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.