My “War Room” shows how I would personally rank each prospect if I had my own draft board. This post provides some quick scouting notes – pros and cons – for each potential first round prospect, gathered from both my personal observations from studying film cut-ups, as well as a compilation of analysis from a variety of great college scouts and draft minds (Dane Brugler, Lance Zierlein, Mike Mayock, Daniel Jeremiah, Josh Norris, and Matt Miller, to name a few)… Each short breakdown is followed by an “OUTLOOK,” which gives my best guess on where and when this prospect should go in the NFL Draft. Despite this, keep in mind the players listed are ranked according to where I would draft them, NOT by where I believe each player will be selected in April’s NFL Draft. My 2015 NFL Mock Draft can be found HERE. I will continually update this until Draft Day.
The B.E.S.T. Big Board
First Round Grades:
- QB Jameis Winston (FSU) – Character concerns and immaturity level are pushed aside when a player has the skill-set of a potential franchise QB. His ability to read defenses, anticipate on throws, and his “clutch gene” are next-level. OUTLOOK: Should be selected #1 overall by TB.
- QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon) – I’m honestly not sold on his transition to the NFL. I think he needs to land in the right place or he won’t develop soundly. But Mariota possesses the athletic tools necessary to give him a chance to succeed. In a class with only two legitimate future starters at the game’s most important position, the value is too hard to pass up. OUTLOOK: Should be selected #1-2 overall by TB, TEN or CLE. Fits best with PHI, CHI.
- RB Todd Gurley (UGA) – Recovering from a torn ACL is scary for teams, but when healthy, Gurley is a special, bruising workhorse who can lead an offense. Similar to Marshawn Lynch, Gurley’s running style and natural ability are a rarities in today’s pass-centered game. OUTLOOK: Top-20 pick. Arguably top-10 pick sans ACL injury. CLE, MIA, SD, ARI, and maybe MIN (if they deal Adrian Peterson) are all in play.
- WR Amari Cooper (‘Bama) – Few, if any, prospects are more refined at their respective positions. Cooper is the most reliable, pro-ready player in this draft class. His route-running is crisp. He can use quickness and gliding speed to separate from defenders in man coverage and has the uncanny ability to locate the soft spots in zones. OUTLOOK: Top-10 pick – OAK, NYJ, STL or SF.
- DE/OLB Vic Beasley (Clemson) – A freak athlete and weight room warrior who can get to opposing quarterbacks. Instant first step. Very shifty to avoid contact. But not always big/strong enough to shed blockers, can disappear for stretches but then make explosive splash plays. Much better pass rusher than edge setter. Inexperienced dropping into coverage. Best as standup OLB in 3-4 front. Stellar upside. OUTLOOK: Top 7 pick – JAX, WASH, NYJ, or CHI.
- OG Brandon Scherff (Iowa) – Although he’s more sound in the running game at this point, Scherff is the kind of trench warrior you draft, insert him into the starting lineup, and forget about the position for years. Good footwork and balance. Excellent hand usage in running game, driving defenders back. Good burst out of stance on stretch runs, quickly getting to second level. Consistently plays violent, competitive. But in pass pro, he displays some hip tightness and doesn’t have range for speed rushers. Lacks ideal arm length. Mauler in running game and well coached, tough. Best suited at OG but can play RT. OUTLOOK: Top-12 pick – WASH, ATL, NYG, STL or MIN.
- DT Leonard Williams (USC) – Great hand usage shedding. Great size. Moves like a lighter player. Highly intelligent player with outstanding awareness. Good work ethic. But needs to refine his pass rush moves. There’s untapped potential there though. His strength and movement combo gives him massive upside, but technique needs to be polished. Scheme versatile. OUTLOOK: Top-5 pick – JAX, OAK, or WASH.
