Last-second draft primer: NFL, SEC first-round draft buzz
We may have a four-month wait ahead of us for the 2015 SEC football season, but starting Thursday night, we get to enjoy a three-day NFL draft.
As we await the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 1 overall selection, likely to be Florida State QB Jameis Winston, here are a few of the biggest first-round stories to follow and several preview stories to get you all caught up.
TOUTED SEC PLAYERS MAKING NEGATIVE HEADLINES
- LSU OT La’el Collins, romantically linked to a recent murder victim, attempted to pull himself out of the draft with the hope of clearing his name and entering the supplemental draft this summer instead. But three hours before the draft, the NFL rejected the request from the former first-round lock, forcing him to remain in the pool and see where teams take him.
- LSU CB Jalen Collins, who recently endured foot surgery, also failed several drug tests in college according to a recent media report. Rated as one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, will he now fall to the second round?
- Missouri DE/OLB Shane Ray got pulled over for speeding early Monday morning when officers found him in possession of marijuana. Once talked about as a likely Top 10 pick, Ray, who also is dealing with a foot injury, may slip toward the bottom of the first round.
- Our SEC mock draft projects eight first-round picks and 48 overall selections from the conference by Saturday night. With the news on La’el Collins in the last two days, I’d now slide that first-round number to seven.
- We’ve also ranked every player on the NFL draft radar by position.
- We put together an in-depth preview on every NFL draft position from an SEC perspective. Read them here: quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, offensive tackles, guards and centers, defensive ends, defensive tackles, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties.
- Want to know how many first-round picks every SEC school produced in the last decade? We’ve got you covered with our NFL draft rewind series.
SEC PLAYERS TO WATCH THURSDAY
- First-round locks: Florida DE/OLB Dante Fowler Jr., Alabama WR Amari Cooper and Kentucky DE/OLB Bud Dupree.
- Likely first-rounders: Georgia RB Todd Gurley, Missouri DE Shane Ray, Alabama S Landon Collins.
- Fringe first- or second-rounders: Florida OT D.J. Humphries, Mississippi State DE Preston Smith, Oklahoma/Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi.
- First-round longshots: LSU CB Jalen Collins, Mississippi State ILB Benardrick McKinney, LSU OT La’el Collins.
- DE/OLB Bud Dupree could become the first Kentucky player selected in the first round since the New York Jets picked DT Dewayne Robertson in ’03. (The Wildcats are the only SEC team without a first-round pick in the last decade and it would snap an 11-year streak.)
- Texas A&M will attempt to make it five consecutive years with at least one first-round pick tonight with OT Cedric Ogbuehi. The Aggies’ streak started with Von Miller (’11), but the team’s five first-round picks since then all have been offensive players.
- Alabama could extend its streak of at least two first-round picks to six consecutive years if WR Amari Cooper and S Landon Collins each get selected tonight. Nick Saban will not attend the draft in Chicago, a change of plans from recent years mainly because Cooper decided not to attend.
- With four consecutive first-round picks, LSU holds the SEC’s third-longest streak. Three of LSU’s seven first-round selections since ’11 were defensive backs (Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Eric Reid). But again, both Collins players, the offensive tackle and the cornerback, likely will fall out of the first round.
OTHER THINGS TO WATCH
- Hours before the draft, Tennessee Titans general manager Ruston Webster told ESPN.com he’s talking to three or four teams about trading the No. 2 overall pick, which almost certainly will be Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. If the Titans do execute a trade, it will be the first big domino in the draft and could set off a chain reaction depending on which team trades up.
- Where will Georgia RB Todd Gurley get selected? He’s projected anywhere from No. 6 overall to out of the first round in mock drafts. I believe he’ll be a first-round pick now that teams feel more confident in his rehab, but I don’t see him getting selected in the first 15 overall picks.
- Who will be the surprise risers and fallers in the draft? Every year there are a few players that the draft media misses completely. I’m interested to see who those players are in 2015.