Players Worth Reaching for in the 2015 NFL Draft
Teams reach for players all the time in the NFL draft. But what is a reach, anyway?
After all, player value is subjective and relative. One man's reach is another man's treasure, right?
There are certainly some players worth reaching for, at least, if you know where to look. The 2015 draft has some guys who would be well worth taking higher than their current draft stock. These guys aren't getting love for one reason or another, but they will be quality NFL players who should go higher than expected.
Let's take a look at some of the guys who would be well worth the reach. We'll try to keep it out of the first round, which has been discussed ad nauseam.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma Sooners
Character concerns can be a real draft stock killer—just ask Dorial Green-Beckham.
The former Oklahoma Sooner and Missouri Tiger could have been in the conversation to be the top receiver taken in the draft. The 6'5", 237-pound wideout is a monster capable of being a star at the next level.
His extracurricular activities, however, have been a huge problem. Green-Beckham's run-ins with drugs and alleged assault—for which he was never charged—have thrown up Josh Gordon-sized red flags around the talented receiver.
So why reach for a powder keg? Simple. He could be the next Calvin Johnson.
Green-Beckham has a rare combination of size, athleticism and talent. He can beat cornerbacks deep and high, and he is a solid route-runner.
Of course, the off-field stuff should be taken seriously. Teams are certainly doing their due diligence, and we shouldn't trivialize serious allegations. If his troubles are behind him, though, Green-Beckham is going to be huge.
Tre' Jackson, OG, Florida State Seminoles
Need a starting guard for the foreseeable future? Draft Tre' Jackson.
The former Florida State Seminoles lineman isn't as highly regarded as his compatriot, Cameron Erving, who is likely going to be a first-round pick. But Jackson could wind up being the better pro.
That is, if his deficiencies can be fixed, anyway. Jackson is a naturally gifted offensive guard, blessed with fantastic size. But the reason he isn't being discussed as a first-round pick is his poor technique.
That is certainly fixable, and a NFL offensive coordinator believes Jackson can be coached up, as told to NFL.com:
He's got everything you want in a guard, he just needs to work on technique. I did my homework on the person and I think he'll be coachable. He would start right away for us.
Many draft prospects have the opposite problem—poor size or athleticism that good technique won't be able to overcome.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon Ducks
Nothing is worse for a player's draft stock than a severe injury around draft season.
That is what happened to the Oregon Ducks' Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who shredded his knee before the college playoff. In an instant, the former Duck went from potential first-round star to mid-round risk.
Ekpre-Olomu knows he has a tall mountain to climb after his injury, per Andrew Greif of OregonLive.com:
It definitely is tough. Being a competitor and being a football player your entire life, this is what you worked on every single day. Doing these drills right now you see these guys and these are the same drills we worked on every single day in college, so you want to show all these scouts that are here today what you're about.
But he is certainly a risk worth taking.
Part of the reason why is he is ahead of schedule on his rehab, as Greif wrote earlier in that piece. That's good news for Ekpre-Olomu and even better news for the team that takes a chance on him earlier than expected.
He lacks ideal size, but Ekpre-Olomu is simply a good cornerback. He has good athleticism and great instincts, and he is a good tackler to boot.
If he is really on track to play in September, Ekpre-Olomu should be a second-day pick, easily.
David Cobb, RB, Minnesota Golden Gophers
The running back class is stacked. So, why reach on a guy who isn't among the top at his own position?
Well, the good news is a team won't have to reach too hard to grab David Cobb from the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He isn't being discussed as a first- or second-round pick. But a team looking for a quality, hard-nosed running back should look to get him in the third.
Cobb isn't flashy, but you don't have to be with that kind of power. Cobb has an NFL build and mentality and is capable of being an early-down and goal-line back right out of the gate with room to grow into an every-down monster.
Nick O'Leary, TE, Florida State Seminoles
By many accounts, this isn't a strong tight end class. Then again, when was the last good one?
Maxx Williams is the consensus at the top of the class, but there is a stew of mid-level talent behind him just waiting for someone to bubble up to the top.
One of those among that group—perhaps near the bottom in some evaluators' eyes—is Nick O'Leary out of Florida State.
The reasons why last year's John Mackey Award winner isn't highly regarded are simple—he isn't a plus athlete nor is he a particularly prototypical tight end at 6'3" and 238 pounds.
What he lacks in ideal size or athleticism he more than makes up for in ability, however. O'Leary knows how to play the position, both as a blocker and a pass-catcher.
He was sure-handed and just plain reliable for quarterback Jameis Winston at Florida State and can do more of the same for whichever team snags him in the middle of the draft.
Adrian Amos, FS, Penn State Nittany Lions
There is a dearth of safety talent in this draft at the high level, at least. That's why Adrian Amos should be targeted higher than expected.
Landon Collins is widely viewed as the draft's best safety, and he should go in the first round. Beyond that, however, the landscape seems barren.
Amos is one man who might be an oasis for a needy team. The versatile Penn State Nittany Lions product started off as a cornerback, which gave him nice coverage skills at free safety.
The biggest knock on Amos is his lack of big plays in college. He might not have Ed Reed's nose for the ball, but he could still be a valuable starter at the next level.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland Terrapins
It's going to be tough for the 2015 draft class to come close to matching last year's record-breaking bunch. But it's certainly well-stocked with talent, and guys like Stefon Diggs will determine whether this year's rookie receivers can hold a candle to the 2014 class.
Diggs isn't among the top names in the class, and rightfully so. He has been a bit disappointing relative to the hype he had heading into college. Still, the 6-foot, 195-pound wideout has major potential in the slot.
Here is what Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport wrote about Diggs being a potential steal for an NFL team:
Diggs has got great upside. I thought another year would have really helped him, but you can't dispute the talent. Stefon Diggs is a big-time talent. If you get him in the third, fourth round, you have got yourself a kid that's got an awful lot of ability. For today’s NFL, he's ideal.
For the price of a Day-3 pick, Kiper's right. In many ways Diggs is ideal. No NFL general manager has ever lost his job or received a televised tongue-lashing from a talking head for "missing" on a fourth-round pick.
However, if all Diggs ever is is a decent complementary receiver and a plus kick returner, that alone would be worth that modest cost.
More than that, if Diggs comes anywhere close to realizing his vast potential?
He may well be on his way to being a third-day pick, but teams in need of a reliable slot receiver should take a long look at him early that day if they want to snag his services.
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami Hurricanes
Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon have monopolized the talk at running back over the past month, and it has come at the expense of Duke Johnson.
Once upon a time, the former Hurricanes star was mentioned alongside those two and some other peers as the draft's best running backs. Lately, however, injury and size concerns have put a bit of a drag on his draft stock.
All the better for the team that takes Johnson, presumably somewhere in the second round if it knows what's good for it.
Johnson may not have put up the absurd statistics Gordon did as a Wisconsin Badger, nor is he a prototypical back like Gurley. But he is a great all-around player capable of hurting defenses in multiple ways from anywhere on the field.
He is not necessarily going to be a three-down back in his first couple of years in the league, but Johnson should be a huge asset for his future NFL club.
All prospect measurements courtesy of NFL.com.