This year's NFL draft seems to have a good number of players who appear to look good on paper, but come into the draft with some concerns that could just as easily make them draft busts. Following on the heels of the erratic performance of Robert Griffin III, the less than consistent work performed by Eric Fisher and the deer in the headlights debut of Johnny Manziel, it can often seem like college football and the NFL are two compeletely different sports. Many sure-fire college prospects have wilted under the pressure of the speed, timing and mental aspects of the NFL game.
Every season the NFL serves up new slices of humble pie as new draft prospects come into the league failing to achieve the same level of success that they enjoyed in college. Seemingly simple things, like taking a direct snap from center, or being able to block players given a weight advantage of almost 100 pounds, are not so simple at the next level. Even for two of the top prospects of this year's draft, their success in the NFL is far from guaranteed. Marcus Mariota is a tremendous talent, but he will line up against 11 players who have similar speed and their own set of skills. Jameis Winston looks ready to play, but needs to prove he can throw into tighter windows with less time to stand in the pocket and scan the field. Both of these players are tremendous prospects, but that doesn't always translate into NFL success.
The following 20 players will all get drafted into the NFL. They all have the talent, size or physical attributes to become stars in the league, however, that doesn't mean they are immune from failure. On each and every play, there will be less time to think and even less time to react. Windows and running lanes will be smaller, opposing players will be faster or stronger and failure will come easily while success will take much more work to achieve. The draft will be the culmination of many dreams but once Sunday comes around, many of these dreams will inevitably be crushed.
20 Grady Jarrett, DT - Clemson (6'1", 305 lbs)
Grady Jarrett was a three-time All-ACC selection at Clemson even though his teammate, Vic Beasley, still seemed to get more attention. Jarrett had 83 tackles, with 11 tackles for loss and two sacks as a junior, earning Clemson's co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. He has quick feet, is good at penetrating gaps, and is explosive off the line of scrimmage. Jarrett also has great leverage and strength, with the ability to knock opposing linemen backwards. He could end up being a lot like Michael Dean Perry, the former Cleveland Browns defensive tackle who had a similar frame and quick feet.
19 Brett Hundley, QB - UCLA (6'3", 225 lbs)
Brett Hundley has great size, speed, and arm strength, making him one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft. In three seasons at UCLA, Hundley passed for 9,966 yards with 75 touchdowns, while also gaining 1,747 yards on the ground with 30 rushing touchdowns. He has all the tools to be an effective quarterback at the next level, including good football smarts and leadership qualities. He might be able to make all the NFL throws, but the big question is whether the speed of the game will make him hurry his throws and panic or take off and run on too many plays.
18 Devin Smith, WR - Ohio State (6'0", 196 lbs)
Devin Smith has been able to make some unbelievable catches for Ohio State during his collegiate career. His knack of making big plays was reflected in his 28.2 yards per reception average in 2014. Smith only had 33 receptions, but managed to make most of them count, with his gaudy average and the 12 touchdowns that he scored. Smith is fast, 4.42 second 40-yard dash, and powerful enough to break free from jams and stretch the field. Smith shows signs of having a little Odell Beckham Jr. in him.
17 Jordan Phillips, DT - Oklahoma (6'5", 330 lbs)
Jordan Phillips is a large man who happens to be a terrific athlete for a man of his immense size. Phillips has great burst and speed for his size, and although he only ran a 5.17 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Draft Combine, he looks to have even better straight-line speed on the football field. Phillips managed to record 33 tackles, seven for loss, and two quarterback sacks in 2014 to earn 2nd-team All-Big 12 honors. Despite his size that draws double-teams and his quickness that allows him to make occasional plays, the red-shirt junior is still a little short on experience.
16 Shaq Thompson, OLB - Washington (6'0", 228 lbs)
Shaq Thompson might not have the ideal NFL size for his position, but he has the motor, agility, and speed, to consistently make big plays. Thompson is good at diagnosing plays and avoiding blockers on his way to the ball carrier. He is also a very good open field tackler, managing 52 solo tackles in his 81 total tackles in 2014. Thompson is fast and agile, gaining 456 yards on 61 carries as a running back in 2014. He scored six touchdowns, with four of them coming on defense. Thompson is an exciting player, but where he will fit into an NFL scheme is the biggest question mark.
15 Phillip Dorsett, WR - Miami (5'10", 185 lbs)
Phillip Dorsett could scare any secondary with his blazing speed. He had the fastest 40-yard dash time at the Combine (4.33 seconds), and even included a better than average 37" vertical leap. Last season at Miami, Dorsett caught 36 passes for 871 yards and 10 touchowns, averaging a remarkable 24.2 yards per reception. Dorsett has the speed and quickness to get open and pick up yards after the catch in the short passing game. He is capable of breaking a few ankles at the next level and could be a lot like Percy Harvin if he ends up playing in the slot.
