Sources Tell Us: What we're hearing about top NFL prospects


Our analysts are constantly talking to their NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks, Charles Davis and Lance Zierlein share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles.

The scoop: "Jameis made the only decision he could. He's losing (Rashad) Greene, (Nick) O'Leary and four starters up front. Why come back with those guys all gone?" -- NFC North scout after Florida State quarterback Jameis Winstonannounced his decision to apply for entry into the 2015 NFL Draft on Wednesday

The skinny: Winston took a substantial step back this season in every statistical category imaginable despite returning several offensive starters. Florida State will lose its top two receiving threats and 80 percent of the offensive line that has blocked for Winston over the last two seasons. Some scouts think Winston is unlikely to improve his stock next season. His announcement would indicate Winston feels the same.

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The scoop: "He's overlooked because of all the Big Ten pass rushers, but he is a force inside as a defensive tackle." -- AFC personnel director on Iowa DT Carl Davis

The skinny: Davis, a senior, is a very productive, good player. He improved on his numbers in key categories after a breakout 2013 season, recording two sacks and nine tackles for loss during the 2014 campaign. As the personnel director points out, Davis isn't a big name, but it won't be a surprise if he goes early on Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) of the draft.

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The scoop: "He's lazy and doesn't practice hard, but he has a knack for the ball. Will the production trump the practice habits? That's what teams are going to have to figure out." -- AFC East director of scouting on Louisville safety Gerod Holliman

The skinny: Holliman threw his name into the hat as a redshirt sophomore draft entrant and figures to be one of the most polarizing secondary prospects of the draft. He rode his outstanding instincts and ball skills to 14 interceptions and 17 pass deflections this season -- his only year as a starter. Holliman is a chance tackler on the back end who can change games. However, concerns over his poor football character and his atrocious effort as a tackler will surely cause arguments among evaluators leading up to the draft.

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The scoop: An NFC scout says college football is not producing traditional "WILL" linebackers for the NFL. According to the veteran evaluator, NFL teams are casting their eyes to big, athletic safeties as possible replacements at the position because there are so few prospects at the position.

The skinny: Looking at the increased utilization of "big nickel" packages and other exotic sub-packages, it is apparent that defensive coordinators are willing to use more defensive backs on the field as part of their game plan. With safeties filling the role formerly assigned to the "WILL" 'backer, scouts are spending more time looking at big, athletic defensive backs as potential playmakers and hybrid linebackers.

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The scoop: Sources at Florida rave about DE Dante Fowler's work ethic, character and passion.

The skinny: Fowler, who has indicated he will apply for early entry into the 2015 draft, put on quite a show last week, recording three sacks in a Birmingham Bowl win over East Carolina. He finished the season with 8.5 sacks, but the numbers don't adequately tell the story of how strong his play was during the 2014 season. Fowler should impress during the interview sessions at the NFL Scouting Combine and tear up the workouts, as well. There's good depth among edge rushers in this year's draft, and Fowler is among the most intriguing talents for that role.

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The scoop: Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi is one of the most polarizing players in the draft class. Some personnel men have him ranked as the top OT while others don't value him as a first-round talent. Everyone expects him to be the star of the NFL Scouting Combine because of his rare physical tools.

The skinny: Ogbuehi moved from right tackle to left tackle last offseason to replace departed first-round pick Jake Matthews, but he struggled in the new role, failing to consistently show the balance needed to pass protect against speed and power. Texas A&M moved Ogbuehi back to right tackle for a couple games and head coach Kevin Sumlin said the move wasn't due to his performance, but a result of shuffling due to injuries. Not everyone was convinced by the coach's explanation, though. Ogbuehi did move back to left tackle after a couple starts at right tackle, but it won't be a surprise if NFL teams view him as a better fit for the right side, at least to start his career.

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