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.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – WINSTON, JAMEIS – QB – 6’4″ – 227 LBS – FLORIDA STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Winston’s redshirt freshman season saw him earn ACC Player of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year and consensus All-American honors, as well as set national freshman records for passing yards (4,057) and passing TDs (40). And oh – he also won the Heisman Trophy. Had he been eligible for the 2014 NFL draft, he – not Marcus Mariota or JaDaveon Clowney – might very well have been the No. 1 overall pick.
Aside from the unprecedented statistical accomplishments, what may have been most impressive about Winston in his first year as the Seminoles signal-caller was his rare display of poise, confidence and ability to finish games through moments of extreme adversity in big-game settings against some of the nation’s best teams, despite his lack of experience coming into the season.
Never was this more apparent than when he led the Seminoles to a comeback victory in an edge-of-your-seat back-and-forth BCS Championship Game against Auburn, earning offensive MVP honors and a national championship trophy.
Put simply, Winston wasn’t as productive in the passing department a year later. His completion percentage and touchdowns dropped while his interceptions rose dramatically. A year after tossing 40 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions, his numbers dipped to a relatively pedestrian 25 scores and 18 turnovers. In a historic Rose Bowl showdown with the “other” top quarterback in the country, Winston and the Seminoles fumbled away their opportunity to repeat as champions, losing to Mariota’s Oregon Ducks.
Despite the disappointing second season, Winston elected to leave Florida State early for the NFL. It isn’t difficult to understand why. From a pure talent perspective, he’s the most gifted quarterback in the class, boasting the size, arm strength, accuracy, anticipation and poise on the field scouts are looking for in a franchise quarterback.
Off the field, however, is another story. Winston’s off-field issues would dominate the 2014 offseason, beginning with the continued fallout of a sexual assault investigation and shoplifting crab legs from a Tallahassee-area grocery store.
He was then suspended for the Clemson game following an incident at the student union in which Winston stood on a table and yelled a vulgarity. There was also an investigation in whether he was paid for an autograph session.
With the QB-needy Tampa Bay Buccaneers picking first, the stage has been set for a fascinating countdown to the draft. Given the Bucs close proximity to campus, they know as well or better than anyone all that Winston has brought on and off the field for the Seminoles.
TENNESSEE TITANS –MARIOTA, MARCUS – QB – 6’4″ – 212 LBS – OREGON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Mariota was a three-star prospect out of Honolulu who put his dual-threat skills on display in leading St. Louis High School to a state title.
Timed at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a high school all-star game, he was considered by then-Oregon coach Chip Kelly to be a perfect fit for the Ducks’ offense. When Dennis Dixon left Eugene a year early, Mariota stepped in as the starter as a redshirt freshman in 2012.
He is blessed with extraordinary tools and his production has been outstanding, including his Heisman Trophy resume in 2014.
Some might write Mariota off due to the offense he runs, but his skill-set projects well to the next level because he’s a smart, confident passer who is just scratching the surface of what he can do.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS –FOWLER JR., DANTE – OLB – 6’3″ – 261 LBS – FLORIDA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: In 2013 – Fowler’s first season as a starter – he was recognized with the SEC Defensive Player of the Week against the most gifted offensive line he faced (Tennessee) and earned second-team all-conference honors by the league media for his play, recording 50 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
He has struggled against the run and needs to play more assignment sound, but the versatility and skill-set is exciting for the next level, and Fowler projects as one of the 2015 class’ top available pass rushers.
Besides demonstrating the character traits that will endear him to his future NFL team (and fan base), Fowler possesses the athletic attributes to warrant first round consideration – perhaps as early as a top 10 pick. Fowler is strong enough to handle defensive end duties in a traditional four-man front but his light feet, balance and instincts will be equally valued by clubs looking for a stand-up edge rusher.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – COOPER, AMARI – WR – 6’1″ – 203 LBS – ALABAMA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: By breaking Julio Jones’ freshman records for catches (59) and receiving yards (1,000) and Alabama’s all-time record for touchdown receptions in a single season (11), Cooper exploded onto the scene in 2012.
His production tailed off as a sophomore as nagging injuries limited his availability. Despite playing in 12 games, Cooper only started seven of them and he caught “just” 45 passes for 736 yards (which led the team) and four touchdowns.
Cooper rebounded in a huge way in 2014, becoming the second player in SEC history to eclipse the 100-catch plateau in a season and is the only NCAA receiver with 100-plus receptions, 1,500-plus receiving yards and 14-plus receiving scores through Dec. 4.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – SCHERFF, BRANDON – OG – 6’5″ – 315 LBS – IOWA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: NFL scouts value Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz’s pupils as they generally play with grit and excellent technique and are as reliable in the passing game as they are when run blocking. Iowa’s program has been an offensive line factory since Ferentz took over in Iowa City, but the Hawkeyes haven’t had a draft pick at the position the past two years.
That will change with Scherff, a 6-foot-5, 320 pounder who scouts view as the most pro-ready offensive linemen in the 2015 draft due to his size, strength and versatility. Perhaps because of his broad-shouldered, powerful frame, Scherff has been pegged by some as a possible guard-convert. Unlike many of the other collegiate tackles who may be asked to make this move in the NFL, Scherff has already seen action there, starting at left guard as a redshirt freshman in 2011. He slid outside to left tackle in 2012 and other than missing some time due to injury, hasn’t missed a beat since, culminating with a spectacular senior campaign in which he was named a consensus All-American and the Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s best lineman.
While scouts love Scherff’s toughness, technique and power, he isn’t considered a blue chip talent who surely will earn a top five selection. Scherff doesn’t possess elite foot quickness in pass protection and more importantly, comes with medical red flags after twice sustaining injuries to his right leg that required surgery to correct.
NEW YORK JETS – WILLIAMS, LEONARD – DE – 6’5″ – 291 LBS – USC
PLAYER OVERVIEW: While Southern Cal has endured some relatively down years recently, it is rare that a true freshman walks in and makes a significant impact in the land of Troy, especially along the line of scrimmage. That is precisely what Williams did in 2012, however, after signing with USC out of Daytona Beach, FL.
Operating at defensive tackle, Williams registered a 64 tackles, including 13.5 for loss and eight sacks, earning Defensive Freshman of the Year honors from the Pac-12. He was moved outside to end in 2013 and was even more productive, ranking second on the team with 74 tackles, while picking up another 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks, despite being limited by a shoulder injury.
Nicknamed the “Big Cat,” Williams’ flexibility, movement skills and point of attack strength are exactly what NFL teams covet in the trenches.
CHICAGO BEARS –WHITE, KEVIN – WR – 6’3″ – 212 LBS – WEST VIRGINIA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: White was forced to go the JUCO route out of high school due to academics, and after two years at Lackawanna College he transferred to West Virginia in 2013, choosing the Mountaineers over offers from Texas Tech, Hawaii and Bowling Green, among others.
“I chose West Virginia because of the offense,” White told NFLDraftScout.com. “They put the ball in the air. I loved the coaching staff. It was close to home. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, their success also motivated me to come here.”
White finished his junior season with 35 catches for 507 receiving yards, but he wasn’t pleased with the overall production.
“Last year was a bad year, I wanted to go out there and show the world and myself that I can compete with the best of the best,” he said. “Man coverage is me vs. that guy. I won’t let him stop me, he won’t beat me.”
With a full season at West Virginia under his belt and with quarterback Clint Trickett taking command of the offense, White has been one of the best players in college football in 2014, leading the FBS with 69 receptions for 1,020 receiving yards and seven scores, eclipsing the 100-yard receiving mark in all seven games so far.
“KW is a man,” an NFC North scout told NFLDraftScout.com. “He’s playing at a different level than most receivers in the college game. Speed. Size. Ball skills. He’s making it look easy out there. He could help all 32 teams right now.”
ATLANTA FALCONS – BEASLEY, VIC – OLB – 6’2″ – 236 LBS – CLEMSON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Beasley might have been considered an undersized ‘tweener and a fringe top 100 pick just a few years ago.
But new levels of desperation for teams trying to affect quarterbacks in today’s pass-happy NFL will likely contribute to a demand for Beasley, who is likely to be drafted in the Top 40.
Beasley reportedly received a second-round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee last year after leading the ACC with 13 sacks (along with 23 tackles for loss). He followed that up this season with similar production (11.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss through the regular season), proving his success was no fluke. He passed Michael Dean Perry and Gaines Adams (among others) this season to become Clemson’s all-time sack king, with 32 QB takedowns (through the 2014 regular season) over his career.
Though Beasley’s lean frame has led some to question his legitimacy as an every-down end prospect for the next level, his electric first step, long arms and active hands have enabled him to routinely create and maintain space against bigger blockers, and he has consistently shown a knack for keeping opponents on their heels with quick change-of-direction ability. Beasley will run himself out of plays occasionally and he may be a bit of a one-trick-pony. But his specialty – creating big plays for loss – is one that every team in the league is looking for.
NEW YORK GIANTS – FLOWERS, ERECK – OG – 6’6″ – 315 LBS – MIAMI
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Ereck Flowers, the junior offensive tackle from the Miami Hurricanes, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after starting 23 career games at left tackle (he also appeared in 12 career games at right tackle.)
In 2014, Flowers battled a meniscus injury but still managed to earn Second Team All-ACC honors. Physically, he is a tall, long offensive tackle who has an impressive frame and overall build. At 6’6″ and 322 lbs, he carries his weight exceptionally well with an athletic-looking physique.
Athletically, Flowers possesses solid movement skills and good short-area burst, as he displayed the ability to consistently get to the second level as well as reach, get his body in proper position, and seal the edge. He displays good body control and overall fluidity in his initial kick-step, but he can struggle at times with speed to the edge. Even with his long arms, he can struggle to recover when he falls a step behind.
Flowers is capable of holding up versus power, showing good balance on contact as well as the lower-body strength and flexibility to anchor down. He needs to develop better hand play if he’s going to become a reliable starter in the NFL.
SAINT LOUIS RAMS – GURLEY, TODD – RB – 6’1″ – 231 LBS – GEORGIA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: When healthy, Gurley has proven he has the unique skill set to warrant first-round consideration. The 6-foot-1, 232-pounder boasts a combination of vision, power and acceleration which earned comparisons to Marshawn Lynch and former All-Pro Jamal Lewis from NFL scouts.
Gurley was in the Heisman conversation in 2014 with 773 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in six games before missing four games due to an NCAA suspension for accepting money for autographs. In his first game back, Gurley suffered a season-ending torn ACL. He still rushed for 911 yards on 7.4 yards per carry in 2014, and finished his Georgia career with 3,285 yards on 6.4 yards per carry and rushed for 36 touchdowns in three seasons. He added 615 receiving yards, six receiving touchdowns and two kickoff return touchdowns.
With youngster Nick Chubb putting up Gurley-like production in his absence, some wonder if both backs aren’t benefiting from outstanding offensive-line play at Georgia. The talent at running back could actually allow NFL teams to devalue the position a bit in this draft. In a case of supply and demand, teams could elect to draft other positions, believing a good back like Minnesota’s David Cobb could be found in the middle rounds.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS — WAYNES, TRAE – CB – 6’1″ – 185 LBS – MICHIGAN STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: One of the best defensive backs and cover corners in the country, Waynes cut his teeth under the tutelage of 2014 first-round cornerback Darqueze Dennard the past few years and has developed into a first-round prospect himself. He finished the 2014 season with 46 tackles, a sack, three interceptions and eight passes broken up and is considered by many to be the clear No. 1 cornerback in this class.
Waynes has the size to match up with the league?s premier playmakers in bump and run, and pre-draft workouts could determine just how high his draft ceiling is depending on his timed speed.
CLEVELAND BROWNS – SHELTON, DANNY – NT – 6’2″ – 339 LBS – WASHINGTON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Given Washington’s 8-5 regular season record (including just 4-5 in the Pac-12), some might be surprised that the Huskies were loaded with NFL talent.
Most of the media attention was devoted to Shaq Thompson, who earned the Paul Hornung Trophy as the nation’s most versatile player, and edge rusher Hau’oli Kikaha, whose 18 sacks over the regular season led the country. The first Husky selected in the 2015 NFL draft, however, could be the massive Shelton, whose build belies his motor and eye-popping production.
Shelton earned honorable mention all-conference honors following his sophomore and junior campaigns, steadily improving his numbers from 11 tackles to 45 in 2012 and an impressive 59 stops in 2013. Shelton switched from jersey No. 55 in 2014 (from No. 71), and enjoyed a breakout senior season by earning AP All-American honors with 89 tackles, including 16.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.
