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


Sources Tell Us: Feb. 10 | 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.

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The scoop: "He's had to play at different weights and different spots on the field, and I think he's finally understanding how to use his athleticism to dominate a game. He will be way better in the pros than what he is now." -- AFC East college director of scouting on Florida LB Dante Fowler Jr.

The skinny: Fowler was bounced all over the field at Florida and is still learning the nuances of the position. His pass-rush approach lacks efficiency and includes too much wasted motion, and OTs with length can lock him out and run him over the top. He's a competitive pass rusher getting by on athleticism and inside moves right now, but he's an explosive player. If he takes coaching and addresses his rush technique, he has a Pro Bowl ceiling with double-digit sack potential.

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The scoop: "I wouldn't take him inside the first two rounds. He's good, but he's not that good that I would be willing to deal with his emotional issues." -- NFC personnel director on Washington CB Marcus Peters

The skinny: Peters has raw talent with prototype size, ball skills and the confidence NFL teams are looking for, but he's far from a polished cornerback, and that's without taking his character concerns into consideration. He lacks the necessary discipline and maturity on the field and in practice; he doesn't take coaching -- he was dismissed from Washington after multiple run-ins with the coaching staff -- and is overly emotional and prone to mental mistakes because of it. Two of College Football 24/7's four mock drafts have Peters going in the first round: Charles Davis pegs him to the San Diego Chargers at No. 17, and Bucky Brooks has him going to the St. Louis Rams at No. 10.

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The scoop: "He was 219 pounds when I visited late in the season. I'm concerned about whether he will be able to keep enough weight on to be a 4-3 WILL. Until I see him actually play deep as a safety, I'm not sure that is a projection I'm comfortable making." -- AFC North scout on Washington LB Shaq Thompson

The skinny: Thompson's versatility as a two-way player was his calling card at Washington, as a linebacker who also took snaps at safety and running back. However, it's also made scouts question his natural fit in the NFL. He'll need to add mass to his frame -- he is listed at 228 pounds, but played under that weight at times -- and despite his high motor, he lacks the play strength to back up his intentions near the line of scrimmage. Still, he's a long, twitchy linebacker with good athleticism and big-play potential and could become a unique chess piece in the hands of the right defensive coordinator.

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The scoop: "I know everyone will have him pegged as a 3-4 edge guy, but I think 4-3 defenses would be crazy not to consider him as a WILL or SAM who can bump down as an edge rusher in third downs. Denver does it with Von Miller, so why not consider it?" -- NFC East scout on Clemson LB Vic Beasley

The skinny: Like Miller, who was perhaps the best linebacker prospect in 2010, Beasley projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker and is considered one of the best pure edge rushers in the 2015 draft. He's an explosive athlete who is always first off the snap and has outstanding closing burst. The question is whether he has the size to be a three-down player. He needs to shed blocks more consistently against the run, and some scouts are concerned about his lack of an alpha-dog mentality. This NFC scout, however, believes Beasley has the elite talent to play in a 4-3 defense as well as a 3-4. With a creative defensive coordinator, he has the speed and explosion to become an absolute menace in the NFL.

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The scoop: "What made me really take notice was the way he handled Shane Ray when they played. If you can block that guy, you can play in the league." -- NFC scout in charge of SEC on Florida OT D.J. Humphries

College Football 24/7 is following four 2016 draft prospects as they pursue their NFL dreams.

The skinny: The NFC scout's take on Humphries' performance against Ray runs contrary to that of NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who noted that Ray "got after him" in their Oct. 18 meeting; Ray recorded two sacks, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry. However, their conclusions are similar: Humphries can be an NFL starter, and in fact, Jeremiah believes he can be a first-round pick. Humphries often has issues as a leaner and lunger, but he plays with toughness and a nasty demeanor; he was particularly impressive against LSU's Danielle Hunter, another top pass-rushing prospect. If Humphries can improve his hand placement with coaching, I believe he can become a solid starter at left tackle.

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The scoop: "He's a little slow to diagnose, which causes him to get a late start on plays. I would ask him to drop into space in zone dog looks and that's about it. To me, he's a pure see 'em, get 'em 3-4 rush end." -- NFC East regional scout on Kentucky LB Bud Dupree

The skinny: Dupree's traits are undeniable. At 6-foot-4, 264 pounds, he's a freakish athlete with a chiseled frame and has the power to rag-doll tight ends at will. Some insiders, however, such as this NFC East scout, believe his instincts are below-average, leading him to play with some hesitation. He's a raw talent, but Dupree is learning and has huge growth potential as a player. The difference between him being good and great might be his coordinator in the pros.



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