Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss:
Nkemdich, to me, is the most compelling player in the entire class. He is a top-five overall talent, with outrageous athletic abilities and his tape against Alabama is the best single tape from any player in this class in my opinion.
He has an impressive frame, length, an elite first step and can bend the edge when lined up outside. Inside, he can one-gap and pressure the pocket by winning off the snap and with violent hands, though he has little production when lined up inside.
Against the run he can struggle, consistently getting stood up and often giving up if he doesn’t win with his initial move.
All of the football traits are good to great, the issue is off-the-field. Nkemdiche has some worrying character traits, has been involved in a series of bizarre/questionable incidents and has been asked by teams to distance himself from some of the people that surround him.
In terms of a projection I still think he’ll be a first round pick and think he can line up as a DE in a four-man front and kick inside on passing downs.
Personally, I would be worried to spend a first round pick and five-year contract on Nkemdiche, but still anticipate he will be a top-20 pick.
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State:
When looking for a first round quarterback you’re looking for two elite traits. One off the field and one on the field. Cook has neither and, rather, is just average to good at everything.
He does a quality job of working through progressions but at times will take unnecessary risks and put the ball in harm’s way. Plays with rhythm, in a west-coast system, and shows good timing and decision-making on three and five step drops, the hallmark of the west-coast offense. As a ‘pro-ready’ prospect, meaning he can start on day one, he is ahead of the likes of Jared Goff, Cardale Jones and Paxton Lynch. He’s operated from a huddle, knows the west-coast verbiage and has played very well within the structure of an offense.
Cook has an ok arm. He Tested poorly on combine velocity tests but has a good enough arm to make throws too all levels and to drive throws into tight windows when his feet are set. His career 57.6% completion percentage is bad and a lot of it can be contributed to sloppiness and poor fundamental mechanics. He shows good ball placement on short throws, making back shoulder throws, putting his guys in a good position to generate yards after the catch and throwing players open. At the second level it’s different, without the rhythm and timing of quick throws he is prone too making poor or late decisions and not having the natural arm to compensate.
Experience in the Michigan State offense will make his learning curve to the next level easier and it would not shock me for someone to look at the success of Kirk Cousins in Washington or Andy Dalton in Cincinnati and look at Cook in the middle of the first round. A solid player with traits that can be built around but will max out early on.
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama:
Henry is a tough evaluation, but I do feel some of the criticism has been overstated. Like many players, he simply is not scheme versatile, and while that’s certainly a knock on a player, it’s up to the teams to evaluate their own scheme and how they want to play.
Henry is a downhill thumper who can thrive in a Power-O based system when running downhill an behind pulling guards. However, if there is any kind of penetration he is completely taken out of the game. he has little to no change of direction skills and is not a stop-and-go athlete. He is a momentum runner and player who gathers speed and power as he moves down field and as the game progresses.
While at Alabama Henry had an unprecedented number of carries and that’s an added concern moving to the next level.
I have Henry graded as the second overall back in this class. While he offers little in the passing game, and is a one-dimensional player, that dimension is elite and is perfectly built to be a feature back carrying a power-run game.
Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia:
Floyd is a true boom-or-bust type player with outrageous athletic ability, but who failed to dominate at the collegiate level. He has a ridiculous get-off and flashes the ability to convert speed to power, as well as having a good natural bend and stunning closing spend.
He is a sudden athlete who peculiarly played inside far more than being a pure edge-rusher at Georgia. As a freakish athlete with natural pass-rushing skills you would expect consistent dominance and big production at the college level, the question with Floyd is whether it is a him problem, or a coaching staff/misuse problem.
Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor:
I am very down on Oakman. I believe he is a heartbreak player, with terrific potential but a stop and start motor and very limited pass-rushing skills. He is clearly a workout monster with freakish size and a freakish frame, but it very rarely transfers to the tape. To me, he is a rotational pass-rushing piece at best. Ideally suited for a four-man front but does have the ideal frame to play as a five-technique in a three-man front.
A recent investigation into Oakman could make him undraftable. Waco police are currently investigating a rape allegation made against It could be a similar situation to La’El Collins from last year’s draft; Collins was a first round talent who went undrafted while under a police investigation, though ultimately was not charged.
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State:
The toughest quarterback evaluation this season.
Jones makes extraordinary throws, but shows little feel for the position. Operated a spread-option system that utilizes more pro-concepts than it is given credit for traditionally, but changed to a one-read and dump system with Jones at the helm. Played for a team loaded with NFL draft talent; three first or second round receivers, a top-150 tight end, two top-50 offensive lineman, a top-ten running back and was barely pressured in the pocket.
He has no feel for rhythm or timing, will stare down his first target and panic if the throw isn’t there, leading to negative plays and poor decision-making. Jones is also oblivious to frontside or backside pressure and will see pressure in his face late and will break the pocket rather than check the ball down.
On the positive side, Jones has rare natural arm talent. Has a really smooth stroke with a repeatable over the top action and the ball explodes off his hand. He has shown the ability to throw the ball out of the building from any spot on the field and to throw from different arm angles and throwing platforms while maintaining the same velocity.
In terms of accuracy, the numbers are fine, but ball location is poor. He is a “see it throw it” player who puts the ball in a players area code and let’s them make plays. Doesn’t throw people open and has shown no ability to regularly hit back shoulder throws or throw with any kind of anticipation.
Jones is the kind of player that coaches talk themselves into and it ends poorly. Every offensive coach in the league will watch the 2014 National Semi Final and National Championship game and will want to get their hands on his raw natural talent. While he is at least two years away from being able to handle everything a pro-offense entails, he will likely be a 3rd round pick once the coaching staffs get involved in the evaluations and could sneak into the second round. No player has a bigger differential in where their career may go. If he lands with the right staff he may be the steal of the draft, if he cannot develop the mental aspects of the game he will bounce around the league as a ‘never reached his potential’ player.
Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers:
Carroo is a physical player, who wins in the post, with strong hands and beating corners off the jam. He was suspended for two games during the 2015 season due to an assault charge involving a female. The incident will need thorough investigation from teams as charges were later dropped. Carrie has a chance to be a high-impact player in year one with his outstanding ball skills, but the off-the-field concerns will need a deep investigation.
Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky:
Spence is another player with off-the-field concerns. In my opinion, he is the best pure-speed rusher in the class but his drug concerns from Ohio State to Eastern Kentucky are really troubling and make it very difficult to spend first round draft capital and commit to a five-year deal.
However, his elite first step and sudden quickness at his size still make it likely that he’s a first round pick and a high one at that, thought I still would not be shocked if he has a Randy Gregory-like slide.