By: Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
There have been mock drafts, draft shows, draft analysis, draft previews and draft insight. Doesn’t matter where you go, the NFL draft is in your face. Well here’s one more draft article. Over the years there have been a fair amount of draft busts and some superstars that have come out of the first round which will be spotlighted tonight. This 2015 draft will once again produce busts and perhaps some guys that will end up in Canton. In my opinion, here are the Top 5 players in this year’s NFL draft. I base the list on ability, production and risk.
1. Leonard Williams – DT – Southern California: Defensive lineman have been all the craze in this pass happy era of the National Football League. Williams is a physical freak that is one of the more chiseled 300 lb. athletes you will ever see. He was a highly productive player at USC with 21 sacks and a ton more mayhem caused. While most 300 lb. defensive lineman are lined up at tackle, Williams’ athleticism allow him to play the defensive end spot where many project him to play in the NFL. Anyway you look at it, Williams is tough matchup for any offensive lineman, a problem for all offensive coordinators and one of those can’t miss prospects that come around every now and then. Williams a 4 star rated player by Rivals coming out of high school and was the 5th ranked strong side defensive end in his class.
2. Amari Cooper – WR – Alabama: There are many that will say you can find a ton of wide receivers in the NFL draft. There aren’t many like this guy. Underrated coming out of high school, Cooper’s athletic gifts combined with his work ethic struck fear in defensive backs across college football during his career with the Crimson Tide. Jon Gruden says Cooper has “a large inventory of routes” and that would accurately describe his game. Whether its the go route, comeback, dig or curl, Cooper is running it with precision. He can catch the ball and do something dangerous with it afterwards. He’s a nightmare off of the line of scrimmage and goes hard all game long. He is essentially Jerry Rice with 4.42 speed. Picture that. Wide receivers have a high bust rate in the draft but Cooper’s determination will not allow that to happen. Cooper was a 4 star prospect out of high school according to Rivals and was listed 45th in their Top 100 the year he graduated.
3. Dante Fowler – DE / OLB – Florida: Pass rushers have become key in the NFL game. With rules making it tough on the secondary to stay in contact with wide receivers, defensive ends and pass rushing outside linebackers have been given the task of disrupting the high octane passing games. Moving the quarterback off of his spot is the name of the game and that is what has brought Dante Fowler his fame. While Fowler did not rack up huge numbers in terms of sacks, if you viewed any Florida games during his time there, he contributed to an enormous amount of failed plays by opposing offenses. The relentless edge rusher tallied 34 tackles for a loss in his career at Florida and has excited teams at the top of the draft with his physical abilities. Fowler’s 4.60 forty yard dash at 260 lbs. makes him a candidate to play either DE in a 4-3 scheme our OLB in one of the growing number of 3-4 schemes popping up in the league. He was a consensus 5 star prospect coming out of high school in 2012 and was the 3rd rated weak side defensive end prospect.
4. Cameron Erving – OT – Florida St.: While Iowa’s Brandon Scherff has been considered the top OT in this draft and is likely to be the first offensive lineman selected, I am riding with Cameron Erving as the best OL in the pool. Erving came to Florida St. as a defensive lineman where he played his freshman year and sophomore year. He then moved to the other side of the ball to offensive tackle and became a dominant player. His junior year, Erving earned All ACC honors along with 2nd team All American. He was a top candidate for the Outland Trophy entering this past season but made a switch to center when FSU starting center Austin Barron season ended with an injury. It is rare that a 6’6″ tackle makes a seamless move to the center position. Erving was a leader on the FSU front and that has to impress you. Erving has played defensive tackle, offensive tackle and center. The lessons learned from all of that will pay off huge at the next level. On top of that Erving is 6’6″ with longer arms and range than Scherff and for my money, he seems more of a sure thing.
5. Melvin Gordon – RB – Wisconsin: The consensus is that Gurley will be the first taken but most analysts say Gordon not too far behind. In my opinion, he’s the guy I want if I am looking for a back in this draft. The knock on Gordon is inconsistent hands. That’s nice but I need my running back carrying the rock not running routes. I am sure Gordon can execute the screen play and the check down with no adventure. If that’s all he does while tallying up 8 or 9 1,000 yard seasons for my franchise then I hit a home run. You can’t argue Gordon’s production for Wisconsin. He put up 2,500 + yards this year after cranking out a 1,600 yard season in 2013. There’s noting like being the hunted going into a season and performing above expectations. I prefer Gordon over Gurley because Gordon can avoid contact, while Gurley seems more apt to invite it. This means Gordon is more likely to stay in the lineup and be on the field on Sundays. Ultimately, your first round pick needs to be on the field and not only was Gordon durable for Wisconsin, his 4,915 yards and 7.8 yards per carry average makes him one of the most productive college football backs of all time. Gordon was a 4-star rated back by Rivals coming out of high school in 2011 and was ranked the 24th RB overall in the country. Tonight he will be one of the Top 32 men selected in the 2015 NFL draft.
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