Despite his production indicating otherwise, Shelton is not a consistent pass rush threat. He’s a classic two-gap run-plugger with the bulk and brute strength to bull-rush opponents into the backfield.
What makes Shelton unique is his effort in pursuit. It wasn’t uncommon for Shelton to sprint to the sideline or 10-plus yards downfield to stop ballcarriers. While scouts will appreciate this tenacity, critics wonder if this passion wasn’t motivated by the lure of an NFL contract.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – PEAT, ANDRUS – OT – 6’7″ – 313 LBS – STANFORD
PLAYER OVERVIEW: During the Jim Harbaugh-David Shaw era, size and strength have been prioritized over athleticism at virtually every position. In Peat, however, the Cardinal boast a massive blocker with rare athleticism.
Peat signed with Stanford as a highly regarded prep and he’s proven worthy of his praise, earning playing time as a true freshman on an offensive line filled with NFL talent. He started every game the past two seasons at left tackle for Stanford, earning All-American honors and the Morris Trophy in 2014. The Morris Trophy is a unique award given annually to the best offensive and defensive linemen in the Pac-12, with only rival players – and not coaches or media – given votes.
Massive and surprisingly athletic, the game appears to come easily for Peat and he is one of the few in the 2015 tackle class who possesses the combination of length, balance and fluidity to remain outside at the next level. While boasting undeniable talent, some question whether Peat has the nastiness to ever maximize his full potential, however.
MIAMI DOLPHINS – PARKER, DEVANTE – WR – 6’3″ – 209 LBS – LOUISVILLE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Despite losing his quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Parker passed on the NFL after the 2013 season and returned to Louisville for his senior year, although it didn?t go quite as expected, missing the first seven games after foot surgery. However when he did return, he was dominant in the final six games, averaging seven catches and almost 150 receiving yards per game. Parker will have some easy drops and needs to iron out some wrinkles in his game, but he is long-striding athlete with better catch-and-go creativity and toughness than expected, using his wingspan and natural length to play above the rim. His size/athletic dimensions are first round quality with a large catching radius to be a playmaker at every level of the field ? not quite on the same level as A.J. Green as a NFL prospect, but a notch below.
Parker was a Louisville fan growing up and committed to his hometown team as a junior in high school. He started six games as a true freshman in 2011 and led the team in receiving scores (6) and yards per catch average (16.2). Parker was again a part-time wideout as a sophomore (three starts), but led the Cardinals with 744 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. He set career-highs as a junior in 2013 with a team-best 55 catches for 885 yards and tied a school-record with 12 touchdown grabs, earning First Team All-AAC honors. Parker missed the first seven games of his senior season due to a foot injury, but still managed 43 catches for 855 yards and five scores in just four starts, earning Second Team All-ACC honors.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS- GORDON, MELVIN – RB – 6’1″ – 207 LBS – WISCONSIN
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Wisconsin has had an excellent run on running backs over time, most recently Montee Ball and James White. But Gordon, one of three Heisman Trophy finalists last season, has the natural talent to be the best NFL running back the Badgers’ program has ever produced.
Gordon was already thought of as a borderline first-round pick entering the 2014 season, and then steadily built on his resume as he finished second in FBS history with 427 rushing yards – 41 yards shy of Barry Sanders’ record set in 1998. With Todd Gurley’s knee injury, Gordon is the odds-on-favorite to be the first running back drafted in the 2015 class.
After redshirting in 2011, he saw limited playing time in 2012 behind Ball and White, but produced stats that would have led some other teams in rushing (621 rushing yards, 10.0 yards per carry). With Ball off to the NFL, Gordon and White shared the running back duties in 2013 with White leading the way with carries, but Gordon had a team-best 1,609 rushing yards, averaging 7.8 yards per rush and 123.8 yards per game.
He burst onto the national scene on Nov. 15, rushing for a single-game FBS record 408 yards against Nebraska (a record later broken by Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine with 427 yards). Gordon broke the old mark of 406 rushing yards set by LaDainian Tomlinson in his TCU days and, amazingly enough, he broke the record on the final play of the third quarter.
HOUSTON TEXANS – JOHNSON, KEVIN – CB – 6’0″ – 188 LBS – WAKE FOREST
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Wake Forest doesn’t produce NFL prospects with the consistency of ACC peers Clemson, Miami or Florida State.
Perhaps that is the reason Johnson has largely been allowed to slip under the national radar despite his 41 career starts and four years of all-conference recognition. Johnson is hardly an unknown among scouts, however, who are excited about his combination of length, agility and ball-skills.
Johnson is a fluid athlete with the change of direction and acceleration to excel in man coverage. He possesses the awareness and closing speed to handle zone, as well, but he isn’t a big hitter. Johnson’s lanky frame is a bit of a concern, especially given that he’s already worked hard to maximize it.
He signed with Wake Forest weighing just 154 pounds and has gained 20 pounds of muscle since. It is worth noting that Johnson has never missed a game due to injury.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – ARMSTEAD, ARIK – DT – 6’7″ – 292 LBS – OREGON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Signed as a highly regarded prep and recorded 26 tackles in 13 games (including one start) in 2012. Progress slowed as a sophomore (15 tackles in 13 games, including five starts) but helped the Ducks win the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl and qualify for the national championship as a junior after quitting Oregon’s basketball team to focus on football.
Dedicated to football in 2014, Armstead’s incredible talent began to show through. He recorded 46 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks despite facing constant double teams.
Lacks the explosiveness off the snap to ever wreak havoc as a pass rusher but his size, strength and length make him an obvious five-technique candidate for traditional 3-4 clubs and he’s light enough on his feet to potentially slide inside to defensive tackle in a four-man front. That kind of versatility and upside is likely to earn Armstead top 50 consideration. Some teams will pass on the raw prospect with questions about how important football really is to him.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – PETERS, MARCUS – CB – 6’0″ – 197 LBS – WASHINGTON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Peters is a clear first-round talent who must answer significant character concerns leading up to the draft after being dismissed from the Washington football team on Nov. 6.
While immensely talented, the 2013 Second-Team All-Pac-12 performer was held out of the first quarter of the Huskies’ bowl game at the end of the season, and then repeatedly clashed with coach Chris Petersen’s staff in 2014. He was served a one-game suspension after a sideline tirade against Eastern Washington in the second game of the season, and reportedly got into an argument with an assistant coach in practice that ultimately led to his dismissal from the program.
“It’s unfortunate, but you know, we have certain standards and operating procedures and we’re trying to do something special here,” Petersen said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. And like we said, we wish him the best. It’s always a hard thing. It really is. Worst part of the job, without question. With all that being said, that’s really it. That’s it in a nutshell. I know everybody wants the details and those things. We don’t go there. We can’t go there. But like I said we wish him the best and it’s hard and painful.”
Peters led the Huskies with five interceptions in 2013 and had three more in sporadic playing time in ’14. Combining length, ball-skills and the agility, Peters is one of the few first round-worthy cornerbacks in the 2015 class.
Peters talent warrants a first round grade and perhaps even top 15 consideration. Depending on how he runs in at the combine – and more importantly how performs in team interviews there, however, there is no question Peters’ stock could tumble. It remains to be seen if Peters will be allowed to work out at Washington’s pro day given the abrupt and unfortunate end to his career with the Huskies.
Despite the controversial end to Peters’ Husky career, Petersen said he would give NFL scouts a positive recommendation.
“We want him to get his education, without question. We want to help him move on and be positive from here, and so we’ll do whatever we can to help that happen,” Petersen said. “Marcus has got a lot of skill. I really do hope that he has a really good NFL career, there’s no doubt about that. And I think he can and we wish him a lot of luck going in that direction.”
CLEVELAND BROWNS – ERVING, CAMERON – C – 6’6″ – 311 LBS – FLORIDA STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Impressed with 20 tackles at defensive tackle in 2011 and emerged as a 14-game starter and the left tackle on a line protecting first-round pick EJ Manuel in 2012. He emerged as a first-team All-ACC and All-American offensive tackle in 2013 and contemplated a jump to the NFL.
There are very few athletes who can make the type of transition that Erving has made — moving to the offensive side of the ball and becoming an immediate starter the same year, at the most difficult position on the line, then being named to several All-American teams and being tabbed a top NFL prospect all within a two year period.
But he was on the move again in November, starting his first career game at center in Florida State’s comeback victory over Miami on Nov. 15 after serving as Jameis Winston’s left tackle the previous 22 games.
A very good athlete with light feet and coveted versatility, it would not be a surprise to see a team fall in love with Erving and make him a top-40 draft pick.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – AGHOLOR, NELSON – WR – 6’0″ – 185 LBS – USC
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Nelson Agholor, the junior wide receiver from the USC Trojans, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after a prolific 2014 season and a productive all-around collegiate career. A starter in each of the last two years, Agholor totaled 103 catches for 1,313 yards and 12 TDs in ’14. He finished the season as a First Team All-Pac12 performer and Third Team All-American.
In 2013, he managed 56 receptions for 918 yards and 6 TDs. He finished that year as a Second Team All-American and First Team All-Conference player. For his career, Agholor totaled 179 catches, 2,571 yards and 20 TDs.
He’s not an overly aggressive or physical player; He’s a space player who is likely to struggle versus NFL press coverage. Athletically, Agholor is a two-step talent who gets up to full speed in a hurry. He offers more than enough initial quickness and long speed to be considered a bona-fide threat in the deep passing game.
Agholor is a coordinated and balanced guy with good body control and the natural hands needed to pluck the ball away from his frame. Despite his less than ideal frame, he displays the toughness to make plays in traffic and can hold onto the ball through contact. After the catch, he is a dangerous weapon who uses the defense’s momentum against it. He is fluid and shifty enough to make guys miss and has the hip flexibility to start and stop on a dime.
CINCINNATI BENGALS – OGBUEHI, CEDRIC – OT – 6’5″ – 306 LBS – TEXAS A&M
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Whereas Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews were exceptionally highly regarded prospects dating back to their prep days, Ogbeuhi chose the Aggies over just a handful of other offers and redshirted in 2009.
He earned the starting job at right guard a year later but suffered an ankle injury in his first game (Arkansas) and missed the next three contests, ultimately playing in 10 games and starting six.
Noticeably stronger, Ogbeuhi (pronounced ah-BOO-hee) took his game to another level in 2012, forming a devastating right side of the offensive line with Matthews. With Matthews flipping to the left side to take over for Joeckel, the Aggies moved Ogbeuhi to the outside in 2013.
The Aggies have become somewhat of an offensive tackle factory. Although not yet a household name, Ogbuehi could be the third first round offensive tackle out of Texas A&M the past three years. Ogbuehi almost certainly would have earned a top 10 selection in the 2014 draft had he entered. Having already graduated, he strongly considered doing so and only elected to return to College Station when the Aggies took advantage of a new rule by paying more than $50,000 for an insurance policy to protect against an injury-related slip in his draft stock.
In the long run, his time at guard could serve him well, as he’ll be more accustomed to the physicality of close quarters – something that many rookie offensive tackles struggle with in their first year in the NFL. However, he’s going through the draft process recovering from an ACL tear that will keep him out of team activities into at least August and possibly all of his rookie training camp.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS –DUPREE, ALVIN – OLB – 6’4″ – 267 LBS – KENTUCKY
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Dupree’s length, agility and closing speed stand out on tape and his comfort playing out of a two- or three-point stance will attract multiple suitors. Better yet, his traits translate into production against quality competition, as Dupree is the SEC’s active sack leader.
Dupree doesn’t come without some red flags. Despite adding 15 pounds of muscle to his frame he must get stronger. His production has come while splitting duties between defensive end in a 4-3 alignment and as a stand-up outside linebacker, versatility some scouts find intriguing, but others question if favorable matchups booster production for the star rusher.
Dupree emerged the past two years in Mark Stoops’ highly aggressive scheme that has previously made collegiate stars out of several pass rushers he coached at Florida State, most of whom have struggled to duplicate their success in the NFL.
DENVER BRONCOS – RAY, SHANE – DE – 6’3″ – 245 LBS – MISSOURI
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Ray’s game is all athleticism and with the right fit he could wind up earning a higher draft-day grade than most Mizzou pass rushers in recent years.
Ray’s production in 2013 (39 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) is staggering considering he backed up Michael Sam and Kony Ealy. His 2013 season was a significant jump from a redshirt freshman campaign in which he recorded 16 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and no sacks.
The talented pass rusher led the SEC in TFL (20.5) and sacks (13.5), breaking Missouri’s previous single season sack record of 11.5.
