The Orange Bowl features a host of Michigan prospects that are destined for the top-three rounds, led by the position-less Jabrill Peppers coupled with four more prospects that are in the first-round mix.
Plus, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook is arguably the top running back in the country, but the Seminoles have two other prospects that should go high in the draft, including an established left tackle prospect.
By: Eric Galko
Jehu Chesson, WR, 6’3, 207, #86
The legit 6’3 outside receiver offers great length and finishing ability away from his frame, and worked well as a perimeter threat for the Wolverines. His vertical speed can be deceptive, but he’s shown great ability to separate with nuanced and late-breaking route movement and hand usage. He’s not an elite athlete, but has the size, body type, and finishing ability to be a starting receiver in the NFL, especially in three-wide sets.
Amara Darboh, WR, 6’1, 215, #82
Explosive, ideally built and highly physical as an interior and mid-field route runner, Darboh emerged as the feature receiver in the Michigan offense. His burst as a mid-field separator and balance after catch makes him a dangerous after-catch receiver, and his violent running style after catch makes him tough to stop as a West Coast offense receiver. He could rise into the top-tier of receiver prospects, especially if he runs in the low 4.4s as I expect.
Jake Butt, TE, 6’5, 248, #88
The draft’s top complete tight end, Butt is a high-end tight end blocker in the run and pass game and works well in the short-area and seam as a reliable pass catcher. He’s developed and patient as a route runner and sets up in zones with plus body positioning and finishing ability away from his frame in traffic to be a key third-down and short-yardage receiver. He has some seam-stretching ability and when Michigan’s offensive line is succeeding in pass protection, he’s able to show it more.
Chris Wormley, DE, 6’4, 298 #43
A tremendously versatile defensive lineman, Wormley has truly played across the Wolverines defensive line in his career and has the length, lower half bend, and awesome extended away strength to be both a gap-filling 3-4 defensive end or 4-3 defensive tackle, and the punch and drive upfield ability to finish as a pass-rusher or active run defender. His development across all areas of defensive line play should make him a fit for any NFL defense, and he should strive in hybrid defenses at the NFL level that will allow him to maximize his versatile experience. He’ll likely be a top-two rounder.
Taco Charlton, DE, 6’5, 277, #33
Long, powerful, and with great upper half bend to contort and explode as an upside rusher, Charlton is a coveted defensive end and edge-rushing prospect. His ability to win while engaged and extended allows him to remain in control as a rusher and upfield penetrator, and he’s shown the ability to sink and win laterally to win as a rusher while in control. He’s an active and powerful rusher without motor concerns and the ability to contain the edge, and he’ll be coveted as a top-25 pick.
Jourdan Lewis, CB, 5’10, 175, #26
Lewis is a rounding-up 5’10 cornerback with limited bulk and likely not a fit for many teams in the NFL. But Lewis has ideal hip fluidity and turn, remains balanced throughout his downfield coverage, and has arguably the best ball skills and in-air timing of any cornerback in the country. He struggles a bit with bigger receivers but has shown the capability and activeness with his hands to make up for it consistently. He’s feisty and explosive as a tackler, but likely will struggle to be a trusted edge protector in the run game.
Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, 6’0, 200, #5 (JR)
Jabrill Peppers’ best position on defense is better left undetermined. Putting Peppers solely at a weakside linebacker or safety spot likely doesn’t make him a worthwhile top-10 pick nor the top of his position in the 2017 NFL Draft. But it’s the true versatility of Peppers to slide between free and strong safety and between linebacker and nickel cornerback that makes him such a special athlete for an offense to never be able to scheme against. His best NFL initial position is at safety, where he can flow between strong and free safety and never force his defense to tip their hand in pre-snap coverage determination by a quarterback. Additionally, from a more natural safety position, Peppers can offer an elite-level run defense presence and is never a true liability in coverage. As a non-defender, Peppers would not be among the 2017 class’s projected top-5 running backs, and his running back value is purely situational and not worth considering when evaluating his projected draft position. As a punt returner, however, his value may be higher than any other return prospect in the 2017 class. Peppers isn’t a top-10 pick for every NFL team, and his value lies in how willing a defensive coordinator is to use him less as a one-position player and more as a true chess piece. If the latter happens, Peppers could be a Defensive MVP contender for years to come.
Others to Watch
De’Veon Smith, RB, 6’0, 229, #4
Erik Magnuson, OT, 6’4, 307, #78
Ryan Glasgow, DT, 6’3, 295, #96
Delano Hill, S, 510, 200, #44
Channing Stribling, CB, 6’1, 177, #8
Roderick Johnson, OT, 6’7, 311, #77 (JR)
A former freshman All-American and the ACC’s best offensive tackle, Johnson still has a ways to go before he can be a trusted left tackle prospect in the NFL, but has the length, body-type, and lower half strength to win as an edge protector. He’s a bit upright and struggles in his kick slide and protection on the interior as a pass blocker, but the upside is there to be tapped into.
Dalvin Cook, RB, 5’11, 213, #4 (JR)
Considered by many as the country’s best running back, Cook offers elite acceleration and second-level balance and elusiveness. HIs burst and ability, coupled with excellent patience, allows Cook to change directions and maximize his blocking. His versatility as a runner and ability as a receiver reminds of Jamal Charles, and could have a similar NFL impact.
Demarcus Walker, DE, 6’2, 270, #44
A highly productive edge player for the Seminoles, Walker’s strength as a complete edge player and hand strength to engage and hold the perimeter is valuable. But he’s not a top-end athlete, doesn’t have great length and doesn’t have tremendous quickness or lateral burst, all of which might push the Florida State leader to the late Day 2 area.
Others to Watch
Travis Rudolph, WR, 6’1, 192 #15 (JR)
Kareem Are, OG, 6’5, 333, #72
Matthew Thomas, ILB, 6’3, 227, #6
Marquez White, CB, 5’11, 175, #27