his first two seasons at Utah before taking his guardians’ last name in 2013 (raised by guardian parents, has a relationship with his mother).
Orchard has natural flexibility to bend the edge and finds ways to slip blocks, but struggles to get much of a push, lacking a clear power element to his game to force the issue or overwhelm blockers. He might be ideally suited as a “Wide-9″ defensive end at the next level, fitting best as a hand-on-the-ground 4-3 pass rusher.
MIAMI DOLPHINS – PHILLIPS, JORDAN – DT – 6’5″ – 329 LBS – OKLAHOMA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Skill position stars may get the headlines, but football remains a big man’s game and they don’t get much bigger than the Sooners’ Phillips.
The massive defensive tackle was a five-star recruit and turned down offers from virtually every other program in the country to sign with Oklahoma. After redshirting his first year on campus and recording 12 tackles in 11 games as a reserve in 2012, Phillips won a starting role as a redshirt sophomore.
Unfortunately, a back injury ended Phillips’ 2013 season after just four games. Phillips recorded seven tackles, including two for loss and 1.5 sacks during that time.
Phillips started all 12 games for Oklahoma in 2014, recording 32 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two sacks, earning a spot on the coaches’ Second Team All-Big-12 squad. Despite the fact that he has the equivalent of just one NFL regular season of starts under his belt, Phillips elected to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the 2015 draft.
Phillips’ blend of size and athleticism is certainly intriguing and teams operating out of traditional three- and four-man fronts, alike, will be interested. He commands double teams in the middle and makes the occasional splashy play, demonstrating surprising quickness for a man of his size. He comes with obvious red-flags, however, not the least of which is his relative inexperience and the back injury which ruined his 2013 campaign.
CINCINNATI BENGALS – FISHER, JAKE – OT – 6’6″ – 306 LBS – OREGON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Fisher entered his senior season as the Ducks’ starting right tackle for the third consecutive season. A season-ending injury to the Ducks’ left tackle Tyler Johnstone, however, pushed Fisher to the left side. Despite pain of his own, he performed quite well and opened the eyes of NFL scouts.
Fisher’s versatility and selflessness stood out to evaluators. Fisher is a reliable blocker with good size, athleticism and strength. He’s not an elite athlete, however, and has aided by the escapability of his quarterback Marcus Mariota and the general speed on Oregon’s offense. He projects back to the right side at the next level.
DETROIT LIONS – ABDULLAH, AMEER – RB – 5’9″ – 205 LBS – NEBRASKA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: While his size will immediately turn some off, Abdullah is extremely talented and polished with the ball in his hands and few run harder or more energetic, reminding of a better version of Andre Ellington and has the skill set to have a Warrick Dunn-type career at the next level.
Arguably the top senior running back prospect in the 2015 draft class, Abdullah might have been the best player in all of college football who didn’t seem to get much national attention. He led the Big Ten in rushing last season with 1,690 yards on the ground, averaging 130 yards per game and 6.0 yards per rush.
With 1,611 rushing yards in 2014, Abdullah closed his career with 4,588 yards, second in Nebraska history behind only Mike Rozier (4,780). He also tied the school single-season record with four 200-yard rushing games as a senior.
BALTIMORE RAVENS – WILLIAMS, MAXX – TE – 6’4″ – 249 LBS – MINNESOTA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A prospect just scratching the surface of his potential, Williams owns the all-around skill-set that fits all 32 NFL teams with the ability to line up inline, in the backfield or as a flex option out wide. Although not yet a detailed route runner, he has above average top-end speed for the position with a great feel for throws away from his body, making a number of “wow” catches (and runs) on his college film. Williams is young and needs seasoning, but he has NFL pedigree and projects as a mismatch nightmare with the versatile traits to be equally effective as a pass-catcher and blocker.
A three-star tight end recruit out of high school, Williams received some attention from other Big Ten schools, but committed to Minnesota (his father’s alma mater) a week after he received the offer his junior year in high school. He redshirted for the Gophers in 2012 and saw immediate playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2013, leading the team with 417 yards receiving over seven starts. Williams boosted his production as a sophomore with a team-best 36 receptions for 569 yards and eight touchdowns, earning First Team All-Big Ten and Second Team All-American honors. In a weak class of tight end prospects, Williams decided to forego his final two seasons in Minneapolis to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – GOLSON, SENQUEZ – CB – 5’9″ – 176 LBS – MISSISSIPPI
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Although his career had been best known for being juked out by Trent Richardson as a freshman, Golson changed all that with an All-American type of senior season, leading the SEC in interceptions as the ball seemed to find him.
He was selected in the eighth round (262nd overall) of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox as a centerfielder out of high school, turning down a $1.4 million contract and gave up collegiate baseball after his freshman season. He does continue to practice on the diamond and might not be ready to give up the sport.
On the football field, Golson is a natural athlete who relies on his natural skills, but needs to stay motivated to cultivating his technique in order to survive at the next level ? he is a highly aggressive player, which is a blessing and a curse. Goldson has a natural feel for the position with top-notch ballskills, but his lack of size shows up quite a bit, projecting him best inside as a nickel CB in the NFL.
A three-star cornerback recruit out of high school, Golson came close to inking a Major League Baseball deal, but decided to go to school, picking Ole Miss over Alabama, mostly because the in-state Rebels allowed him to play both sports.
He was pushed into action as a true freshman due to injuries and was again a part-time starter as a sophomore in 2012. Golson started 10 games in 2013 as a junior, recording 41 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, five passes defended and two interceptions.
He had his best season as a senior field cornerback, leading the SEC in interceptions (10) and passes defended (18), adding 43 tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss. Golson earned First Team All-SEC honors and some All-American nods for his 2014 campaign.
