NFL Draft: 12 Burning Questions

Where does Darius Slay fit? (USAT Sports)

NFL Draft prospect evaluator Josh Buchanan shared his answers to 12 burning pre draft questions from Scout.com. Here's his take on players from Te'o to DBs who can play right away to other prospects with injury concerns.

1)   Manti Te'o has been the top Combine story, mainly for his Faux girlfriend issues. He answered some of those questions at the Combine. What does have to do between now and the Draft to prove he's a legitimate player that deserves to be drafted early, and what are you hearing from scouts as to where he might go?

Josh Buchanan: He just needs to continue to show he is genuine and have a good workout.  I don't think anyone expected faster than a 4.70-4.75.  If he runs a 4.5 or 4.6 like he says he can then he certainly will go first round, I think.  One thing I have told people and they have a hard time believing is that many teams have always had Te'o as a late first or early second round grade.  Players usually have grades that are all over the board and he is one who may have a couple of teams in the top 15 who want him but I doubt they take him there.  I believe he will be a late first round pick if he improves the 40.  

2)  Combine times are deceptive, some players are coming off injures and can't run, while others have trained relentlessly to post the best time. Can you give us 5 guys who turned in numbers that, while expected, surprised scouts for the better / worse?

JB: First I will say that it may surprise you but every year there are freaks who train on campus and don't go to these combine training facilities and they do just fine.  Either you can run or you can't.  Simple as that.  I'll never run a 4.50 40 haha… With that said a few players seemed to run a little better than people thought while a couple others ran worse.

Darius Slay ran a 4.36 with a 1.49 10-yard at 6'0, 192 pounds.  I think people expected mid 4.4s, not mid 4.3s.

His teammate Johnthan Banks ran a 4.61, most were hoping for a sub 4.5 and probably thought mid 4.5s.

Believe it or not teams knew Terron Armstead was fast.  They expected high 4.7s or low 4.8s.  The fact he ran a 4.71 was a little eye popping because that was an electronic time.  Some teams had him at 4.69 on their hand helds, which surprisingly they use over the electronic times.

Missouri Southern's Brandon Williams was a guy I expected to run a 5.1 or 5.0 and he ran a 5.3.  He plays faster than that.  Although, that is not awful at 335 pounds I still expected no worse than a 5.20.

I think Ryan Swope running a 4.34 was a surprise.  He looks like a 4.45 on tape so a 4.34 might put him in the second round.  Remember, he is the A&M all-time leader in receptions and is 6'0, 205 pounds with a 1.57 10-yard, 37 inch vertical, and had a 6.76 3-cone. 


3)  This Draft class seems weak at the QB position compared to Drafts of years past. Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton proved that 2nd rounders can be leaders, who should we be keeping an eye on that may surprise people in this year's Draft class?

JB: Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon, and E.J. Manuel. I think you will probably see more of the 2011 version of Wilson at the next level.  Glennon is a guy who has first round talent, top 10 arm talent, but he is hot and cold.  I was at the Clemson game and there were times I wanted to put a 1st round grade on him and others when I said 3rd-4th round.  He is all over the board on film, so I'm sure he is all over team boards ranging anywhere from a mid first round pick to a early fourth round pick.  Don't get too caught up in Senior Bowl MVPs.  They don't always fair well.  Remember Pat White?  The problem though is that Manuel is a winner, very good player, and has the size and athletic ability you want so I do think he could turn out to be a good one.

4)   Can you give us 5 guys who are flying under the radar that NFL clubs are scouting but mainstream media is ignoring (so far)?


JB: There are way more than 5 guys.  There will end up being about 25-30 of them on draft day alone that nobody seems to know much about.  A few guys to keep an eye on include Aldrick Fordham of South Carolina, Jason Thompson of New Haven, Jakar Hamilton of South Carolina State, Eastern Kentucky's Aaron Adams, and St. Francis (IN)'s Austin Coleman.

5)  We've heard about the top DBs in the Draft. If a team were to trade back, or just look for secondary help in the late second or third round, who might be available? Do you think any of those guys could play as rookies?

JB: Jonathan Cyprien, J.J. Wilcox, B.W. Webb, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson.  I think Cyprien, Webb, and Wilson could.  Wilcox is very raw and probably needs to "redshirt" for a year.

6)  Which of the two SEC RBs on the comeback trail will get drafted first, Knile Davis or Marcus Lattimore?

JB: Tough question.  I don't think teams even know that yet because they don't have the full medical results from the combine.  My guess is Knile Davis but ask me after the medical tests come back and maybe I can get a more confident answer.

7)  How much, if at all, will Matt Barkley be hurt by the lack of success of recent USC QBs Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart?