His pass-rush sequence and arsenal of moves is raw. However, his first-step quickness and sustained burst off the edge are special and a team will likely spend a first-round pick with his ceiling in mind.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – HUMPHRIES, D.J. – OT – 6’5″ – 284 LBS – FLORIDA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Despite a second consecutive injury-shortened season, Humphries elected to forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the 2015 draft, leaving Florida with just 19 career starts. It is a gamble that NFL evaluators may not appreciate, though Humphries talent is obvious.
After not allowing a sack in his final three seasons of prep ball, Humphries signed with Florida as a consensus top 20 recruit in 2012. He quickly earned playing time, getting the starting nod the final three games of the year (and not allowing a sack during those games, as well). Scouts were already buzzing about the upside of the young, athletic left tackle.
Unfortunately, Humphries was plagued by MCL sprains in both knees as a sophomore and he was shut down for the season after starting the first six games. He showed similar promise in starting a career-high 10 games as a junior but missed two games with a high ankle sprain.
Humphries’ length and agility is sure to intrigue teams but in a solid class of tackles, Humphries could be waiting until the middle rounds to hear his name called.
CAROLINA PANTHERS – THOMPSON, SHAQ – OLB – 6’0″ – 228 LBS – WASHINGTON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Thompson predominately starred at outside linebacker for the Huskies but was recognized with the Paul Hornung Trophy as the nation’s most versatile player in 2014 after the junior rushed for 456 yards on just 61 carries (7.5 per rush average) during the regular season. Thompson’s natural running skills warrant consideration at the next level, but Thompson was every bit as productive at linebacker, scoring four defensive touchdowns for the Huskies in 2014 alone.
Regardless of where he lined up for the Huskies, Thompson’s athleticism and instincts on the football field stood out. He’s a fluid, balanced athlete who changes directions easily and accelerates smoothly. As a defender, he locates the ball quickly, is poised in coverage and is a reliable tackler.
Thompson’s talent is undeniable. There is, however, some question as to where he fits best in the NFL. Physically, he appears best suited to the weakside linebacker role in a predominately 4-3 scheme. Given his football intelligence, Thompson might be able to handle a hybrid role in which he’s asked to play linebacker and safety, on occasion, giving a creative defensive coordinator a moveable chess piece to matchup against today’s athletic tight ends and massive slot receivers.
BALTIMORE RAVENS – PERRIMAN, BRESHAD – WR – 6’2″ – 212 LBS – CENTRAL FLORIDA
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Perriman’s father (Brett Perriman) played receiver in the NFL for 10 years and had two 1,000-yard seasons with the Detroit Lions. Opposite of his father (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) Breshad is a massive target at 6-2, 214.
The Knights’ leading receiver with 50 catches for 1,044 and nine touchdowns his junior season, Perriman received All-American Athletic Conference First Team honors and declared early for the NFL Draft. During his true sophomore and junior seasons he averaged an astounding 20.8 yards per catch.
Perriman established himself as a legit offensive weapon as a true freshman. His 26 receptions for 388 yards for three touchdowns all rank third overall as a true freshman at UFC. He also earned a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman Team.
Perriman made one of the most memorable plays in UCF school history with a 51-yard Hail Mary catch to defeat ECU, 32-30, that gave the Knights a share of the 2014 conference title. It was another example of Perriman’s ability to adjust to the football and time the catch in coverage on deep passes. He caught at least one touchdown pass in seven straight games his junior season, finishing the year with nine.
Seven receivers have been selected from UCF in school history, with the most notable being Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was selected in the fourth round in 2006 by the Denver Broncos. Perriman has the ability to match Marshall’s draft grade.
DALLAS COWBOYS – JONES, BYRON – CB – 6’1″ – 199 LBS – CONNECTICUT
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Jones is literally leaping up draft boards after he provided the highlight of the final workouts at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis with a standing broad jump of 12-feet-3 inches, that is not only the best ever at a combine, but a world record. The previous world record for the broad jump was 12-2, set Nov. 11, 1968 by Norwegian Arne Tvervaag of the Ringerike FIK Sportclub.
It wasn’t just the broad jump that had scouts buzzing. Jones finished among the best performers at any position in the vertical jump (44 inches), 3-cone drill (6.78) and short shuttle (3.94).
With the Combine just three weeks removed from when he started running, Jones didn’t run the 40-yard dash or perform in the positional drills and therefore how he performs at UConn’s March 31 Pro Day will play a key role in his final grading.
Jones had left shoulder surgery in October, ending his second season as a starting cornerback after starting at safety in 2011 and 2012. At the time of the injury Jones had 24 tackles, two interceptions and four pass breakups. He returned one interception 70 yards for a touchdown.
He started 37 of 43 possible games for the Huskies, including six of the final seven games of his redshirt freshman season at safety while future NFL draft picks Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Tennessee Titans) and Dwayne Gratz (Jacksonville Jaguars) starred at cornerback. Jones finished with 223 tackles, 18 passes defended and eight interceptions in four years. He posted a career-high 88 tackles while playing at safety during the 2012 season, then set new career-bests with eight pass breakups and three interceptions in 2013 after converting to cornerback.
Jones has the athleticism for cornerback, but looks and tackles like safety at 6-1 and 199 pounds. He was a senior captain at UConn with impeccable character that has coaches gushing about his intangibles. Factor in the athletic prowess and Jones has created a ton of positive buzz – and he didn’t have to run the 40-yard dash to do so.
DETROIT LIONS – TOMLINSON, LAKEN – OG – 6’3″ – 323 LBS – DUKE –
PLAYER OVERVIEW: Tomlinson was born in Jamaica, moved to the U.S. with his mother at the age of 10 and started playing football as a freshman in high school. He was recruited as both an offensive and defensive lineman, but focused on offense at Duke and was a mainstay at right guard for the Blue Devils the last four seasons, starting 52 straight games. He was a three-time All-ACC First Teamer and four-time Academic All-ACC honoree, earning the 2014 Orange Bowl Courage Award.
Tomlinson has a wide, squatty body that takes up room and allows him to anchor, plugging holes in the line, but struggles to consistently sustain or be dependable if asked to block in space or pay away from the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t consistently bring his feet with him in the run game and lacks the length to get away with his technical issues, struggling to be reliable in space. Tomlinson is a first-class person with strong intangibles and work ethic, but projects as a short-area NFL backup.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – DORSETT, PHILLIP – WR – 5’9″ – 179 LBS – MIAMI
PLAYER OVERVIEW: The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native chose the hometown Hurricanes over offers from Florida, Ohio State, North Carolina and Georgia, among others. Dorsett ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at the Under Armour combine, but was only a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and USPNU.
He saw action in all 12 games as a true freshman, finishing with 14 catches for 147 yards. In 2012, he again played in all 12 games, leading the Hurricanes with 842 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Dorsett played in seven games, including six starts during the regular season as a junior. He missed five games due to a partial tear of the MCL in his knee suffered against North Carolina on Oct. 17. He finished with 13 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – RANDALL, DAMARIOUS – FS – 5’11” – 196 LBS – ARIZONA STATE
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A player with cornerback size but a free safety skill set, Randall took a winding road to Arizona State, including not playing football for two years after high school, and developed into a first team All-Pac-12 performer as a senior in Tempe. He plays with a fast and physical attitude, routinely sticking his nose in the fire, but he can be inconsistent as a box safety, struggling to work through contact.
Although he needs technique and discipline work in coverage, Randall has the size and body fluidity to hold his own, including the ball skills and confidence for the next level. He isn?t a day one starter at safety, but he has the traits to make an immediate impact on special teams coverages and help in nickel situations.
A multi-sport athlete in high school, Randall chose baseball and enrolled at Butler Community College in Kansas and spent the 2010-11 season on the baseball diamond, playing shortstop and center field. After a right shoulder injury, he decided to play football instead of rehabbing the injury, transferring to Mesa Community College in Arizona. Randall redshirted in 2011 and was an All-American defensive back in 2012, seeing snaps at cornerback, free safety and wide receiver.
He recorded 69 tackles, nine interceptions and five total touchdowns (two receiving, two punt returns, one interception return). He was a three-star cornerback JUCO recruit and received almost three dozen scholarship offers, choosing to stay in Arizona and play for the Sun Devils.
Randall missed the start of the 2013 season due to a groin injury (nine starts), finishing his junior year with 71 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, six passes defended and three interceptions. He started all 13 games as the senior boundary safety in 2014 and led the team with 106 total tackles, 12 passes defended and three interceptions, earning First Team All-Pac 12 honors.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – ANTHONY, STEPHONE – LB – 6’3″ – 243 LBS – CLEMSON
PLAYER OVERVIEW: A defensive line full of NFL prospects casts a long shadow, but NFL teams in the market for an intense, physical run-stuffing inside linebacker would be wise to keep an eye on Anthony, the Tigers’ leading tackler the past two seasons.
It didn’t take Anthony long to make an impression as Clemson, logging action in 13 games and starting three games as a true freshman. He recorded 32 tackles and impressed with his playmaking ability, recording six tackles for loss, two sacks and leading the team with two forced fumbles despite his limited playing time. Anthony finished fourth on the club with 77 tackles a year later but was benched midway through the season. He stepped up a year later, however, nearly doubling his production with 131 stops, including 13.5 tackles for loss and four sacks while starting all 13 games. Though his numbers slipped again in 2014 (team-leading 73 tackles through the regular season), Anthony was the clear leader for the nation’s top-rated defense, which allowed an average of just 259.6 yards a game.
While Anthony’s production, compact frame and aggression are impressive, he could be viewed as a bit of a ‘tweener at the next level. Anthony does not possess ideal speed to beat backs to the sideline or the agility preferred in coverage, traits required of middle linebackers in a standard 4-3 alignment. Complicating his projection as a 3-4 inside linebacker is the fact that Anthony currently struggles to disengage from blockers, relying more on his burst to beat them initially or defensive linemen to keep him clean.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – BROWN, MALCOLM – DT – 6’0″ – 225 LBS – TEXAS
PLAYER OVERVIEW: After signing with the local Longhorns as one of highest regarded prep prospects in the country, Brown emerged as an important cog in the rotation as a true freshman, recording three or more tackles in five of his last seven games. Brown started all 13 games in 2013, lining up mostly at nose tackle for the Longhorns’ multiple defensive front and recording 68 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and five pass breakups. He earned consensus All-American honors and was named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award (top defender) and Outland Trophy (top interior lineman) in 2014, recording 64 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks over the regular season.
Brown has the size, athleticism and production to warrant early round consideration and projects especially well as a penetrator in a 4-3 alignment rather than taking on two-blockers as he was often asked to do at Texas.
Tim Tebow is back in the NFL. And Chip Kelly’s offseason just got juicier.
The Philadelphia Eagles plan to bring in quarterback Tim Tebow and sign him Monday as they begin their offseason program, FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer reports. Multiple outlets later confirmed the report.
The Eagles are looking for a fourth quarterback for their offseason program. After spending time with Tebow’s quarterbacks coach Tom House, the Eagles are convinced he’s improved a lot, Glazer reports.
Tebow, who hasn’t played in an NFL regular season game since 2012, was brought in for a workout for the Eagles last month.
“I’ve always been a fan of Tim,” Kelly told NFL Network last month. “We bring in a lot of players for private workouts, it’s just he’s the one that everyone keeps talking about. We brought in Terrelle Pryor for a workout and Thad Lewis in for a workout. When players are available for you to work them out, it’s the same thing of going to the veteran combine or going to the super regional combine.
“It’s getting an exposure to a player so that when you have to make a decision and say, ‘Hey, what are we going to do now?’ you say, ‘I don’t know anything about these players. Let’s bring them in and work them out,’ and it may be too late at that point in time. So all we’re doing is just doing our homework.”
The Eagles traded for quarterback Sam Bradford earlier this offseason and signed Mark Sanchez to an extension. Matt Barkley currently sits third on the depth chart.
Tebow hasn’t played in the NFL since he was with the New York Jets in 2012. He was released by the New England Patriots before the 2013 season and spent last year working in television as an analyst for the SEC Network and ESPN.
Despite being out of the league, the 27-year-old Tebow remained one of the most popular players around. He has a legion of fans who follow him because of his strong Christian beliefs.
The former Heisman Trophy winner led Florida to two national titles and was a first-round pick by Denver in 2010. He started 16 games during two seasons with the Broncos, including a playoff victory over Pittsburgh in January 2012. Tebow was traded to the Jets after Denver signed Peyton Manning.
Tebow had some success in Denver, but his inaccurate passing and lack of pocket presence was an issue. His strength has been running the ball or improvising. Tebow has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes for 2,422 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has 989 yards rushing, a 5.0 average yards per carry and 12 TDs.
