March Madness is upon us and you can expect to hear the word "Cinderella" a few hundred times during the first few rounds of the tournament. Which under-the-radar team is going to make a deep run and surprise the college basketball world? I don't have a clue. However, I thought it would be fun to transfer that thought to the NFL draft. Who will be the surprise first-round pick in this year's draft class? That's a question I posed to five NFL personnel executives. Here are their answers.
Executive 1: N.C. State S Josh Jones
"For some reason Jones didn't get much attention during the season, but he has first-round ability. I think he'll definitely go in the top 40 picks and it wouldn't be crazy for some team to take him late in the first round."
Executive 2: East Carolina WR Zay Jones
"Zay Jones has crushed the postseason. He was one of the best players in Mobile (Senior Bowl) and he ran much faster than expected at the combine (4.45 40). He could sneak into the first round."
Executive 3: UConn S Obi Melifonwu
"I don't think many people thought the UConn safety could go this high during the fall. It wouldn't shock me at all if he landed in the first round."
Executive 4: USC CB Adoree' Jackson
"I'll say Adoree' Jackson. Yeah, he's short, but I love his confidence, character and explosive athleticism. That dude is a playmaker."
Executive 5: Washington CB Kevin King
"I liked him more than most guys but I never saw this spike coming. Also, my bonus name is Davis Webb. It wouldn't surprise me if someone traded into the back end of the first to take him."
Summary: That's one vote apiece for Josh Jones, Zay Jones, Melifonwu, Jackson and King.
Conclusion: These are some very intriguing players. I don't think it's a coincidence that four of the five players mentioned play in the secondary. This is the deepest pool of cornerbacks and safeties that I've seen in a very long time. Teams and individual evaluators will vary on how they have them stacked on their board. One team might have Adoree' Jackson as its No. 3 cornerback, while others might view him as the eighth-best player at his position. Zay Jones just keeps acing the postseason tests. His rocket started to take off at the Reese's Senior Bowl, and it hasn't slowed down.