Our analysts are constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, they will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles.
The scoop: An NFC East scout said the evaluation of Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche will take a lot of behind-the scenes-work. His physical skills are obvious, but there is a great question about his desire to play the game and that has to be checked out, the scout said. The scout also mentioned that Nkemdiche's teammate, Laremy Tunsil, is clearly the best left tackle prospect in his rankings.
The skinny: The scout also noted Nkemdiche's recent suspension -- the star defensive lineman will have a lot of questions to answer in the lead-up to the draft. He and Tunsil intend to enter the draft as underclassmen. Nkemdiche's evaluation should be one of the more difficult ones, and for the reasons stated by the scout. His talent can be breathtaking at times, but an AFC personnel director recently told us that he would insist his team not spend a top-15 pick on Nkemdiche. As for Tunsil, he's built in many ways like the New York Jets' D'Brickashaw Ferguson was when he entered the league. His footwork, quickness, and hands are terrific, and he returned from a suspension in October to play at an extremely high level. He was outstanding in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma State.
* * *
The skinny: The scouting community seemed to be split last season on who they believed would be the better pro prospect between Oregon defensive linemen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, but since Buckner decided to go back to school for his senior season, the chatter quieted. While Oregon fell out of the spotlight, Buckner quietly put together a terrific season. He showed off his ability against the run and improved as a pass rusher. Buckner might be slightly behind Armstead in the power and athleticism categories, but he appears to be ahead as a pass rusher and clearly has more polish coming out. While Armstead went 17th overall to the San Francisco 49ers last year, it wouldn't be a surprise if Buckner ended up drafted inside the top 8.
* * *
The scoop: "He's an upside projection type. He's inexperienced, but still has height, weight, speed, length and now production." -- Midwest area scout on Penn State DE Carl Nassib
The skinny: Nassib, the younger brother of New York Giants backup quarterback Ryan Nassib, could be considered a one-year wonder since 2015 was the only year in which he started full-time and posted eye-catching numbers, but he's used to being discounted. Former Penn State and current Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien questioned how important football was to Nassib as a freshman and discounted his talk of becoming a pro-football player. O'Brien has since admitted that Nassib "proved me wrong" after he led the nation in sacks despite missing two games due to injury. While he had a great season, there are still concerns about his strength and overall athleticism. Scouts clearly like the way he projects in the pros.