Well, here w are, the culmination of another football season. Super Sunday, Seahawks and Patriots, a Katy Perry halftime show, fireworks, way too much pregame show, and yes, the commercials. So what do I think will happen? Hmmmm
The Pats will win because of better coaching, and because Tom Brady knows it might be his last shot at ring #4. And they will win because they will be agitated by all the morons pretending that they are “cheats”. Back in 2006, the NFL, made a decision to allow each team to brings its own footballs to each game. The NFL had to know that the quarterbacks, who all are very particular about the feel, weight, and inflation level of the football would use this rule, and stretch this rule, and bend this rule. The NFL had to know. So, I think it safe to say that most, if not every NFL team likely plays fast and loose with that rule, and thus the amount of air in the balls. That does not shock me. What doers shock me is that anyone is “shocked” that this might be the case. I mean really now. In a game where all teams will do anything to win a championship, why is anyone surprised that rules are bent? Who are the idiots that needed those dots connected for them?
Frankly, I am pulling for the Pats ONLY because of Deflategate, which is a non-story driven by the drama queens in the sports media. Frankly, most of the sports journalism today sounds more like high school girls gossiping to me than actual journalists breaking stories. (But, enough about ESPN’s First Take with Screamin A Smith and failed shock jock Skip Bayless. The show at least has Cari Champion who has a body to lust after, so I guess it is not a complete loss.) Then there are the press conferences, where sports “reporters” ask stupid questions that no actual sports fans care about then pat themselves on the back for asking “tough” questions, EGADS! In fact, I find football so much better when I ignore the useless press conferences with the scripted question and scripted answers. Frankly, I would prefer watching my neighbors Chevy rust than take in any sports press conference.
So, I am not taking in the press conferences, or the incessant pre-game babbling from former players saying the same things repeatedly. And I will skip the halftime show most likely. Katy Perry is quite attractive yes, but her music is not in my wheelhouse and to be honest I will be watching the Super Bowl to watch, wait for it, FOOTBALL! I do not need a halftime show, or a three-day long pregame show. I love football, and this game should be very good.
Of course there are the commercials which used to be great. I say used to be because in recent years the ads all seem tame and boring because all the corporations are afraid of offending some whiner or another. Seriously, where have the funny spots gone? I guess PC killed them, Hell it has about killed all free expression so why not commercials too right?
And to top it all off NBC is broadcasting the game, which means we might get a lecture in Liberalism from noted anti-self-defense midget Bob Costas at some point. OH boy!
So, enjoy the game, and Katy Perry’s body, which is nice even if most of her music sucks, and heck you might even see a decent commercial, which will draw outrageous outrage from some whiny group somewhere.
Although I have essentially boycotted the NFL this season – due to the fact that it has become a politically correct nightmare in recent years – I am hopeful that one day the people who run it will regain their senses and begin acting like real men again. Should that happen, I have devised a little scheme that I believe could help to enhance the professional football fan’s post-season experience.
First of all, get rid of the Pro Bowl altogether. It is, and has always been, a completely pointless game that people only watch out of sheer boredom, so just END IT already!
Secondly, replace it with a game between two actual NFL teams – not a one-time collection of individual super stars – that can be incentivized to play the game as if it wasn’t some sort of half-assed practice scrimmage.
Here’s how my plan works:
Take the two best, non-playoff teams from both the AFC and NFC respectively – four teams total – and pit them against each other in two initial “bowl games” during the post-season.
Example: this year’s contestants would be the Houston Texans, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the San Francisco 49ers.
The AFC’s bowl game could be named for the best coach that the conference has ever produced, Chuck Noll, while the NFC’s could be named for its greatest coach, Vince Lombardi.
The winners of these two games would then play each other in a sort of JV version of the Super Bowl. It could be named after the place where America’s first wholly professional football game was played, Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
So how would this work exactly?
Well, the first two games could be played on the Monday and Tuesday nights immediately following the league’s divisional playoff games.
The “Latrobe Bowl” could be played two weeks later on the Sunday between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.
The incetives to win this game could be A.) player bonuses equal to – say – half those of the Super Bowl champions, and B.) an additional first round pick in the following college draft for the team’s general manager. Oh, and C.) the coach could get a nice trophy for his display case.
The losers could get free bus tickets home… and maybe some Arby’s gift certificates.
And that’s it! That’s my brief outline for improving the NFL post-season picture.
Feel free to express your own thoughts on this subject in the comments section below.
Week 2 10-6
Falcons over Bucs
Colts over Jags
Dolphins over Chiefs
Panthers over Steelers
Bills over Chargers
Cowboys over Rams
Eagles over Redskins
Giants over Texans
Saints over Vikings
Bengals over Titans
Ravens over Browns
Lions over Packers
Pats over Raiders
Cards over Niners
Seahawks over Broncos
Jets over Bears
Week 1 11-5
Ravens over Steelers
Bills over Dolphins
Skins over Jags
Cowboys over Titans
Cards over Giants
Pats over Vikes
Saints over Browns
Bengals over Falcons
Panthers over Lions
Bucs over Rams
Seahawks over Chargers
Raiders over Houston
Pack over Jets
Broncos over Chiefs
Niners over Bears
Colts over Eagles
LEGENDS FOOTBALL LEAGUE
CHICAGO BLISS VS LAS VEGAS SIN
Chuck Noll, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Steelers to four Super Bowls in the 1970s, died Friday at the age of 82, according to numerous reports out of Pittsburgh.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Noll’s wife, Marianne, found him unresponsive at 9:45 p.m. ET. She called 911, and paramedics pronounced him dead at 9:55 p.m.
Noll had stayed out of the public eye in recent years with an illness that had been undisclosed.
1) You don’t get to have it both ways. You can tell me that your sexuality is nobody’s business — what you do in your bedroom is between you and whoever you do it with — and I’ll agree. I’ve never taken it upon myself to approach a group of strangers and survey them about their carnal propensities. In my life, I’ve probably had thousands of conversations with thousands of different people. Of those thousands, I can safely say that not once have I begun the exchange by saying, “Hello, my name is Matt. Do you sleep with people of the same gender?”
Seriously, that’s never happened. OK, maybe I can’t say never, but rarely. The point is, I usually don’t grab strangers by their shirt collars and demand that they paint me a vivid portrait of their erotic activities.
Your sexuality is none of my business, right? Yes. Fine. Sounds good to me.
But this “none of my business” shtick is a two way street, friend. What exactly does it mean for a thing to be “none of my business” when you’re holding a press conference and proclaiming it to the entire world?
“Hey, this is personal, man. That’s why I’m throwing a parade, alerting the media, issuing a press release, having t-shirts printed, and booking an interview on 20/20.”
Personal business. You keep using that phrase. I don’t think it means what you think it means.
Michael Sam, apparently, ‘came out’ to his teammates a year ago. By all accounts, they took it well, nobody really cared, and everything continued on as normal. Sam wasn’t hiding in fear and he wasn’t being forced to suppress or disguise anything. But then, mere months before the draft, he decided to declare himself to ESPN and the New York Times.
I remember seeing this headline back in February: “Michael Sam Announces He’s Gay”
My first thought: OK, was anybody asking?
The man pursued national media outlets and, without being provoked or solicited, ‘announced’ his sexual desires to the nation. Why? Because it’s none of our business? Because we should feel nothing and have no opinion on the matter?
No, of course not. We are supposed to feel something, and we are supposed to have an opinion, but they must be the right feelings and the right opinions.
That’s the point here.
If you simply wish to be accepted, perhaps you’d discuss these private details with those closest to you. If you wish to be celebrated, you throw yourself a party and call the press.
Michael Sam chose the latter.
As I said, GO READ IT ALL!
Ryan Shazier – LB – Height: 6’1″ – Weight: 237 – Grade: A-
Stephon Tuitt – DE – Height: 6’7″ – Weight: 313 – Grade: A
Dri Archer – WR, RB, KR – Height: 5’8″ – Weight: 173 – Grade: A+
Martavis Bryant – WR – Height: 6’5″ – Weight: 211 – Grade: A-
Shaquille Richardson – CB – Height: 6’0″ – Weight: 194 – Grade: B
Wesley Johnson – OT – Height: 6’5″ – Weight: 297 – Grade: A-
Jordan Zumwalt – LB – Height: 6’4″ – Weight: 235 – Grade: B-
Daniel McCullers – DT – Height: 6’7″ – Weight: 352 – Grade: A
Rob Blanchflower – TE – Height: 6’4″ – Weight: 256 – Grade: C+
Note: for the following 4 rounds, I have only posted the draft picks of last season’s 4 best teams, which were the Patriots, the 49ers, the Broncos and the Seahawks. Oh, and I’m also including the Steelers’ picks, because PITTSBURGH RULES!
Click HERE for all other draft results from rounds 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Patriots – Stork, Bryan – C – 6’4″ – 315 lbs – Florida State – 5.1
49ers – Ellington, Bruce – WR – 5’9″ – 197 lbs – South Carolina – 5.3
Seahawks – Marsh, Cassius – DE – 6’4″ – 252 lbs – UCLA – 5.2
Steelers – Bryant, Martavis – WR – 6’4″ – 211 lbs – Clemson – 5.3
Seahawks – Norwood, Kevin – WR – 6’2″ – 198 lbs – Alabama – 5.3
49ers – Johnson, Dontae – CB – 6’2″ – 200 lbs – N.C. State – 5.3
Patriots – White, James – RB – 5’9″ – 204 lbs – Wisconsin – 5.1
Seahawks – Pierre-Louis, Kevin – OLB – 6’0″ – 232 lbs – Boston College – 5.1
Patriots – Fleming, Cameron – OT – 6’5″ – 323 lbs – Stanford – 5.3
49ers – Lynch, Aaron – DE – 6’5″ – 249 lbs – South Florida – 5.1
Broncos – Barrow, Lamin – OLB – 6’1″ – 237 lbs – LSU – 5.3
Steelers – Richardson, Shaquille – CB – 6’0″ – 194 lbs – Arizona – 5.1
49ers – Reaser, Keith – CB – 5’10” – 189 lbs – Florida Atlantic – 5.1
Seahawks – Staten, Jimmy – DT – 6’4″ – 304 lbs – Middle Tennessee State – NR
Steelers – Johnson, Wesley – OT – 6’5″ – 297 lbs – Vanderbilt – 5.3
Patriots – Halapio, Jon – OG – 6’3″ – 323 lbs – Florida – 5.0
49ers – Acker, Kenneth – CB – 6’0″ – 190 lbs – SMU – 5.0
Steelers – Zumwalt, Jordan – ILB – 6’4″ – 235 lbs – UCLA – 5.2
Patriots – Moore, Zach – DE – 6’5″ – 269 lbs – Concordia – 5.2
Seahawks – Scott, Garrett – OT – 6’5″ – 294 lbs – Marshall – NR
Patriots – Thomas, Jemea – CB – 5’9″ – 192 lbs – Georgia Tech – 5.1
Broncos – Paradis, Matthew – C – 6’3″ – 306 lbs – Boise State – 5.0
Seahawks – Pinkins, Eric – FS – 6’3″ – 220 lbs – San Diego State – 4.9
Steelers – McCullers, Daniel – DT – 6’7″ – 352 lbs – Tennessee – 5.6
Seahawks – Small, Kiero – RB – 5’8″ – 244 lbs – Arkansas – NR
Steelers – Blanchflower, Rob – TE – 6’4″ – 256 lbs – Massachusetts – 5.0
Broncos – Nelson, Corey – OLB – 6’0″ – 231 lbs – Oklahoma – NR
49ers – Ramsey, Kaleb – DE – 6’3″ – 293 lbs – Boston College – 5.0
Patriots – Gallon, Jeremy – WR – 5’7″ – 185 lbs – Michigan – 5.2
49ers – Millard, Trey – FB – 6’2″ – 247 lbs – Oklahoma – 5.1
Texans – Fiedorowicz, C.J. – TE – 6’5″ – 265 lbs – Iowa – 5.4
Redskins – Moses, Morgan – OT – 6’6″ – 314 lbs – Virginia – 5.4
Dolphins – Turner, Billy – OT – 6’5″ – 315 lbs – North Dakota State – 5.3
Falcons – Southward, Dezmen – FS – 6’0″ – 211 lbs – Wisconsin – 5.3
Buccaneers – Sims, Charles – RB – 6’0″ – 214 lbs – West Virginia – 5.3
49ers – Martin, Marcus – C – 6’3″ – 320 lbs – USC – 5.6
Browns – Kirksey, Christian – OLB – 6’2″ – 233 lbs – Iowa – 5.2
Vikings – Crichton, Scott – DE – 6’3″ – 273 lbs – Oregon State – 5.5
Bills – Brown, Preston – ILB – 6’1″ – 251 lbs – Louisville – 5.3
Giants – Bromley, Jay – DT – 6’3″ – 306 lbs – Syracuse – 5.3
Rams – Mason, Tre – RB – 5’8″ – 207 lbs – Auburn – 5.8
Lions – Swanson, Travis – C – 6’5″ – 312 lbs – Arkansas – 5.5
49ers – Borland, Chris – ILB – 5’11” – 248 lbs – Wisconsin – 5.3
Redskins – Long, Spencer – OG – 6’5″ – 320 lbs – Nebraska – 5.2
Ravens – Brooks, Terrence – FS – 5’11” – 198 lbs – Florida State – 5.3
Jets – McDougle, Dexter – CB – 5’10” – 196 lbs – Maryland – 5.1
Raiders – Jackson, Gabe – OG – 6’3″ – 336 lbs – Mississippi State – 5.7
Bears – Sutton, Will – DT – 6’0″ – 303 lbs – Arizona State – 5.2
Texans – Nix, Louis – NT – 6’2″ – 331 lbs – Nptre Dame – 5.9
Cardinals – Martin, Kareem – DE – 6’6″ – 272 lbs – North Carolina – 5.6
Packers – Thornton, Khyri – DT – 6’3″ – 304 lbs – Southern Miss – 5.1
Eagles – Huff, Josh – WR – 5’11” – 206 lbs – Oregon – 5.2
Chiefs – Gaines, Phillip – CB – 6’0″ – 193 lbs – Rice – 5.2
Bengals – Clarke, Will – DE – 6’6″ – 271 lbs – West Virginia – 5.1
Chargers – Watt, Chris – OG – 6’3″ – 310 lbs – Notre Dame – 5.4
Colts – Moncrief, Donte – WR – 6’2″ – 221 lbs – Mississippi – 5.9
Cardinals – Brown, John – WR – 5’10” – 179 lbs – Pittsburgh State – 5.1
Panthers – Turner, Trai – OG – 6’3″ – 310 lbs – LSU – 5.5
Jaguars – Linder, Brandon – OG – 6’6″ – 311 lbs – Miami – 5.2
Browns – West, Terrance – RB – 5’9″ – 225 lbs – Towson – 5.3
Broncos – Schofield, Michael – OT – 6’6″ – 301 lbs – Michigan – 5.2
Vikings – McKinnon, Jerick – RB – 5’9″ – 209 lbs – Georgia Southern – 5.4
Steelers – Archer, Dri – RB – 5’8″ – 173 lbs – Kent State – 5.5
Packers – Rodgers, Richard – TE – 6’4″ – 257 lbs – California – 5.2
Ravens – Gillmore, Crockett – TE – 6’6″ – 260 lbs – Colorado State – 5.1
49ers – Thomas, Brandon – OT – 6’3″ – 317 lbs – Clemson – 5.4
Texans – Clowney, Jadeveon – DE – 6’6″ – 266 lbs – South Carolina – 7.5
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: An imposing figure, with strength and size to match his speed. Because of that combination, Clowney can keep tackles and tight ends guessing as to how he will attack. When he gets a step around the edge, even the most agile blockers will find it difficult to recover before he disrupts the pocket. When opponents are in solid position, Clowney can extend his arms, drive his legs and power his way where he wants to go. As the blow-up of Vincent Smith proved, Clowney will lower the boom if he gets the chance – that goes for unaware quarterbacks as well as running backs.
