Calhoun2The latest news, notes and rumors surrounding the 2015 NFL Draft. This New Year’s eve edition looks at a number of junior tight ends as well as prospects from the Big Ten.

 

 

 

 

- A number of people were surprised when a report surfaced stating Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams planned on entering the draft. As of two weeks ago Williams was telling people he would return to the Gophers next season. I’m told the determining factor was the second round grade Williams recently received from the advisory committee.

- Speaking of second round grades, I’m told Shilique Calhoun received much the same and was flummoxed as he fully expected to be stamped as a first rounder despite a disappointing campaign. Word is Calhoun is still undecided as to whether or not he’ll enter the draft.

- Sources tell me the family of offensive tackle Jack Conklin have been telling people he will return for another season at Michigan State.

- I inquired about Andrus Peat and was told all quiet on the western front as no one has been told about agent meetings or otherwise for the Stanford tackle.

- Two of his underclassmen teammates have already declared for the draft and many wonder what tight end Jesse James will do. Those close to the situation tell me while James is telling people he plans on returning to Penn State next season they expect in the end he will enter the draft.

- Tomorrow’s Outback Bowl is likely the final football game for Wisconsin tight end Samuel Arneson. Those close to Arenson have been telling people ankle and knee injuries as well as concussions will force an early retirement. Area scouts liked Arneson’s game and stamped him as a potential late round pick.

- Sources tell me Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, who recently announced he was entering the draft, has a foot injury and had been using crutches to get around. Those familiar with the situation wonder if the junior will be ready to workout at the combine.

- One league insider described Jameis Winston of Florida State as “this year’s version of Johnny Manziel.” The insider was not comparing skill set rather told me general managers around the league who hope Winston is gone before their team is called to the clock. Like Manziel this past April, they don’t want to be faced with the option of using a first round pick on the quarterback. This of course assumes Winston enters the draft.

FloydConference title games have arrived and the bowl season is just around the corner. As teams end their seasons the chatter on underclassmen entering the draft will be deafening. While many of these decisions are not yet in cement, and there may be some denials, this is the most up to date information from around the nation. Update December 12th

 


December 12th

During the December 5th update I posted Andrus Peat is likely to stay at Stanford as the junior enjoys school. The word circulating is Peat was given, or will soon be handed, a first round grade from scouts. This comes as no surprise but it will be interesting to see if this confirmation impacts his final decision.

In October I reported both Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins of Georgia were likely headed towards the draft. Much has changed the past six weeks. I’ve been informed Jenkins family is saying the junior will more than likely return to Athens for another season and its seems so to will Floyd, who did not play well down the stretch.

I’m told receivers Jordan Payton of UCLA and Breshad Perriman of Central Florida will enter the draft.

Payton was the favorite target of Brett Hundley this season registering 63 receptions for 896 yards and 7 scores. Perriman had an up and down season posting 41 receptions for 906 yards (22.1yd average) and 9 scores. Perriman has flashed big time ability the past two seasons as well as an equal amount of inconsistency in his game.

Receiver Cayleb Jones of Arizona, who began his college career at Texas, seems undecided about his next move. It was thought for the longest time Jones, who led the Wildcats with 65 receptions for 902 yards, would enter the draft but he’s recently pulled back and remains uncommitted.

Last week I reported LSU cornerback Jalen Collins is expected to enter the draft and I can tell you Collins has been meeting with agents, further legitimizing the report. LSU coaches are telling scouts Collins was one of the few defensive backs who was able to lockdown Odell Beckham Jr in practice last season. It also seems they are not too concerned about losing him to the NFL. The feeling in the program is Collins may have trouble holding down a starting spot in 2015 as LSU coaches are stoked over the developing star talent at the cornerback position.

Contrary to my report a week ago it seems there’s a good chance LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter enters the draft. I presently grade Hunter as a 2nd/3rd round pick.

Linebacker Kwon Alexander, who I grade as a late round pick, is another Tiger giving serious consideration to entering the draft.

