The 2015 NFL Draft is coming up, and all the talk is about quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The sad truth is, picking a quarterback in the first round of the draft is a gamble. The Indianapolis Colts were fortunate that Andrew Luck turned out well, whereas the Washington Redskins are still trying to recover from the lasting damage trading up to acquire Robert Griffin III caused to the franchise.
Winston and Mariota could turn out great, but they could easily belly flop in the pros. Fortunately for teams picking in the first round, there is plenty of reliable talent out there. Let’s take a look at some of the best NFL prospects for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:
Amari Cooper, wide receiver, University of Alabama: Let’s start with arguably the most raw-talented player in the draft. Cooper comes from a Nick Saban pro-style offense, so he’s already knowledgeable and prepared to run the sort of routes he’ll need to know on Sundays. And boy does he run those well. He has the speed to beat defenders down the field, the agility to make them miss on the first tackle, and the size and hands to make a play on balls thrown to the middle of the field. Cooper is a star ready to contribute on day one for any team that picks him; and the Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, and New York Jets could all use a receiver to help their struggling quarterbacks.
Leonard Williams, defensive line, USC: There’s a reason Williams is being consistently rated as the top prospect in the 2015 Draft. Williams has shown tremendous consistency in his talent, giving coaches at the Scouting Combine exactly what he gave fans on the football field. With 21 sacks over his collegiate career and 36.5 tackles for loss, Williams is ready to be a force in big leagues. Plenty of teams need a big body on defense, so don’t expect Williams to drop out of the top five. In fact, if Williams makes it past the Tennessee Titans, the Jacksonville Jaguars will snag him up for sure.
Kevin White, wide receiver, West Virginia: White comes into the 2015 NFL Draft right alongside Cooper in terms of talent, making wide receiver arguably the safest position to draft in the top 10 this season. With a 4.35 40-time and a little more size than Cooper, White was absolutely uncoverable in 2014, scorching defenses for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. For a lot of teams picking early in the draft, White is exactly what they need and can improve their offense immediately. Whether Cooper or White is the first receiver drafted, teams can expect great things from these two men.
Trae Waynes, cornerback, Michigan State: At 6’1 with a 4.31 40-time, Waynes is easily the top cornerback in this year’s draft. He’s a very physical back which can be frowned upon in the NFL, but with his talent he will quickly find a way to adjust to the pros. Waynes has the potential to stop some of the best receivers in the league as early as Week 1. With big hands and strong arms, Waynes is fantastic in press coverage; and he does a great job disrupting receivers on the line of scrimmage and forcing them to readjust their routes. Waynes had three interceptions and 46 tackles this past season for Michigan State, but because of the other players available he may drop just outside of the top 10. If so, the Minnesota Vikings will certainly pick him up at No. 11. Either way, Waynes will be the first cornerback called; and the best one in the class.