SAINT LOUIS RAMS – HAVENSTEIN, ROB – OT – 6’7″ – 321 LBS – WISCONSIN
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Like many before him at Wisconsin, Havenstein is a massive road-grader whose size and physicality helped pave the way for a dominating running game, earn All-American notice and a shot at the Senior Bowl, where he impressed.
Picture of dependability tied the school record with 54 games played, including starting 41 consecutively at right tackle to end his career.
No-frills type who relies on his bulk and power to get movement at the line of scrimmage. His length makes him relatively effective in pass protection but his agility and balance are not NFL-quality.
Height limits him to right tackle, where he can deliver consistently enough as a run blocker to compete for a starting role but limitations as a pass blocker could leave his team searching for an upgrade.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – , GOLDEN, MARKUS – OLB – 6’3″ – 260 LBS – MISSOURI
PLAYER OVERVIEW: The impressive legacy at Missouri of producing standout NFL defensive linemen is in capable hands with Golden, who quietly finished with more tackles and similar big plays a season ago as a reserve as Michael Sam, the co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Kony Ealy, a second round pick.
Despite playing an estimated 40 percent of the snaps last season, Golden recorded 55 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Golden also broke up eight passes, including one against Toledo in which he tipped to himself for the interception and raced 70 yards for a touchdown.
Golden exploded onto the SEC scene in 2013 after serving as a backup and on special teams in his first season on campus. Golden transferred to Missouri a year earlier after recording an eye-popping 90 tackles, including 26 tackles for loss and 10 sacks (along with five forced fumbles and two interceptions) while at Hutchison Community College.
Along with teammate Shane Ray, Golden ranks top-five in the SEC in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (16) and has a well-rounded skill-set to play the run and get after the passer.
DENVER BRONCOS – SAMBRAILO, TY – OT – 6’6″ – 311 LBS – COLORADO STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A youth freestyle skiing champion, Sambrailo is a versatile athlete with the light feet and ankle flexibility to hold up in space, showing the football IQ and awareness needed for the next level. Although toughness isn’t a question, he lacks anchor power and can be driven backwards, lacking upper body strength and sand in his pants. Sambrailo has several physical and mental traits to start in the NFL, but his functional strength is a substantial concern and he might need a full season in a pro strength and conditioning program to rework his body build before ready for NFL snaps.
After redshirting in 2010, he saw substantial playing time (seven starts) in 2011 due to injuries as the Rams shuffled the offensive line. Sambrailo started his sophomore season in 2012 at left tackle before moving inside to left guard, also seeing starts at right guard and right tackle before the season was over. He started all 14 games at left tackle in 2013, earning Second Team All-MWC honors as a junior. Sambrailo missed a pair of games due to a knee sprain as a senior in 2014, but earned First Team All-MWC honors with 11 starts at left tackle.
DALLAS COWBOYS – GREGORY, RANDY – OLB – 6’6″ – 240 LBS – NEBRASKA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A Purdue commit out of high school, Gregory struggled to qualify and enrolled at Arizona Western where he blossomed into one of the top JUCO recruits in the nation. He transferred to Nebraska in the summer of 2013 and grabbed a starring role immediately with 66 tackles, including 19 behind the line of scrimmage and 10.5 sacks, most in the Big Ten.
A tumultuous 2014 season started poorly for Gregory and the Huskers. An “old” knee injury cropped up in the season-opener and Gregory missed the next game recovering from a scope. He wound up missing the regular-season finale and a showdown with Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff with other injuries (reportedly head and ankle injuries). In between, he racked up another 50 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss and seven sacks, along with two blocked kicks.
Gregory lacks polish and the bulk scouts would prefer. With great length and explosiveness among his tools, Gregory has the upside to rank among the NFL’s most feared edge rushers if his current trajectory continues.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – MARPET, ALI – OG – 6’4″ – 307 LBS – HOBART
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A three-year All-Conference and two-time Division-III All-American performer, Marpet dominated competition at that level and didn’t waste anyone’s time at the Senior Bowl, performing well against the nation’s top senior prospects (first Hobart player invited to Mobile and will likely be the first Hobart football selected in the NFL Draft). He doesn’t stand out physically, but he is always under control with core strength and coordination. The hungry man from Hobart, Marpet is a tenacious technician, who eats glass for breakfast and gets his money’s worth on each snap. A competitive overachiever with zero passiveness to his game, Marpet has the next level intangibles and skill-set to start in the NFL for a long time, ideally suited inside at either guard or center as a bargain brand version of Cowboys’ Zach Martin.
Lightly recruited as a prep player, Alexander “Ali” Marpet was 230 pounds as a senior in high school and received moderate interest from a few FCS programs, but ended up at Division-III Hobart. After seeing part-time duty as a true freshman, Marpet won the starting left tackle job as a sophomore and started every game, earning First Team All-Liberty honors. He started all 11 games in 2013 as a junior left tackle and was awarded First Team All-Conference and All-American honors. Marpet again started all 13 games as a senior in 2014 and didn’t allow a sack, becoming the first lineman in Liberty League history to earn a share of the Offensive Player of the Year award, also earning First Team All-Conference and All-American honors.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – ROLLINS, QUINTEN – CB – 5’11” – 195 LBS – MIAMI (OHIO)
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A football and basketball recruit out of high school, Rollins focused mostly on basketball and enrolled at Miami (Ohio) to play on the hard court.
He started all four seasons for the Redhawks’ basketball team at point guard (106 career starts), finishing second in school history in steals (214) and fourth in career assists (391). Rollins was a two-year team captain and earned the team’s Defensive Player of the Year Award three straight seasons.
