By Ryan Mayer
The 1st round of the NFL Draft has come and gone. 31 players have had their NFL dreams realized when they got the call last night, but there are still plenty of good players available. Rounds 2 and 3 of the draft take place tonight in Chicago. With that in mind, here are the top players still available heading into the night.
Connor Cook/Christian Hackenberg, QB, Michigan State/Penn State
Two Big Ten quarterbacks that each come with their own set of question marks. For Hackenberg, the decline in his stats from his freshman year to his sophomore and junior seasons is concerning. He got sacked and hit a bunch in Happy Valley playing behind a depleted offensive line and you have to wonder what kind of effect that constant pounding had on his psyche.
For Cook, the question is how high is his ceiling. He would seem to be the most “pro-ready” having played in a pro-style offense at Michigan State and compiled a 34-4 record in his three seasons as a starter for the Spartans. A career 57.5 percent completion percentage in college is a concern as is the fact that he wasn’t named a captain by his teammates for his senior season, which leads NFL teams to question his leadership.
That all said, both have plenty of qualities to like as well, and will be seen by most teams as developmental prospects. The Cowboys could take one of the two with their third round pick to sit behind Tony Romo for a couple of years or you could see the Jets grab one of them in the second round with the current uncertainty at their QB spot.
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Henry won the Heisman trophy last year dominating defenses to the tune of 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns. Now, Alabama running backs haven’t always worked out (i.e. Trent Richardson), which is why some may be skeptical. However, Henry seems to have the speed (4.52) and agility (4.38 shuttle) to succeed at the next level. He is a bigger back at 6’3″ 247 and we haven’t seen him catch many passes out of the back field (just 17 in three college seasons). But, adding a bruising back like him to a team’s stable of runners wouldn’t hurt. The Raiders would make sense at pick No. 44 or the Seahawks at No. 56 with the uncertainty surrounding Thomas Rawls coming back from injury.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
Boyd was extremely productive in college, racking up 254 receptions for 3,361 yards and 21 touchdowns in his three year career. Those stats came despite working with a different quarterback in each of his three seasons. Concerns are (as with most of this WR class) that he’s not overly fast. He ran just a 4.58 40-yard dash at the combine, but he seems to play faster on film. Some also have concerns about his size at just 6’1″ 197. In addition, he had some off-field issues in getting a DUI prior to last season that forced him to miss the Panthers opening game. However, wide receiver needy teams like the Vikings or Bengals will look hard at Boyd in the back end of the second round.
Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
The fourth best tackle prospect on most boards, Spriggs may be the most athletic of any of the the guys at his position group. He ran a 4.94 40-yard dash at the combine and a 4.44 in the shuttle drill showing off his speed and agility while throwing up 31 reps on the bench to showcase his strength. A four-year starter at Indiana, Spriggs has the ideal build of a tackle at 6’6″ 305, but he did play in a spread offense in college, which can be a tough transition for tackles coming to the pros. That said, he’s certainly worth a look in the second round. The Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants could use an offensive lineman, Spriggs could be the pick there.
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Jack was at one point in the draft process projected to be a top 5 talent. He’s still that talent, but his torn meniscus injury suffered last season has scared some teams off especially in light of recent news that he may need micro-fracture surgery. If you’re wondering why that’s such a big deal, look at Jadeveon Clowney, who had it towards the end of his rookie season and still hasn’t really returned to his college form. That said, Jack still has a ton of upside and in the second round getting a top 5 talent like him is a steal. Many had him going to the Jaguars prior to the draft, and with the team’s emphasis on improving the defense, it wouldn’t surprise to see them pull the trigger in Round 2.
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Ragland is another guy that got a first round grade from a majority of the publications heading into the draft, but ended up slipping out of the first round. There’s concerns about his ability to play in space and drop in coverage, but as a run-stuffing inside linebacker he may not have a peer in this class. Ragland could be a good fit for the Jaguars or the Dolphins with their picks in the second round.
A’Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen, Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama
The trio of Tide defensive linemen should come off the board fairly quickly on Friday night. The versatility of the three to either play on the inside of a 4-3 or as 3-4 defensive ends should make them very attractive to teams considering the multiple styles that NFL defenses play. The Titans, Cowboys, Chargers, Ravens and Chiefs all need defensive line help, so don’t be shocked if these three come off the board at the top of round 2.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Alexander was once considered the top cornerback prospect in this class. However, teams started to have some concerns about the fact that he had 0 interceptions in his college career. Granted, that’s because teams didn’t really challenge him this past season as he played 571 snaps for the Tigers and had just 5 passes defensed. The Buccaneers need a corner so Alexander could be taken as early as the 9th pick of the second round.
Overall, there’s a bunch of good value players left on the board and general managers with multiple picks on Friday night are going to be real happy with some of the guys that dropped out of the first round.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.