DANIEL CARLSON/PK/AUBURN 6’4/215 #38 JR It is not very often that I look to Kicker underclassmen as prospects for declaring early for the NFL Draft, but after watching CARLSON again this season I think he is as close to being a dominant player at the position as we can get right now. And for way too many NFL teams, even in this era of wide open offenses, the ability of their Kicker to convert on more than 75% of his FG is critical to several potential wins per season. CARLSON has one of the smoothest kicking motions of anyone I have seen in recent memory. He has accuracy as well as power. He stood out again in the Iron Bowl hitting on 4 of 5 attempts, with his only miss being from 50+ yards out. In fact for the season he is now 9 of 13 from 50-yards or more. That’s 69%, which many current day kickers barely top on all attempts. It should also be noted that he has the leg strength to kick-off into and thru the end zone. I have no info indicating he’s thinking of leaving school early, but I will also note that he is a 3.66 GPA who already has his degree in Finance. He might be draftable in the Top 100 if he does come out.
TACO CHARLTON/DE/MICHIGAN 6’6/275 #33 TACO is another of Michigan’s seniors who reinvented themselves with the arrival of HC JIM HARBAUGH last year. And he really impressed with his work in the big showdown game with Ohio State last weekend. He appeared on camera, chasing the ball constantly. Officially he had 9 tackles, including 3 TFL, 2.5 of them for sacks. He has incredibly long arms and legs. I can’t wait to see his hand and wing span at the Combine. He looked to be battling cramps during the second half of the big game last Saturday, but he kept getting back on the field and making plays through the pain. He shows natural pass rush ability and is starting to use his length to intimidate and block the vision and throwing lanes of opposing QB. Based on his development this season I would suspect that he has more upside to be tapped at the pro level. A good All-Star game performance and some eye-popping numbers at the Combine could easily get him into the top 3 Rounds of the 2017 Draft. He has a CLOWNEY look in pads.
D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB/TEXAS 6’0/238 #33 JR FOREMAN has exploded for the Longhorns over the past two seasons. To put it frankly he has looked a lot like a former Longhorns RB named EARL CAMPBELL. He can run through, over and around tacklers. He should make a strong short yardage runner as a pro and a guy who can accumulate multiple 20 yard runs for his team. He topped 2,000-yards behind a very average OL this season. Why come back for his senior campaign? Another coaching staff change and the wear and tear of another season on his body cannot logically be making him lean toward another season in Austin. He’s already a late first rounder IMO, and I doubt that gets any higher even if he runs for another 2000 yards next season in college. Come on down D’ONTA, and start getting paid for the beating your body is absorbing. By the way, despite the Longhorns passing their brains off in the 2nd half against TCU, trying to keep up on the scoreboard, FREEMAN finished the day with 165 yards on 31 caries. And believe me if you didn’t watch the game, he earned most of those yards on effort and power, behind a mediocre OL blocking effort.
JADAR JOHNSON/S/CLEMSON 6’0/210 #18 Here is another guy who tickles my fancy. He had a whopping 2 starts during his first 3 seasons with the Tigers. Then when multiple juniors in the secondary defected to the 2016 Draft, JOHNSON got his chance, and made the most of it. He clearly won a starting job last Spring and August. He’s not an elite player, but showed he is better than average this season. He was a major part of a strong Clemson defensive effort that shut down the Gamecocks in a 56-7 victory. He tallied 3 tackles with 1.5 of them being TFL. He also made a nice downfield INT, giving him 5 picks for his first full season as a starter. I can guarantee you that he should also make a solid Special Teams performer as a pro. He has enough athleticism and more than enough “want-to” to go out there and knock heads covering kicks and punts. Chances are good at this point that he will be a late Draftee.