Unsure about a professional basketball career, he decided to play one year of football with his final season of collegiate eligibility and went to Redhawks head coach Chuck Martin, who invited him to spring practice for a tryout just days after the basketball season ended. Rollins said he “was almost done with football” during spring because he was so far behind compared to others on the team, but he stuck with it and moved his way up the depth chart through spring and summer, earning a starting job in the season opener.
Rollins finished the 2014 season with 72 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 16 passes defended and a MAC-best seven interceptions, which ranked third nationally. He earned MAC Defensive Player of the Year and conference First Team honors and a spot on the Senior Bowl roster.
Rollins was an unknown in the football scouting world after not playing the sport since high school, but it didn’t take long for him to move up the depth chart for the Redhawks, impressing coaches and scouts throughout the season. He played the robber rover position in high school, but played mostly offense so he entered 2014 with no football experience in four years and zero experience in his life at cornerback.
Rollins adjusted quickly and showed a raw understanding of the position, lining up inside and outside for the Redhawks, also playing man and zone coverages.
He needs to be coached up with backpedal and overall technique, but he has moldable traits with the basketball athleticism, ballskills and defensive mindset (three-time defensive player of the year for the Miami basketball squad) that translates well to the football field.
Although there will be a steep learning curve for him in the NFL and inexperienced mistakes will be inevitable, Rollins is an attractive player due to his talent, toughness and confidence to embrace challenges with his overachieving work ethic. He has the physical and mental makeup to see the field early in his career and fit any defensive scheme.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – CLARK, FRANK – DE – 6’3″ – 271 LBS – MICHIGAN
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A three-star linebacker recruit out of high school, Clark narrowed his college choice to Michigan, Michigan State or North Carolina, committing to the Wolverines.
He played in 12 games as true freshman, mostly on special teams, recording 10 tackles in 2011. Clark earned four starts at defensive end in 2012 as a sophomore, finishing with 25 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. He started all 13 games in 2013 as a junior and recorded 43 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. Clark started nine games as a senior before he was dismissed for an off-field incident, finishing the 2014 season with 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – RICHARDS, JORDAN – SS – 5’11” – 211 LBS – STANFORD
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Richards enjoyed a productive career for the Cardinal, racking up postseason all-conferences honors after each of the past three seasons. After receiving back-to-back honorable mention honors, Richards was recognized with first team All-Pac-12 accolades his final season at Stanford.
He is a team captain who also excels in the classroom, where he achieved Pac-12 All-Academic first team status in each of the past three years. Leaving high school, Richards was ranked as one of the top 100 receivers in the nation. He switched from offense to defense and immediately made an impact at Stanford, appearing in all 13 games as a true freshman and starting in three at safety.
Each season was better than the last for Richards, who played in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. He showed at practice he is a tempo setter and field general. Easily provided a leadership quality for a group of young faces that came together to form the West roster.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – SMITH, D’JOUN – CB – 5’10” – 187 LBS – FLORIDA ATLANTIC
PLAYER OVERVIEW: D’Joun Smith wasn’t highly rated out of high school in the Miami area, but he saw the field immediately as a true freshman and became a starter as a sophomore. He blossomed as a junior, finishing among the NCAA leaders in both passes defended (20) and interceptions (7), putting himself on the NFL’s radar.
Smith wasn’t as productive as a senior, but was more effective with his positive play in 2014.
“D’Joun had the stats last year that forced you to take notice,” an AFC North scout told NFLDraftScout.com. “He shines in two areas that I think are essential for the league: the ability to function at a high level after making mistakes and the talent to turn into a wide receiver and play the ball when it’s in his orbit.”
While some NFL teams may have minor red flags due to the high school suspension and sophomore benching at FAU, Smith returned to the Owls for his senior season in large part to earn his degree while also backing up his standout 2013 season. He did not even submit his name for feedback from the NFL Advisory Committee.
TENNESSEE TITANS – POUTASI, JEREMIAH – OG – 6’5″ – 335 LBS – UTAH
PLAYER OVERVIEW: The 6-foot-5, 322-pounder started the past two seasons at left tackle for the Utes but began his career on the right side. The ability to switch positions could be critical for Poutasi, as he looks like a candidate to move inside to guard.
Poutasi can overwhelm defenders with his sheer size, but he struggled with Southern Cal’s speed in 2014 and will only see a lot more of it in the NFL.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – CANN, A.J. – OG – 6’3″ – 313 LBS – SOUTHCAROLINA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A model of consistency at South Carolina over his career, Cann started all but one game at left guard the last four seasons with a balanced mix of athleticism and power. He is a bottom line blocker (sees it, hits it) with the aggressive hand use, wide frame and power to seal off inside run lanes and hold his own in pass protection. Cann isn’t a flawless prospect, but he doesn’t have any glaring flaws that should keep him from starting early in his career, projecting as a long-term NFL starter at left guard.
A four-star recruit out of high school, Cann was courted by most of the ACC and SEC, deciding to stay in-state and play for the Gamecocks. After redshirting in 2010, he earned the starting left guard job, earning Freshman All-American honors from several outlets. Cann started every game except for one at the next three seasons for South Carolina, earning First Team All-SEC honors as a senior in 2014.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – WALFORD, CLIVE – TE – 6’4″ – 251 LBS – MIAMI (FLORIDA)
PLAYER OVERVIEW: With 121 career receptions and 14 touchdowns, Walford leaves Miami with a chance to continue a strong tradition of productive pro tight ends. Scouts will have to be convinced consistency issues are in his past and overlook that he’s not a special athlete.