Though dropping him in at a DE spot and leaving him alone might be tempting, Clowney did perform well from various positions up front. He definitely has the strength to drop down inside on pass-rushing downs for a team with multiple outside threats. Much like J.J. Watt, Clowney has the awareness and the length to disrupt aerial attacks even when he cannot break through the line.
Has the athleticism to chase down plays from the backside. Also will be better dropping in coverage than most people expect, should he be tasked with that challenge.
Weaknesses: The concerns regarding his motor and conditioning are overblown, but Clowney can run on fumes at times, which was especially noticeable early in the season versus up-tempo offenses. Rather than come off the field when he was fatigued, Clowney appeared to ease up – thus making himself an easy blocking assignment.
Linebacker skills will need work. Right now, he could handle the most basic of those duties but could be exposed if he somehow winds up in space against a RB or TE. Not going to make many plays on the ball if he’s not at the line (though, the same could be said for most DE-types).
Mentally, can he handle the expectations?
Rams – Robinson, Greg – OT – 6’5″ – 332 lbs – Auburn – 7.4
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Regardless of position, there is no better run-blocker in this draft class than Robinson – he uses a devastating combination of size and leverage to maul the defenders he’s blocking over and over. When he gets under the pads of the man he’s blocking off the line, it’s not pretty for that poor opponent, because at his best, Robinson can make those one-on-ones look positively comical. When he pushes defenders back, he keeps his hands inside the pads and blows the opponent off to one side, leaving huge lanes. And even when he doesn’t use optimal leverage, he’s strong enough to get away with it – he won’t frequently lose traction based on poor technique.
Didn’t get a lot of tight end help to his side in Auburn’s offense, and he doesn’t need it — especially in the run game. Moves his feet well from gap to gap — though he’s not incredibly fast in a straight line, Robinson is impressively agile in the box. Has the will to assert physical authority over his opponents – he’s not a gentle giant, and any team looking for an ass-kicking offensive lineman should start right here. Will occasionally use a club move as a defensive lineman would to move through lines; Robinson plays very aggressively.
Weaknesses: Where Robinson falls short at this point is in any blocking scheme that requires to do more than fire straight out – in delayed blocking, he struggles to keep his feet under him and can be beaten by quickness and agility. He will occasionally lunge at ends who are looking to cover or move around him, and his hit percentage in those instances is not exceptional. Has the speed to get to the second level quickly but tends to mince his steps at times, and he takes a while to zero in on his target. Basically, in open-field situations, he’s very much a work in progress.
In pass protection, he has a decent straight-back kick step, but he could stand to be quicker with it, and he’s not exceptionally quick to adjust from side to side against edge rushers. And he won’t be able to get away with as many technique flaws in the NFL – at the pro level, you can’t always just bull your way around mechanical issues. Not especially adept with combo blocks and certain zone principles – tends to stay in his lane.
Jaguars – Bortles, Blake – QB – 6’5″ – 232 lbs – Central Florida – 6.2
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Almost every pro-Bortles argument you hear will start with his size. Even though the Seahawks just won a Super Bowl with the comparatively diminutive Russell Wilson running the show, many teams still want QBs who fit Bortles’ 6-5, 232-pound build. He takes advantage of that height, keeping his eyes downfield and using a steady release to avoid having passes swatted at the line. Bortles also moves better than one might expect, both inside and outside the pocket.
Touch is there, especially in intermediate windows and to the sideline. Bortles really has no issues stepping up and resetting to throw, or sliding to his left or right and throwing with zip. Intangibles all are there, at least if his interviews and comments by his former teammates/coaches are to be believed – all of the latter speak glowingly of Bortles. He was not rattled by any situation, from road games at Ohio State and Penn State to the BCS bowl stage against Baylor.
Weaknesses: Decision-making needs to improve, as his INT numbers (16 total over the past two years) easily could have been higher. Sometimes drifts into a gunslinger-style approach, attempting to thread the needle, and he does not necessarily possess the arm strength to pull off all of those gambles. Can float some deep balls, too, a problem most noticeable when a pass rush rattles him. UCF’s offense will slow his adjustment to the NFL; it did not require him to make a ton of progression reads.
O’Leary’s comments about Bortles as a pro QB will be taken with a grain of salt, but we cannot dismiss completely Bortles’ college coach doubting his abilities to start as a rookie: remember, O’Brien (whose team has the No. 1 pick) has worked with O’Leary, so he is likely to pick the UCF coach’s brain.
Bills – Watkins, Sammy – WR – 6’1″ – 211 lbs – Clemson – 7.3
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: One of the things that makes Watkins so captivating as a player is that he is a legit weapon to make a big play from anywhere – from the backfield to the slot to any position in trips or bunch formations. Tremendous after-catch player on bubble screens, and he’s very dangerous on end-arounds. As a backfield weapon, he looks and thinks like a running back with his foot-fakes and acceleration. Has the pure speed and second gear to outrun college cornerbacks to the end zone, but will also gain separation with an estimable array of jukes off the line and in space. Tremendously effective in motion plays, especially out of the backfield – this is how he often creates separation – and his understanding of formation spacing and timing serves him well. He’s very tough to cover when he’s hitting the line with a full head of steam, and his NFL team would do well to use him in these types of “waggle” plays. Blocks with above-average effort and form, though not a lot of power.
Weaknesses: Watkins’ height creates concerns with regards to jump balls and contested catches; he’s simply not big enough to grab some of the balls that more physically imposing receivers might. And while he’s strong, he needs space to operate – he’ll get taken down on first contact a lot if the first contact is a form tackle attempt, though he’ll drive his helmet in and try to gain extra yardage. Watkins said at the combine that he’s comfortable with all manner of route concepts, but he was a quick up-and-out and vertical target at Clemson, and there are times when he appears a step slow on some more angular routes – especially curls and comebacks or anything with really quick cuts. Has the physical talent to master the techniques required and shows it at times, but that could be a process.
To his credit, Watkins addressed specific route issues from the podium at the scouting combine.
“I’ve become a pretty good route runner, but there are areas I can still improve in with getting out of my routes,” he said. “What I’m really focused on is my curl routes and my comebacks. I’ve got to get my transitions, and know when to run full speed or not, and sync my hips and get out of my routes.”
Raiders – Mack, Khalil – OLB – 6’3″ – 251 lbs – Buffalo – 7.2
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: A 3-4 OLB spot might be ideal, but Mack’s versatility makes him a fit for any scheme – he mentioned at the combine that he had been telling NFL coaches he could play with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 end if they wanted. Creates constant problems for offensive linemen because of the variety of ways he can get to the quarterback. Speed’s (4.65) a real selling point, but Mack also plays with strong hands at the line, enabling him to get through blocks.
Rarely, if ever, pancaked or driven into the second level. Not a defender who can be chop-blocked either, due to steady balance. Mack does not mind creating contact at the point of attack, an approach that he brings over to an aggressive tackling style.
His three interceptions last season point to competency in pass coverage. Especially when the play develops in front of him – screens, short passes to tight ends, check-downs – Mack reacts rapidly and closes on the football. Confidence is there to succeed, as is that chip-on-the-shoulder intangible that teams will not fail to notice.
Weaknesses: Will need to improve his coverage techniques; even with his speed, he will be a little touch-and-go early when it comes to covering NFL tight ends and RBs. Players like Mack from mid-major schools always will have to answer for the competition level they faced, and Mack had two of his least productive games against Baylor and in that bowl loss to San Diego State.
If Mack is going to play along the line, either as a DE or stand-up rush linebacker, he has to get quicker jumps off the snap. Everything he does when pass-rushing can take a little longer than it needs to, either because of slow reaction time off the snap or because he allows himself to be pushed too wide by a blocker.
Falcons – Matthews, Jake – OT – 6’5″ – 308 lbs – Texas A&M – 7.2
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Matthews is the most technically sound and polished offensive lineman in this draft class, and that shows up on tape in all kinds of ways. As a pass-blocker, he is fluid and consistent in his kick-slide, and he establishes a solid arc of protection back to the pocket with his footwork and low base. Gets his hands inside a defender’s pads and generally keeps them there — he’s very tenacious. As a run-blocker, he excels not with tremendous root strength, but with an understanding of angles and leverage that makes him appear functionally stronger than he really is. Does outstanding work in slide protection because he’s so good at keeping his feet active but efficient – there aren’t a lot of wasted steps for Matthews, and he doesn’t usually have to recover from his own mistakes. Understands and does well in zone concepts like combos and pass-offs – he keeps his eyes forward and his hands moving, and when he has to jump quickly to handle a second defender, he has no problem with that. Gets out of his stance in a hurry off the snap and moves to block, meaning that he gains the advantage of striking the first blow most of the time.
Matthews is a very quick and agile player, and I think this is an underrated aspect of his game – he has the ability to execute tackle pulls to any gap, and all the way across the line, and he’s great when asked to head to linebacker depth and pop a defensive target in space. Matthews would be an especially great pick for any team with a mobile quarterback, because blocking for Manziel trained him to maintain his protection as long as the play is alive.
Weaknesses: Matthews isn’t a dominant physical athlete – he’s not going to physically overwhelm opponents with brute power, and he has to stay straight with his technique as a result. Occasionally gets too high in his stance, and can be moved back and aside as a result. And if he doesn’t get his hands out first, he’s not prone to re-directing after he’s beaten, meaning he’ll lose battles with more aggressive defenders. This is a core strength issue, and something that his NFL team will want him to correct.