14 Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE - UCLA (6'3", 267 lbs)
Owamagbe Odighizuwa put up some impressive numbers at the NFL Draft Combine. He ran a 4.62 second 40-yard dash, had a 39" vertical leap, 25 reps of bench press, and broad jumped over 10 1/2 feet. He is a great athlete who had a productive season in 2014, registering 61 tackles, six sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and five pass deflections. After missing the entire 2013 season due to a hip injury, Odighizuwa came back to earn second-team All-Pac 12 honors.
13 Dorial Green-Beckham, WR - Oklahoma (6'5", 237 lbs)
Dorial Green-Beckham is pretty high on just about every draft board, thanks in large part to his impressive size and athleticism. Green-Beckham also caught 87 passes for 1,278 yards and 17 touchdowns in his two seasons at Missouri. What excites scouts, however, is his 4.49 second 40-yard dash speed and 10-foot broad jump. This athleticism, combined with his 237 pound body, is enough to make NFL scouts drool. Green-Beckham attacks defenders with aggression and goes after the ball with aggression as well. He could have the same impact in the NFL as Mike Evans.
12 Breshad Perriman, WR - UCF (6'2", 212 lbs)
Breshad Perriman is big and fast with all the physical tools an NFL team would want in a wide receiver. In workouts, Perriman ran a 4.26 second 40-yard dash and even cranked out 18 reps of bench press. He can stretch the field, averaging 19.5 yards per reception for his career, and can also make difficult catches anywhere on the field. He had a terrific 2014 season, catching 50 passes for 1,044 yards, nine touchdowns, and a 20.9 yard average per reception. He also seems to be able to establish great rapport with his quarterbacks, enabling him to help take advantage of any breakdowns in coverage that might arise on the football field.
11 D.J. Humphries, OT - Florida (6'5", 307 lbs)
D.J. Humphries might not be one of the most polished offensive tackles in the 2015 draft, but he does have two things NFL teams covet. Humphries can move, is extremely athletic, and has long arms. He also has big broad shoulders, is skinny in the middle, has plenty of bend in his knees, and terrific balance, to go along with his ability to move like a receiver or tight end. Humphries has plenty of talent to go along with his athletic body that could easily add more weight. He could end up being a lot like Joe Staley who was a track athlete in high school and came into the league with a similar frame.
10 Andrus Peat, OT - Stanford (6'7", 315 lbs)
Andrus Peat is nothing short of a perfect physical specimen for playing offensive tackle in the NFL. He is long, carries most of his weight in his massive lower body, can move well forward and laterally, and has terrific balance. Peat is a force in the running game, and has the quick feet and long arms that enable him to handle speed rushers in the passing game. Peat started every game the last two years at left tackle, earning the Morris Trophy and All-American honors in 2014. He would seem like he has all the tools to become an All-Pro at the next level, but lingering questions still remain.
9 Jake Fisher, OT - Oregon (6'6", 305 lbs)
Jake Fisher is easily one of the most athletic offensive tackles in the draft. He is long and lean and has the speed and quickness to get to the point of attack in a hurry. Fisher is capable of handling NFL speed rushers and could flourish in a zone blocking scheme or when pulling to the outside in the running game. He was an honorable mention All-Pac 12 selection the past two seasons, and has been very consistent. Fisher is a warrior, and his scrappy play only enhances his raw athletic talent. He doesn't give up on plays and will go out of his way to block more than one man or get down-field to make a big play even bigger. He plays a lot like Kyle Long who also came from Oregon and now plays guard for the Chicago Bears.
8 Randy Gregory, DE - Nebraska (6'5", 235 lbs)
Randy Gregory has a terrific long and lean athletic frame with the speed and quickness to match. He is a classic speed rusher who knows how to use his legs and long arms to get around offensive tackles. Gregory ran a 4.64 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and backed that up with 24 reps of bench press to show above average strength for his position. In two seasons at Nebraska, Gregory tallied 17.5 sacks, and 25.5 tackles for loss, while also grabbing a pair interceptions and forcing two fumbles. Gregory has explosive quickness, knows how to extend his arms with power, and does not give up on plays. He has the body and passion to be like DeMarcus Ware.