Walford’s athletic traits and versatility could make him the first senior tight end off the board, especially for teams looking for a matchup mismatch who can block and makes catches he probably shouldn’t given his average athletic ability.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – LOCKETT, TYLER – WR – 5’10” – 182 LBS – KANSAS STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: The Wildcats’ first four-time All-American and all-time leading receiver, Lockett broke all of his father’s receiving records at Kansas State and is hoping to be drafted ahead his draft slot as well (47th overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft).
Lockett is lighting fast with or without the ball and can take the top off a defense and be a dangerous threat as a return man. He is more than just speed and quickness with the precise routes and savvy ability after the catch to be effective and make-up for his lack of size.
Lockett is praised by Kansas State coaches for his practice habits and constant commitment to improve, but his limited size dimensions, inconsistent ballskills and smallish catching radius raises questions about his NFL future – considered a poor man’s T.Y. Hilton by some scouts, his best fit is likely as a slot receiver and day one return man on special teams.
Lockett held offers from Kansas and Kansas State out of high school, deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps by enrolling in Manhattan. He made an immediate impact as true freshman with a pair of kick return touchdowns, also seeing playing time on offense with 18 receptions, earning All-American honors as a return specialist.
Lockett became a full-time starting receiver in 2011 as a sophomore and finished second on the team with 44 catches for 687 yards and four scores, adding two kick return touchdowns and earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. He led the Wildcats in receiving as a junior in 2013 with 81 catches for 1,262 yards and 11 scores and was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, also earning First Team All-Big 12 honors on offense.
Lockett started all 13 games in 2014 as a senior and became the 11th consensus All-American in school history with 106 receptions for 1,515 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors as a receiver and return man.
HOUSTON TEXANS – STRONG, JAELEN – WR – 6’2″ – 217 LBS – ARIZONA STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A prospect who passes the eye test, Strong has an excellent blend of size, length and athleticism and he didn’t take long to establish himself as Arizona State’s top target once he arrived in Tempe.
It’s easy to see he has a basketball background on the football field with his body control and power, which shouldn’t be a surprise as the son of John Rankin, who is a basketball legend in the city of Philadelphia. Strong lacks the explosive traits or prowess as a route runner to create a ton of separation, but he has confident mitts and the hand/eye coordination to be a natural plucker even with defenders draped all over him.
He might not be a home run hitter in the NFL, but Strong projects as a consistent singles and doubles hitter with the possession receiver traits to move the chains and do damage in the red zone.
Under-recruited out of high school, Strong had only one FBS scholarship offer (Eastern Michigan), but couldn’t qualify academically and enrolled at Pierce College in Los Angeles, sitting out the 2011 season. He was productive as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and attracted a lot of attention from FBS schools, ranking as one of the top JUCO recruits in the country and transferring to Arizona State.
Strong emerged as the Sun Devils’ top target as a sophomore with 75 catches for 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns, earning Second Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2013. He boosted his production as a junior in 2014 with a team-best 82 receptions for 1,165 yards and 10 scores, earning First Team All-Pac 12 honors. Strong decided to skip his senior season to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
CHICAGO BEARS – GRASU, HRONISS – C – 6’3″ – 297 LBS – OREGON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: The Los Angeles native was a two-way starter at Crespi High School and a first-team all-state selection as a sophomore. By the time he was a senior, Grasu was a stalwart on an offensive line paving the way for 1,958 rushing yards.
Like many Oregon recruits, Grasu wasn’t highly coveted by all the major programs. A three-star recruit by ESPN.com, Grasu was valued by the Ducks for his athleticism.
He rewarded the Ducks’ faith, starting the next 50 consecutive games before a left leg injury that required “minor” surgery knocked him out of the starting lineup late in his senior season. Perhaps not surprisingly, Grasu made it back in time to compete in the Rose Bowl and national championship to end his collegiate career.
Grasu does not offer the bulk or power every NFL team is looking for. His athleticism, awareness and dependability, however, could warrant top 64 consideration by clubs looking for a plug-and-play option in a zone-blocking scheme.
SAINT LOUIS RAMS – BROWN, JAMON – OT – 6’4″- 323 LBS – LOUISVILLE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A three-star defensive tackle recruit out of high school, Brown committed to Louisville over offers from Illinois, Kentucky and Purdue. He started on defense, but moved to offense early in his true freshman season, starting one game at left guard.
Brown moved to tackle as a sophomore and won the starting right tackle job, starting all 13 games in 2012. He moved to left tackle in 2013 as a junior and started all 13 games for Teddy Bridgewater’s blindside. Brown started at left tackle in 2014 as a senior, but alternated between the left and right sides often in Bobby Petrino’s strong/weak alignments, earning Second Team All-ACC honors.
He earned an invitation to the 2015 East-West Shrine Game.
ATLANTA FALCONS – COLEMAN, TEVIN – RB – 5’11” – 206 LBS – INDIANA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Coleman thrived in a Wing-T offense in high school so he faced a transition to a between-the-tackles running back role in Bloomington.
Coleman served as mostly a reserve as a true freshman and led the team with 566 yards on 24 kick returns (23.6), including a 96-yard touchdown return. He became the starter as a sophomore in 2013 and started the first nine games before an ankle injury ended his season, finishing just shy of 1,000 rushing yards and earning Big Ten Honorable Mention honors.
Coleman had his best season in 2014 as a junior, becoming the 18th FBS player to reach the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a single season, setting a new school record with 2,036 rushing yards. He led the country in 20- (10) and 50-yard (6) touchdown runs and finished his career with 15 100-yard rushing performances. Coleman earned First Team All-Big Ten honors and was one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award in recognition for his historic junior season (even received two first-place votes for the Heisman Trophy, finishing seventh).
