The first round of the NFL draft is Thursday, and we have a four-part draft question for our college football writers.
1. Which offensive player in this draft is a guy you're certain will be a star?
Mike Huguenin: Andrew Luck is the easy answer. The only thing that can hold him back is the talent of his surrounding cast, and that could be a problem. He's going to the worst team in the NFL, a team that also looks to be somewhat dysfunctional in the front office. Still, Luck is too good not to eventually succeed in the NFL. I also think Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd is going to be an NFL star. He has an excellent size/speed ratio, and also is athletic. Yes, he has had some off-field issues, but as long as he keeps those under control, he will be a Pro Bowl regular.
Steve Megargee: I realize I'm not exactly going out on a limb by saying Stanford QB Andrew Luck is the most likely offensive player to end up a star. He seemingly has everything you want from a franchise quarterback. My only concern about Luck is that he already is so polished that he might not have much room for improvement, but as long as he stays healthy, the Colts should be in good shape at quarterback for the next decade. I also think USC OT Matt Kalil and Alabama RB Trent Richardson should have productive NFL careers.
2. Which highly touted offensive prospect is most likely to be a bust?
Huguenin: I'm looking at Baylor WR Kendall Wright. I think he put up huge numbers because he got to play with Robert Griffin III. I'm not convinced Wright will hold up against physical NFL cornerbacks.
Megargee: While I understand the fascination with Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill because of his raw skills and unlimited upside, I think there also are plenty of risks associated with using a first-round pick on a quarterback who's relatively unpolished. That he threw 15 interceptions last season also give me cause for concern. I wouldn't be surprised if Tannehill develops into an exceptional quarterback. I also wouldn't be surprised if he's out of the league in five years.
3. Which defensive player in this draft is a guy you're certain will be a star?
Huguenin: I think LSU CB Morris Claiborne is a can't-miss guy. He has good size and excellent speed, and he was used extensively in man coverage at LSU. He's also physical and a solid tackler when asked to provide run support. He also was a dangerous kick returner.
Megargee: I think the safest pick among defensive players is Boston College LB Luke Kuechly. I think you can pencil him in for 100 tackles as soon as he arrives in the league. But if you're looking a defensive player with superstar potential, I'd probably go with LSU CB Morris Claiborne. I think he could develop into one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and he fills a need at a more important position.
4. Which highly touted defensive prospect is most likely to be a bust?
Huguenin: There are a couple of touted defenders I have questions about, most notably Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick and Memphis DT Dontari Poe. Kirkpatrick looks to have all the physical tools needed to star, but I would argue that he wasn't even the Tide's best cornerback last season (DeQuan Menzie was better). And for a guy with all those physical tools, Kirkpatrick made three picks in his career. In short, I wonder about his inconsistency. Poe is a physical marvel at 6 feet 4 and 346 pounds. But his production never has matched his potential. Memphis was horrendous against the run while Poe was the supposed anchor of the Tigers' defensive line. And his production paled compared to fell Tigers d-lineman Frank Trotter. I think an NFL team that drafts Poe eventually is going to be disappointed by his overall lack of production.
Megargee: The potential first-round pick on defense that I'd worry about the most is Memphis DT Dontari Poe. He seems like the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect to me. I know NFL teams love his physical skills, but we're talking about a guy who wasn't dominant against Conference USA competition. Poe had 33 tackles – eight for loss – and one sack last season. I'd expect much bigger numbers from a Conference USA player expected to go in the first round.
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