JB: Scouts don't want to judge players by their predecessors but they often do, and so do I.  If a team has had good corners like South Carolina you tend to want to go look at their corners as long as the same coach is there.  In this case, I think Barkley is a little different from the others.  He isn't as much about Hollywood as the others and he was hurt this year so he knows he has to put in much more time than the other two did.  I think he will probably work a little harder than them and know that isn't a five-star quarterback anymore, he's just a rookie who has to prove things all over again as someone who went from No. 1 overall to a  likely late first or second round pick.

8)  How good a job did Tyrann Mathieu do at the combine of convincing teams he's worth a draft pick?

JB: There are some who will not touch him and others who were impressed.  He was out of football for a year to train for the combine, you know he's been with agents and marketing people learning what to say.  I personally would not draft him.  I would like to judge his draft stock on how Janoris Jenkins does and I wish we had another year or two in between them so we could get a better feel.

One comment he made concerned me though.  He made a comment about having football taken away from him for a year and that is not true.  McNeese State wanted him and even had him on campus.  They told him they would drug test him, he would need to come earn a starting spot, even though they said he would likely get it, and they told him to go home and think about it and let them know.  He was upset because they had stipulations and weren't falling all over him, according to a very good connection I have at McNeese State.  He could have gone there and shown he is ready and put together a dominant year but instead got upset they weren't so thankful he was willing to do them a favor.  He wanted to return to LSU because he thought he was too good for FCS and they would not take him back so he sat out and decided to declare.  If he says that is not true I have a very good connection at McNeese State who would never lie to me and never has in the past and they were 100% confident in that.  I hope Tyrann has changed but this happened back in the summer.  As a NFL team I would need to know what has changed since then and would he be willing to transfer down like Janoris Jenkins did.  Remember, Jenkins went to Division II, a level below FCS.


9)  How concerned should NFL teams be about the fact Cordarrelle Patterson played only one year of major college?


JB: There are a lot of one year FBS stars from JUCO programs working 9-5 jobs right now so it is always a concern but Patterson has unreal talent.  Someone who has extensive knowledge of both Patterson and AJ Green once told me Patterson was the better prospect before he got to the SEC.  Patterson can play.  The concern with JUCO stars like him is not whether they are good enough because he is, the question is the mental and will they be able to handle the pros after just one year from JUCO ball.  Remember, players go to JUCO schools for a reason and usually it's because they need a little more time mentally.  Hopefully Patterson is mentally ready to put it all together.  Of course you can say the same about most busts.  I would say 80% of the time first and second round busts these days are players who mentally weren't ready for the NFL.  I don't think teams are missing much at all in the top 50-60 picks in terms of talent.

10)  How big of a concern is Keenan Allen's injury history?

JB: When you have a history of being hurt a lot it is a concern.  Remember Javid Best?  Look what happened with him.  Talented players with a history of being hurt a good bit should and will drop.  You don't know if you will get two or 10 good years out of them.  He's a first round talent but I would not be surprised if he fell to the second round because of injuries.

11) What are your thoughts on Harding OLB Ty Powell and Howard OLB Keith Pough, two guys with great pass-rush production at the small-school level.


JB: Powell is an absolute freak.  He has played safety, linebacker, and end in college.  He played end as a senior but can play linebacker and is a star on special teams.  He can block kicks and be a gunner.  Pough mostly rushed off the edge at linebacker as a junior and senior often times blitzing 15 times or so in a game.  That is partly why he had the tackles for loss but he is a good player.  He looked good against Rutgers and is a guy I would take later in the draft.  He's very raw like Powell but I would take Powell ahead of him because he is a bit more athletic and has shown he can be potentially be a Pro Bowler on special teams.

12) Also, considering he played safety for one year, what do u think of the Georgia Southern kid, J J Wilcox.
 
JB: Wilcox is a man child physically.  He looks the part big time.  I liked him as a slot receiver so I was surprised when they moved him to safety.  He got better each week and turned into an All-American caliber player by the end of the season.  I think he may need time to develop but he has tools.  I would personally like to get a guy like him in the 5th round because he is good but a developmental guy yet I have a feeling he is going in the 2nd or 3rd round.



Josh Buchanan has covered the draft and/or worked for all-star games while providing content directly to NFL teams since 2003. He has worked as an SID and/or scout for the Las Vegas All-American Classic, Magnolia Gridiron Classic, and Texas vs. Nation Game while in college.  He has been a regular contributor to Phil Steele, D2football.com, Tonysoftli.com, and others over the last decade. Follow Josh on Twitter: @Joshbdraft.

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