He decided to skip his final year of eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
Coleman dominated against some suspect Big Ten run defenses, but he was also productive for a one-trick offense where he was clearly the main weapon and couldn’t be stopped. He is a big play waiting to happen if he can break initial contact, tearing through the open field where he can get his momentum going.
Coleman has some deceiving power and attacks the line with a head of steam, but doesn’t consistently run behind his pads and his taller stature can’t be masked all the time. Coleman is arguably the best three-down back in this draft class because of his ability in pass protection and catching the ball.
NEW YORK GIANTS – ODIGHIZUWA, OWAMAGBE – DE – 6’3″ – 257 LBS – UCLA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Odighizuwa (Oh-DIGGY-zoo-wuh) the entire 2013 season after two separate surgeries on his left hip but returned in 2014 to play a versatile role on the edge of the Bruins’ 3-4 defense.
Odighizuwa doesn’t have impressive numbers, but the tape tells a different story. His active hands are always working and his versatility to rush or play the run will be attractive. His position and scheme versatility could land Odighizuwa a spot within the first 64 picks of the 2015 draft, and certainly qualifies him as one of the feel-good stories of the year.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – GRAYSON, GSRRETT – QB – 6’2″ – 213 LBS – COLORADO STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Grayson starred under new Florida head coach Jim McElwain the past three years and leaves the Rams as the program’s owner of every significant career passing record, including yardage, touchdowns and completion percentage.
Grayson arrived at Colorado State prior to McElwain leaving the offensive coordinator role at Alabama and wound up playing in four games (starting three) as a true freshman. He was named the starter by McElwain after fall camp in 2012 but broke his collarbone against Air Force on Sept. 29 and wound up playing in only six games.
Healthy the past two seasons, Grayson has emerged as one of the Mountain West’s biggest stars. He started all 14 games in 2013, completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 3,696 yards and 23 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. In tossing 32 touchdowns against just six interceptions over the 2014 regular season, Grayson was named the conference’s Player of the Year and earned invitations to the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl.
Grayson is rarely mentioned among the top quarterback prospects but his vision, pocket mobility and accuracy are intriguing. If impressive in interviews, all-star games and workouts, Grayson could enjoy a steady rise as the draft approaches.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – CONLEY, CHRIS – WR – 6’2″ – 213 LBS – GEORGIA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Well-known for his Star Wars-inspired student film that he wrote and directed, Conley again grabbed headlines after a standout performance at the 2015 NFL Combine. But scouts and NFL teams have been high on the Georgia pass catcher for a few years.
He led the Bulldogs in receiving the last two seasons, using his natural speed to beat single coverage in man coverage and attack open areas vs. zone, although his routes and ballskills have room for refinement. He isn’t quite as explosive after the catch, but Conley has the athletic traits for his size and length that NFL teams covet.
A three-star receiver recruit out of high school, Conley received several offers from ACC and SEC programs, but he wanted to stay home and play for the Bulldogs.
He played in 11 games as a true freshman and recorded 16 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Conley saw his playing time increase as a sophomore in 2012, starting three games and finishing with 20 receptions for 342 yards and six touchdowns. He became a full-time starter in 2013 as a junior (nine starts), leading the team with 45 catches for 651 yards and four scores.
Conley started 11 games as a senior in 2014 and finished with a career-best 657 yards on 36 catches, leading the team with eight touchdown grabs. He accepted an invitation to the 2015 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
CLEVELAND BROWNS – JOHNSON, DUKE – RB – 5’9″ – 207 LBS – MIAMI (FLORIDA)
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A five-star running back recruit out of high school, Randy “Duke” Johnson committed to the Hurricanes prior to his junior year and stuck to his pledge.
With Lamar Miller off to the NFL, he started five games in 2012 and set a Miami freshman rushing record with 947 yards and 10 touchdowns, adding a single-season school-record 892 kick return yards and two touchdowns. Johnson’s sophomore season was cut short by a broken ankle, but he led the team in rushing with 920 yards and six scores over seven starts.
He returned healthy in 2013 as a junior and started all 13 games, finishing second in the ACC with 1,652 rushing yards and 10 scores, adding 38 catches and 421 receiving yards, earning Second Team All-ACC honors. Johnson decided to skip his senior season and add his name to the 2015 NFL Draft class.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – WILLIAMS, P.J. – CB – 6’0″ – 194 LBS – FLORIDA STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A four-star cornerback/S recruit out of high school, Kenneth Lamar “P.J.” Williams committed to Florida State as a junior and stuck to his pledge even after late pushes by Miami (Fla.) and Alabama.
He played in 13 games as true freshman reserve in 2012, recording 14 tackles, mostly on special teams coverages. Williams became a starter in 2013 as a sophomore (11 starts) and led the team in passes defended (10) with 35 tackles and three interceptions, earning All-ACC Honorable Mention honors and Defensive MVP honors in the BCS National Title Game.
He started 13 games in 2014 as a junior and finished second on the team in passes defended (11), recording 74 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and one interception, earning First Team All-ACC honors. Williams decided to bypass his senior season and enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – HAROLD, ELI – OLB – 6’3″ – 247 LBS – VIRGINIA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Despite the Virginia football program averaging under four wins per season the past three years, the Cavaliers’ defense has several intriguing prospects, most notably Harold, who decided to declare early for the 2015 NFL Draft. After serving as a freshman backup, he started every game the last two seasons, combining for 36.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks over his career.
Harold, who lined up as a defensive end and linebacker in Virginia’s multiple 3-4 scheme, is a good-sized athlete with movement skills and if there was one word to accurately describe his game, it would be “active.” He doesn’t always have a plan and needs to better marry together his athleticism, power and technique, but defensive coordinators simply need to give him direction and then wind him up and let him loose.
