By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
This list, unlike the All-American team, is based purely on how I grade the prospects at each position. These are very fluid and will change with the chance to watch more tape and especially after the Senior Bowl and combine, but are the current second team offense so to speak.
There are a couple of surprising selections here, most notably Tyler Wilson out-dueling Matt Barkley. For the record I constantly go back and forth between the two, and feel they are both solid yet less than perfect prospects and relatively comparable. I just feel Barkley struggled late this year against Pac-12 defenses with two future NFL wide outs, so the jump in competition is concerning.
QB Tyler Wilson ARKANSAS
Wilson has the intangibles that are crucial to success: toughness, leadership and competitiveness. Why does he get the nod over Barkley (whose has intangibles galore)? He played in a more aggressive offense and completed more challenging throws, all against tougher SEC defenses and with less talent, especially this year. He has no problem standing in the pocket even under pressure and took countless shots without being phased. All that beating could be considered a negative, and logically so, but unlike Barkley who was kept relatively clean, it shows he will not be flummoxed by an NFL pass rush.
The dynamic back from Clemson has the speed and acceleration to gash defenses, but has vastly improved his strength and inside running. He has good vision to find the hole and the burst to explode through it as well as the balance to stay on his feet in traffic. He brings that element of explosiveness to any offense.
WR Robert Woods USC
Woods has fallen a long way from the early season praise of the best draftable receiver, and while many never had him that high (me included) and aren’t completely shocked with his fall; he was there for a reason. He has excellent speed, in the 4.4 range, and is a precise and experienced route runner who is very quick and deceptive in and out of his breaks. With those qualities he should be a solid deep threat and have little trouble separating at the next level despite his lack of physicality.
WR Stedman Bailey WEST VIRGINIA
Bailey isn’t as flashy as Tavon Austin, but has been a reliable and efficient target for Geno Smith all year. He is undersized, but has the speed and athleticism to get open and is very good at slipping tackles even against bigger defenders. He should be an effective weapon out of the slot and has shown the ball skills that most smaller wide outs lack.
WR Cobi Hamilton ARKANSAS
This is high for Hamilton but I love his long 6’3 frame, tremendous body control and think he’s much faster than his timed speed would suggest. He has the occasional drop but he can make the tough catches in traffic too. He also lacks elite top end speed, but he gets going quickly and covers ground with long strides. Like most early projections my Big Board (back in August) has been full of missed selections but I’ve been on his bandwagon since then, naming him to the last spot in the Top 50.
LT Tyler Lewan MICHIGAN
Lewan has the tools of a franchise left tackle: height, long arms, strength and a feisty nature. He is not quite at the level of first teamer Luke Joeckel, but he isn’t far behind. He moves well for a big man and is good in both run and pass blocking situations.
OG Larry Warford KENTUCKY
Warford doesn’t get the credit he deserves but he is a very good and strong guard prospect for a lightly publicized Wildcats squad. His massive 6’3 340 lb frame along with good footwork and use of leverage should make him a potential All-Pro OG in the near future.
OG Dallas Thomas TENNESSEE
I’m a big fan of versatility in offensive lineman, as most teams carry very few reserves on the active roster, so while I think Thomas is a bit overrated he still has great value as an overall prospect. He shows enough athleticism to play left tackle and has experience inside as well.
RT Eric Fisher CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Fisher has generated some first round buzz after little even knew of him to start the year. Most have him pegged as a potential LT, but I really like taking college left tackles, who are obviously athletic enough to pass protect and move them to the right side. The logic is that as long as they’re big and strong enough (Fisher is) they can give that added dimension of coordination to handle (less) quick rushers in the pass happy league, which is now priority number one for tackles on both sides.
TE Zach Ertz STANFORD
A tall, productive Ertz is the type of receiving threat that makes him a quarterback’s favorite target. He runs routes extremly well and gets open consistently while displaying soft hands and the ball skills to excel at the next level.
ATH Kenjon Barner OREGON
Barner has been thoroughly overshadowed by former Duck LaMichael James and current all-purpose speedster De’Anthony Thomas but Barner is talented in his own right. He reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles in that he has very quick feet and due to his small stature gets lost behind his lineman, allowing him to hit top speed before he is even seen.