December 5th

Earlier on twitter I posted the news that Andrus Peat is likely to stay at Stanford for another season. And while this comes as a surprise to many, the readers of this column were alerted on October 14th as well as November 14th that Peat had not put much thought into leaving for the NFL.

Sources close to the situation informed me there are several reasons Peat is expected to be playing for Stanford in 2015. First, he not only enjoys college life but likes school. Complimenting this is the fact his family has made education a priority. Finally Peat, a true junior, will be 20 years old when NFL camps open next summer and those around him feel the extra year in college to improve his strength and further mature physically would be best.

Could he change his mind? Never say never. People will try to get into his head and show Peat the dollar signs which await him but as I hear it the player himself wants to return to Stanford.

Word is circulating another junior tackle could be headed to the draft as Michigan State’s Jack Conklin is weighing his options.

As I hear it Conklin would also prefer to stay in college and its outside influences (aka agents) who are pushing him towards opting for the draft. Most scouts feel Conklin, who lines up at left tackle for the Spartans but is better suited for the right side at the next level, could move from third round prospect in 2015 to the first round in 2016 if he sticks around MSU for another season.

Its always interesting to see what’s going on at LSU considering the mass exodus of underclassmen the past two years. The latest word from people close to the program has defensive end Danielle Hunter returning to school while cornerback Jalen Collins is leaning towards entering the draft.

Finally I’m hearing linebacker Antonio Morrison, a week 14 riser, may join the list of Florida Gator underclassmen opting for the draft.

November 14th

It looks like fans of the Fighting Irish may be able to breathe a sigh of relief as I’m told quarterback Everett Golson and offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley are both expected to return for another season. Stanley is well liked in the scouting community and could be a very early pick if he continues to improve his game.

During my first entry on October 24th there was a notation on tackle Andrus Peat of Stanford not broaching the topic of entering the draft despite the fact everyone believes he’ll opt for the NFL. I’m told that still holds true as Peat has still not given much consideration to his next level decision. I was informed people close to Peat are lining up agents if the junior decides the NFL is the next step in his football career.

On the other hand I’m told there’s a very real possibility Ohio State’s Taylor Decker enters the draft. The junior is really under the radar and ranks as a top 60 player on my board. He looked good on the right side in 2013 and has played even better at the all important weak side position in 2014. It will be interesting to see if the Buckeyes recent success and the expectations of a bright forecast in 2015 will weigh into Decker’s decision.

Another underclassman at the offensive tackle position giving serious thought to entering is Zach Banner of USC. It’s a real possibility the Trojans lose 3-to-5 underclassmen to the draft.

What of Miami tackle Ereck Flowers? Flowers has told people he’s not thinking about the draft. Take it one step further and I’m told Hurricane coach Al Golden is pushing hard to get his underclassmen to return in 2015. Several sources tell me the non-seniors have been told not to speak with agents or there will be consequences.

From the defensive side of the ball word is defensive end/outside linebacker Bronson Kafusi, who had a quick start to the season before being slowed by injury, is expected to return to BYU.

November 7th

Since last week’s report several sources inform me the odds are high USC receiver Nelson Agholor enters the draft. In fact several believe Agholor and teammate Leonard Williams will sign as a package deal to the same agent.

The Trojans may lose a third underclassman as center/guard Max Tuerk is giving serious consideration to entering the draft.

The decision of Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is something that will be closely monitored. Recent word has Prescott a long ways from making a decision. Evidently he’ll wait and see what type of grade he receives from scouts once the regular season has concluded then move through the information gathering process.

Staying in the state of Mississippi I’m told defensive end/outside linebacker C.J. Johnson of Ole Miss is making overtures on entering the draft. Ditto for Southern Mississippi defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who’s been playing terrific football as of late and was a week ten riser.

Finally I’m told yet another defensive line prospect, Malcom Brown of the Texas Longhorns, is also leaning towards opting for the draft.

October 31st

Lets start by brushing up on last weeks information.