ERIK MAGNUSON/OT/MICHIGAN 6’6/305 #78 Believe it or not even the top college football teams (except for maybe that Saban team) are full of nothing but 5-Star recruits. There are lots of less heralded high school players who dot college rosters. ERIC MAGNUSON has worked his tail off and made himself a solid OT, who has a solid chance to be a mid-Round Draft Pick in 2017. He has flourished in the Jim Harbaugh offense the past two seasons where the run and pass are balanced leaning slightly more to the run. He has a nice long frame and stays on his feet well. His biggest weakness shows when he must try to keep up with speed rushers. But that is partly why he’s over on the right, not the QB’s blind side. He held up well overall in the Ohio State game. He was able to engage and control some Buckeye DE, which is a deep talent position for OSU. He shows good and active hand usage overall. He displayed some excellent seal blocks down on the goal line. I’d look for him somewhere in the Round 5-6 area with a decent chance to fight for a starting RT job in a few years, with some intense OL coaching at the next level.
PAT MAHOMES/QB/TEXAS TECH 6’3/230 #5 JR I present another name in our seemingly endless search to find an NFL QB candidate worthy of early selection in the 2017 Draft. The first thing in his favor is that his dad pitched in the Major Leagues for almost a decade. You know me and the gene pool theory. He has been the highlight of TECH HC KINGSBURY’s program. TECH can’t recruit enough athletes to play Offense and Defense, so most games are a shootout and scoring fest. They beat Baylor last weekend by the score of 54-35. MAHOMES has thrown for over 5,000 yards this season, with one game left to play. Go check your NCAA record books folks. Against Baylor MAHOMES was 30/46- 65%- 586 yards- 6 TD- 0 INT. He can throw it long or short with a better than average arm. His throwing fundamentals and footwork require some serious refinement for the NFL, but the natural talent is there. Luckily he has good size because he’s constantly throwing under pressure. On several occasions I was fearful he was out for the game, but he got up and kept on throwing. You can call him a product of a system, but he’s mastered it and looks to me to have solid pro potential. If the NFL shuns him he could be a record setter in the CFL. I can’t see him returning to college for 2017.
DREW MORGAN/WR/ARKANSAS 6’0/195 #80 You could almost put MORGAN’s picture in the football dictionary next to the definition of possession receiver at this point in time. Going into the Mizzou game MORGAN had 56 receptions on the year and 35 of them had resulted in first downs. That clearly indicates to me a receiver who runs good patterns and gets the needed yardage on those routes. He can gain some yardage after the catch, but that’s not his strong point. He had a typical game effort against the Tigers with 6 catches for 54 yards. I counted 3 of those 6 receptions being good for first downs, by the way. He is also known for his reliable hands and ability to work the sideline as an ally against defenders. He’s tough as nails, although it does concern me the number of hits he takes which cause him to leave the field for at least a few plays. Will he be a constant target of concussion protocol watch dogs at the next level? I would also expect him to find several niches on Special Teams units to secure a pro career. Another middle round draftee in my book.
JALEN MYRICK/CB/MINNESOTA 5’10/205 #5 Last season the Golden Gophers sent both of their starting CB to the NFL in MURRAY & BODDY-CALHOUN. But not to fear in 2016, because MYRICK was ready and waiting to step up and seize a full-time job. He is a solid cover Corner who plays the ball well in the air and can deliver a solid blow to would-be receivers with his compact, 205 lb. frame. He also handles his coverage business really well all across the field. He was part of a great defensive effort agains the Badgers last Saturday, when the Minnesota Defense kept the team in the lead, until a hobbled starting QB MITCH LEIDNER started throwing picks in crunch time. MYRICK finished his day with 6 tackles and several PBU. He reminded me a great deal of MURRAY and his play last season. He’s a tough guy, who plays hard, fast and smart. It may be a struggle for him to earn a starting CB job in the NFL, but he should be able to handle sub-package roles and could excel on Special Teams. Right now I’d say he deserves a late round Draft selection.
