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 biggest risers coming down the final stretch of the pre-draft process?
Every year there are prospects who have their stock rise late in the pre-draft process after teams have had a chance to not just watch them workout in Indianapolis at the Combine, but also after they have had further time to examine their film extensive as well as host them for private interviews and workouts on official visits. Here is a list of some pospects that are generating some late buzz that could vault them into higher draft spots than they were orginally projected into:
• S Darnell Savage, Maryland:
Even though he’s what some scouts would consider undersized at 5-11 and weighing just under 200 pounds at 198, his ability to make plays on the ball when it’s in the air is too massive to overlook or ignore. He recorded eight interceptions during his time with the Terps, including a career-high four in his senior season.
His stock has been on a steep rise since he clocked in a 4.36 time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. Savage is expected to come off the board in the early part of the second round and has been racking up the frequent flyer miles over the past month on several official visits with teams across the league.
• C/G Eric McCoy, Texas A&M:
He might possibly sneak into the latter part of the first round because he is regarded as one of the most versatile interior offensive linemen in this class with his ability to dominate at both center and either guard positions. He played both positions for the Aggies and can be an anchor in the middle of any team’s offensive line. McCoy possesses the strength and power at the point of attack as well as the explosiveness and athleticism to play in a zone blocking scheme as he did in college and the power run schemes that he might play in at the NFL level.
• LB Germaine Pratt, N.C. State:
After playing safety for his first two years in college, he made the transition the middle linebacker in his junior year. He had a relatively quiet first season at the position but burst on to the scene in his final year with the Wolf Pack. Pratt finished his senior season with 104 tackles, six sacks, 10 tackles for loss and a pair of forced fumbles. As a converted defensive back, he still possesses the coverage skills to drop into passing lanes, cover tight ends up the seam and running backs out of the backfield. He’ll likely come off the board in the third round but could possibly sneak into the bottom of the second.
• OT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia:
He’s been generating a lot of late buzz in the pre-draft process and could very easily go in the top 50 picks of the draft. He was a terrific bookend tackle for the Mountaineers with his technically sound and consistently efficient pass protection. He has the strength and hand placement to stone wall power rushers and the agility to kick out and beat speed rushers around the edge. Cajuste is also mobile enough in space to execute combination blocks and drive defenders into the turf at the second level of the defense.
• CB Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky:
I usually don’t mention the same prospect within a week’s span, but the former Wildcat is generating a lot of last-minute media buzz despite assuredly being on the radar of scouts and pundits for a while. He is one of the best pure cover corners in this class who excels in press coverage and uses his ideal length coupled with his vertical speed to keep up with and smother receivers down the field.
• OT Greg Little, Ole Miss:
After beginning the pre-draft process as one of the top offensive line prospects, the former Rebel saw his stock take a downward tailspin after a poor showing at Combine. The Ravens’ Orlando Brown Jr., who fell to the third round in last year’s draft out of Oklahoma after having arguably the worst performances in Combine history went on to start 10 games as a rookie and not surrender a single sack in the regular season for Baltimore. Like Brown, Little has the ideal length, size and quickness to become a great tackle at the next level and his college tape reflects that as well after he dominated in one of the top power conferences in all of college football in the SEC for the past three years.
• OG Chris Lindstrom, Boston College:
He is viewed as the best and most natural offensive guard prospect in this year’s class and is generating mid to late first round buzz. Draft experts believe he can be a plug and play starter in the interior of an NFL offensive line from day one. He’s a natural athlete in space when he pulls, and his short area mobility makes him a good interior pass protector when providing a clean pocket for his quarterback.
• TE Dawson Knox, Ole Miss:
He’s another Rebel whose draft stock is on the rise and is viewed as one of the most versatile tight ends in this draft. Knox is an excellent in-line blocker that can assist offensive tackles with chip blocks on passing downs and seal the edge in the run game. While he didn’t post great numbers as a receiver in college recording just 39 catches for 605 yards in three years, at 6-4 and 240 pounds he has the potential to be a viable asset as a pass catcher as his 18.9 yards per reception during his senior season suggest.