Draft Day is upon us, and 224 college players are going to be selected to join NFL teams tonight. Like the past few drafts, it’s time to do Bust, Trust or Sleeper, prognosticating which players will be stars in the league and which ones are overhyped. Without further adieu, let’s do this!
- Blake Bortles, UCF. While many have projected Bortles to be the first quarterback selected, I think this would be a giant mistake. Bortles had a fantastic career at Central Florida, and he starred in the Fiesta Bowl, but I don’t see what makes him anything more than a Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder or Jake Locker. Those signal-callers came into the league with high expectations and great mechanics, but are already being labeled as busts. Being a great QB at UCF is nice, but this isn’t Conference USA or the American Athletic Conference anymore; we’re talking about the highest level. If Bortles has to start right away, he’s doomed to be a bust in this league, because he simply isn’t battle-tested and ready to go yet.
- Timmy Jernigan, Florida State. First off, the Seminoles defensive tackle was one of the few draft prospects to fail his drug test, which raises a red flag right away. Secondly, he doesn’t have the length of a great NFL defensive lineman. That will limit his effectiveness and usefulness in the league. He’s average against the run and slow off the snap, which will also hurt him next season. All in all, Jernigan will have to overcome and improve to be a star.
- Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. Johnny Football has been the most-debated player in the draft, and unlike some who think he will be a bust, I think he’s going to be a star. Everyone knows he’s a dynamic and powerful athlete, a playmaker who comes up clutch when it matters most. He’s accurate on the run, making the right throws when it’s right and scrambling when the situation presents itself. His pro day was impressive, featuring deep ball after deep ball. The intangibles, however, are what will make Manziel a franchise player. He has a confidence and swagger to him that propelled him to the Heisman Trophy his junior year and a big comeback against Duke in his last college game. He demands the most out of himself and his teammates, leading by example and showing he can be a captain for years to come. Cleveland would be wise to select him at number four, because it’s about time they choose a franchise QB that won’t disappoint. Give Johnny Football a good line and let him go to work.
- Sammy Watkins, Clemson. The explosive wide receiver is a sure-fire top 10 pick, and Oakland would be the perfect fit. Whoever picks Watkins will be one of the winners of the draft, simply because of his athletic ability and great hands. He has a nose for the end zone and the speed to get him there. He has the right attitude, but he also has a confidence to him when he hits the field for gameday. Once he gets bigger, he’s going to be one of the scariest weapons in the league for years to come.
- Khalil Mack, Buffalo. Mack is an animal. He’s 251 pounds of pure strength, with a 40-inch vertical and superior length and speed. His upper body is impressive and he has all of the physical attributes to be a monster in this league. Think Patrick Willis or Von Miller. He didn’t face the toughest competition in the MAC, but his freakish athleticism can translate to any league or level of play. Look for Mack to be a top 10 pick.
- Terrance West, Towson. Towson running back Terrance West seems like the perfect candidate to be the surprise of this year’s draft class. In a relatively weak tailback group, the small-school kid will be a third round pick thanks to his good build, physicality and toughness. He set FCS records for rushing yards and touchdowns in 2013, which means he has a chance to show he was simply under-recruited out of high school, not devoid of first-string talent. Look out for West in a backfield near you.
- Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois. The Huskies’ ball-hawking safety had a sensational college career and possesses the complete safety skill set. He has speed, good man-to-man coverage and good pursuit. Ward is everything a team will want, and he can play right away in the NFL.
Agree? Disagree? Drop a comment or tweet me @chuckiemaggio to make your voice heard!