As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Who are the studs and starters that will be taken on day two of the draft?
Every year there are players in the draft that have first round grades on them but because of the way the first round plays out, they fall into the top, middle or late parts of the second and third rounds. There are also players that don’t have first-round grades on them, but they end up outplaying the players at their position that were taken ahead of them.
For example, some of the most dynamic young playmakers in the league today did not hear their names called in the first 32 picks of the first round of their respective drafts. Last year the Indianapolis Colts took small school linebacker Darius Leonard out of South Carolina State in the second round with the 36th overall pick and he went on to lead the league in tackles in just his first season with 163 and won Defensive Rookie of the Year. Here’s a list of some prospects that are likely to go on day two that could be starters on day one:
• RB Miles Sanders: While Alabama’s Josh Jacobs is being viewed as the consensus No.1 running back in this year’s class, the back that succeeded 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley in the backfield for the Nittany Lions at Penn State could end up having the more productive career.
As the starter last season, he posted 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground and another 139 yards on 24 catches. He averaged 5.8 yards a carry and per reception as the shifty back showed great vision, footwork and elusiveness speed. His highlights are filled with filthy jump cuts that left defenders grasping for air and his low center of gravity made him tough to bring down and led to huge runs when he was able to break tackles and keep his balance.
His showed off his soft hands and route running ability at the Combine and his playing style is reminiscent of his predecessor who went No.2 overall to the New York Giants last season. His dynamic skill set and playmaking ability could see him sneak into the bottom of the first round in the same way that Sony Michel and Rashad Penny did in last year’s draft.
• WR Deebo Samuels: This year’s crop of wide receivers is considered to be very deep and loaded with starting-caliber prospects and the former South Carolina standout is one of the pass catchers that is projected to go one day two of the draft but could start day one on any offense in the league.
He was a dynamic playmaker for the Gamecocks and was a threat to take it the distance anytime he got his hand on the ball in the open field or when he beat his man off the line of scrimmage. He routinely makes acrobatic catches and can even provide a spark in the return game. He amassed 570 yards and one score as the team’s kick returner and averaged over 24 yards per return.
• WR Andy Isabella: The UMass product is drawing comparisons to Los Angeles Rams slot receiver Cooper Kupp and like the prolific pass catcher that has flourished in Sean McVay’s, Isabella could be an absolute steal in the second or third round. He is a smooth route runner that is crisp in and out of his breaks. He possesses reliable hands and breakaway speed that is reflected by his 16.6 yards per reception.
• EDGE Jachai Polite: Despite being one of the top pass-rushing talents in this draft that was garnering mid-first round consideration before a disappointing performance at the Combine and reports that surfaced that said he bombed in his private interviews with teams made his stock free fall to the point that he could go as late as the third round.
If the promising young edge defender that broke out last season for the Florida Gators with 11 sacks does indeed fall out of the first round, he could be a steal as well. He could hopefully learn some humility and maturity from a potential fall and carry that chip on his shoulder that comes when a player gets drafted later than he thinks he should.
• LB Mack Wilson: The speedy linebacker from the University of Alabama possess perhaps best coverage skills of all the prospects at the position in this year’s draft and has superb ball skills. He can also be a force on special teams after being one of the best players on the Crimson Tide’s coverage units.
• QB Will Greer: The West Virginia Mountaineer could be the next Jimmy Garoppolo and sit behind a veteran to be groomed into an eventual starter. He’s a developmental prospect that is already proficient in running a pro-style offense and impressed scouts at his Pro Day last week as well.
His best qualities are his accuracy, the touch he puts on his throws, his ability to maneuver in the pocket and buy time for his receivers to get open. He doesn’t have a rocket are like some of the other quarterbacks that are rated higher, but his ball placement is excellent as he often throws his receivers open or hits them in stride.
• S Deonte Thompson: Another Alabama defender that could go in the early to mid-part of the second round who can cover a lot of ground and has decent ball skills but is better suited as a box safety who plays closer to the line of scrimmage. He’s one of the hardest hitters in the draft at any position as he showed on tape a willingness to tackle and deliver big hits and snuff out run plays in the backfield.
• RB Damien Harris: While Jacobs is the more coveted of the Alabama running backs, Harris has been the starter and leading rusher over the past two seasons. A run on Alabama prospects are expected to happen on day two and Harris could go as high as the early second. He runs hard behind his pads but isn’t strictly a power back as he possesses the excellent vision to find the cutback lanes and can hit the whole or bounce the play the outside where he can outrun the defense.
• CB Joejuan Williams: Tall lanky corners have been a hot commodity in the NFL ever since the Seahawks fielded big-bodied corners with length in the Legion of Boom. While the former Vanderbilt defensive back didn’t run a blazing 40 time at Combine, his game speed showed that he can keep up with receivers down the field and can close on the ball carriers quickly in the open filed before they can pick up a head of steam. He doesn’t get a lot of interceptions, but he breaks up a lot of passes, forces turnovers with strips or big hits and helps his teammates haul in picks with the tip drill.
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