The 2014 class set the bar high for this year's draft prospects. Will any of them rise to the Pro Bowl level? The situation they end up in with the team that drafts them will certainly be a big factor in determining whether they achieve immediate success, but there are plenty of prospects with the talent to go straight to the top of the NFL ranks.
Cooper is the complete package. He's a polished player and a mature route runner. I think he could flourish early in almost any situation, but I have him landing with the Oakland Raiders at No. 4 in my latest mock draft. He will get plenty of opportunities to make plays if he lands there as an immediate top target for second-year QB Derek Carr. Carr will want to rely on Cooper, and big numbers for the former Crimson Tide star could follow, but the same outcome could be in store for Cooper even if he is paired elsewhere with a veteran QB.
I'm on record as someone who believes Dupree will be a better pro than college player, and it might not take him long to make waves in the NFL. He's not the top-rated edge rusher in this draft, but maybe that plays to his advantage in that he goes a little later in the draft than the other highly touted guys and lands with a team that's in better position to succeed in 2015. I have him going to the New Orleans Saints at No. 13 in my latest mock draft. It would be a lot of fun to see defensive coordinator Rob Ryan turn Dupree loose.
Yes, this is the darkhorse pick of the group, but I can envision Rollins quickly earning star status. It would be one of the season's great surprises to see him go straight to the Pro Bowl, and he has the ball skills to come in and make a big impact right off the bat. Rollins is most likely a second-round pick, and he played only one season of college football after four years as a starter for the basketball team. He made seven interceptions in 2014 on his way to earning MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. With the right team, he could start racking up takeaways. What if he goes down the same path as Jairus Byrd, a second-round pick in 2009 who was not just a Pro Bowler, but an All-Pro after making nine picks as a rookie? The team that picks Rollins will have a plan to feature him from Day 1.
I don't think Scherff is the next Zack Martin, a first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys last year who earned All-Pro honors as a rookie. However, I still think Scherff can be an outstanding player right away. He played tackle in college, but I think he's best suited to move inside to guard in the pros. He could be a top-10 pick who plugs in immediately and shows his ability to be a force on the interior.
Interior defensive linemen usually don't put up the big numbers that grab everyone's attention when it's time to vote players to the Pro Bowl, but people know how important the nose tackle position is in a 3-4 defense, and Shelton has the potential to be a great one as he enters the league. In a system like Vic Fangio's with the Chicago Bears, Shelton's value to the defense could get him early notice.