NFC scout: Cardale Jones would've been first-rounder in '15 draft


NFL Media 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.

Sources Tell Us: Sept. 9 | Sept. 16

The scoop: "I'm never an advocate for players leaving school early when they aren't ready to, but Cardale (Jones) would have been in a weak quarterback class with very little tape for teams to pick at. His flaws would have been exposed quickly in our league, but I'll bet you he would have gone in the first round. Now we can all see his flaws." -- NFC personnel director on Jones' decision to come back to Ohio State after last season

The skinny: It's hard to say if this personnel man is right or not. While Jones has the size and arm strength that NFL teams love, we have seen a greater willingness by NFL teams to pass on "size/arm" prospects early in the draft if their tape isn't where it needs to be. While Jones' lack of college tape might have been a draft advantage if he had entered the 2015 draft, there were still concerns on tape. Jones was expected to improve and solidify his position as a top-rated NFL quarterback prospect this year, but all he's been able to do through the first three games is create substantially more doubt in the eyes of evaluators.

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The scoop: "He looks like he would break in half if you got a good shot on him, but he's killing it this year because Notre Dame is letting him do his thing. His play speed is legit and he's reminding me of DeSean Jackson this year. I'm starting to buy in." -- AFC scout on Notre Dame WR Will Fuller

The skinny: Heading into the season, I wasn't wowed by Fuller, despite his numbers. Fuller is undersized. He showed very little desire to block in the running game and was basic with his route running last season. Through three games this season, Fuller is skewering secondaries with his quickness out of his breaks and he's showing his ability to get wide open in the vertical game. He already has seven catches of 25-plus yards with five touchdowns. Fuller's consistent production over his last 16 starts -- a stretch in which he's played with multiple quarterbacks -- will be carefully examined by NFL teams looking for deep-ball threats.

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The scoop: "Best cornerback in college and it really won't be close when the draft rolls around. He's an elite athlete with length and ball skills. Those guys go in the top five." -- AFC area scout on FSU cornerback Jalen Ramsey

The skinny:Ramsey is a tremendous talent, and he's definitely an elite athlete. He's a world-class long-jumper and a quality sprinter. He had some up-and-down moments last season as a safety, but as a press cornerback this season, Ramsey is dominating the competition, allowing just four completions in three games with four passes defensed. With his size, speed and ability to make plays on the ball, Ramsey might be the most coveted NFL prospect at cornerback.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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