Most mock drafts focus on the first round, though there are some brave souls that attempt to go deeper. The dynamics of movement through trades and unforeseen selections really makes that an exercise in futility. To be honest, trying to predict how the initial selection of all 32 teams will go is next to impossible and yet many will continue to make the attempt regardless.
This places the majority of focus from a media perspective on the top 30 to 40 prospects. You hear their names over and over. You see their names up and down mock after mock. But there are some players I feel deserve a little more attention than what they’re receiving. As a general manager here are 5 offensive prospects I would draft with the confidence that my team will be better for it.
- (OG) Larry Warford, Kentucky – Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are getting all the pub, but Warford catches my attention. His Combine performance was nothing to rave about but he plays better than his athletic numbers might indicate. Warford is bigger than both Warmack and Cooper, but plays with a great degree of intensity. He is both powerful and agile in the run game, able to create in-line drive or work his way to 2nd level. He has the length of most OT’s and uses a heavy handed punch to stymie inside pass rushers.
- (OC) Barrett Jones, Alabama – Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker get all the pub but Jones is the true anchor of the National Champions. He is longer than most centers and plays with excellent inside leverage. He has a quick first step and lateral agility to protect both A gaps. He has speed to pull and get to the perimeter, works well to engage on the move. As an inside protector he shows good step/slide, uses his hands well to engage and can sit & leverage a bull rusher. He keeps his body square, shows good feet and balance to stay engaged vs counter movement.
- (WR) Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech – Though not the fastest and most explosive prospect at the position, Patton has the short area quickness numbers to create separation off solid route running ability. We all want our receivers to contribute in the run game and Patton willingly engages. He has good upper strength and foot quickness to sustain position. His aggressive effort makes him a very good blocker on the perimeter. As a receiver he’ll be best employed in the short to intermediate routes and working the inside. He has a good catching radius and will snatch the ball with his hands. He is a legitimate red zone threat and the type that will compliment an already strong core well.
- (TE) Jordan Reed, Florida – A tweener type body for the position. Reed isn’t the inline force that many might want for the edge, but he gives good effort and shows quickness and enough sustain to secure the block. Reed won’t move the point or consistently set the edge, but does have a quick 1st step to gain position and works well to 2nd level. Where he excels is as a route runner and open field threat after the catch. He’ll climb the ladder to make the reception, has speed to stretch the seam, and shows quickness at the break to create separation. He’s a dynamic, big play maker that creates the mismatch vs linebackers assigned in man coverage.
- (FB) Lonnie Pryor, Florida State – Perhaps the last of a dying breed, Pryor is being projected as a fullback but can serve as a power runner as well. His lack of overall mass hinders his ability to root out defenders and really create any movement as a blocker. He does put a body on body and shows willingness to engage. Where he jumps out is in short yardage and goal line situations. He has excellent lower leg drive and foot movement in the hole, good feel for the crease, and nice inline burst to get through it. Pryor shows hands in the flat and a subtle wiggle to elude in space.
These five players aren’t garnering any attention from the pundits 1st round mocks for the NFL Draft, but they show the skills and effort that can lead to production that just may overshadow more highly touted prospects once it’s all said and done.