NFL Draft: My 22 Favorite Prospects
So, I'm a bit of a NFL Draft nut. With the draft only 19 days away, I figured I would let you know who my favorite prospects are at each position.
Obviously, being a PSU homer, I will include a lot of their players, but I'll try to keep it to a minimum.
I want to make it clear that these are not necessarily who I think the best prospects are, but who I like and want to see succeed at the next level. I'll be trying to stay away from blue chip first rounders for the most part.
Also keep in mind that I'm a Vikings fan so I am partial to players that would fit in with them.
QB - Nate Davis, Ball State
A junior from the MAC, which produced QBs like Ben Roethlisberger, Chad Pennington, and Byron Leftwich. Davis has a learning disability, causing him to struggle with the BSU playbook.
This could really hurt him at the pro level. He is also a little on the short side (6'1").
The positives on Davis are his live arm and sneaky athleticism. He slides well in the pocket and makes big plays. Watch him play and you'll know why he was once regarded as a solid first day prospect.
But, he wears gloves. Every game.
RB - LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
I picked 'Shady' cause he's from Harrisburg, PA. Gotta rep the hometown!
Other than his place of birth, there is a lot to like about McCoy. He has great vision and explosiveness. He can take it to the house. He can catch it out of the backfield.
He is much more of a big play threat than the other rushers in this draft like Wells, Moreno, and Brown.
He has his negatives, however. He doesn't have the size or power to be an every-down back. He has a tendency to drop the rock sometimes, and maturity could be an issue.
Prediction: Late Round One - Mid Round Two
FB - Brannan Southerland, Georgia
That's right, a fullback gets its own slide. Old school football FTW!
Southerland is an athletic fullback that was a team leader with the bulldogs.
While he needs to work on his technique as a blocker and pass catcher to stick in the pros, he is just the type of hard worker you can expect to improve his game.
WR - Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
Ok, so I couldn't leave all the blue chippers off.
Crabs has only been playing wide receiver for three years, and he is already a YAC machine. He has natural hands and outstanding body control. Guy has freakishly long arms and shows the beginnings of a good route runner.
The big issue is speed. He won't run the 40 but I think that's overrated anyway. The thing is you don't produce the way he does by accident.
He plays in a friendly system, but there is a reason not every TT receiver isn't on any lists for best receivers.
Michael must also learn how to run pro routes, although it seems he should accomplish this as he is a hard worker that already knows how to get open.
Prediction: Top 10
WR - Deon Butler, PSU
Ok, first Nittany Lion on the list, and he's probably my favorite.
Butler came to Penn State as a walk-on defensive back. His only scholarship offer was William & Mary. Butler passed on being the next Thomas Jefferson and instead went to play for Joe Pa in Happy Valley.
Watching Deon for four years was great. He has great deep speed. He always gets open for big plays. He has amazing hands and makes plays on the sidelines and corners of the end zones.
The best thing about him is he makes the important plays. Guy is just a gamer.
Obviously, the biggest knock on him is that he is tiny. Pretty much all his weaknesses relate to his lack of bulk.
This guy can be successful in the slot (re: off the line of scrimmage) in the pros. He's quick, reliable, and tough.
TE - James Casey, Rice
This guy is awesome. He's a tight end but he did everything for Rice, including lining up at QB in the oh so popular wildcat formation.
Casey is a natural athlete. He played baseball for a couple years, making him older than the average prospect. He belongs to the newer sect of smooth, athletic, pass-catching tight ends.
His blocking needs work, but he can definitely do some damage on a team that lets him get out and get open.
LOT - Gerald Cadogan, Penn State
Cadogan is the second Penn Stater to make it on my list.
Gerald is an underrated athlete that has the potential to be a blindside blocker at the next level. He is light on his feet and a really smart, high character player.
He needs to add bulk and get stronger. Not really as mean like you want your offensive lineman to be.
Plus, he can sing your hymns in the locker room: he's released two gospel albums already.
OG - Herman Johnson, Louisiana State
Alright, I didn't really have a lot of favorites at guard, so I gave the nod to the biggest baby ever born in the state of Louisiana. His scouting reports goes like roughly like this:
Cons: Negative effects of being huge
He can't move very well and gets winded quickly.
C - A.Q. Shipley, Penn State
PSU prospect No. 3 for those keeping count.
Shipley is a little small, but he really has impressed me whenever I've seen him take on true nose tackles. He isn't really strong but he makes up for it with terrific technique, smarts, and heart. Team captain.
OG - Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin
Ok, so I decided since I don't have favorite guards, I'll just support the Big Ten.