Buccaneers – Evans, Mike – WR – 6’5″ – 231 lbs – Texas A&M – 6.4
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Perhaps Evans’ greatest strength is his ability to get free in short spaces on a number of routes – he doesn’t just win vertical battles; he’s also very good at quick cuts for his size (6-foot-5, 231). And with his length, he’s able to expand his catch radius to bring in balls most receivers simply can’t. Catches with his hands – Evans doesn’t wait for the ball to hit him in the chest, which allows him to reach for catches when falling away. He’s also surprisingly fast on straight vertical routes – Evans gets a head of steam going quickly and has a clear extra gear in the open field. He’s not a big, lumbering player; he has outstanding stride length and he knows how to use it. Evans will be a great help to any mobile quarterback, because he’s learned from playing with Manziel that you always have to keep focused on the extended play. When Manziel was running around, Evans was moving with him and getting opening with his physicality.
Excellent blocker who gets his long arms extended and seems to enjoy mixing it up. In that same vein, he’s very comfortable breaking tackles and throwing stiff-arms. Tremendous threat on in-breaking routes (in-cuts, slants, posts) because it’s so hard to keep up with his speed and still deal with his height. Could be a dominant situational slot receiver; more NFL teams are taking their No. 1 targets and looking to create mismatches in this way.
Weaknesses: Focus is an issue at times – Evans drops balls he should catch, and he had to be talked back into the Chick-fil-A Bowl by Manziel after a couple of personal fouls. And like most bigger college receivers, Evans will need to expand his route tree in the NFL. His game, like Manziel’s, was based a great deal on improvisation, and his pro team might not like that prototype. Played against a lot of off-coverage designed to react to his quarterback; Evans will need to develop his foot fakes and hand moves against more aggressive press corners in the NFL.
Browns – Gilbert, Justin – CB – 6’0″ – 202 lbs – Oklahoma State – 6.3
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Gilbert’s raw speed allows him to cover a ton of ground, plus helps him recover from any mistakes he may make. As he stated at the combine, with the ball in his hands he’s a constant threat to go the distance, be it off an interception or on a kick return. Receivers almost never blow past him on straight-line routes, further evidence that he’s as fast as the 40 time made him look.
Height and leaping ability make Gilbert a menace in the air – the pick-six he pulled off versus Texas came after he planted, then leaped toward the sideline in front of a receiver. Takes advantage of his size when playing in press coverage (though, not always effectively, as we’ll touch on shortly). Tough to beat over the middle because because how well he can get his foot into the ground, then transfer to top speed.
His ability to step in as a return man will earn him extra points. Barring an injury, the worst-case scenario for Gilbert heading into camp is that he competes for a No. 2 or No. 3 cornerback job while contributing heavily on special teams. He is very smooth with the ball in his hands, and made catches on interceptions that some receivers might have struggled to make.
Weaknesses: As with another projected Round 1 cornerback, Darqueze Dennard, Gilbert almost invites officials to flag him with his contact in coverage. Dennard can get himself into trouble attempting to maintain a jam; Gilbert has more issues downfield, where he’ll lunge and put himself in tough positions on deep balls. Some of that could be rectified if Gilbert continues to improve reading plays – right now, he can hang himself out to dry on well-run routes because he’s constantly hunting for an interception.
Effective as a tackler, but not overly eager to get involved, especially in the run game. Considering how physical he can be in man-coverage, it would be nice to see him translate that edge over to tracking ballcarriers. As with a quarterback who tries to overcompensate for poor reads with a strong arm, Gilbert puts almost too much faith in his speed, which may not fly quite as comfortably in the NFL.
Vikings – Barr, Anthony – LB – 6’5″ – 255 lbs – UCLA – 6.5
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Spectacularly quick off the edge, and flashes the ability to bend well when trying to turn the corner around blockers. Puts his speed to use once he works free of blockers, closing on QBs in a hurry. Chases the ball well – 83 tackles in 2012 and 66 in ’13, many coming with Barr pursuing to the far side of the field. Deceptive strength both as a tackler and in fighting off blocks.
Barr’s willingness to shift from running back to receiver to H-back and finally to linebacker highlights his coachability, a factor NFL teams pay very close attention to during the draft process. Barr also speaks honestly about the areas in which he needs to improve.
Coveted size for an edge player. Once he develops a little better feel for his timing, Barr will be difficult to throw passes over or around because of his length. Some room to add bulk, though he said at the combine that he feels most comfortable at his current weight.
Weaknesses: Must become far better utilizing his hands to shed blockers, as he can be dominated at times right now. Along the same lines, Barr has to improve his repertoire when rushing the passer, because a straight speed rush will be less effective in the NFL than it was at UCLA.
By his own admission, Barr’s coverage skills leave something to be desired. UCLA did not ask him to drop with much regularity, but it will be a key component of his game from here out, especially if he lands as a LB in a 4-3 scheme. He also misses more tackles than he should while gunning for the big hit. Barr will run himself out of position against play-action and misdirection, an element of his game that NFL offenses will exploit until he hones his awareness.
Lions – Ebron, Eric – TE – 6’4″ – 250 lbs – North Carolina – 6.2
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Speed really sets him apart as compared to other tight ends in the 2014 class. Can turn upfield after short-to-intermediate routes but is most dangerous darting into the seam. Even talented slot corners and adept safeties will find it tough to turn and run with him; linebackers can be left in his wake. Improving blocker with a decent amount of experience playing in-line. Better suited to get out into the slot and create mismatches. Can be far more of a red-zone threat than he was in college. Confidence bordering on cockiness, a positive when he can reel it in.
Weaknesses: Dropped nearly 12 percent of the passes thrown his way, an unexpectedly high number that means he’ll leave folks frustrated from time to time. By his own admission, must improve as a run blocker, especially if the team that drafts him wants to use him as a No. 1 tight end. Should be better than he is making grabs in traffic, which could help explain to some extent his very low TD total. Will he be OK with playing a complementary role?
Titans – Lewan, Taylor – OT – 6’7″ – 309 lbs – Michigan – 6.3
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Moves extremely well for a man of his size. Lewan drops very well to protect the passer, while his quick feet could make him a fit in either a man- or zone-blocking scheme. Clears to the second level in a hurry, picking out and hunting down linebackers to block. Plays through the whistle with venom – nearly faced discipline for a series of scraps, including Lewan twisting an opponent’s helmet during a game versus Michigan State. Recovers well when he’s jolted by a push to his chest. Vocal and outspoken leader of the Wolverines offense for multiple seasons.
Weaknesses: Penalized too much… and, honestly, easily could have been flagged for about two or three more holding penalties per game. Can be caught leaning and off-balance, most noticeable when Lewan is trying to push forward late in plays; occasionally shows up when a speed rusher gets a step on him. Carrying some red flags he no doubt has had to answer for during meetings with teams. Lets emotion get the best of him, sacrificing his technique to look for a big hit. Blitzes can cause him problems.
Giants – Beckham, Odell – WR – 5’11” – 198 lbs – LSU – 6.1
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Beckham can excel either outside or in the slot, and his primary attribute is his pure game-breaking speed. In the slot, he drives off the snap with quickness from the first step and can simply outrun safeties to his assigned area. Forces defenses to assign a deep defender and can take the top off a coverage. On the outside, Beckham moves smoothly downfield on routes to the sideline and the numbers, and he exhibits terrific change-of-direction skills. In addition, Beckham has an innate understanding of route concepts that will help him greatly at the NFL level – he has outstanding body control, looks the ball into his hands, gets open in small spaces and is elusive enough to juke defenders who try to grab him after the catch. And if he gets past those defenders, it’s off to the races again.
Kills defenses with comebacks and curls. Can take quick slants and bubble screens upfield in a hurry – he’ll be a great yards-after-catch asset at the next level. Dynamic return man who will change direction and doesn’t need much of an opening to make a big play or take it to the house.
Weaknesses: Beckham’s only real limitations are related to his size – he won’t win a lot of jump-ball battles, he’s not a physical blocker, and though he’s tough in traffic, it’s possible that he’ll be limited by bigger and more physical cornerbacks at the NFL level. Though he’s improved a great deal in his command of the little things, he will occasionally regress and miss a ball he should have caught. However, this isn’t the issue it used to be, and Beckham’s clear tendency to work hard and improve will serve him well when coverages get more complex.
Rams – Donald, Aaron – DT – 6’1″ – 285 lbs – Pittsburgh – 6.3
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Not only experienced at lining up in multiple spots, but productive everywhere. Donald brings a smart, varied rush to the table, which allows him to work with effectiveness from the one-tech spot on out. Most of his victories up front come as result of an explosive first step off the snap. The quickness he flashed for a national audience at the combine was no fluke. Donald also can win with power, if he cannot break through immediately. In that regard, his stature actually can play to his advantage – being a little lower to the ground allows him to get his hands into a blocker’s chest naturally, allowing him to push opponents back.
True to the praise for his work ethic, Donald can stay on the field as a three-down player and rarely downshifts in intensity. He’ll chase the ball whistle to whistle, sideline to sideline, showing enough recognition to keep locked on the right target despite misdirection.
Weaknesses: Can be neutralized when he does not get the first step, with his size occasionally proving problematic against strong guards. Though he more than held his own as a nose tackle at Pittsburgh, his lack of girth makes it difficult to project him there in the pros, potentially limiting his role. Only average arm length plus 6-1 height means that he will not swat many passes at the line if he fails to get home on a rush. May have a tough time if asked to anchor versus the run as a two-gap player.
Bears – Fuller, Kyle – CB – 6’0″ – 190 lbs – Virginia Tech – 5.9
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Fuller is really good with his feet – he can stick with a receiver through any stutter or foot fake, and he transitions fluidly to coverage. Backpedals well and turns his hips in time to stay on his target. Fuller plays off-coverage like a pro and understands pattern reading, which makes him great outside or in the slot. He might be the best at his position in this draft class when it comes to closing on routes and following through to break up the play. Fuller is fast anyway (ran a 4.49-40 at the combine), but his awareness of technique and his quick closes on angles make him look even quicker on the field. Not a dominant tackler per se, but will sell himself out to stop a play and excels at inline and slot blitzes.
Plays well in the slot and has the size (6-0, 198) to deal with bigger receivers and some tight ends. Extends to inside position and can trail receivers in the slot and outside. Gets vertical very well and knows how to time his jumps. Recovery speed isn’t Olympian, but it’s good enough. Played linebacker depth against Georgia Tech in 2013 and split through different gaps with pass and run blitzes.
Weaknesses: Due to the aggressive nature of his play, Fuller will occasionally bite on play-fakes, play-action and double moves, but this isn’t a major problem. And he addressed the injury concerns with his combine performance.
Steelers – Shazier, Ryan – OLB – 6’1″ – 237 lbs – Ohio State – 6.3
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: From the line back to linebacker depth and from any gap, Shazier has tremendous closing speed, and he’s very aggressive when looking to stop run plays. He moves through trash very deftly and uses an understanding of angles and tackling technique to stay with backs. Generally patient at the line before he moves to tackle; seems to have a really good sense of play recognition and he tends to overrun plays more than he’s fooled. More impressive is Shazier’s range in coverage; he’s a legitimate asset when dealing with backs, slot receivers and tight ends and can get this done from inside or outside positions. Shazier has the speed to chase from sideline to sideline, and he spies quarterbacks well while reading for possible throws. Tremendous vision and redirection ability allows him to peel off from coverage to tackle at the second and third levels. High-quality blitzer as long as he has space to move – if put on the edge in passing situations he could reward the Steelers with a 10-sack season. By all accounts, a high-quality player and person who will lead and help greatly with defensive calls.
Weaknesses: Shazier’s size shows up as a negative when he gets blocked out pretty consistently in power situations, especially when offensive linemen are plastering him inside or outside on run plays. While he plays inside more than credibly, Pittsburgh may want to keep him outside to allow him to make more plays in space – he’s not a pure “thumper” in the traditional vein. Wraps up well at times, but relies on the potential kill shot too often and misses opportunities to stop plays as a result. Will lose play discipline at times and get misdirected.
Cowboys – Martin, Zack – OT – 6’4″ – 308 lbs – Notre Dame – 6.2
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Outstanding drive blocker who rises up from a three-point stance quickly, gets his hands inside the defender and uses leverage to push people back. Excellent upper-body strength, which he uses to get his hands forward and in a striking position to keep opponents on their side of the line. Finished his blocks by lifting defenders off their own power. Understands combo blocks and can peel off his first defender to help with a second defender seamlessly and with no trouble. Keeps a low center of gravity and places his feet properly to give himself a wide base. Good speed to the second level when asked to block in space, and Martin has an excellent sense for his targets – if he whiffs, it’s generally more about lack of speed than any awareness issues.
