NFL Hot Press

Buzz Building for Western Michigan's Corey Davis

Updated Sept. 24, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Three years ago at this time, there was a buzz building in the scouting community around a little-known offensive lineman at Central Michigan named Eric Fisher. Fast forward to the 2013 NFL Draft, and Fisher was the No. 1 overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs after a meteoric rise. In speaking with sources in the scouting community, there is a buzz building about Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis.

While scouts aren't saying that he will vault to the top of the draft like Fisher did, Davis could end up grading out on the second day of the draft like another Western Michigan product, Greg Jennings. Davis is said to be banged up, but is still producing as he has 18 receptions for 309 yards with three touchdowns. Last year, Davis was excellent with 78 catches for 1,408 yards and 15 touchdowns. He had quality production as a freshman as well (67-941-6).

Sources say the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Davis is long and athletic. He has impressed evaluators with good route-running, hands and deceptive speed. He also has gotten some good preparation for the NFL with head coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck was a wide receivers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 before taking the head job at Western Michigan.

Davis could return for his senior year, but teams are watching him thinking he could easily be in the 2016 NFL Draft. With his skill set and production, Davis' stock is on the rise with NFL evaluators.

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Sources See Ezekiel Elliott as a First-Rounder

Updated Sept. 17, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

In recent years, it has been hard for running backs to grade out as first-round picks. Even talented young impact runners like the Packers' Eddie Lacy and Bengals' Jeremy Hill fell to the second round because the trend in the pass-driven NFL has gone away from taking running backs in the first round. That streak was broken by Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, and our NFL sources have told us that running backs should make it to Thursday night two years in a row, thanks to Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott was the workhorse of Ohio State's national championship team last year and has picked up where he left off. In two games, Elliott has averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 223 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder has a serious burst to the hole, is a strong runner, and happens to be very elusive. Sources say that Elliott is going to grade out as a first-rounder as long as he stays healthy and maintains his terrific level of play. They like his overall skill set and versatility.

With Ohio State fielding a lot of talent on the offensive line, in the receiving corps, and at quarterback, Elliott looks likely to stay consistent with the tear that he has been on. Check out where I have him in my mock draft.

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Teams View Germain Ifedi As More of a Guard

Updated Sept. 12, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Texas A&M has been a factory for offensive line talent in the last three NFL drafts with three tackles being selected as top 25 picks. Their top offensive line prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft is right tackle Germain Ifedi, and some pundits have said they think that Ifedi could end up being a first-round pick. Sources, however, told us that they view Ifedi as more of a guard for the NFL.

The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder has been a reliable right tackle for the Aggies. They feel that his strength and athleticism are better fits for moving to the inside.

Sources also feel that Texas A&M offensive linemen haven't been developed to be as physical as necessary in the NFL, so that impacts Ifedi's evaluation. Jacksonville's Luke Joeckel was the second-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he has struggled by getting out muscled. Jake Matthews, seventh-overall in 2014, is expected to be better. While Cincinnati's Cedric Ogbuehi, the Bengals first-round pick this year, entered the league needing to get stronger. Because of the up-tempo offense the Aggies run, their offensive line hasn't been coached up to finish off defenders and get physical. Sources say that Ifedi has more nastiness to him than the three recent draft picks, but it still is something he will have to build on for the next level.

Ifedi hasn't been given a round grade yet, but their early estimate is he could end up being a day-two prospect. Sources say it's too early to grade, and cite Laken Tomlinson as an example of the evolving process. Early in 2014, some teams had him on day three. He finished the year strong and had moved up to day two. Most teams had him graded on the second day, but the Lions drafted Tomlinson in the first round.

If Ifedi has a strong 2015 season and changes some minds about staying at right tackle versus moving to guard, that could help his draft grade.

