As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Who are the late and borderline first rounders that could outplay some of the prospects that will get picked ahead of them?
There is still premier talent to be had after the top 10 or 15 picks come off the board. The first round of the draft can be very fickle from year to year and blue-chip prospects can tumble down draft boards and into the laps of already prosperous teams that are picking at or near the end of the first round. Here are some prospects that are projected late or fringe first-round picks that could show up the players that were taken ahead of them in year one and beyond:
• DT Dexter Lawrence: The former Clemson star will likely round out what will be a first-round packed with many of his fellow Tigers. He was a juggernaut in the middle of a loaded defense for the 2018 college football national champions. At 6-4 and 351 pounds, Lawrence is a double team magnet in the interior and is an enormous roadblock for opposing offenses.
He is stout against the run at the point of attack and rarely ever gets knocked back off the ball. He also possesses proficient pass rush skills from his defensive tackle spot with 10 sacks in his career at Clemson. Lawrence also has scheme versatility and can be a true nose tackle in a 3-4 defense or a defensive tackle in a 4-3.
• S Nassir Adderley: The former Delaware Blue Hen is viewed as the rangiest safety in this year’s class of loaded defenders at all three levels. He flies all over the field and covers a lot of ground in a very short amount of time to make a play on the ball whether that is to corral an interception or dislodge the ball from its intended receiver with a vicious hit.
The most impressive intangibles that he possesses in addition to his range is his ball skills and his ability to maneuver in the open field once he gets his hands on the ball. He adjusts and catches picks like a wide receiver and returns the ball like a running back. Adderley could be a difference maker on special teams as well as on defense with his ability as a returner.
• C Garrett Bradberry: The former stud at N.C. State was the 2018 recipient of the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s top center, and is the top-rated center in this draft class. He dominated in the week of practice as well as the game at the Reese’s Senior Bowl back in January.
Bradberry followed that up with a strong showing at the Scouting Combine last month where ran one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of among all the offensive linemen. He clocked in at 4.93 and checked all the boxes as well as showed off his pro-level technique in the on-field drills.
• DT Jeffery Tillery: At 6-7 and 305 pounds, he provided massive amounts of interior pressure for the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame. Tillery often towered over centers and guards he lined up across from but was still able to use an impressive dip and rip move to get to the quarterback and recorded seven sacks in his senior season. He totaled 12 sacks and 23 tackles for loss in his career for the Golden Domes and showed that he could stuff the run as well.
• CB Rock Ya-Sin: He was a one-year starter at Temple for the Owls after transferring in from lowly Presbyterian College and was arguably the best player on the team’s defense. At 6-2, he fits the mold of the tall and long corner that so many teams covet.
Ya-Sin possesses excellent man and press coverage skills. He sticks with receivers down the field as well as across the intermediate level on shallow routes and plays the ball very aggressively when it's in the air as his 12 pass deflections in his senior season suggest.
• OT Kaleb McGary: He is viewed as one of the best right tackle prospects in this draft with his lean 6-8- and 324-pound frame. Although he anchored the right side of the line for the Washington Huskies throughout his collegiate career, he could easily kick into guard and be a mauler in the run game on plays that he pulls and gets to the second level of the defense.
• C Erik McCoy: While Bradberry is still viewed as the top prospect at center in this class, the stock of the former Texas A&M Aggie has been on the rise late in the pre-draft process after a stellar showing at the Combine. He actually ran a faster time in the 40-yard dash than Bradberry at 4.89.
McCoy proved his pro-ready pedigree against some of the top talents in college football, some of which are in this very same draft in Lawrence and Alabama’s Quinnen Williams who is a projected top-five pick. He’s athletic enough to play in a zone blocking scheme and strong enough to hold up in a power running offense.
• CB Andraez “Greedy” Williams: He hails from LSU which has churned out some of the best defensive backs in the league over the last decade and a half. Williams is the top-ranked corner according to NFL Network draft expert Bucky Brooks.
He earned his nickname “Greedy” by being an instinctive corner that attacks the ball when its up for grabs and even before it can reach it’s intended target. Williams plays press, man and zone coverage extremely well. He also uses anticipation, 4.37 speed, and quick twitch reflexes to undercut routes and coral interceptions with his superb ball skills.
• OT Dalton Risner: The former Kansas State Wildcat is another late riser in the pre-draft process. He started at both right tackle and at center during his collegiate career so his position versatility to play on the inside and on the edge of the offensive line paired with technically sound blocking technique make him such an appealing prospect.