Weaknesses: In pass pro, Martin’s kick slide is a work in progress – he’s more choppy than smooth with his steps. Establishes protection against turning pass-rushers more with technique than fluidity, and can be susceptible to defenders who change directions quickly. Needs an extra split second to come out of his stance to the outside, and you’ll occasionally see speed rushers blow right by him. In a general sense, better when blocking people in front of him than to either side – plays best in the proverbial phone booth. Hasn’t pulled a lot, which he’ll have to do if he switches to guard in the NFL, but seems to have the skills to do so.
Ravens – Mosley, C.J. – LB – 6’2″ – 234 lbs – Alabama – 6.4
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Earned those lofty tackle numbers by showing an exceptional ability to find and chase the football. Moves well sideline to sideline, diagnosing plays quickly while avoiding blockers. Rarely misses a tackle; form is very solid there, with Mosley seldom lunging unless it’s a last-ditch effort. Can take on playcalling/audible responsibilities if the team drafting him so desires – displays great awareness and football intelligence.
Fluid enough to drop into coverage, particularly in a zone look or when tracking a RB out of the backfield. Should be able to move around in a defensive alignment if need be, making him a reliable three-down option. Very few mysteries in Mosley’s game as he heads to the next level.
Weaknesses: If Ravens fans are expecting a pass-rushing linebacker, they’ll have to lower their exectation as Mosley failed to record even a half-sack last season and does not really have those attributes in his arsenal, save for an occasional blitz. Needs to add some bulk – or at least functional strength – if he’s going to play in the middle of an NFL defense. Right now, he has a hard time shedding blockers if he fails to find a free release toward the football.
Better against the run than against the pass; he’ll need to show the ability to cover more ground than he currently does in coverage. Mosley also should be better than he is at getting in front of passes, given his quickness. Size (6-foot-2, 234 pounds) probably will be an issue if he finds himself matched up against tight ends. It may be problematic on the whole, too, if Mosley continues to get banged up as he did at Alabama.
And on those injuries… they’re a clear potential headache. A team will draft Mosley to lock down a starting LB spot from Day 1 through Week 17. Is he physically capable of handling that responsibility?
Jets – Prior, Calvin – S – 6’2″ – 207 lbs – Louisville – 6.3
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Pryor has tremendous field speed, and he’s able to use it to great effect in all areas of his game. There are times when you simply wonder how he got from here to there so quickly. When he breaks out of coverage to run support, he flies to the ball and is a willing and violent tackler. Sifts through trash pretty well and doesn’t give up on plays – even if he misses the tackle the first time around, he’s a good bet to help pick it up later. Understands angles and leverage as a tackler. When he is asked to cover half-field, he does so with ease – his sideline-to-sideline speed is as good as anyone’s in this draft class at any position. Will move seamlessly from the line to linebacker depth to the back half, which allows him to keep his eyes on his assignments and avoid over-correcting. For such a fast player, Pryor doesn’t get fooled often.
In coverage, Pryor can mirror everything from short angle routes to comebacks to deep vertical concepts, and he has an excellent sense of when to break for the ball. Plays slot receivers very well because of his tenaciousness and agility, and he can break outside to cornerback positioning in a pinch. Has the vertical length and timing to stick with receivers bigger than him, even on jump balls. Sneaks in and breaks on routes as you would expect a better cornerback to do. Legitimate center-field defender on deep posts and other vertical concepts. Comes off the line like a scalded dog on blitzes and can bring a lot of pressure when put in that position. Gives full effort on every play – you just don’t see dropoffs on his tape.
Weaknesses: There are times when Pryor’s size works against him – he will get blocked out of plays, and as aggressive as he is, he may want to peel back a bit and understand that he’ll make even more plays if he avoids contact at times as opposed to putting himself in disadvantageous situations. And he’ll have to watch his physical style of tackling when he hits the NFL, because officials are conditioned to overreact at the best of times.
Dolphins – James, Ja’Wuan – OT – 6’6″ – 311 lbs – Tennessee – 5.7
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Absolutely fits the part of an NFL tackle at 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds. When he is able to control that size by driving it into opposing defenders, he can be a menace up front, both in the run and pass games. Advanced his game enough to project as an early NFL starter, with room to continue growing as a blocker once he gets to the next level. And speaking of the next level, James is quick-footed enough to throw his weight into a defensive lineman, then release to find a linebacker as well. On a team that wants to run the ball, James should be a definite asset.
Weaknesses: There’s work to be done here, mainly with technique. James can be caught too high, allowing defenders to shove him off-balance. He also will have to become more consistent in all aspects of his game – the flashes of dominance up front only come every so often, with some misses on his chart. Almost certainly will have to open his career as a RT, which is where he played throughout college. It’s hard to envision him being able to make the move to the left side with any regularity.
Saints – Cooks, Brandin – WR – 5’10” – 189 lbs – Oregon State – 5.9
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Prolific receiver who gets the whole route tree and has experience in a pro-style offense. Cooks can make plays from just about anywhere in the formation – wide, in the slot, different points in trips and bunch concepts, and as a runner on jet sweeps and quick screens. Tremendous after-catch runner who can break a play wide open with a small opening off a short pass. Cooks has great straight-line speed, and he’s very hard to cover on angular routes (slants, drags, posts) because he’s able to maintain his speed from side to side. Has the downfield quickness to flat-out beat better cornerbacks on all kinds of vertical routes from the seam to the sideline.
Has a great natural ability with route cuts – Cooks can put his foot in the ground, change direction, and get right back up to speed in a big hurry. Very tough to cover on comebacks and curls. He’s practiced with stutters and foot fakes at the line, and at times, that’s all he’s going to need to get free for a long play. Excellent boundary receiver who keeps his eye on the sideline. Quick, gliding runner on sweeps; he could really befuddle defenses with this as Reggie Bush and Percy Harvin have. Doesn’t have the size to win vertical battles, but he’s always up for trying. Despite his size, Cooks hasn’t been injury-prone. Wasn’t asked to be much of a return man in college, but certainly has all the attributes to make that happen.
Weaknesses: Cooks’ size is an obvious limitation in a few ways – he will lose a lot of jump-ball battles against larger defensive backs, he’s not going to out-muscle defenders in traffic, and he can be edged out of erratically-thrown passes – it’s harder for him to fight to avoid interceptions because he’s not built to mix it up. And he’s going to get most of his NFL touchdowns from the field as opposed to beating people in the end zone and red zone. Could suffer when pressed at the line at the next level; Cooks will have to get separation in those situations with short-area quickness as opposed to muscle.
Packers – Clinton-Dix, Ha Ha – FS – 6’1″ – 208 lbs – Alabama – 5.9
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Clinton-Dix has the two things every NFL free safety needs – great feet and impressive quickness. He backpedals and redirects smoothly and with little trouble, which allows him to stick and stay on all kinds of routes. And he’s remarkably quick when it comes to driving down in run support, as well as moving to either sideline. Keeps the action in front of him, and does his best to avoid getting shaken on any kind of misdirection, despite his generally aggressive playing style. Has the size (6-1, 208) and speed to square up on running backs and receivers and bring them down. Understands how to deal with blockers – will rarely take a hit straight on and bounces off to make a play. Tackles with excellent form; looks to wrap more than he goes for the kill shot, and he does a terrific job of extending his body to catch quicker opponents. Gives tremendous effort at all times; he’s never really eliminated from a possible tackle as long as the play is still going. Can play well everywhere from true center field to the slot.
Weaknesses: Though he’s a generally disciplined player, there are inevitable aftereffects of Clinton-Dix’s style that show up on tape. He will flat-out miss tackles at times because he’s trying so hard to get where he needs to be, and better play-fake quarterbacks might have a field day with him at the NFL level. Will occasionally lose track of his target on quick angle routes unless he’s in position to redirect.
Browns – Manziel, Johnny – QB – 6’0″ – 207 lbs – Texas A&M – 6.1
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: With all the folderol about his on-field escapades and off-field persona, it’s quite possible that Manziel is still wildly underrated as a pure quarterback – but he has all the tools to succeed at any level. First, he’s not a run-around guy. He looks to pass first on designed pass plays, even when he’s flushed out of the pocket. He’s very light on his feet in the pocket, and when he has to run, he’s incredibly good at resetting and driving the ball downfield. Has an unusual feel for throwing accurately out of weird positions, which is both a positive and negative. When he drives the ball, he can make any throw from the deep fade to the skinny post to all manner of short and intermediate timing throws. Has a plus-arm, though it’s not a Howitzer, and he’s learned to put air under the ball to help receivers with their timing. He’s a master at extending plays beyond their logical conclusions and directing receivers along the way. Has an innate sense of how to create holes in pass coverage with motion and redirection, and he’s coming into the NFL at a time when this attribute is far more prized than it used to be.
Manziel isn’t just a scrambler, he’s an outstanding pure runner – when he calls his own number on draws, he gets up to speed quickly, reads gaps patiently and has an extra gear in the open field. He’s very quick to set and throw – once he makes his decision to throw, there’s very little delay or wasted motion. Can make deep, accurate throws across his body, even when on the run. In general, he’s a rare thrower when under duress.
Manziel showed specific and impressive improvements at his pro day, which proved that he’s been working hard in the offseason, and taking what performance coaches George Whitfield and Kevin O’Connell are teaching him very seriously. Clearly has the desire to improve, and seems to have an inherent chip on his shoulder when doubted. Despite all the talk about his personality, Manziel appears to be a born on-field leader who can rally his teammates. With words and actions, he seems to inspire belief.
Weaknesses: Manziel’s greatest strength is absolutely tied to his biggest weakness. His improvisational ability, while as impressive as any I’ve seen in a collegiate quarterback, has allowed him to get away with random and unrepeatable plays that won’t have the same shelf life in the NFL. Part of the problem is that he isn’t consistent with his mechanics – when he drives through the throw with his body, he’s as good a passer as there is in this draft class. But there are other times when he’ll miss wildly because he’s throwing off his back foot or off both feet, which limits how much torque he can generate. And though he can go through multiple reads at times, he’ll have to do that more at the NFL level. Right now, there’s a sandlot quality to his field vision that produces compelling results at times, but isn’t sustainable against more complex concepts. At times, his deeper throws hang in the air, which could lead to more picks in the NFL.
Played almost exclusively in shotgun and pistol formations at A&M, and though he displayed an ease with dropping back when playing under center, the NFL team that takes him as a dropback guy would have to cross its fingers at first. Being away from the center gives him a timing edge at the snap and helps him see the field.
Tends to arch back when he throws longer passes with arc – not necessarily a problem, but it’s unusual. It may be an adaptive strategy to counter the issue related to his height; at just under 6-feet tall, Manziel has to work his game in the same ways everyone from Fran Tarkenton to Drew Brees to Russell Wilson has. There are simply some throws he will not be able to make in the pocket because he can’t see what’s happening until he either creates line splits by running, or waits for them to open up. And at 207 pounds, there will be legitimate concerns about how well and how often he’ll be able to make plays on the run in designed situations. If that part of his play is reduced, that puts the pressure on him to do more as a passer – which he has the potential to do, but he’ll have to change some things about his modus operandi to make that happen.
Chiefs – Ford, Dee – DE – 6’2″ – 252 lbs – Auburn – 5.7
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: As a pure pass-rusher, Ford comes off the snap with great velocity, which he’s able to turn into impressive power for his size (6-2, 252). Can bring a nascent bull-rush against tight ends and tackles from time to time, and will generally come up well in power battles as long as he gets his hands on blockers quickly. Ford has light feet and will jump gaps to stunt and use an inside counter to stay active and bring pressure. Forces offenses to align their blocking schemes to him pretty frequently; he faces a lot of tight end chips and double teams. Has the bend around the edge (dip-and-rip) to get under the pads of tackles and move quickly to create pocket disruption.
Ford shows estimable body control and discipline when he’s asked to read run plays and cover in short areas – he follows the action well and will adjust as a true linebacker (as opposed to a one-dimensional pass-rusher) might. Wasn’t asked to drop into coverage a lot, but has the potential to do so. Unlike a lot of outside linebacker conversion projects, Ford didn’t get washed out when he wasn’t given free space – he can excel in close quarters. Has long enough arms to pop blockers right off the snap.
