They say that the NFL is actually a year-round sport – but actually, so is the NFL Draft.
Let’s look at what some of the top NFL Draft prognosticators are saying about the upcoming draft class, which means we’re also looking at how some of the current college players are doing just four weeks into the college season.
The sites we’re going to use are some of my favorites whenever I look up NFL Draft projections. This is going to be a mix of a listing of top prospects, as well as a mix of where people are projecting them to go. In other words, some players are being projected to be selected by certain NFL teams, which means that the NFL teams are being projected out for the rest of the season, too.
Early 2015 NFL Draft – Top 5 Picks
This is just an average of the projected picks of four NFL Draft websites.
1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Back when the season first started, we compared Mariota to a younger Colin Kaepernick, which I’m sure teams like the Buccaneers or Rams would be happy to see under center for them next fall. Both ESPN’s Todd McShay and the guys at NFLDraftScout.com have Mariota going No. 1 overall.
“The gaudy statistics and Heisman campaign are entertaining, but don’t impress scouts as much as Mariota’s unique physical traits, including a live arm, rare speed and an athletic frame. Oregon’s speed and scheme, however, complicate Mariota’s projection to the NFL because he won’t see nearly as many receivers in open space at the next level. Mariota boasts an exciting upside in a league increasingly infatuated with dual-threat passers.” – Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
2. Leonard Williams, DE, USC
The other two sites I checked out, WalterFootball.com and DraftTek.com, both had Williams going first overall, but to different teams (Oakland and Jacksonville).
“While Raider Nation can hope that the Tuck-Woodley combo will provide more pressure from the outside than the anemic output of a year ago, there is no hope that the aging duo is any sort of long-term solution. The immensely talented Williams has made an impact from the moment he arrived in Southern California and would bring a complete set of skills to the Silver & Black.” – DraftTek.com
3. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
All four websites saw Ogbuehi going in the first eight picks, but they all had him getting picked up at different spots (2, 3, 5 and 8). Two sites thought he would be the second tackle taken.
“The Aggies have seen their starting left tackles selected within the top six picks of the NFL draft each of the past two years, and Ogbuehi is the next prospect in line at the position. He is moving over from right tackle, where he played last season, and has fared well so far. He is excellent in pass protection with outstanding quickness and natural athleticism, and shows very good mobility as a zone blocker in the running game. He needs to improve his lower-body strength and leverage after initial contact, but overall he is very good as a run-blocker as well. He rates very well in terms of toughness and character.” – Todd McShay, ESPN.com
4. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Interestingly, McShay was the only one to put Winston inside the top five picks, but the average of the four sites puts him at four in this exercise. The other players that sites mentioned were mostly different after the top three or so. McShay actually wrote about Winston’s draft prospects after his one-game suspension against Clemson.
“So to sit here and say he’s going to drop a half-round or something like that doesn’t make sense. But I can say this: There’s mounting frustration among NFL decision-makers about Winston. They know what kind of player he is on the field — he’s currently the fourth-ranked prospect for 2015 on our draft board, and it’s hard to find fault with his on-field production and the skill set he displays on tape — as well as the kind of on-field leader and decision-maker he is, but they don’t yet know if they can trust him off the field.” – McShay, ESPN.com
5. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The only site to have Peat in the top five picks overall was WalterFootball.com (they had him third overall). Both DraftTek and ESPN had him outside of the top 10. But WalterFootball.com sees the Raiders going with the 6-foot-6 tackle, keeping him on the left coast.
“The Raiders will strongly consider Marcus Mariota if they can get him (if Derek Carr finishes the year poorly), but I think they pass on Jameis Winston after what happened with JaMarcus Russell. They don’t need another talented signal-caller prospect with tons of red flags. Oakland will instead focus on finding someone to protect Carr. Donald Penn is not a long-term option at left tackle, while Khalif Barnes should not be starting going forward.” – WalterFootball.com
Some of the other players mentioned with top five picks from these four websites include: Landon Collins, SS, Alabama; Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska; Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa; Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson; Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama.