There is no word that's more overused in scouting than "upside". I'm guilty of it. I use it all the time. We can become obsessed with risky players who have raw tools. These players possess a high ceiling, but their floor can be very low. These players often get selected over prospects that are labeled "safe." This can lead to big mistakes on draft day. Sometimes the safe player ends up being the superstar, while the high-upside player ends up out of the league. I reached out to five personnel executives to find out which college player they believe is the "safest" of all they've studied this fall. Here are their answers.
Executive 1: LSU S Jamal Adams
"Adams is an easy evaluation. He's big, fast, explosive, physical, great leader, has hips to cover and excellent football DNA."
Executive 2: LSU S Jamal Adams
"I love Jamal Adams. He has great intangibles. He's a leader. Father (George) was a first-round pick (of the Giants in 1985) and former player -- he understands the league. Tempo setter. Smart, makes all the calls. Solid tackler. Good ball skills."
Executive 3: Michigan TE Jake Butt
"Butt won't test well, but he's a complete tight end and you know exactly what you're getting. He will be a long-term, reliable starter at the next level."
Executive 4: Alabama TE O.J. Howard
"Howard can fit into any offensive system. He's smart, athletic and tough. I love the fact that he returned to Alabama when he could've cashed in last spring. He's a great teammate and my sources at the school rave about his character."
Executive 5: Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp
"This might seem like a bizarre choice, but Cooper Kupp is a flat-out good football player who will be a steady and consistent WR for several years."
Summary: That's two votes for Adams and one apiece for Butt, Howard and Kupp.
Conclusion: I'm not surprised to see Adams receive two votes. He's an easy player to study on tape and everyone continues to rave about his football character. Howard and Butt are both ready-made players and should each emerge as quality starters in their rookie campaigns. Kupp has been generating buzz in scouting circles for the past couple of seasons. He's torched some quality Division-I corners (including Marcus Peters) throughout his career at Eastern Washington. He's a special player. One player I would add to this list -- Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett. He's one of the most talented players in the country as well as one of the most dependable on and off the field.
Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.