- DE/OLB Alvin “Bud” Dupree (Kent) – Good size and natural athlete. Flexible with loose hips and ankles, and stays low with good bend. Quick first step off edge. Good motor, plays with energy. Versatile experience, held a lot of responsibilities in his defense last season. Became more of a vocal leader last season. Outstanding work ethic and character. But needs to improve hand usage shedding blockers, sometimes displays lack of strength in running game. Tackling, wrap-up technique needs improvement. Sometimes leaves his post, overeager. Not yet fully developed, great upside. OUTLOOK: Top half of first round – ATL, NYG, NO, HOU.
- WR DeVante Parker (Louisville) – Physical wide out with nice measureables. Uses his body well in space, forcing missed tackles. When the ball is in the air, he attacks vertically, plucking it at its highest point. Excels at the back-shoulder fade route and in the red zone. Very crisp route runner. Great YAC. Needs to add a little bulk. Durability issues. OUTLOOK: Top half of first round, every team in 10-16 range – STL, MIN, CLE, NO, MIA, SF, HOU.
- DE Dante Fowler (Florida) – Versatile experience, including coverage assignments. Good size and athletic enough to show burst, dodge blockers and dip. Very physical and enjoys contact. Strong work ethic. But he can be run directly at, as his recognition and ability to drive in running game is a work in progress. Not a ton of splash plays in college. OUTLOOK: Top-7 pick – JAX, WASH, NYJ, or CHI.
- CB Marcus Peters (Wash.) – tone-setting competitiveness. Aggressive player. Shows outstanding coverage skills as best pure cover CB in draft. Great feel for game. But lacks ideal recovery speed. Alarming character and immaturity concerns. Kicked off team last season. High NFL upside but also failed drug test, had academic issues. OUTLOOK: Mid-to-late first round – MIN, SF, KC, PIT, ARI, BAL, NE.
- WR Nelson Agholor (USC) – Twitchy athlete with quick feet and sudden movement skills. Separates well, accelerating out of his breaks. Team captain. Great return man on special teams. But lean frame, lacks ideal height. Hands are inconsistent. A poor man’s Odell Beckham in terms of playing style. OUTLOOK: Late first, early second rounder – PHI, BAL, OAK, CHI, CLE, NO.
- CB Kevin Johnson (Wake) – Great recognition and quickness. 4 year starter. Good special teams player. But minimal bulk and skinny frame. Highly skilled cover man in zone and man. Not great upside but should be reliable starter. Six feet tall. The most pro-ready CB in this class. OUTLOOK: Mid-first round – MIN, MIA, HOU, KC, PHI, PIT, ARI.
- OT La’el Collins (LSU) – Plays with strong base and anchors well. Redirects defenders at point of attack with strong hands. Plays with mean streak in running game, finishing blocks. Vocal and wants to beat opponent every snap. But slow movement after snap, average quickness. Sloppy footwork in pass pro and inconsistent technique. Gets job done usually but it’s ugly. He shows 100% effort though. Work ethic called out by Tom Moffitt, but seems to have matured since. Projects to OG at next level, possibly RT. OUTLOOK: Mid-first round – NYG, MIN, NO, MIA, SD, KC, CLE, CIN, DET. Second Round Grades:
- DT Danny Shelton (Wash.) – Good size and powerful, yet agile enough to rush to ball laterally. Played 900+ snaps last season, and through pain. Attacks gaps and has active hands, strong punsh to rip into bull rush. Smart academic. But sometimes plays too heavy, weight issues. Plays too upright at time with sloppy technique. Commands double teams. OUTLOOK: Late first round – CLE, HOU, SD, CIN, ARI, DAL.
- LB Eric Kendricks (UCLA) – Two year team captain, great leader and film junkie. Knack for big plays. Good feel for the game. Strong read and react. Has great motor. Always around the ball. Is athletic enough to cover but Not a good pass rusher. Does not have great measureables. Struggles to get off blocks, fight through trash. OUTLOOK: Early second round, but could sneak into first – HOU, KC, ARI, GB, NO.
- DT Malcom Brown (Texas) – Nice build and moves well. Proactive penetrator, not reactive. Strong work ethic. Gets hands up to deflect passes. Anchors well in run game. Always around the ball for a DT. But only average length and size. Scheme-diverse. OUTLOOK: Mid-first round – NYG, SF, SD, CIN, DAL.
