Guys like Jonathan Allen, Leonard Fournette and Solomon Thomas will be off the board fairly early and shaking Roger Goodell’s hand before the first round is over. That won’t be the case for a handful of players who are considered fringe first-round prospects.
Here are six players who could face the embarrassing prospect of being the last one waiting in the green room next week.
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DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Kizer was once believed to be a candidate to go in the top five. He still could if a team falls in love with him and trades up, but it’s highly unlikely. In fact, it’s more probable that he lasts until the end of the first round and possibly into the second. Why? Because there are significant concerns about his readiness as an NFL quarterback.
Like the rest of the quarterback class, he’s not going to be ready to start from Day 1. His accuracy needs to improve, as does his ability to read defenses before the snap. Patrick Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson will all go ahead of him, causing Kizer to sit in the green room for quite a while.
Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Awuzie is one of the players who’s on the fringe of being a first-round pick. He’s not in the top tier of cornerbacks, but he’s still going to be a Day 1 starter for whichever team selects him. What’s working against him is the fact that this is an extraordinarily deep class at cornerback. A total of six corners will attend the draft in Philadelphia, which is a clear indication of how much depth there is.
That being said, he won’t be waiting longer than early in the second round.
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Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Jackson is a polarizing prospect. He has great ball skills, terrific instincts and the speed to hang with NFL wideouts. The problem is that he’s only 5-10, 186 pounds. That’s small for a cornerback, especially for one playing on the boundary.
What makes Jackson so intriguing as a player is his versatility. He can return kicks and punts and also moonlight as an offensive weapon. He can be a sub-package guy on offense, making plays on end-arounds and screen passes. Unfortunately, as a pure cornerback, he’s not completely polished.
Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
McDowell is one of the most talented players in the draft regardless of position. He’s extremely raw and needs refining at the NFL level, but the potential is there. Unfortunately, concerns about his work ethic and desire to play football are pushing him down draft boards.
He needs to find a good situation where he can play defensive end in a 3-4 and utilize his size, strength and length to get after the quarterback. He also needs to show that his heart is completely in the game of football, otherwise his work ethic will cost him millions as a pro.
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Kevin King, CB, Washington
King has risen up draft boards partly due to injuries to his teammate Sidney Jones and UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau. Both were expected to be first-round picks, but pro day injuries have likely pushed them into Rounds 2 and 3. King, at 6-3, is a terrific athlete with elite quickness for his size, but he has a lot to learn as a coverage guy.
He fits best in a Cover 3 scheme, which a few teams toward the end of the first round use heavily. The Seahawks and Cowboys are interesting fits, as are the Chiefs – all of whom need cornerbacks.
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Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
White has a leg up on the rest of the cornerbacks in this class based on experience, having started for four years at LSU. That certainly benefits him, but there are questions about his wiry frame and ability to play deep passes as an outside cornerback.
With a deep crop of players ahead of him, White could be waiting until the end of the first round until he’s picked up. A team like the Saints or Packers could take a chance on him. The Eagles also appear to have some interest in him, though taking White at 14 would be a bit early.