JABRIL PEPPERS/LB/SS/MICHIGAN 6’1/208 #5 RSO Most of the talk surrounding PEPPERS this season has centered around whether or not he could parlay his multiple skill set into a strong Heisman Trophy run. HC HARBAUGH has used PEPPERS in almost every imaginable role, including at QB this season. But I am more concerned about what his pro potential is. In my mind he has not used him at his most likely NFL spot as a SS. Ignoring his work on Offense and in return work, PEPPERS had 67 tackles on the season, including 4 sacks, as an OLB. In the showdown game with the Buckeyes, PEPPERS totaled 7 tackles and recorded his first career INT on a deflected ball. Perhaps his primary playing position of OLB this year is in part predicated on his lack of ball hawking ability in the secondary. He clearly is an elite athlete but there are not very many full-time LB who weigh just under 210 lbs., in the NFL. If he declares for the 2017 Draft (which I think he will) it will be interesting to see what position group he is listed in for the Combine. I would guess that he will work out with both the DB & LB group. For those confused about his Draft status, he was red shirted with an injury as a true frosh, so even tho 2016 was his second season on the field he meets the 3-years beyond HS rule regarding the Draft. I would find it hard to believe he does not have a bright pro future ahead of him, but…
ETHAN POCIC/OC/LSU 6’7/310 #77 AFter watching all or part of over 100 college games this season, POCIC is probably my choice as the best all-around OC prospect for the 2017 Draft. He could become the tallest OC in the NFL, but his height never seemed to be a detriment to his play at LSU. He is a natural knee bender and plays with decent pad level for his size. He is also experienced enough, with 36 career starts, to make line calls and direct traffic in the trenches. His long arms serve him well in pass-pro where he ties up would-be pocket collapsers trying to push right up the middle of the field to his QB. He spends little time on the ground, unless he’s being cut-blocked, in which case he tends to just lay on the DL doing so. In the run game, he shows no difficulty getting to second level blocks quickly. I have no doubt he’s a Top 100 prospect, and a Day 2 Draftee.
RYAN RAMCZYK/OT/WISCONSIN 6’6/309 #65 If you are looking for a fascinating back story google up info on RAMCZYK who took quite a circuitous route to the starting LT job for the Badgers. And he has done so well in his first season actually on the playing field for the Badgers that there is growing speculation that he could come out for the 2017 NFL Draft and be Friday Draft selection. The big guy, has exceptional feet for his size, as well as long, strong arms to push defenders away from his body and out of the pocket area. He is functionally strong and may only get bigger and stronger. Several of my contacts up in Badger Country told me in September to watch out for this guy. AFter a redshirt season n Madison working in the weight room and with the varsity in practice, he grabbed hold of the starting LT job and excelled. Sure enough he’s impressed everyone in a surprisingly strong season for the Badgers as a team. If he returns for a senior season he will be perhaps the highest ranked OT on Draftnik Big Boards next September. If not he’ll be fighting for a starting job in the NFL next summer.
FRED STEVENSON/FB/FLORIDA STATE 6’1/240 #23 IN this dying age of the FB as a full-time football position there are still teams around the NFL that want and nee one on their roster. I laugh at teams that e=bemoan their lack of a Red Zone running game, but don’t have a legit FB on their roster. Just before FSU brought in a guy named DALVIN COOK, they had a guy named KARLOS WILLIAMS, who was built like a FB and really blossomed as a RB, including a promising but brief pro career with the BILLS. His demise had more to do with off-field and personalty issues than lack of talent. Several FSU coaches have been quite vocal that STEVENSON could gain 100-yards per game if they needed him at RB. We got a glimpse of that in the Florida game when STEVENSON took 1 of his 2 carries to the house on a weaving run of 27 yards. He is also known to have reliable hands and run good routes on the rare occasions when he is thrown to. Most importantly for his position, he is a stout blocker, especially in the run game. He’s also the perfect specimen for Special Teams duty. He has already been announced to appear at the Senior Bowl venue next January, which will tell us even more about his pro potential as NFL coaches put him through his paces. Having a solid week in Mobile could put him in a strong position to be drafted next April.