Sources Tell Us: ASU's Kalen Ballage will be star of NFL Combine

Editor's note: Our analysts are constantly talking to NFL and college sources about prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. This week, NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein shares some of what he's hearing from NFL folks about a prospect who could create a major buzz at the NFL Scouting Combine (March 2-5 on NFL Network) and one of the top offensive linemen in this year's draft.

The scoop: "Mark this down. Nobody will be talking about him until he gets to the Combine, where he will lift well, run well and jump out of the stadium. Then, he'll be the hot name." -- NFC team director of college scouting on Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage

The skinny: Ballage isn't necessarily a "hot name" right now, but teams are already starting to talk about him after some of the reps he put on tape last month at the Reese's Senior Bowl. At 6-foot-2 and 222 pounds, Ballage is built like a Greek God. He's an extremely talented receiver. He will be a workout warrior at the Combine, and when he puts on a show at the event, I expect comparisons to David Johnson will start to surface. However, while Ballage has pass-catching talent, his lack of vision and consistency as a running back preclude me from making that comparison.

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The scoop: "The Iowa guys are always going to be quick and proficient, but you have to see them tested against power because they are usually going to be a little smaller, too. This guy has decent size and I think he's got pretty good functional power. He would come in and challenge for best center in our division right away." -- NFC exec on Iowa C James Daniels

The skinny: It's become a given that Kirk Ferentz's Iowa program will crank out well-schooled, zone-heavy blockers with good hand placement and footwork. However, Daniels is not just a "system" lineman. His initial quickness is outstanding, allowing him to win the race for top position as a run blocker. While he loses to power on occasion, Daniels appears to have room for more mass on his frame. He'll appeal to teams with move-oriented running games, like the Giants, Redskins and 49ers. Daniels should be one of the top two centers off the board, along with Ohio State's Billy Price.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.