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Scouting Heisman: Shades of Vick, Mariota in 5-man finalist field

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The Heisman finalists were revealed on Monday night, and it's an interesting group of players. The Heisman is college football's most prestigious award, but as we all know, winning the trophy isn't always a precursor to NFL success, and scouts' opinions of players aren't swayed, for good or bad, by the Heisman.

2016 HEISMAN TROPHY


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Here's how I view each of the finalists as draft prospects.

Louisville QB Lamar Jackson

Jackson is the most dynamic player in college football. I've watched almost all of his games on tape this fall, and while there are some mistakes throughout, he does at least one thing in every game that makes me say "wow." He has a long way to go to become a precision passer, but he has a tremendous amount of upside. As a runner, he reminds a lot of people of Mike Vick. He surprised people with his level of success this year, but he'll enter next season as the focus of the college football universe.

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield

Mayfield is one of the most creative players in college football. He's also been very efficient over the last half of the season. His playing style reminds me of Johnny Manziel's at Texas A&M and Chase Daniel's at Missouri. His lack of size (6-foot-1, 212 pounds, per school measurements) and pure arm talent will temper the enthusiasm of NFL evaluators, but he's a special player at the college level. He's coming back to school for his senior season and I think that's the right move for him. He needs to continue to get stronger as he goes through his final season.

Michigan LB Jabrill Peppers

Peppers is an explosive, dynamic athletic who's been used in a variety of roles at UM. Much was made about his move from safety to linebacker before the season, but they line him up all over the place on defense. I envision him playing a role in the NFL similar to those played by Lavonte David and Deone Bucannon. He can run, blitz, cover and help in return game. He's played offense for the Wolverines, but I don't envision him playing on that side of the ball at next level. He has that ability if needed, though. I haven't seen him play live, so I haven't seen his frame and build in person. I'm anxious to see how big he is and how much growth potential he has on his frame. Those are big questions for him -- how big is he, and how big can he be? He hasn't had a lot of ball production, and that's a little bit of a concern.

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson

Watson, who intends to enter the 2017 draft, came into this season with tremendous momentum after he played outstanding football in 2015, especially in the playoff. He put on a show against the best defense in CFB (Alabama) in the national championship game.

With so many eyes trained on him after the way he performed last year, we focused on a lot of his mistakes this season instead of appreciating the overall success he's had at Clemson. He's played some of his best football at end of this season. He needs to continue to improve his decision making, which has been an issue at times this year. He reminds me a lot of Marcus Mariota when he was at Oregon. Mariota was a more dynamic runner and more crisp as a passer, though.

One of the things I love about Watson is that every evaluator I talk to who's visited Clemson says he's a special leader and teammate.

Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook

Westbrook is a slightly built wide receiver who's very crisp in his routes. He's quicker than fast. He excels on a lot of quick-hitting throws and reminds me a lot of Rashad Greene when he was at Florida State. His lack of size (6-0, 176, per school measurements) and strength is going to affect his draft stock, though. I'll be curious to see how fast he is when we get to the NFL Scouting Combine in February. DeSean Jackson has a similar build, but he had electric speed. I don't think Westbrook has that same type of juice.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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