Urbik is a mauler. He's the kind of guy that isn't spectacular but you know he's going to end up being a solid starter somewhere. Wisconsin grows these guys like weeds it seems like.
ROT - Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma
Loadholt is a guy I really want my Vikes to take a look at. Ryan Cook is abysmal at right tackle. Loadholt is an imposing figure that could take his job right away.
Loadholt is huge. He played left tackle in college, so he isn't a horrible athlete. He would have great feet for a right tackle. He struggles with speed obviously, but he's great for teams that run a lot (I'm looking at you Brad Childress).
Prediction: Two or Three
DE - Aaron Maybin, Penn State
I loved watching Aaron Maybin play this year. He is so long and lanky, but he has great speed around the edge. Too bad his only pass rushing move is to run around the slow Big Ten tackle in front of him.
He did bulk up for the combine, but it hindered his athleticism. This is not a good sign. He is definitely best-suited as a 3-4 OLB, where his pass-rushing and athleticism will be highlighted.
Prediction: Mid - late round one
DT - Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State
This guy is a freak. He is huge, long, and athletic. The main concern with Jarron is his level of competition. Comforting for fans, he dominates at his level.
Think of him as an even more physically impressive Jason Jones of the Titans.
Prediction: Two or Three
DT - Mitch King, Iowa
King was a guy that I saw give Penn State hell over the past couple of years. While he is extremely undersized, he is also great at penetrating.
King came to Iowa as a linebacker. His obvious weakness is his lack of size, but he more than makes up for it with athleticism and grit.
Prediction: Round Four or Five
DE - Henry Melton, Texas
Melton is an absolute physical freak. He is a converted RUNNING BACK weight in at 270 POUNDS. And it's not a Jovorskie Lane, I guess he can stand back there and try to run people over 270 pounds.
If I could figure running back out, I'd be the second coming of Brandon Jacobs 270.
Although Melton is an amazing athlete for his size, he is definitely a project. He did have four sacks his senior year, so the ability is there. If he has the drive, he could be special.
Prediction: Five or Six
OLB - Moise Fokou, Maryland
My brother goes to Maryland. I homer for them a bit on the side.
Fokou is an impressive athlete that has the potential to start as a weak side backer after some grooming. He is a hard worker that should be an asset on special teams from the get-go.
He is a bit undersized and has trouble taking on blockers. He would work best in a system with big lineman that take the blocks and let him roam free.
Prediction: Five through Seven
MLB - Michael Tauiliili, Duke
How can you not like a guy with that many 'I's in his name?
Football wise, Tauiliiliiiiiiiiliili is short and stocky. He has average athleticism but solid intangibles. He should stick as a great special teams player and solid backup.
Prediction: Six or Seven
OLB - Brian Toal, Boston College
If not for injuries, Brian Toal would be a much higher regarded prospect, possibly even first round.
Toal is a great athlete that could rush the passer from the outside linebacker position. If he can recover from his serious injuries, he could surprise us and start somewhere.
It's really tough to pin down what type of pro Toal will be, because it is unclear how much of his athleticism he will regain in the coming years. He could turn into a solid starter or he could retire by the end of next year. Tough to tell.
Prediction: Seven - Undrafted
CB - Jairus Byrd, Oregon
This is a guy I want the Vikings to look at. He could start at the nickel and eventually either push Griffin or replace Winfield in a few years (Side note: great move signing Winfield to the extension by the Vikes, he's a playmaker).
Byrd is a physical, ball hawking corner. He fits perfectly in the cover as well because of his ability to support the run and tackle. He has great instincts and really goes after the ball.
Jairus is not really athletic, and this could be exposed at the next level. He also takes a lot of risks, so this could be an issue.
Prediction - Late first - Mid-Second Round
CB - Kevin Barnes, Maryland
Another Maryland homer pick.
Barnes was having a great senior year until a fractured shoulder blade ended it prematurely. He is athletic with good size for a corner, and is solid in run support and likes to make the big hit. Has pretty good experience.
He does have tight hips and needs refinement on his footwork. A good defensive back coach could do wonders for him.
Prediction: Three or Four
S - Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest
Chip is a big hitting safety. He has terrific timed speed, but he doesn't really show that type of range on the field. With his triangle numbers he certainly has a lot of potential. He is a really good athlete and could surprise at the next level.
Prediction: Three through Five
S - Trimane Goddard, North Carolina
Goddard is just a solid football player. He makes big plays, but doesn't have great size, nor is he a spectacular athlete. He is the type of guy that will start eventually, and will surprise a lot of people when he does.
Prediction: Six - Undrafted