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Sources Tell Us: What we're hearing about NFL draft prospects

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Our analysts are constantly talking to their NFL and college sources about players in the college game. Lance Zierlein shares some of what NFL folks are discussing in draft rooms throughout the league.


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The scoop: "I think the consistent problems for Josh Gordon are going to leak over and hurt (Green-Beckham's) draft stock. He couldn't keep himself out of trouble, had no structure growing up and didn't take coaching at Missouri. He's tall and fast and has good hands, but he can't be trusted. Why would you take a guy like that before the third day?" -- NFC director of personnel on Oklahoma WR Dorial Green-Beckham

The skinny: Green-Beckham's draft projections are all over the map. While College Football 24/7's mock drafts have him going in the first round, this NFC director of personnel tabs Green-Beckham as a Day 3 pick. Talent obviously isn't the issue with Green-Beckham. He has the size, speed, soft hands and incredible catch radius of an elite prospect. But his work ethic is suspect, and several scouts wonder if the character concerns stemming from his suspensions and arrests make him worth risking a high draft pick. His upside is tantalizing, but his downside has some teams skeptical.

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The scoop: "He has the highest overall character grade I've ever given to a prospect, and includes both football character and off-the-field. Aside from (Melvin) Gordon and (Todd) Gurley, I think he's the third-best running back in this draft." -- AFC North scout on Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah

The skinny: Abdullah earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the Reese's Senior Bowl, where despite his size (5-foot-8 1/4, 198 pounds) he impressed with his ability to run with power and be an effective receiver out of the backfield. But beyond his physical talent, it's his character and high football IQ that have made him stand out to the scouting community. Abdullah was asked recently by NFL Network what he believes scouts will like most about him during the draft process, and he said, "Leadership, a guy who's willing to pick up his teammates. That's the ultimate attribute about a player -- someone who can make the players around him better." According to NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, Abdullah projects as a second-day draft pick.

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The scoop: "I see the power in his hands and all of his tools, but I don't see the production or the consistent push that I feel like I should see from him. He could end up being a monster, but you have to understand that what you get right now is just a big athlete with some upside." -- Pac-12 area scout on Oregon DE Arik Armstead

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The skinny: At 6-foot-8, 290 pounds, Armstead's elite size and strength have made him one of the fastest risers in this year's draft and a potential first-round pick, according to NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks' first mock draft, but scouts still view him as a bit of a project because he's so raw as a pass rusher. Statistically, he lacked the production last season that you'd expect from a power rusher. He often plays too tall and lacks a counter move when his rush is stalled initially. Despite his off-the-charts upside, Armstead will require patience and strong coaching as he continues to develop at the next level.

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The scoop: "He looks like he's throwing a javelin, and he is on the wrong side of where we want quarterbacks to be in terms of athleticism, arm strength and accuracy, but his intangibles are way up there. I absolutely love his competitive nature, but I wish he had better traits." -- AFC national scout on East Carolina QB Shane Carden

The skinny: Carden put up big numbers at East Carolina, but his strengths as a quarterback lie in his intangibles -- his work ethic, toughness, high football IQ and ability to read defenses. His arm strength is a major question mark, and scouts believe his deep-ball accuracy will plummet at the next level because he lacks downfield zip. Although he seems likely to be a backup in the NFL, teams could take a chance on him based on his competitiveness and intelligence.

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The scoop: "When I'm on the road, I hear other scouts tell me they think he's tough enough, but his tape doesn't show it. He's a finesse player with a high ceiling as a pass rusher, but he could easily bust out." -- NFC director of college scouting on Utah DE Nate Orchard

In a weekly series, draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah polls five NFL personnel executives about college football's top prospects.

The skinny: Orchard went from three sacks in 2013 to 18.5 last season, which makes some scouts wonder if he's a one-year wonder or a star in waiting. At 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, Orchard wins with quickness and effort over skill and counter moves. He also struggles against the run. Teams will be banking on his athleticism and huge upside, although he could wind up as a situational pass rusher.

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The scoop: "Personally, I don't really think much of his chances to make it as a tight end because he's too far behind where he needs to be. I did think he looked better by the end of the year, so maybe I'm wrong." -- NFC North scout on Oklahoma QB/TE Blake Bell

The skinny: Bell converted to tight end as a senior after spending his first three seasons at quarterback for Oklahoma. He has good size at 6-foot-6, 259 pounds, and flashed sure hands as a pass catcher last season, but his lack of experience at tight end is evident, and he's extremely raw in his route-running. A big positive in Bell's favor is that he showed great improvement in just one season, particularly as a blocker, and he could have a future at the position in the pros if a team is willing to be patient with him.

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The skinny: "They all have holes, but Collins is what you are looking for in an NFL cornerback with his length and speed. He isn't there yet, but he has the traits and ability to become a high-end starter and maybe the best cornerback from this draft." -- NFC director of personnel on LSU CB Jalen Collins

The scoop: While this year's draft lacks an elite cornerback prospect, Collins (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) has a rare combination of height, weight and speed, and this director of personnel rates him as potentially the top player at his position. His technique in coverage is a work in progress, but Collins' physical traits and instincts at making plays on the ball set him apart from the rest of this year's prospects.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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