While most of the focus on the NFL these days in on the start of the new football year tomorrow that signals the official start to free agency, there is actually a lot percolating just below the surface at the draft. It would seem, for example, that whether he is ulttimately rated the top player in this draft class or not, Florida State QB Jameis Winston will be the first player chosen come April 30th. There has never been much issue with Winston’s ability on the field or his football acumen and, barring any new revelations between now and the end of April, Winston has been doing and saying all the right things to at least push all those character red flags to the back burner. The latest positive step for Winston came last week when he was in Tampa for a pre-draft visit with the Buccaneers and reportedly charmed the city with his charisma.
At the same time, it appears that Florida OLB Dante Fowler may be seriously pushing Southern California DE Leonard Williams for the top grade among the other positions. Indeed, it shouldn’t be a surprise sat all if Fowler is selected before Williams simply because in the end he has far more potential upside as a pass rusher.
Among other developments larger and small:
- There is a pretty good chance that West Virginia WR Kevin White has supplanted Alabama’s Amari Cooper as the top-rated prospect among receivers. White has always had the tools including prototype size and great hands and body control, but he may have closed the deal when he also showed sprinter speed and explosion when he ran a 4.35 40 at the combine. At the same time, it appears that Cooper, who isn’t all that big or physical and has been known to drop more than his share of easy passes may be in danger of possibly slipping out of the top ten. At the same time, it also appears that Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong, like White a big strong physical receiver with a burst, may have moved into the top 20, especially with so many teams looking to add talent at receiver in the middle of the opening round. Same story for Devin Smith of Ohio State in the latter part of the 1st round.
- It appears that Texas DT Malcom Brown has edged into the #3 slot at the position behind USC’s Leonard Williams and Washington’s Danny Shelton.
- Florida junior D.J. Humphries is the hot name among offensive linemen after he showed up at the combine weighing close to 310 pounds after reportedly playing in the 280s in college.
- With NFL teams still questioning character issues of Washington CB Marcus Peters, LSU’s Jalen Collins appears to have moved ahead into the #2 grade among corners, while Kevin Johnson of Wake Forest could also sneak in to the opening round if not higher.