Editor's note: NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles. This week, he shares what he's hearing about how many RBs will go in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft (April 27-29 in Philadelphia), what goes into one team's evaluation of QBs and the high-level depth of this year's DB class.
The scoop: The buzz coming from NFL personnel men that Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey will be the only running backs to go in the first round is growing louder.
The skinny: While Dalvin Cook is clearly a first-rounder based on talent alone, there are some teams who simply don't believe he is worth a first-round investment. Some teams seem to be basing their opinions on concerns surrounding durability and character, while others were disappointed with his NFL Scouting Combine showing. Alvin Kamara is talented but didn't post enough production in college, and I seriously doubt Joe Mixon finds his way into the first round based on my recent conversations.
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The scoop: "If we take a quarterback, the tape will matter, but leadership is going to play a really big role. If a guy can't command a huddle or get his teammates to buy in, the tape won't end up mattering that much." -- NFC executive
The skinny: This is a really interesting sentiment and it feels applicable in the case of Dak Prescott and his ability to succeed in 2016 despite some uneven tape. Tape study can reveal what a player can and can't do, but, obviously, college competition is inferior to what each quarterback will face on the NFL level. Some of those strengths can fade and the weaknesses can be accentuated when facing NFL talent and speed. On the other hand, leadership is a quality that some quarterbacks are born with and it is usually transferable from college to the pros. While leadership can't help a quarterback read a defense, it can galvanize teammates to play their best.
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The scoop: "It's going to be raining defensive backs in the first 40 (picks). That is a deep position, but when the run starts, it starts." -- AFC national scout
The skinny: This scout might be right. Even with injured cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Fabian Moreau unlikely to go in the top 40 now, there is still reason to believe that as many as 11 defensive backs could be gone by the time pick 41 comes up.
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