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

Sources Tell Us: Feb. 5 | Feb. 3 | Jan. 20 (Senior Bowl) | Jan. 16 (Shrine Game)


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


» Prospects with most to prove at NFL Scouting Combine


The scoop: "If he walked into your living room, your eyes would pop out of your head. He looks that good on the hoof. He's going to blow up the combine, and then ace all of the interviews and NFL teams are going to fall in love with him. He still needs someone to unlock all that talent, though." -- Former LSU coach on Tigers DE Danielle Hunter

NFL Scouting Combine


Combine coverage:
Video:
Photos:

The skinny: At 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, Hunter has a freakish combination of size, athleticism and explosiveness, with long arms and jarring power behind his hands. When his technique is right, he can overpower tackles at the point of attack. He isn't as heavy as the New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul, but has that level of explosiveness and potential. However, he still relies heavily on his athleticism and motor over skill and instincts. Hunter has a high floor because of his overwhelming physical traits, but his ceiling will only go as high as the level of coaching he incorporates in the NFL.

* * *


The scoop: "Of all the backs in this draft, Ajayi might be my favorite because he can do everything you want from a back and you don't have to find a complementary back to pick up the slack for him in any one area." -- AFC scout in charge of grading running backs on Boise State RB Jay Ajayi

The skinny: In addition to having a physical running style that brings to mind Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch, Ajayi stands out for his ability to play all three downs and mash in short yardage and near the goal line. He's also a true weapon out of the backfield, with adequate hands and a good feel for maximizing each catch in space. His pass-protection technique needs improvement, but scouts have quietly been circling Ajayi as a second-tier running back who offers tremendous value on Day 2 of the draft.

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

* * *


The scoop: "Right off the bat, his draft value has a ceiling because he's a slot receiver. At least that is how I see it. I don't think he has the speed to get open outside. He's a good value in the middle rounds, though, because of his return-game potential." -- NFC South scout on USC WR Nelson Agholor

The skinny: Agholor is an intelligent, instinctive receiver with an advanced feel for getting himself open against zone coverage, but he lacks a speed component to force cornerbacks to respect him over the top and might not be physical enough to play outside. Those weaknesses combined with his lean frame (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) mean his best position could be working from the slot as a reliable possession receiver. He's also a dangerous punt returner who can step right into that job on Day 1. That's a valuable player, but one this NFC scout believes will be a mid-round draft pick.

* * *


The scoop: "Not a fan. I've always thought he was bad. Name only, can't play." -- SEC defensive coordinator on Alabama OL Arie Kouandjio

The skinny: Kouandjio was a key part of Alabama's offensive line and is the brother of Cyrus Kouandjio, a second-round pick of the Bills last year. While he has good size (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) and length for the position, he's stiff throughout his lower body and tends to be mechanical. His lack of functional athleticism and versatility will limit his NFL chances.

* * *


The scoop: "I don't see him as a starter. I think he can be a backup or compete as a third-down back, but he doesn't run tough enough to be able to project him as a starter in really any scheme." -- NFC East scout on Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford

College Football 24/7 Hot Topics:

The skinny: Langford has improved a great deal since the Spartans' 2013 season, but he isn't a physical running back who'll accelerate through contact, break tackles, and maximize his yards with each carry. He'll usually get what is blocked, and teams could peg him as a "committee back" with an ability to play on third downs because of his ability to block and catch passes.

* * *


The scoop: "His production and character makes it easy for a scout to bang the table for him. The only blow-back I anticipate in my room is regarding his size, but if you stick him at the WILL spot, I don't think it matters." -- NFC West regional scout on UCLA LB Eric Kendricks

The skinny: Kendricks isn't as explosive as his brother, Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks, but he diagnoses plays quickly and has a downhill, attacking mindset that made him one of the most productive tacklers in college football over the last three years. He has plus instincts against the run and pass. He's on the smaller side as a linebacker (6-foot-0, 230 pounds) and could use more weight on his frame, but he has the athleticism and demeanor to be an impactful, productive linebacker in a 4-3 for years to come.