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.
The scoop: "I need to look at him more, but (Trevone) Boykin looks to me like he can do everything that Johnny Football was supposed to be able to do. I'm kind of on an island, but I think he has a chance to be an NFL quarterback." -- NFC area scout on the TCU QB
The skinny: It's worth noting that this scout had a fifth-round grade on Johnny "Football" Manziel and that he sees Boykin as draftable in a similar range. I don't know if this scout is completely on an island, but I can tell you that several scouts believe that Boykin might be best suited to play a different position in the pros. Boykin has a decent arm, but he certainly has been helped by the system that TCU runs. The biggest knock on Boykin is that the scouting community believes that he will measure in at less than 6-feet tall and that he's too small for the position. I anticipate Boykin getting a legitimate shot at quarterback in the pre-draft process, but the team that drafts him will need to have a plan for him if it wants to play him at quarterback.
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The scoop: "I keep thinking that he has a chance to turn the corner and be a first-round type of quarterback, but I just haven't seen it happen yet. I think he's a little better version of Kirk Cousins when he came out." -- AFC scout on Michigan State QB Connor Cook
The skinny: For whatever reason, it's hard to find evaluators that are excited about the Michigan State signal-caller. Despite Cook's increase in explosive plays and decrease in interceptions, most of the scouts I speak to are lukewarm to Cook as an early round quarterback. While there is still a ton of tape for me to pour through on Cook, the only real concern I have is his inconsistent ball placement.
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The scoop: "He's just scratching the surface for what he could be as a pro. A creative coordinator could really have a fun time moving him around as a chess piece." -- NFC director of scouting on Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith
The skinny: Smith is a junior and we will have to wait and see if he decides to apply for early draft eligibility, but his explosiveness and play-making ability are on display each Saturday for Notre Dame. Smith can play inside or as a 4-3 outside linebacker, and the "chess piece" comment is probably a reference to the way that Notre Dame has lined Smith up as an edge rusher at times this year. While Arizona's Scooby Wright and UCLA's Myles Jack (Smith's fellow top linebacker prospects) have had to contend with injuries, Smith has been healthy and productive all year and is continuing to put his talent on tape for NFL talent evaluators to see.