NFL.com 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'll bet his draft grades are going to be all over the place because some teams will see him as a complementary back and others will see him as a (guy who will get a lot of touches). Teams that run a lot of three- and four-wide looks will like him because he can run those inside zone plays out of the shotgun and they can also motion him out of the backfield and just try to mismatch him." -- AFC personnel director on Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
The skinny: McCaffrey, who intends to enter the 2017 draft, has been a fairly durable back despite his heavy workload over the last two years. While he might not be considered a big running back, he's pretty well put together. His ability to play on all three downs and return kicks certainly should add to his draft value, but, as the personnel director references, teams might not agree on what he's capable of handling in terms of an NFL workload. It will be no surprise if the team that drafts McCaffrey uses him in a committee since so many teams are trending in that direction.
As for the bowl-participation controversy he found himself in the middle of last week, I don't believe sitting out of Stanford's bowl game will hurt his stock.
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The scoop: "With Vernon (Hargreaves) there last year, he played with a lot more confidence. I don't think he's a lockdown cornerback. He's a good football player and can cover in our league, but he's also going to be a pain in the ass for whoever takes him." -- AFC Southeast area scout on Florida CB Teez Tabor
The skinny: It's hard to argue with Tabor's production over the last two seasons -- he has posted 28 passes defensed, including eight interceptions. Offenses have struggled to complete throws against Tabor despite the fact he was often found giving up almost 10 yards in off coverage. Tabor is extremely athletic and quick, but some scouts are interested to see if his long speed is as good some believe.
As for the attitude issues the scout alluded to, Tabor will certainly face questions about his off-field incidents whenever he enters the league (he has yet to announce his intentions for 2017). Tabor has been suspended for a reported fight with a teammate in fall camp this year and was also suspended in 2015 for reportedly refusing to take a drug test. He was cited for marijuana possession in 2014. He's been known to shoot from the hip on social media, as well.
The jury is out on whether Tabor can be a lockdown corner, but most would agree that he certainly will not be a shrinking violet in any locker room he ends up in.
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The scoop: "I would leave him as a centerfielder and then roll him down over the slot if you needed too. He's too small to cover tight ends, but he's got great instincts in coverage, which is why he should shine as a single-high." -- NFC area scout on Washington safety Budda Baker
The skinny: I think we can all agree that Baker plays the game like his hair is on fire. That's a compliment, by the way. However, I'm not sure that teams will all see him as a single-high safety. Baker is so active and so fast near the line of scrimmage that it almost seems like a team would be limiting his effectiveness if it played him primarily on the back end. Regardless of where he ends up playing, Baker should have an instant impact whenever he enters the league (he's a junior) and could be a starter right away.