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Scouts Compare O.J. Howard to Julius Thomas

Updated Sept. 10, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the most acclaimed freshman in the country during the 2013 season was Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. He hauled in 14 passes for 269 yards (19.2 average) with two touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 237-pound Howard flashed a ton of potential to be a NFL receiving tight end with speed and athleticism. Many felt that Howard was just scratching the surface of his potential.

As a sophomore, Howard had a disappointing season with only 17 receptions for 260 yards. New offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin proved at USC with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee that he settles on one receiver and struggles to call plays for anyone else regardless of their talent or mismatch potential. Last year in Alabama, that receiver was Amari Cooper. Still, sources felt that Howard didn't play up to his potential and didn't receive as much playing time as one would have thought.

NFL scouts we've spoken to say that they like Howard's potential for the next level, but they want him to show improvement as a junior. Sources say that Howard is a sloppy route-runner and needs to improve his blocking, but he is an intriguing athlete who could be a dynamic receiving tight end. They feel that his game is very similar to Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas. After a few years as a backup, Thomas broke out for the Broncos after refining his game.

Sources said that Howard looks like he gained some weight over the offseason and has worked to improve his run blocking. If Howard shows three-down ability while being a better blocker and route-runner, his stock could rise significantly for the 2016 NFL Draft.

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Sources: "Dak Prescott is Tebow 2.0"

Updated Sept. 4, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

The NFL is a quarterback-driven business, and there aren't 32 good starters to fill the need for every team. Thus every year, there are teams that are desperate for a franchise quarterback in the NFL draft. That lack of supply with great demand has led the league to searching far and wide for good quarterback prospects, with some evaluators forcing traits in prospects who just aren't there (see Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder).

One quarterback who hasn't made a good impression on sources heading into his senior year is Mississippi State's Dak Prescott. Sources from a few different teams compared him to Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow, and one high-ranking scout referred to Prescott as, "Tebow 2.0."

It is obvious that there are a lot of similarities between Tebow and Prescott. For starters, Prescott plays under Dan Mullen in the same offense that Tebow did at Florida. Mullen was the Gators' offensive coordinator for Tebow's first three collegiate seasons. Aside from executing the same plays, Prescott (6-2, 230) is built like Tebow, and they both are running quarterbacks. Some sources say that Prescott is a better passer than Tebow was in college, but they still don't regard Prescott as a first-round prospect.

Prescott completed 61 percent of his passes in 2014 for 3,449 yards with 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry for 986 yards with 14 scores on the ground. His passing was improved early in the season, but in order to break out of the Tebow comparison, Prescott will have to show huge strides as an accurate pocket passer during his senior year. Right now, sources see Prescott more as a mid-round prospect at best.

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Off the Field Concerns with Duke Williams, Demarcus Robinson

Updated Sept. 2, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Over the past two drafts, the talent at the wide receiver position has been extremely strong. A number of rookies took the league by storm last year, and the 2015 draft class featured six receivers selected in the first round. The 2016 NFL Draft also has the potential to be strong at receiver, however we've learned that two prospects that have impressed NFL evaluators come with some off-the-field concerns. Those players are Auburn's Duke Williams and Florida's Demarcus Robinson.

Of the two players, Williams has real character concerns that have manifested themselves in the form of suspensions. Williams was suspended from Auburn's bowl game and he wasn't allowed to practice this month because of a disciplinary issue. NFL teams say that Williams has character concerns that will need to be vetted before the draft.

The off-the-field concerns with Robinson were said to be minor. The teams we spoke to feel that he comes from a background that was perhaps lacking in structure, and Robinson is in need of guidance to stay on the right track. They say that Robinson loves football and has developed into an excellent route runner despite Florida having major problems at the wide receiver coaching position; it was occupied by coaching interns in two of the last three seasons. Sources feel that Robinson may need some around-the-clock supervision for a time, but he isn't a bad apple by any means.

As players, sources say they both have early-round potential. Neither one is a burner, but they are both tough receivers with quality size. In order to ensure they end up being early-round picks, they will have to ease off-the-field concerns during the 2015 season and in the lead up to the draft.

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