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4 Downs: intriguing draft prospects

As we approach the NFL Draft it is easy to get lost in the lights of the top-end scouting reports. After looking through reels of a moutain-esque pile of players I have brought out 4 that really intrigue me. For clarity, these are not the ONLY intriguing prospects that will find themselves in the NFL, and they are not all high profile or diamonds in the rough. They are purely and simply 4 of the names that I am most excited to see where they land.

1) Jaelen Strong, Wide Receiver, Arizona State

Strong seems to lack the ideal quick twitch burst that some scouts crave, but his hands and his ability to make contested catches have me thinking that he could excel at the next level. He may not ever be a player that is lightning fast in and out of breaks but that can all be rectified in the right system. He possesses above average size and speed in just about every category and has shown the potential to be a real threat in red zone situations. I liken Strong to a faster Dwayne Bowe or Hakeem Nicks with better hands, and while those names haven’t exactly shined lately they were both high quality Wide Receivers early in their careers. While I am continually very high on Amari Cooper, it’s entirely possible that Strong ends up being the second best receiver in this class.

2) Randy Gregory, Edge Rusher, Nebraska

In just two years of college football Gregory already finds himself inside the top 10 all-time for sacks at Nebraska. His measurables and motor are off the charts, and it a safe bet that he is the best pure pass rusher in the entire draft. He is so quick off the edge that when you watch film of him it seems like he is a step past most Offensive Lineman before they’ve finished getting out of their stances. So why is he intriguing? His well documented issues with marijuana will possibly lead to him slipping down draft boards and if he ends up on a team with an established pass rush this rookie could possible be poised to have a monster season.

3) Karlos Williams, Running Back / KR, Florida State

I am on record both vocally and via Twitter professing my intrigue with this Seminole. He possesses a great frame for a ball carrier and elite speed to boot. The two biggest issues that seem to repeatedly come up with those evaluating him are his upright running style and the lack of consistent production in college. People don’t seem to understand how a player with those measurables could put together the dictionary definition of an average season. I’ll admit that initially I was puzzled as well. When you go back and really dig into the numbers it becomes rather apparent, Freshman Dalvin Cook became the preferred runner after they narrowly beat Miami. Cook was always involved in the offense but after Williams averaged 2.5 YPC against the Hurricanes it was clear that he was now the back-end of a committee. Williams intrigues me because that extra gear that some carriers have is very apparent when I watch him, especially after he catches the ball. I can see him instantly contributing in an offense that already has a proven hammer, and once he learns to adjust his pad level and stop running so stiff I believe he has the talent to be a successful starter both in fantasy and the NFL.

4) Carlif Taylor, DT, Southern Connecticut State University

I realize that upon first glance the college that Taylor played at looks made up, like Blue Mountain State. Let me assure you that the Owls of SCSU are very real, and once you get a look at the HUDL compilation put together on Carlif you’ll realize that he is too. at 6″2 and 315lbs Taylor is a mountain of a man that moves surprisingly swiftly for someone that is so imposing. He explodes out of his stance and seems to dominate the opposing Offensive Lineman, albeit DII Lineman, on a regular basis. I acknowledge the fact the Carlif’s opponents regularly did not possess the functional strength to handle a player of his caliber, but I would ask those who take the time to really look at his film is it his fault the opponents he played against couldn’t handle him? Remember, this is a player who had a single year of high school football and was garnering all the accolades and awards he did in college without a Defensive Coordinator. Not a type,according to Taylor SCSU did NOT have a Defensive Coordinator on staff. He truly is a diamond waiting to be polished into a run-stopping machine at the next level.

Carlif’s Highlights Link