Comparing this year's top draft prospects to NFL players
We’re SEC-knowledgeable here at SDS and don’t claim to be NFL experts, but with that being said, we do watch film and have noticed several similarities between this week’s top projected picks and current (or former) pros.
Here’s a look at who the SEC’s leading prospects resemble on tape:
Shane Ray, DE, Mizzou
NFL clone: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
Much like fellow ‘tweener Mack coming out of college, Ray’s an athletic speed rusher off the edge with enough power to drive through a hapless running back picking up the blitz or spin move around a lumbering tackle. Mack’s primary skill is his speed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds and for Ray, it’s his burst and motor as a player who doesn’t seem to ever suffer from fatigue. Ray will likely play the outside linebacker spot like Mack in a 3-4 scheme.
La’el Collins, OT, LSU
NFL clone: Greg Robinson, St. Louis Rams
Identical in size with both men standing 6-foot-5, Collins is a bit more agile than Robinson thanks to almost 30 pounds less weight but mimics the former Auburn tackle most closely in run-blocking situations. Often referred to as a ‘mauler’, Robinson gets in the face of opposing defensive linemen and finishes the play to the ground. Collins has a comparable mean streak as a three-year starter in the SEC. Collins could go in the Top 10 and is projected to play tackle or guard at the next level. He’s one of the strongest blockers available in 2015.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
NFL clone: Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins
An effortless route-runner who gallops much like Wallace as a potential slot man, Cooper is a big-play threat who could flourish in the right offense. He’s as polished a pass-catcher as any in this draft from a complete skill set standpoint, but his hands are often questioned. Thirteen drops over the last two seasons are a red flag most GMs feel Cooper will overcome. Like Wallace, Cooper’s fearless over the middle, shields his body well from direct hits and has the speed to leave from chasing defensive backs.
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
NFL clone: Steven Jackson, free agent
Another muscled out ballcarrier with huge legs, great hands and 4.4 speed, Gurley closely resembles Jackson’s style of play from a multi-dimensional perspective. A franchise-caliber back capable of 25-plus touches per game, Gurley has the body to absorb destruction in the hole and safeties bearing down in pursuit on the outside — and he can outrun them, too. Jackson was voted team MVP three times during his eight-year stint in St. Louis and has compiled eight 1,000-yard seasons as a pro (with eight years of at least 35 catches to boot). The team that drafts Gurley in the first round is hoping for similar, well-rounded production.
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
NFL clone: Sean Taylor, former Washington Redskins great
This comparison is simple since Collins himself told me he models his game after the former Miami Hurricane great. Taylor has nearly three inches on Collins with better closing speed, but Alabama’s hard-hitting All-American and projected late first-rounder takes a similar old-school approach to the safety position and is an expert tackler like his idol.
Dante Fowler, DE, Florida
NFL clone: Melvin Ingram, San Diego Chargers
Will Muschamp’s playmaker at the Buck position with the Gators, Fowler projects as an outside linebacker in the NFL, a pass rusher who is strong enough to excel in a three-point stance or come off the edge in pursuit of the quarterback. Fowler has a nose for the football and making plays in the backfield, much like former South Carolina defensive lineman Melvin Ingram. A fellow bullrusher who played inside with the Gamecocks, Ingram has since made the move to linebacker and has excelled there as a third-year pro.