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. This week, he shared what he's hearing about Miami QB Brad Kaaya, Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon and Utah OT Garett Bolles -- three underclassmen who intend to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
The scoop: "I really love his mental makeup and I want to like him more as a prospect. I just think someone is going to overdraft the person or the intangibles. At the end of the day, he has to throw with better accuracy and velocity or he'll be just another guy." -- NFC personnel director on Miami QB Brad Kaaya
The skinny: Count me as an evaluator who wanted to like Kaaya more, but just didn't see enough of what I wanted in his tape. He's not very mobile and doesn't have a big arm, so he has to prove he can win with accuracy and football intelligence. While I see his football intelligence on tape, his accuracy is extremely spotty.
Kaaya was groomed to be a quarterback from a very young age and his play can be mechanical rather than improvisational. Kaaya can become a solid NFL starter, but he still has plenty of work to do with an NFL coaching staff.
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The scoop: "I'm not going to talk about any character issues because every team has to go through and make their own decisions. As a player, he can play all three downs, but he's not going to create for himself like (Leonard) Fournette or (Dalvin) Cook. But he can also have an impact on the passing game that they can't have. I see him as a top-40 player. Obviously, he won't go there." -- NFC North scout on Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon
The skinny: Mixon has decided to come out and test the draft waters despite the heavy baggage he carries around from the 2014 incident in which he punched a female OU student. He was charged with acts resulting in gross injury, a misdemeanor, and reached a plea deal in the case. He served a suspension for the entire 2014 season after the incident.
As a football player, Mixon has to be considered as one of the three or four most talented running backs that are expected to be available in the draft. He can make plays on all three downs, including as a receiver. However, personnel executives have told me that many teams will not consider Mixon a draftable player due to the aforementioned baggage.
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The scoop: "Most athletic offensive lineman I've scouted since I took over this area of the country. He's also mean on the field, which you love. I'm projecting him to get stronger once he locks into an NFL strength and conditioning program. He's underdeveloped right now. What you see isn't what you are going to ultimately get, in my opinion." -- NFC area scout on Utah OT Garett Bolles
The skinny: When it comes to foot quickness and movement in space, Bolles will be as good as you find at the tackle position in the 2017 draft. He came from a junior college and has only one season of FBS experience, so there are still some kinks to work out. My question on Bolles is whether his age will hurt his draft stock (turns 25 before fall camp) and if he has the core strength teams will want to see.