NFL

NFL Draft: Best players still on board

Schrager and Jones on the best available players.
Schrager and Jones on the best available players.
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Pete Fiutak

Pete Fiutak writes previews, predictions and prognostications for CollegeFootballNews.com.

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With the first round in the books, CFN's Pete Fiutak gives you the best players still remaining for the weekend.

1. RB Lamar Miller, Miami (Jr.) 5-11, 212

CFN Overall Ranking: 30

Fast, fast, fast, he was expected to be a 4.4 speedster before the offseason workouts, and then he ripped off a 4.36 in a workout to cement his place as one of the fastest of all the top backs. With good size, the right frame, and excellent athleticism, he looks the part of a franchise back. It’s all there, including the quickness to be a devastating kickoff returner if he’s looking to find a role right away outside of the offense.

While he was a good collegian, he was underutilized and could be just scratching the surface and could be a whale of a value at some point in the middle of the second round. Can he stay healthy? Part of the reason he didn’t get the ball enough was because he couldn’t handle the load.

He won’t power over anyone and he doesn’t play nearly as fast or as quick as he times. Even so, all the tools are there to become a terrific piece of a puzzle, especially if he’s a part of a good rotation.

2. TE Orson Charles, Georgia (Jr.) 6-3, 251

CFN Overall Ranking: 32

Like a wide receiver playing tight end, Charles is a nice route runner with great hands. He has the potential to be a go-to target who can make midrange plays to go along with moving the chains, and he’s just good enough of a blocker to not be a liability.

Rocked up, he looks the part with a strong, muscular frame, but he doesn’t really do too much for the ground game.

He’ll fight to make a block, and he cranked out 35 reps on the bench at the Combine, but he’s not going to flatten his man. His worth is as a target and with a little bit of route-running refinement and work he can be a featured playmaker in an attack who can take the heat off a No. 1 target. The speed is there and the strength is in place, and now it’s just up to the quarterback to get him the ball.

3. QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State 6-3, 214

CFN Overall Ranking: 35

A rock-solid prospect with a low ceiling but no bust potential, he has the right height, a great head, and all the intangibles to be a leader of an offense for a long, long time. A good conductor who knows what everyone is supposed to do, and good at making the right read, he’ll be ready right out of the box with a solid throwing motion that won’t need much tweaking. Vocal, he’s comfortable at being the spokesman for the team with the right blend of attaboy and vinegar to motivate the troops.

The problem is that he might be Chad Pennington – great in the locker room and limited on the field.

Not a power pitcher, he’s more of a finesse thrower and doesn’t throw the best of balls. Ultra-accurate in drills, he can play and he has starting ability, but there’s a limited upside. He’ll be a piece of the puzzle rather than the reason a team succeeds.

4. CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska 5-10, 204

CFN Overall Ranking: 44

He's dropping because of off-the-field issues.

While he’s not the athlete that former Husker and first-round pick Prince Amukamara is, he moves well and has the size to potentially move over to safety if he doesn’t work out at corner.

Thick and tough, he beats up receivers and he’s not afraid to mix it up – just ask Alshon Jeffery.

He’s able to make up for his lack of elite speed by getting a jam on receivers and he’s able to make up for his okay height with tremendous leaping ability. There are no problems staying with the better receivers, even though he doesn’t quite have the raw skills teams would like in a No. 1 coverman.

Banged up throughout his career, his style doesn’t necessarily translate well to the next level in terms of a long shelf life. Eventually, he might flourish as a fifth defensive back or a free safety, but he’ll be good to start out as a No. 2 corner against the bigger targets.

5. S Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State (FS) 6-1, 207

CFN Overall Ranking: 52

Very, very strong, he put up 19 reps and the Combine and translates the weight room strength to the field. Big and with decent range, he’s a highlight reel hitter who could be an intimidating force in just about any defensive system.

When he gets a bead on a receiver or a ball-carrier, it’s over. However, he tends to try too hard to go for the kill shot rather than simply come up with the run of the mill tackle and he needs to get it in his head that the routine is okay.