7 Todd Gurley, RB - Georgia (6'1", 222 lbs)
Todd Gurley has the talent and tools to become the premier running back of the draft. Even though Gurley only played in six games last season for Georgia, he still gained 911 yards with 9 touchdowns and an average of 7.4 yards per carry. Gurley was a freshman All-American in 2012, when he gained 1,385 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. He has breakaway speed, great movement in his hips, and explosiveness that has attracted plenty of attention from NFL scouts. He also has good size and can punish defenders who are out of position. Gurley could be the next DeMarco Murray, coming into the league with a little more size and equally impressive speed.
6 Malcom Brown, DT - Texas (6'2", 320 lbs)
Malcom Brown (not to be confused with his running back teammate Malcolm Brown) has been more than just an imposing figure on the University of Texas defensive line. Brown was a highly regarded 5-star recruit out of high school, rated as the second best defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com. He is big, but athletic, running a 4.8 second 40-yard dash out of high school. Brown can shift his body well and has impressive quickness laterally and off the ball. He can explode into the backfield, and has great vision and the persistence to get to any player who happens to have the ball. In 2014, Brown had 61 tackles and 6.5 sacks, earning first-team All-Big 12 honors and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
5 Arik Armstead, DT/DE - Oregon (6'7", 292 lbs)
Arik Armstead has the size and length to be a very versatile player in the NFL. He is tall and relatively lean, and looks like the modern day version of Ted Hendricks. Armstead redshirted on the Oregon basketball team and has a solid 34" vertical leap. In 2014, he registered 46 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and had 2.5 sacks, despite being subjected to many chip blocks and double teams. Armstead improved each season at Oregon, going from an occasional starter to starting in all of the Duck's games in 2014. He quit playing basketball to concentrate on football and likely has a higher ceiling with more experience under his belt.
4 Brandon Scherff, OT - Iowa (6'5", 319 lbs)
Brandon Scherff has the prototypical size for an offensive tackle at the next level. He has tremendous upper body strength, has no problem driving defenders off the ball, and has remarkably quick feet for his hulking size. Scherff really came into his own in 2014, earning first-team All-Big 10 honors, unanimous All-American honors, and the 2014 Outland Trophy. He is a tough mauler who knows how to use his hands and can negate speed with his arm strength and power. Scherff has the size, strength and nasty disposition to be a lot like a slightly smaller version of Jason Peters.
3 Ereck Flowers, OT - Miami (6'6", 330 lbs)
Ereck Flowers is an extremely large and powerful man. At the combine, Flowers powered his way to 37 reps on the bench press. He has the size, talent and nastiness to start in Week 1. Flowers started in all 24 games for the Hurricanes his last two seasons, earning second-team All-ACC honors in 2014. He has good quickness and balance, with wide shoulders and great length that allows him to cover plenty of ground to make up for his lack of elite NFL speed.
2 Jameis Winston, QB - Florida State (6'4", 231 lbs)
There is plenty to like about Jameis Winston. He has the perfect NFL quarterback size, arm strength, and pocket presence, that make him the likely first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Winston is also a winner, good leader, and stays composed when the going gets tough. In two seasons at Florida State, Winston passed for 7,964 yards and 65 touchdowns in 27 games. It seems like Winston has very few flaws on the football field, even being equipped with football intelligence that is off the charts. Winston also played in a pro style offense and knows how to make plays taking snaps over center as well as from the confines of the pocket. He reads defenses well and goes through his progressions quickly, surprising many scouts with his ability to diagnose what defenses are trying to take away.
1 Marcus Mariota, QB - Oregon (6'4", 222 lbs)
Marcus Mariota has great size and athleticism to become a special player at the next level. He can make all the NFL throws and uses his legs to get out of trouble when the pocket breaks down. Mariota is coming off a Heisman Trophy season where he passed for 4,454 yards with 42 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also rushed for 770 yards with 15 touchdowns. Mariota has nice touch to his passes and does a good job of leading receivers with his throws down the field. He doesn't have a cannon for an arm, but can throw into tight windows when his feet are set. What makes Mariota special is how he is able to make big plays when the pocket breaks down.
Mariota is a great kid, leader by example, and an athletically gifted football player, but his readiness for the NFL is the big question mark to his overall game. Can he take snaps under center? Will he be able to go through his progressions and not settle on line of scrimmage reads? He was the perfect quarterback for the Oregon offense, but playing in the NFL is almost a completely different game. Mariota has the talent and positive attitude to learn and develop into a great pro, but there will be more speed lining up on the other side of the ball in the NFL, and less time to make his reads. He can't make late throws or run the ball on every play in the Pros or he will likely have a short career. If he can adapt, he can become one of the most dangerous weapons the NFL has ever seen.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!