DETROIT LIONS – CARTER, ALEX – CB – 6’0″ – 196 LBS – STANFORD
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Carter projects as a middle-round pick in a cornerback class lacking top-end talent in the top-100 picks. Some scouts believe he is underrated, but he is a prospect with the opportunity to move up draft boards throughout the process, possibly even into the first round.
“I talked it over with my family, and we decided it’s time,” Carter said after Stanford’s bowl win over Maryland. “I love these boys.”
Carter started immediately as a true freshman in 2012 and earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention in all three seasons. He led the Cardinal in 2014 with 10 passes defended, adding 41 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception.
A native of Ashburn, Va., Carter is the son Tom Carter, who starred at Notre Dame and was a first-round draft pick by the Washington Redskins in 1993.
BUFFALO BILLS – MILLER, JOHN – OG – 6’2″ – 303 LBS – LOUISVILLE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Started as a true freshman and 46 total games in his four seasons, alternating between left and right guard as a senior.
Physical presence in the ground game, a real people mover and power player with aggressive hands and the physical demeanor to manhandle defenders. He generates power from his lower body and is at his best when he rolls his hips to bury his targets, but can be overeager at times and fall off blocks. Has experience at both guard spots and might not be a fit for every NFL offense, but he has starting potential in a power-based scheme.
NEW YORK JETS – MAULDIN, LORENZO – OLB – 6’4″ – 259 LBS – LOUISVILLE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Mauldin entered the foster family system at the age of two, along with his four siblings, due to his mother and father both being in and out of jail over his lifetime. He played organized football for the first time as a sophomore in high school and quickly attracted the attention of recruiters. Mauldin originally signed with South Carolina, but low test scores forced the Gamecocks to move on and he committed to Louisville shortly after re-taking the SATs. He switched between defensive end and tight end as a true freshman, but focused on defense, working his way into the starting line-up his first two years for the Cardinals. Mauldin became a full-time starting defensive end as a junior in 2013, finishing second on the team in tackles for loss (12.0) and sacks (9.5) and earning Second Team All-ACC honors. With Louisville moving to a 3-4 base scheme, he moved to a stand-up OLB role in 2014 as a senior and was again among the team leaders in tackles for loss and sacks.
In and out of 16 foster homes growing up, Mauldin has an extensive backstory, but received direction and developed the maturity to keep his life on track and focus on football, landing at Louisville, earning his college degree and becoming a legitimate NFL prospect. He isn’t a twitchy athlete, but moves decisively with quickness and agile movement skills to play on his feet, working through bodies with consistent momentum. Mauldin is an intense, confident player with a relentless motor that makes him a chore to block. He has some tweener traits and has skills that will be attractive for both schemes, but is probably best suited adding weight and playing with his hand on the ground.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – MAGER, CRAIG – CB – 5’11” – 201 LBS – TEXAS STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Due to family circumstances, Mager wanted to stay close to home for college, committing to Texas State over other offers, redshirting in 2010.
He earned a starting job as a true freshman in 2011 and recorded 51 tackles, 13 passes defended and one interception. Mager started every game in 2012 as a sophomore, finishing with 48 tackles, 12 passes defended and a career-high four interceptions, earning All-WAC Honorable Mention honors. He started all 12 games in 2013 as a junior and recorded 49 tackles and nine passes defended.
Mager started all 12 games for the fourth straight seasons and finished with 63 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 13 passes defended and three interceptions, earning Second Team All-Sun Belt honors. He earned an invitation to the 2015 East-West Shrine Game.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – HICKS, JORDAN – OLB – 6’1″ – 236 LBS – TEXAS
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Like many of the players signed during Mack Brown’s tenure at Texas, Hicks signed with the Longhorns as a highly regarded prep prospect. He was a Parade All-American and was given the high school Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker in 2009.
Hicks played in all 12 games as a freshman, recording 23 tackles as a reserve linebacker and on special teams and looked like a future standout a year later by starting eight of 13 games as a true sophomore and finishing sixth on the team with 65 tackles. Rather than build upon his resume the next two years, however, Hicks missed most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to injury.
Hicks ended his collegiate career on a high note, leading the Longhorns with 138 tackles over the 2014 regular season and earning an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
While productive and an inspiration given the resiliency he showed in performing well in 2014 after season-ending injuries sidetracked him the previous two seasons, Hicks does not possess ideal tools for the next level, projecting best as an outside linebacker in a traditional 4-3 alignment.
CINCINNATI BENGALS – KROFT, TYLER – TE – 6’5″ – 246 LBS – RUTGERS
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Finished with 24 catches for 269 yards and no touchdowns last season with erratic quarterback play, and leaves Rutgers with 70 total catches for 901 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2013, Kroft was named first-team All-American Athletic Conference with team-highs in receiving yards (573), receptions (43) and four receiving touchdowns.
Gives good effort but most get stronger to be a three-down tight end in the NFL. He will get looks as a receiving specialist who offers formation flexibility to float to the slot as a former receiver.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – JOHNSON, DAVID – RB – 6’1″ – 224 LBS – NORTHERN IOWA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: After going under-recruited out of high school, Johnson redshirted in 2010 and started to see more and more playing time as a freshman in 2011, starting five games.
He became the full-time starter as a sophomore in 2012 and has rushed for over 1,000 rushing yards in each of the last three seasons, the only player in school history to do so.
Johnson leaves Northern Iowa with almost every rushing record and several receiving marks.