While he’s not elite in pass coverage, he’s athletic enough to get by and makes up for most of his mistakes by coming up with the big plays at the key times. A great guy and a good leader, he has the potential to be a nice part of any secondary, even though he won’t necessarily be a star.

6. S George loka, Boise State (FS) 6-4, 225

CFN Overall Ranking: 56

Very tall, he’s an interesting prospect mainly because of his skill set. He might not have run well in post-season workouts, but he’s extremely quick for his size and he’s football fast with the ability to always be around the ball.

In the pros, though, he’ll have to be more of an impact player and has to show he can take advantage of every opportunity.

While he’ll have big problems against speed receivers, he’ll be fine against the bigger, slower targets and tight ends; he’s the good prospect for the new wave of New England Patriot-style offense.

However, he’s not the best tackler and is merely average against the run with too many whiffs. With his athleticism and his potential, some defensive coordinator will be very, very excited to get him.

7. WR Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M 6-4, 223

CFN Overall Ranking: 58

If there’s a wide receiver out of central casting, it’s Fuller with tremendous size, bulk, and decent speed for a 6-4 target.

Very strong and very experienced, he’s ready out of the box to contribute with the ability to fight for the ball and go get anything that has come his way.

However, there’s something missing. In a great passing offense with an NFL quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, he was fine but not quite productive enough. The hands are questionable and inconsistent and he doesn’t quite use his wheels and size quite like he should.

Always a bit dinged up, there was always something a bit off last year and he didn’t play up to expectations. He’ll be a mid-round draft pick, but there’s reasonable hope to put it all together and become a very, very good pro.

8. OT James Brown, Troy (OG) 6-3, 306

CFN Overall Ranking: 62

Extremely versatile and productive, he can play any of four positions but will be first tried out at left tackle. Athletic, he moves well and shuffles fine, and he could be ready to do far more with the potential to bulk up at least 15 pounds.

In the right system, and with a little work, he could be a dominant guard, but he could prove to be too valuable on the outside as long as he wants to do the little things to make it happen. While he’s good on the field, his workouts weren’t anything special and there might be a hard limit on what he can become talent-wise, but he’s coachable and he’ll do whatever is needed to find a spot. Can he be a killer? He’ll be a starter, but considering his lack of explosion he has to make up for it by ramping up the intensity.

9. OLB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma (Jr.) 6-2, 253

CFN Overall Ranking: 63

Part end, part linebacker, he bulked up in a big way to get up to 253 pounds to show he could possibly fit a variety of systems, but he’s maxed out on his frame.

Ridiculously strong, he put up 36 reps on the bench and showed he has the raw tools to potentially be a rock against the run. He’s a big hitter who’s excellent at coming up with a big stop, and he doesn’t miss a tackle. While he’s still an unfinished product and isn’t the greatest of athletes, there’s little bust potential as long as he can jack up the intensity level a few notches.

He might not be a pure pass rusher and he’ll be far better against the run than the pass, but he’s quick enough to get by and he’ll be a rock when his job is to see ball, hit ball.

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10. ILB Audie Cole, NC State 6-4, 246

CFN Overall Ranking: 65

A great tackler with a nice frame and the potential to add more weight, he had a good college career and might be just scratching the surface on what he can do.

Versatile at the collegiate level, he worked a bit both on the outside and in, but he was far better inside and proved in offseason workouts that he’s destined to hang out in the middle of someone’s defense.

Slow, he hovered around the 4.8 mark in the 40 and came up with a mediocre 19 reps on the bench. On the football field, though, he plays strong, doesn’t miss a tackle, and is as tough and competitive as they come.

The lack of quickness will be a problem, but he could be used in a variety of spots as a backup if he doesn’t stick as a starting inside defender. More of a football player than a workout warrior, he could be a steal.

Check out players 11 through 20 on Pete Fiutak's list of best players still available right here.
 

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