A Look at the College Players Who Are Set to Go Early in the 2015 NFL Draft
|Date & Time||Monday May 19, 2014, 12:00 PM (EDT)|
|TV Channel||Stream live sports and ESPN originals on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Start your 7-day free trial today!|
Well, y’all, there’s no time like the present to start looking forward to the 2015 draft. I promise I’m not crazy. It is a mere 50-ish weeks away, after all. This list is meant to help you figure out who to keep an eye on when college football season rolls around in August. Bear in mind that injuries and off-field issues can always impact players’ draft stock by the time the NFL draft actually rolls around again, but these are my preliminary favorites.
1. Florida State QB Jameis Winston won a National Championship (and this little thing called a Heisman Trophy) last year as a freshman and became a household name across America. Winston, at 6’4 and 288 pounds, is extremely athletically gifted (he also plays baseball for FSU), but his maturity is somewhat in question. Winston will have to prove himself during combine interviews next February if he really wants to become the No. 1 overall pick.
2. QB Marcus Mariota’s arm helped Oregon have a remarkably good 2013 football season. At 6’4, 211 pounds, Mariota’s size and athleticism aren’t in question. The junior’s leadership skills, though, may leave something to be desired. Mariota isn’t the most vocal team leader, which may need to change before he becomes the face of an NFL franchise.
3. USC DE Leonard Williams has been a bright spot on a Trojan team that has had its share of struggles during the last couple of seasons. Williams, at 6’6, 290 pounds, is an aggressive, smart player who can be deceptively quick for his size. Williams will fit into either a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme in the pros, which should serve to enhance his draft stock, which is already starting to skyrocket.
4. Nebraska DE Randy Gregory, who essentially came out of nowhere with 10.5 sacks and 18 hurries during 10 games of the 2013 season, could be among the top defensive picks in next year’s NFL draft. If Gregroy, a 6’6, 245 pound junior, can put up numbers similar to last year’s, he could very well find himself a top ten selection in 2015.
5. 6’5, 300 pound redshirt senior Cedric Ogbuehl has been a beast as an OT for Texas A&M. Ogbuehl, obviously, played with both Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, who were taken in the first round during their respective drafts. Ogbuehl has the potential to be an even better pro than his former teammates, though all three have unique merits. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ogbuehl become the first O-lineman off the board.
6. Florida State OT Cameron Erving switched from DT to OT in 2012 and managed to make the difficult transition look easy as pie. Erving’s 6’6, 302 pound frame will be a welcome addition to any NFL line. Scouts may think that Erving needs to improve his fundamentals and technique, but that can be taught; size can’t. Erving should go in the top half of the first round.
7. Brandon Scherff, the University of Iowa's big, 6’5, 315 pound OT, found himself sitting out with an injury for half of the 2012 season. Scherff was back in fighting form by 2013, though, and received first-team All-Big Ten honors. There was that little cattle theft issue in April 2014, but if Scherff can keep his nose clean until the draft, he should still be taken off the table early.
8. Junior WR Amari Cooper, who has had a couple of breakout seasons at Alabama (over 100 catches during his freshman and sophomore years), has incredible natural athleticism that can’t be taught. Cooper is just 6’1, but he has speed and great hands that are sure to impress NFL scouts. Cooper’s biggest challenge will be to continue dominating without former QB AJ McCarron under center. If Cooper can do that, he should be a first rounder.
9. Sorry if you’re sick of FSU players, but there’s a reason they’re the defending National Champions. Senior OT/OG Tre Jackson, has exceptional size for the NFL. His 6’5, 330 pound frame could be an asset to many teams around the league. If Jackson impresses during the 2014 season and at the combine, he ought to go in the top twenty.
10. Clemson DE Vic Beasley, a 6’2, 235 pound redshirt senior, doesn’t have the ideal size for the NFL, but he’s incredibly fast and recorded 23 tackles for a loss in 2013. Beasley’s pass-rushing abilities will be extremely attractive to NFL scouts. If Beasley can have another impressive season, look for him to go in the top 15-20.