Johnson was not highly recruited coming out of a high school that does not produce many FBS-level players, with Iowa coaches saying he didn’t do enough without the ball. However, Johnson continued to develop once he got to Northern Iowa, and torched the Hawkeyes for 203 receiving yards along with 34 rushing yards as a senior.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – COATES, SAMMIE – WR – 6’1″ – 212 LBS – AUBURN
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A three-star wide receiver recruit out of high school, Coates originally committed to Southern Miss, but switched once Auburn offered him during the summer prior to his senior year.
He redshirted in 2011 after injuring his knee and was a little-used redshirt freshman back-up in 2012, starting one game and finishing with six catches. With a new coaching staff taking over at Auburn, Coates became a starter (12 starts) in 2013 and led the Tigers with 42 receptions for 902 yards and seven touchdowns, emerging as an offensive playmaker with 14 catches of 30+ yards.
He battled injuries as a junior in 2014 (seven starts), finishing with 34 catches for 741 yards and four scores, earning Second Team All-SEC honors. Despite one year left of eligibility, Coates left Auburn early for the 2015 NFL Draft. As a fourth-year junior, he participated in the 2015 Senior Bowl.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS – HUNTER, DANIELLE – DE – 6’5″ – 252 LBS – LSU
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Lanky frame and explosive get-off, even drawing comparisons to Barkevious Mingo, the first-round pick he replaced at right defensive end in defensive coordinator John Chavis’ scheme. Hunter emerged as LSU’s most dangerous pass rusher last season but did not have the statistics to reflect it.
Was not a starter until the start of the SEC schedule (fourth game) but in 10 starts he recorded 57 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks. He could be just scratching the surface of his potential.
SAINT LOUIS RAMS – MANNION, SEAN – QB – 6’6″- 229 LBS – OREGON STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A four-star quarterback recruit out of high school, Mannion committed to Oregon State as a junior in high school because of the Beavers’ coaching staff and the offense was similar to what he ran in high school.
After redshirting in 2010, Mannion beat out incumbent starter Ryan Katz (who later transferred) as a redshirt freshman, passing for 3,328 yards, which was third best in school history at the time. He showed improvement in 2012 as a sophomore, but missed a few games due to a knee injury and Cody Vaz did a nice job in relief and didn’t concede the job when Mannion returned healthy. However, Mannion beat out Vaz and was named the starter for the 2013 season opener and had a record-breaking year, passing for a Pac-12 record 4,662 yards with a 37-15 TD-INT ratio, earning All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention honors.
With Brandin Cooks leaving early for the NFL Draft, Mannion’s production dipped as a senior in 2014, including a career-low 263.7 yards per start, 62.3% completions and only 15 passing scores. He won the 2014 Manning Passing Academy Air-It-Out Challenge in July 2014 and served as a counselor at the Nike Elite 11 quarterback Camp, winning the counselor’s challenge. He earned an invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl.
BALTIMORE RAVENS – DAVIS, CARL – DT – 6’5″ – 320 LBS – IOWA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A three star defensive tackle recruit out of high school, Davis committed to Iowa over offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois, redshirting in 2010.
He battled knee injuries in 2011 and saw limited action in only six games as a redshirt freshman. He was a back-up sophomore defensive tackle in 2012, recording 14 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Davis started all 13 games in 2013 as a junior, finishing with 42 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. He again started all 13 games as a senior in 2014, recording 36 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. Davis accepted his invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl.
DALLAS COWBOYS – GREEN, CHAZ – OT – 6’5″ – 314 LBS – FLORIDA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A four-star offensive tackle recruit out of high school, Green attracted dozens of offers, committing to Florida over Ohio State, Georgia, Tennessee and USC.
After redshirting in 2010, he earned the starting right tackle job in 2011 and earned Freshman All-American honors, starting the first eight games before an ankle injury put him on the shelf. Green recorded 10 starts as a sophomore, but missed a few games due to injury in 2012 and then missed the entire 2013 season after a camp injury prior to the opener. He returned in 2014 and started 11 games, splitting time between left and right tackle.
DENVER BRONCOS – HEUERMAN, JEFF – TE – 6’5″ – 254 LBS – OHIO STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Although his statistical resume doesn’t look impressive, Heuerman, who didn’t play the sport until high school, is one of the few tight end prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft class with starting potential.
Despite the low production as a senior in Columbus, he showed vast improvement as a player with better functional athleticism as a route runner and consistency as a blocker. Heuerman has the versatility to line up inline, backfield and in the slot and should have a much better NFL career than in college if he stays healthy.
A three-star tight end recruit out of high school, Heuerman held offers from Michigan, Tennessee and South Carolina, but was won over by Columbus and the Buckeyes. After one catch as a true freshman in 2011, he became a starter in 2012 as a sophomore and posted eight catches for 94 yards and his first career touchdown.
Heuerman had his most productive season as a junior in 2013 and finished third on the team with 26 receptions for 466 yards and four scores, including a team-best 17.9 yards per catch average. He battled injuries as a senior in 2014, recording only 17 catches for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the National Champion Buckeyes.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – ANDERSON, HENRY – DE – 6’6″ – 294 LBS – STANFORD
PLAYER OVERVIEW: While Stanford lost two tough, versatile defensive linemen in Josh Mauro and Ben Gardner to the NFL, Anderson returns after missing much of last season due to a left knee injury. Despite being limited to just seven games, Anderson still earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 acknowledgement, his second consecutive year with post-season honors.