I’m told the chances of Gators defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard entering the draft are greater than what I initially reported. If there’s a coaching change at Florida, which is almost a foregone conclusion, Bullard could be off to the NFL. The overwhelming belief amongst scouts is while Bullard is a good player and solid prospect, he really needs another season on the college field.

The same can be said for Xavier Cooper of Washington State. Since the story a week ago I’ve been hearing west coast scouts unanimously feel it would be a mistake if Cooper opted for the draft and he’s better off returning for another season on the college field.

I may be a bit late to the party on the following players but underclassmen are expected to provide the cornerback position a much needed infusion of talent.

I’m told Trae Waynes of Michigan State is expected to enter the draft and family members are now vetting agents.

The pair from Florida State, P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby, who were exploited by DeVante Parker last night, are also expected to enter. I like both players though numerous sources tell me Williams has character issues which will raise red flags with teams.

Sources out west tell me Oregon’s Arik Armstead will enter the draft barring a major injury. Armstead has missed a few contests this season with an ankle issue, which is not expected to impact his decision for next year. Though there’s been no word from the player himself, conventional wisdom is teammate DeForest Buckner may follow Armstead and opt for the draft.

Another pair of top pass rushers are very much undecided at this point in the process.

Though nowhere near reaching a final decision the word is Shilique Calhoun is leaning towards returning to Michigan State next season, a good thing considering his somewhat disappointing campaign.

And while Eli Haroldof Virginia is on pace for a career year I’m told there’s not been much serious consideration about the draft by the junior. At this point it seems Harold will investigate his options after the season.

I’ve received conflicting reports on USC receiver Nelson Agholor, who’s in the midst of a terrific campaign, which I’m sure to catch hell for considering the low grade I gave him in June. Sources tell me Agholor is leaning towards entering the draft but also inform me his close friend, Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler, will try and entice him to return for another season.

October 24th

The recent news stating Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is likely to enter the draft should come as no surprise to anyone as this was expected to be his last season with the Noles. What is surprising are reports which have MLB agents pursuing Winston in the hopes of signing him as a client. As told to us, Winston is a legitimate baseball prospect as a relief pitcher. Speaking with league insiders there are several theories as to why baseball agents are in pursuit of Winston. They include 1) Winston using his baseball opportunities to leverage where he will play in the NFL (ala Bo Jackson) 2) an instance such as Jeff Samardzija where Winston chooses baseball over the NFL. To be clear that’s all speculation as of now and assumes baseball agents are able to sign Winston.

Running back is the position expected to be most effected in the draft by an infusion of underclassmen talent as a number of top 60 prospects will be entering. The two no-brainers are Todd Gurley of Georgia and Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin, who came close to leaving for the 2014 draft, entering the 2015 event.

Sources have indicated Jay Ajayi of Boise State and Mike Davis of South Carolina are also entering. I’m told Davis and his people have been vetting agents. I’m also told Davis is not lacking for confidence and feels he’ll be as highly rated as Todd Gurley come draft day.

There’s been scant news directly from the source but people close to the Indiana Hoosier program are planning for the departure of Tevin Coleman at seasons end. The story is similar at Miami with Duke Johnson, something even more likely after his injury last evening.

When it comes to pass catchers the only solid information at this time surrounds Michigan tight end Devin Funchess and Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong. I’m told Funchess will enter and he’s close to deciding which agent he’ll sign with while the word in Tempe is Strong will declare at season’s end.

Everyone is assuming Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat, an expected top 12 pick, will enter the draft. I’ve been told all along Peat is concentrating on the season at hand and will move his focus towards the draft after the campaign. So at this point there’s no definitive word.

Starting on defense I’m told its near 99% Randy Gregory of Nebraska enters the draft and area scouts talk of him as top five material.

Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr. is admittedly leaning towards entering the draft and I’m told there’s a chance his teammate Jonathan Bullard could join him.

To no one’s surprise sources out west tell me its a foregone conclusion Leonard Williams enters the draft.

The other PAC 12 defensive lineman I’m hearing will enter is Xavier Cooper of Washington State, though his draft grade draws mixed reviews. While some stamp Cooper as a top 45 pick, area scouts presently grade the junior as a middle (3rd/4th) round prospect at best.

At linebacker it looks like a pair of Georgia Bulldogs are headed out the door.

A month ago I was told Leonard Floyd (DE/OLB) would consider entering the draft after a good season but recent word is the true-sophomore will declare himself eligible at the end of the season. So too will teammate Jordan Jenkins, whom I’m told is closing in on an agent and is a linebacker I’m very high on.

Another SEC linebacker, Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi State, is also likely to enter. McKinney considered the 2014 draft from arm’s length and as of two weeks ago the word from the program was “he’s gone” in 2015.

Out west I’m informed two Washington Husky juniors, linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback Marcus Peters will enter the draft.

Stanford cornerback Alex Carter is also expected to enter the draft. Carter, whose father Tom was a first round pick of the Washington Redskins in 1993, is in the midst of a terrific season.

Finally, several sources have indicated to me Alabama safety Landon Collins, another defensive back that’s turned heads with terrific play this season, will also declare for the draft.

MariotaAs the college bowl season is upon us its time to update our mock draft from last month.  Based on NFL.com’s most recent draft order, here’s a look at how the draft’s initial ten picks could play out next April.  To stay consistent with our information and the report from a week ago that he’s likely to return to Stanford, Andrus Peat was purposely left out of the mix.

# Team Selection Position/College
1 Tampa Bay Marcus Mariota QB/Oregon
Analysis:  The need at quarterback is growing and Mariota is not only the best signal caller in the draft but one of the best prospects available.
2 Tennessee Titans Jameis Winston QB/Florida State
Analysis:  It pains me to put Winston in this slot as I don’t think he deserves to be a top six selection.  We always witness teams reach for signal callers and the Titans may be backed into a corner with Mettenberger on the mend.
3 Jacksonville Jaguars Cedric Ogbuehi OT/Texas A&M
Analysis: Many feel the Jags need a pass rusher but they’ve given up a league high 54 sacks and Bortles is getting hammered every week.  Luke Joeckel can play either tackle spot which makes this pick easier to digest. 
4 New York Jets Amari Cooper WR/Alabama
Analysis: The Jets play the Titans this weekend with draft positioning on the line. Cooper is the consistent play maker the offense has lacked for some time and he’ll be the best receiver the Jets have drafted since Al Toon. Quarterback and offensive tackle are also considerations here. 
5 Oakland Raiders Randy Gregory DE/Nebraska
Analysis: Gregory combines the athleticism the Raiders organization loves along with the ability to rush the passer, which they need.
6 Washington Redskins Leonard Williams DL/USC
Analysis: Williams is conventionally thought of as a 4-3 tackle yet I feel he has the size, athleticism and movement skills to stack up as a defensive end in a 3-man line for a one-gap or two-gap system.
7 New York Giants Brandon Scherff OT/Iowa
Analysis: The Giants could use a pass rusher but they best protect Manning to prolong his future.  Despite the nasty tweets sent my way a month ago, the team will look for an upgrade at both offensive tackle positions and consider moving Pugh into guard. 
8 Carolina Panthers Vic Beasley DE/Clemson
Analysis: Despite the changes expected in the organization Carolina still needs a pass rusher.  I’m disappointed in the play of Kony Ealy as I thought he was under drafted last year.  Beasley offers the disruptive force needed up front.
9  Chicago Bears Leonard Floyd DE/Georgia
Analysis: I may be alone believing Floyd is worthy of a top ten choice and in the end I’ll be a genius or a fool.  When I watch the sophomore I see a disruptive pass rusher who can play in space and comes with tremendous upside. 
10 New Orleans Saints La’el Collins OT/LSU
Analysis: Personally I’m of the opinion Collins will play guard at the next level and is of the late first round variety.  That said a number of area scouts who’ve come through the SEC love Collins and feel he’ll have no problem holding down the left tackle spot in the NFL.