Weaknesses: Ford could stand to use his hands better and more effectively – as active as he is, he’d be more purely disruptive if he had the ability to consistently redirect blockers with rip, spin and swim moves. And though his inside moves are decent, he will need to get quicker with his feet on those quick inside cuts and counters. Ford will lose blocks if he doesn’t gain quick leverage, such as plays when he’s chasing opponents. And he’ll need to develop his coverage technique at the next level – he tends to follow, and doesn’t turn his head.
Bengals – Dennard, Darqueze – CB – 5’11” – 199 lbs – Michigan State – 6.1
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Receivers have to work to get off the line against Dennard, because he often plays up tight against them and prevents clean releases with his size and strength. Used his hands right up to the line of drawing penalties – jammed well, plus knew when he could and could not latch on downfield. Flips his hips quickly when he needs to. Dennard shows an impressive knack for knowing when to turn for the football, then rarely hesitates in making a play on it. Even when receivers do manage to find openings against him, Dennard can make their lives miserable. He contests passes through the catch, swatting and ripping at the football.-
Plays almost like an extra linebacker against the run. When there was not a receiver on his side of the field, he walked down to the edge of the line pre-snap and threw himself into the pile. If he was engaged on a run play, Dennard worked until the whistle to fend off his blocker. He tackles well for a cornerback, too, eschewing that shoulder-first approach for a shoulders-squared technique.
Dennard is clearly a confident defender, no matter what he is tasked with on the field.
Weaknesses: Clocked in just north of 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, and that speaks to lingering concerns over his speed. Physical NFL receivers may not be as bothered by Dennard’s press coverage. So even if he shows the continued ability to smoothly turn and run, Dennard may lose some battles on deep balls. The average speed also all but eliminates the possibility that Dennard could work into a lineup as a slot guy (not that any team necessarily would want to play him there).
Issue No. 2 with Dennard’s game concerns his experience with Michigan State – the Spartans utilized almost exclusively man-to-man defenses, so the jury is out on how well Dennard would transition to a zone-heavy approach.
May unfairly be knocked for playing behind the aforementioned, dominant Michigan State front seven. As is often the case with college players who enjoyed such benefits, some will wonder if Dennard can provide the same type of supremacy if he lands on a team less imposing up front.
Chargers – Verrett, Jason – CB – 5’9″ – 189 lbs – TCU – 5.9
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Excels at finding and playing the football, using those instincts to make up for any height or strength deficiencies. Drives on shorter routes, also gets his head around when running deep with receivers. Almost impossible for receivers to blow past him – Verrett ran a 4.38 40 at the combine, and might be the best CB in this draft when it comes to flipping his hips and breaking downfield. No issues moving around on defense, as TCU used him both in the slot and outside. Plenty capable of helping against the run, too, a nod to his physical nature. Welcomes matchups with star receivers.
Weaknesses: As if his size did not already pose a question mark for NFL teams, Verrett was banged up through much of last season. His willingness to enter the fray as a run defender worked to his detriment in that regard. Likely will have a very difficult time if asked to jam NFL receivers at the line, because of limited strength. Can be blocked out of plays with ease if a receiver/tight end manages to square him up. High-points the football, but will lose jump balls to taller receivers simply because of his limitations.
Eagles – Smith, Marcus – DE – 6’3″ – 251 lbs – Louisville – 5.6
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Smith has the size to succeed off the edge and to move inside in certain defensive packages, but his primary value lies in his array of pass-rush moves. He can dip-and rip, move with inside stunts and provide surprising run defense for his size. He can also cover in space decently.
Weaknesses: As with most LEO ends, Smith will struggle against double teams and bigger defenders – he’ll need to stay free in space to be productive.
Cardinals – Bucannon, Deone – SS – 6’1″ – 211 lbs – Washington State – 5.7
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: May rack up some flags in the NFL simply because of how heavy a hitter he is. Bucannon stands 6-foot-1 and just north of 210 pounds, and he brings the full force of that stature whenever he can from the safety spot. He ran a sub-4.5 40 at the combine, too, so there’s more to his game than just the highlight-reel hits. Bucannon can get to the ball, sideline to sideline, and make the necessary plays from the safety spot. He finished 2013 with six interceptions, and it appeared that he improved as the season went along – a good sign, no doubt, for the team that picks him.
Weaknesses: Bucannon makes more plays on the football than ex-Lion and current Dolphin Louis Delmas, but he plays with a similar mentality, in that his No. 1 goal appears to be to lay the boom. That’s well and good when he does so, yet the approach can leave him out of position and whiffing on tackles. He’s not great dropping, either, a trait that can be problematic for a deep safety, if he spends time there as opposed to in the box. Though his speed allows him to cover a lot of mistakes, faster receivers who run sharp routes will be able to get past him.
Panthers – Benjamin, Kelvin – WR – 6’5″ – 240 – Florida State – 6.1
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Benjamin has prototypical dimensions (6-5, 240) for the position, and he understands how to use them – he will simply overwhelm defenders at times with his size, leaping ability and strength. And for his size, Benjamin has impressive straight-line speed. He’ll blast off the line quickly, he accelerates smoothly, and he has an extra gear downfield. Snatches the ball quickly and moves upfield just that way for extra yards after the catch, and he’s a load to deal with when he gets a full head of steam. Dominant red zone and end zone target who makes it nearly impossible to cover him in those situations, because all he has to do is get vertical and fight for the catch – and he does those things very well.
Outstanding blocker at all levels when he gives top effort. Can be a special player on simple slants and drags because he combines movement and strength when he does cut to an angle correctly. Played with quarterbacks who struggled to see the field and find him open at times; which could lead some NFL teams to (rightly) consider that he’ll have far more opportunities at the next level.
Weaknesses: For all his physical attributes, Benjamin is far from a finished product. He should be stronger with his hands in traffic than he is; even when he wins physical battles, he can be beaten after the catch with aggression, and he drops too many passes in general. Needs a lot of work on the overall route tree – ran a lot of straight go routes and simple angle concepts. Not always an aware player in space. He’s a bit logy when asked to cut quickly in short areas; this is where his big body (big butt, specifically) works against him. Agility is a question. Doesn’t always dig his foot in and make clean cuts, and as a result, he isn’t always where he needs to be when the ball is thrown with anticipation. Struggles with jukes and foot fakes because he’s still learning body control.
Will probably struggle with option routes for a while, because the ability to time his physical movements to the directions in his head is a process under development. Needs to learn to create separation. The little things – catching the ball with his hands instead of his body; waiting to turn upfield until he’s got the ball securely – are not quite there yet.
Patriots – Easley, Dominique – DT – 6’2″ – 288 lbs – Florida – 5.3
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Easley’s most prominent attribute is that he can play convincingly and at a starter level in so many gaps. There are multiple examples of him blowing up protections everywhere from 1-tech (between the center and guard) to 3-tech (between the guard and tackle) to end. He even has the speed and turn to disrupt from a wide-nine stance. For his size (6-foot-2, 288), Easley flashes tremendous upper-body strength – he plays 20 or 30 pounds heavier than he is in that sense, but he has the field speed and agility of a linebacker when he’s in space or covering in short areas. Gets his hands on blockers right off the snap and uses his hands very well – will use hand-strikes, swim and rip moves, and pure bull-rushes to drive through or get past to the backfield. Didn’t do a lot of stunting and looping for the Gators, but he clearly has the skillset to do so.
When lined up in a stunt formation (at a 45-degree angle against the line), Easley is just about unblockable because he gets through with such explosive speed. Understands leverage and will get under a blocker’s pads, adding to his strength advantage – it’s uncanny how often he’ll push a guy back who seriously outweighs him. Can split and move from gap to gap with great agility; he’s always looking for an opening. And when he gets in the backfield, Easley is very balanced and disciplined – he doesn’t fall for foot fakes and agile moves. At his best, he’s a play destroyer.
Weaknesses: Where Easley’s size shows up in a negative sense is when he’s asked to take on double teams, especially against bigger blockers – he tends to get eaten up and can’t always get through even with all his attributes. And if a blocker gets his hands on Easley first, it’s tough for Easley to recover consistently – his hand quickness is clearly an adaptive strategy, and it works well, but he’s got that issue.
Injury issues will hold him back, to be certain. Though he recovered well from the 2010 ACL tear, the fact that he’s now had serious injuries to each knee will certainly present a red flag that will drop him at least a full round from where he would go otherwise.
49ers – Ward, Jimmie – SS – 5’11” – 193 lbs – Northern Illinois – 5.4
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Plays well everywhere in the defensive backfield – from deep center field to slot cornerback. Ward has tremendous range and can cover a lot of ground in a big hurry, and he’s on point when he gets there – he doesn’t overreach as much as you’d expect for a player who’s going all-out at all times. Makes plays in the passing game from inside the seams to outside the numbers and can roll back into deep coverage from linebacker depth. Times his hits exceptionally well to deflect and break up passes. Ward plays a lot of slot coverage, and this may be his most appealing value to NFL teams. His footwork is outstanding, and his backpedal speed really shows up on tape. Doesn’t allow a lot of yards after the catch – if a receiver grabs a catch in his area, Ward is quick to end the play.
Weaknesses: Gets a bit stiff in coverage situations where he needs to turn his hips and run quickly in a straight line; not a natural mover in those circumstances. Though he can get vertical, Ward will be challenged by tight ends and bigger receivers – with his height, there’s only so high he can go. Takes on blockers fearlessly at the line of scrimmage, but needs to put on functional weight to deal with them – he’s a thin guy who struggles in physical battles and needs to shoot through gaps to tackle or blitz. Will occasionally bite on play-action and play-fakes because he’s so aggressive to the ball.
Broncos – Roby, Bradley – CB – 5’11” – 194 lbs – Ohio State – 6.1
Chris Burke’s analysis:
Strengths: Extremely physical player for his size (5-11, 194) who makes life particularly nightmarish for slot receivers. Uses a long wingspan and terrific timing to move in and bat the ball away just as his receiver is about to make the catch. That physicality extends to his tackling ability, which starts in the backfield – Roby heads to the running back like a missile and understands how to bring bigger players down. He would be an excellent option on cornerback blitzes from the slot because he times them perfectly, and his coverage abilities place him there very nicely. As a pure press cornerback, Roby excels because he can follow his receivers wherever they go, and he also reads the running game as he’s covering. Has the straight-line speed to catch up with just about any runner and make a stop.
Weaknesses: Roby needs work on his off-coverage – it could have been a product of scheme at Ohio State, but he allowed far too many easy completions underneath when in off-coverage by giving up too much of a cushion. Though he has legitimate sub-4.4 speed, Roby struggles with recovery quickness when he’s been beaten; he needs to learn to hit corners and angles with more acceleration. Doesn’t turn his hips as fluidly as he should when playing bail technique. Height disadvantage shows up when he’s playing trail coverage and tries to get vertical against bigger receivers – unless he times it perfectly, he’s going to get out-jumped. Occasionally tries to bat the ball away when he should stick and stay with the target.
Vikings – Bridgewater, Teddy – QB – 6’2″ – 214 lbs – Louisville – 6.1
Doug Farrar’s analysis:
Strengths: Of all the quarterbacks in this class, Bridgewater has the best and most comprehensive command of the little things that help signal-callers at the next level. He is a true multi-read quarterback who doesn’t have to rely on his first option. He takes the ball cleanly from center, and his footwork on the drop is clean and variable – that is to say, he can drop straight back or seamlessly head into motion throws. And on the move, Bridgewater runs to throw. He keeps his shoulders squared and his eyes active, allowing him to make some difficult deep and intermediate throws on boot-action left, when he’s throwing across his body on the run. And when under pressure in and out of the pocket, he still looks to get the ball out – he’ll elude and throw his way out of trouble (again, for the most part). In a general sense, Bridgewater is a very resourceful player – he looks to make the most of what he’s got. Sees the field peripherally – Bridgewater has a good sense of converging coverage, and he understands the timing of the throw. And though his deep ball is nothing to write home about, he does have a nice arc in his deeper timing throws when he needs to.
Mechanically, there’s nothing that really beguiles Bridgewater on a consistent basis – he’s generally decisive, he has a very quick overhand release (used to have a problem with sidearm, but he’s clearly working on it) and he uses his lower body to gain velocity. Even when he’s throwing off-angle from weird spots, he’s trained himself to keep proper mechanics, which is something you can’t yet say about Johnny Manziel.
Weaknesses: Bridgewater’s desire to make plays on the move occasionally results in needless sacks, as he will at times hold onto the ball too long. Occasional mental and mechanical lapses will lead to erratic throws, and though too much has been generally made of this in the media, it’s an issue that his NFL coach will have to clean up. This is especially true on his deep passes, which will sail wildly at times. And though he’s functionally mobile, he’s not a true runner – he’s going to make a difference as a quarterback, not a slash player.