New defensive coordinator Lance Anderson (no relation) hopes his star pupil returns to the form that helped him earned second-team honors in 2012 while racking up 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – MONTGOMERY, TY – WR – 6’0″ – 221 LBS – STANFORD
PLAYER OVERVIEW: After a breakout junior season in which the Dallas native racked up 2,208 all-purpose yards (third-most in school history) in helping the Cardinal finish 11-3 and a Rose Bowl berth, Montgomery (and Stanford) appeared to be destined for greatness in 2014. Montgomery took a step back due to injuries and inconsistency, leaving scouts wondering if his spectacular junior season was a fluke.
In 2013, Montgomery earned consensus All-American honors as a kick returner, averaging 30.3 yards per opportunity with touchdowns. He also led Stanford with 61 catches for 958 yards and 10 TDs, many of the dramatic variety. In 2014, he struggled with a shoulder injury and drops. He matched last year’s total for receptions but all three of his touchdowns came over the first four games and he finished with only 603 receiving yards.
Flashed early on at Stanford, emerging as a starter in the final four games of his freshman season in 2012, catching seven passes for 120 yards in the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma State. Torn knee ligaments derailed most of his sophomore season and he finished with 26 catches for 213 yards.
Montgomery has an imposing build and his dual-threat ability as a receiver and returner could still earn him top 64 consideration. Concerns about his durability, agility and hands could impact his final grade.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – JONES, MATT – RB – 6’2″ – 231 LBS – FLORIDA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Will Muschamp was replaced at Florida in large part due to the Gators’ inability to score points. Florida would have been even worse off if not for the productive running from Jones, who led the team with 817 rushing yards and six scores in 2014. Jones also caught 11 passes for 65 yards and another score.
Shortly after news of Muschamp’s firing broke, Jones announced his plans to enter the 2015 draft.
Jones’ decision to leave early may have been prompted by a tough 2013 campaign in which he missed much of the spring fighting a viral infection before winning back the starting job, only to have his season cut short with knee injury.
He signed with Florida as a highly recruited prospect, turning down the likes of Alabama, Auburn and Clemson, among others. Jones sports the powerful frame to potentially serve as the thunder in an NFL backfield. His lack of lateral agility and breakaway speed could even force him to improve as a blocker and potentially make the switch to fullback.
CLEVELAND BROWNS – COOPER, XAVIER – DT – 6’3″ – 293 LBS – WASHINGTON STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Washington State isn’t nationally known as an NFL pipeline, but first-round safety Deone Bucannon (Arizona Cardinals) provided some evidence a year ago that the Cougars are regaining their snarl and Cooper could enjoy a similar late rise up boards this spring. It certainly would be a change for Washington State, as Rien Long was the last Cougars defensive lineman drafted into the NFL – and that came back in 2003.
Cooper didn’t enjoy the same success in Pullman that earned Long the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman 12 years ago, but his production nonetheless speaks for itself.
After sitting out his first season to get his academics in order, Cooper burst onto the Pac-12 scene, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2012 with 34 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and three sacks. He was not recognized by the conference in 2013 despite improving in every category (50-13.5-5) and capping his career in 2014 with 37 stops, including a team-leading 9.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Cooper was a bit of a square peg in a round hole in the 3-4 scheme that Washington State employed in 2014. He possesses impressive overall athleticism for a man of his size, which could make him especially valued by traditional 4-3 clubs looking for an interior rusher. While scouts might have preferred that he return for his final season to get stronger, Cooper’s blend of length and athleticism is intriguing enough to warrant top 75 consideration.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – GRISSOM, GENEO – OLB – 6’3″ – 262 LBS – OKLAHOMA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Few prospects look better walking off the bus than Grissom, a physically imposing player whose length, speed and power earned him time at tight end, defensive end and outside linebacker during his time at Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, due to constant position changes and a sprained MCL in 2014, Grissom never fully reached his potential with the Sooners, though he did register a combined 79 tackles, including 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks over the past two seasons as a versatile edge defender. Better yet, he boasts many of the traits that project well at the next level, which could make him a surprisingly valued commodity come draft day.
Grissom is clearly a work in progress. Once he locates the ball, however, Grissom accelerates quickly and arrives with a pop. A team willing to gamble on his upside could be handsomely rewarded.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – NELSON, STEVEN – CB – 5’10” – 197 LBS – OREGON STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Nelson signed with Oregon State as a celebrated JUCO transfer after an impressive tour of duty at the College of the Sequoias where he registered 71 tackles, 19 passes broken up and six interceptions in two seasons. Nelson wasted little time proving a fit with the Beavers, earning a starting role almost immediately and setting an OSU record with four interceptions in the first four games of the 2013 season, including a game-winning pick-six with 2:31 remaining against San Diego State.
Nelson stood out in coverage during Senior Bowl practices, showing quick feet, a fluid turning motion and a closing burst. He officially broke up four passes during one practice, consistently undercutting receivers to bat away passes. Nelson has the blend of size and tenacity scouts are looking for in a nickel corner. He does, however, have a tendency to get grabby.
CINCINNATI BENGALS – DAWSON, PAUL – ILB – 6’0″ – 235 LBS – TCU
PLAYER OVERVIEW: TCU head coach Gary Patterson is often credited with finding and developing diamond in the rough types. Dawson, a high school wide receiver who went the JUCO route before emerging as an All-American outside linebacker, is Patterson’s latest star pupil.
Despite only starting the final seven games in 2013, Dawson led the Horned Frogs in tackles as a junior with 91 stops, including 10 for loss. That was just a warm-up for his senior campaign, when Dawson recorded an astounding 128 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and four interceptions – and that was before TCU’s white-washing of Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.
TCU’s beloved 4-2-5 scheme puts Dawson in position to pad his statistics. His instinct and agility project very well to a more traditional 4-3 alignment, especially at weakside linebacker. If he performs well in the workouts and interviews at the Combine, Dawson could earn top 50 consideration.