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What NFP is hearing - Draft Rumblings

National Football Post

Nearly all the NFL scouts being off the road in December while they get their fall reports finished and submitted, however there are still many draft rumors floating around. I continue to speak to NFL people to get their thoughts on different prospects all around the country and below is a look at four players that a number of scouts have told me about over the last few weeks.

Armonty Bryant       Defensive End      East Central Oklahoma      Senior
6041       266      4.60 (Estimated)
After beginning his college career at Abilene Christian and then ending up at junior college, Bryant has made a name for himself by dominating at East Central Oklahoma the last three seasons. Scouts have told us they love his combination of good height, very long arms (35 ½), athleticism and natural pass rush skills. However, he is going to have to overcome major questions about his character after being arrested for allegedly selling drugs on campus. Scouts told us that Bryant’s playing at a small school combined and off field questions will keep him from being a high draft pick, but that some team is going to gamble on him during the third day of the Draft because very athletic pass rushers are extremely difficult to find. Obviously, how Bryant handles the interview process this spring as teams delve into the concerns about his off-field behavior will likely determine at what point he hears his name called on draft day.

D.J. Fluker      Offensive Tackle      Alabama      Junior

View photo

US PRESSWIREAlabama OT DJ Fluker pass blocks against LSU.

6060 E      335 E      5.40 E
Almost all the talk about the junior offensive tackles that may enter the Draft early centers around Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan. The reason Fluker’s name does not come up with that group is that scouts are really split as to what type of pro he can become. Blessed with great natural size and strength, Fluker can physically dominate his man and eliminate him from the play when he stays over feet after getting his hands on man. Scouts we have spoken to have varying opinions of Fluker’s level of athleticism. Some have told us they view him as an under-rated athlete for such a big man and that he can slide his feet well enough to protect the corner and play either tackle position. On the other side are scouts, along with me, who feel that he is at best an adequate athlete who is a right tackle only prospect and will always have trouble protecting the corner against explosive edge rushers and adjusting to quick change of direction pass rush moves. Because of this debate Fluker could be drafted anywhere from the second to the fourth round if he comes out early this year, which is why I believe he would be smart to stay in school and try to improve his draft stock next season.

Johnathan Franklin      Running Back      UCLA       Senior
5100 E       205 E      4.55 E
While there is no question that Franklin has improved his draft stock considerably in 2012 to ensure that he will be drafted, where he will be drafted is the area scouts seem to have different opinions on. The scouts that I agree with believe that Franklin has shown the quickness, acceleration, elusiveness and surprising strength running through tackles to gain yards after contact to be a valuable backup running back in the NFL who will also contribute as a third down back. However, other scouts we have spoken to have classified Franklin as a “jag,” which in the scouting world stands for “just another guy.” They feel that he lacks the burst and speed to get through holes quick enough and the strength to consistently break tackles at the NFL level. This split on Franklin’s level of athleticism is a great example of how quality evaluators can differ on their opinion of a player and why predicting where a prospect who is not considered elite will be drafted is difficult.

John Jenkins      Nose/Defensive Tackle       Georgia      Senior
6041      363       5.75 E
Entering the 2012 season Jenkins was viewed by scouts as a potential first round pick because athletic nose tackles are so difficult to find. However, the same scouts who told us they were excited by his potential have been disappointed by his production and consistency in 2012. Nose tackles must play strong and be able to anchor at the point of attack consistently and this has been an issue for Jenkins throughout the season. As opposed to keeping his knees bent and playing with leverage, Jenkins has been popping up at the snap and taking on blockers high and upright. This has led to him being tied up and sealed out of the play way too easily. Having scouted in the NFL, I know that versatility is important and Jenkins did not show that he could play at a high level as a defensive end in Georgia’s three man defensive front when he played there this season, which basically limits him to likely being a nose tackle only prospect. It is unlikely he will be the first round pick that many predicted, but will not fall beyond the second or third round because players with his size, natural strength and athleticism are too hard to find. As an example, I look back to Terrance Cody when he came out of Alabama and ended up as a second round pick despite averaging less than 20 snaps per game his final season and not being a dominant player.

Email Russ at Russelllande@yahoo.com and Follow him on Twitter @RUSSLANDE

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