- OT D.J. Humphries (Florida) – Natural athlete with knee bend and quickness and range. Patient. Still growing and gaining weight. Better pass protector than mauler in running game. Lacks spatial awareness. Has flashed potential with lower body ability, but needs to get stronger. Most upside of any OT in draft class. OUTLOOK: Late first round – KC, CLE, CIN, DET, CAR, DEN, IND.
- DE Arik Armstead (Oregon) – Tall and long. Phenomenal athlete for his size. Initial quickness. Can hold edge in running game and has tools to be good pass rusher if developed. Needs to use his hands much better. Raw and likely needs a year to get used to physicality of NFL, but lots of athletic upside. Should be 3-4 DE. OUTLOOK: Mid-first round – CHI, NYG, CLE, NO, SD, PHI
- WR Breshad Perriman (UCF) – Built well. Uses his size to shield well. Makes athletic catches. Very fast, can be deep threat. Good blocker. Not sudden or quick but very fast full steam ahead. Hands are suspect, lots of drops. Route running needs work. OUTLOOK: Late first round – MIA, SF, KC, CLE, CAR, BAL, TEN.
- WR Phillip Dorsett (Miami) – Sensational speed. Can take lid off defense. Has shown he can beat press with sudden moves. Rapid acceleration. Coaches have testified to high character and leadership traits. But very small at 5’9, 185. Has some mental lapses, easy drops and fumbles. Questionable durability with injury history in college. OUTLOOK: Second round – NO.
- WR Kevin White (WVU) – Good measureables. Reaches top speed quickly. Shows good concentration catching. Nice plucker when ball at high point. Strong with the ball, hard to bring down. Should get plenty of yards after catch (YAC). Effective blocker, effort is there. Needs to show more experience dealing with and separating from press coverage. Has good ball skills. OUTLOOK: Top-10 pick – OAK, NYJ, CHI, STL, MIA.
- TE Maxx Williams (Minn.) – Smooth route runner. Soft, large mitts. Not an explosive athlete, but fluid. Reliable and refined. Looks the part. Not a strong blocker but has the ability to line up anywhere. Not particularly fast, but won’t have a tough time getting open in NFL once he tweaks a few details of his patterns. By far the best in this year’s thin TE class. OUTLOOK: Late first, early second round – ARI, BAL, DEN, NO, PIT.
- OT Ereck Flowers (Miami) – Good size. Can drive man back in run game. Has mean streak, fights until whistle. Confident player. Quick feet. Pushes through pain and in weight room. Sloppy technique at times. Late to deal with speed rushers. False start penalties. May not be ready to start yet, but has experience in ZBS. High upside if fundamentals improve. OUTLOOK: Mid-to-late first round: NYG, CIN, NYJ, DET, CAR, DEN, IND.
- CB Trae Waynes (Mich St.) – Good height at 6’0 and speed at 4.31. Uses body well to gain leverage and shield defenders on deep throws. Playmaker when ball in air. Lots of experience in press coverage. But skinny frame, needs to bulk up. Burst does not match straight line speed. Often late to plant on routes in front of him, needs to improve recognition to quicker diagnose plays. But while he’s still raw there, he has best skill-set in terms of potential of this class. OUTLOOK: Mid-first round – STL, MIN, NO, MIA, SF, HOU, KC, PIT.
- DE/OLB Shane Ray (Missou) – Launches off line of scrimmage with sick first step and acceleration. Great motor, runs and chases. Moves laterally well, dodging contact. Plays through pain and is good leader. But is small for position, needs to gain muscle weight. Relies on speed, but doesn’t provide much power. Too easily haulted when he doesn’t get leverage initially on speed rush. Needs to develop a spin move like Dwight Freeney. Very dangerous if he can pin his ears back and rush passer with lead. Boom or bust prospect that needs the right fit to realize potential. OUTLOOK: Mid-first round – WAS, CHI, ATL, NYG, NO, HOU, CLE, CIN, ARI.
- OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas AM) – Recovering from torn ACL. Nimble feet allow him to mirror well. Hard worker, very competitive. Finishes blocks, especially in the run game where he’s eager to be a mauler. Can struggle in pass protection, failing to recognize stunts, and having a poor punch. Long injury history. There’s upside here though. OUTLOOK: Late first, early second round – CAR, DEN, TEN, TB, OAK, NYJ.
- RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin) – Fast feet. Has speed to bounce runs outside. Rapid acceleration. Great vision in open feed. Plays stronger than his size. Incredible production in college, breaking all kinds of records. Doesn’t show knack for running between tackles. Had 7 fumbles in 2014. Unreliable hands in terms of catching the football. Not utilized much as receiver or blocker. OUTLOOK: Mid-to-late first round – SD, CLE, DET, ARI, BAL, DAL.
- DE Henry Anderson (Stanford) – Violent mentality and never gives up on play. Intensely uses upper body to disrupt passing lanes. Active hands. High football IQ. But not explosive or fluid athlete, lacks balance. Needs more pass rushing moves. Cannot fight through double teams, not strong enough. Has great length and best fits as 3-4 DE. OUTLOOK: Second round.
- SS Landon Collins (‘Bama) – Awesome in run support, tackling. Aggressive and natural instincts tracking down ball carriers and laying down the lumber. Struggles in pass coverage, free lancing too much and getting lost at times. The best in a very weak safety class. OUTLOOK: Late first, early second round – CHI, NYG, CIN, PIT, IND, DAL.
- CB Eric Rowe (Utah) – Converted free safety. Great work ethic and passionate about football. Struggles with press coverage but still learning position. Tremendous upside in zone, off-man situations. Versatile and overall reliable DB. OUTLOOK: Early second round, could sneak into first – PHI, GB.
- LB Shaq Thompson (Wash.) – Great footwork and ball skills. Ability to cover, very rangy. Athletic playmaker. Form tackler, takes great angles. Averaged 7.5 YPC as RB. Great special teams ace. Good leadership qualities. But he’s very light at 228 pounds. Lacks a natural position other than WLB in 4-3. Could possibly play free safety in a pinch. OUTLOOK: Second round, could sneak into first – GB, NYG.
- CB Byron Jones (UCONN) – Tall, long frame with muscle. Tremendous athlete. Broad jump world record at the combine. Versatile with 20 starts at safety. Excellent tackler and defending run with ease. But history of shoulder problems. Overaggressive coverage tendencies, raw footwork in coverage. OUTLOOK: Late first rounder – PIT, NE, MIN.
- OT Jake Fisher (Oregon) – A big part of Oregon’s success offensively. Made his presence felt. Impressive natural athlete but doesn’t always utilize his gifts on consistent basis. Displays poor technique in terms of hand usage, high shoulders, and knee bending. Very good movement skills, taking angles and sealing running lanes. Fits best in zone-blocking system. Played through knee sprain his senior season. OUTLOOK: Early second round, could sneak into first – PHI, IND, NO, TB, TEN, ATL.
- DE Owa Odighizuwa (UCLA) – Very slick rusher. Has strong bull rush and can hold edge as run defender. Well-rounded and possesses high character traits. Needs to improve snap anticipation and initial diagnosis of play. Medical red flags on hip. Played under five different coordinators at UCLA. Very raw pass rush skills but looks the part of starter in NFL if coached up. OUTLOOK: Late first, early second rounder – CIN, ARI, NO, TB, OAK, JAX, NYJ, WASH, CHI.
Top-10 Favorite Prospects
The following ten players are ranked higher than consensus rankings, and I strongly believe they will have successful NFL careers if they are drafted by the right teams:
- CB Marcus Peters, (WASH)
- WR Nelson Agholor (USC)
- DE/OLB Vic Beasley (Clemson)
- OG Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
- WR DeVante Parker (Louisville)
- DE/OLB Alvin “Bud” Dupree (Kent)
- CB Kevin Johnson (Wake)
- LB Eric Kendricks (UCLA)
Categories: The NFL Draft