A look at 10 of the best prospects still waiting to hear their names called in round 2 and 3 of the 2015 NFL draft
There has been a lingering debate about just how much star power the 2015 rookies hold. One glance at the list of prospects still available following Round 1 shows that anything this draft class lacks in prime talent, it makes up for with depth. Day 2 of the draft could feature far more frantic action than we saw during a surprisingly reserved opening act, as teams shop for specific values.
Here's a look at 10 of the best prospects still waiting to hear their names called, with a few suggestions for where they might land:
Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
There is no secret about the situation here—Gregory fell out of Round 1 due mainly to off-field concerns, including a failed drug test at the combine. Some teams may shy away from him altogether, but speaking strictly from a football standpoint he is a top-10 player in this class. There are concerns about Gregory's size (235 pounds), too, particularly as it relates to run defense. Sooner rather than later, though, the wait for Gregory should end.
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
One of the ways NFL defenses have countered the explosion of spread offenses around the league is by placing a premium on safeties that can drop down as corners. See: Green Bay's selection of Damarious Randall in Round 1. That focus plays against the strength of Collins's game, which comes in the box, against the run. But we've been saying all along that Collins's potential in coverage is being underrated and he is outstanding pulled up closer to the line. While it wasn't shocking for Collins to slide out of the first round, he should be gone early on Day 2.
Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon
Our prospect rankings had Fisher with a higher mark than Ereck Flowers or D.J. Humphries, both of whom were taken in Thursday's first round. (Flowers even made it into the top 10, thanks to the Giants.) Fisher could be the first lineman—and possibly first player, period—taken off the board Friday. He's a gifted athlete for his position and is ready to step in as a starter at right tackle immediately.
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
Another contender to be the first lineman taken Friday, Clemmings had carried quite a bit of Round 1 buzz. A rough Senior Bowl week, a reported stress fracture in his foot and some troublesome issues in pass protection bumped him down a bit, however. Clemmings is raw, having played DT until his junior year at Pitt. Patience will be required, but Clemmings could look like a steal in a year or two.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Now that Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon have new homes, it's a take-your-pick situation at running back. In addition to Abdullah, the likes of T.J. Yeldon, Jay Ajayi, Duke Johnson and Tevin Coleman all could be on the Round 2 docket. Abdullah landed as SI's third-ranked running back behind only that Gurley-Gordon combo. He rushed for 1,600-plus yards in both 2013 and '14, while averaging 24 receptions per season. Those other backs offer more punch between the tackles, but Abdullah is extremely dangerous when he finds a hole. And when he turns the corner wide, look out.
Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
Several intriguing inside linebackers lingered beyond Day 1, including Kendricks, Benardrick McKinney, Denzel Perryman and Paul Dawson. All four were bunched close together in our grading scale—Kendricks and McKinney at 8.2, Perryman at 7.9 and Dawson at 7.7. (What that all means is explained here.) Kendricks could find the widest range of interested teams Friday night because of his athleticism. A three-down option and the best 2015 inside linebacker in coverage, Kendricks has a bright NFL future in front of him.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma/Missouri
Another talented prospect slapped with the dreaded "character concerns" label. Green-Beckham was dismissed by Missouri following an alleged domestic incident, then by rule had to sit out the entire 2014 season after transferring to Oklahoma. The upside is astronomical, with more than one analyst offering up a (probably unrealistic) comparison to Calvin Johnson. Still, at 6'5" and 237 pounds, Green-Beckham can take over games on the outside.
La'el Collins, G/T, LSU
Sensing any sort of trend here? Like Gregory, Green-Beckham and Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams, Collins has a recent off-field situation driving down his stock. His is the most serious—and therefore, potentially, the most troublesome—of the bunch. Just Wednesday, Collins left the draft festivities in Chicago to meet with Louisiana police regarding the shooting death of Collins's pregnant ex-girlfriend. He is not considered a suspect, but it's obviously a situation the NFL is watching. Prior to round 1 Collins and his agent petitioned the NFL to remove him from the draft and allow him to enter the supplemental draft later this year. That request was denied.
Collins had been a virtual lock for the first round, with a top-10 climb possible. Should this legal situation clear up quickly, the team willing to roll the dice might have an instant starter. Collins (6'5", 320) is a proven pass blocker and emerging mauler on the ground.
Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
Sometime on Friday night, there will be a run at defensive tackle. Joining Bennett in the still-available category are Iowa's Carl Davis, Clemson's Grady Jarrett, Florida State's Eddie Goldman and 330-pounder Oklahoma nose tackle Jordan Phillips. Bennett has been a fixture on our Big Boards for months. His quick first step makes him a dangerous pass-rusher, and he will be a disruptive rotational player next season.
Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah
The aforementioned Damarious Randall was a college safety who may move to cornerback in the NFL. Rowe made that same switch prior to the 2014 season and now offers an option at either spot. His length (6'1", 204) and physical play point toward a CB role, but his instincts when dropping in coverage and 4.45-second 40 speed make for a possible return to safety.