No prospect is wart-free and there is no such thing as a lock, but these players should all be considered low-risk selections relative to some of their counterparts at the same position.
Scherff has some issues in pass protection that would be a concern if he were going to be playing left tackle in the NFL, but those issues are coachable. Scherff's final destination will likely be at right tackle or inside at guard, and his focus is expected to be on mashing as a run blocker, which is his strength. Scherff has been well-schooled as a technician, and has the play strength and footwork that make him an immediate starter who should make an early impact in his team's running game.
What is the worst that happens with Cooper? He's maxed out as a talent, and he ends up catching 70 passes for 960 yards and five touchdowns per year? Look, Cooper could end up playing below the expectations of his draft slot, but it is highly unlikely that his talents and athleticism won't transition quickly into the NFL. Cooper is a great route runner with suddenness and a highly competitive nature. Kevin White might have the higher upside, but Cooper has the higher floor.
Unlike Cooper, who some argue is 80 percent of who he is going to be as a pro, Williams is barely scratching the surface and he's already a high-impact talent. Williams has more room for mass on his frame, and he has the combination of quickness and strength for an inside player who will be hard for offensive linemen to handle. I feel very confident in the continued ascension of Williams' career arc.
It's hard to label any running back as safe these days -- especially first-rounders -- but Gordon has an undeniable ability to create for himself when running room is limited. He also has the burst to run away from tacklers in tight spaces. Gordon's improvement in the passing game this past season only strengthens my contention that he is a safe prospect.
Goldman is big and strong, and does one thing as well as just about any defensive lineman in this draft -- he holds his ground. Teams looking at Goldman understand that he's not a pass rusher and he will probably come off the field on pass-rushing downs. However, his job will be to eat up gaps and hold the point of attack against the run, and he's a very safe bet to do just that. Goldman carries the 330-plus pounds on his frame exceptionally well, and has rare smoothness of movement for a player that size. Goldman is a safe pick and player.
In a draft considered to be deep at wide receiver, Lockett stands out as one of the surest bets in the draft. If there's one receiver universally loved across the board by NFL executives, scouts and coaches, it would be Lockett. Locket plays with a huge chip on his shoulder, which is the source of his ultra-competitive nature. He has legitimate 4.4 40 speed with short-area quickness that is tough to handle for most cornerbacks. He's been schooled on the nuances of the position by his father, who played the position at Kansas State and in the pros. Did I mention he's an outstanding return man, as well? Lockett is a safe pick who should bring great bang for the buck depending on where he is drafted.
Jarrett is a little undersized and will likely go in the second round, but he could end up having as big an impact as one of the bigger-bodied nose tackles in this draft. Jarrett can't impose his will through sheer power, but his combination of leverage, quickness off the snap and closing speed make him a dream come true for defensive coordinators looking for a penetrator up front. Mark my words, Jarrett will be giving NFL centers the blues for years to come.
I've never been a huge fan of Strong as a first-round talent, but I've always felt like he would a solid second-rounder. NFL general managers and coaches worry less about the round and more about the player they are getting. I haven't found any team that has a negative thing to say about Strong. Sure, there are some who don't see on tape the same speed he showed at the NFL Scouting Combine, but beyond that, every coach and evaluator I've spoken with lauds Strong for his ability to play to his size, go get jump balls and make contested catches -- all important characteristics for long-time starters in the NFL.
Kendricks might not have had as many flash stats as TCU's Paul Dawson, but he was extremely productive -- and has been for the last three seasons at UCLA. Kendricks has posted 149, 105 and 149 tackles over his last three seasons, and he never comes off the field. Kendricks played in 99 percent of UCLA's defensive snaps this season. He comes from NFL bloodlines (brother Mychal plays for the Philadelphia Eagles) and his quickness and football intelligence will help him transition into a starting role quickly.
Few pundits talk about Greene and his NFL potential, but I've always just filed him away as a third- or fourth-round wide receiver who should be able to come in, make a team, find the field and start grabbing catches fairly quickly. He's a little thinner than you would like and doesn't have eye-opening speed, but Greene is a smooth route runner and understands how to work himself open. While he's not one of the sexier receivers in this year's haul, he is one of the safest.