Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Former Beavers Ready for NFL Draft

The NFL Draft begins today. Oregon State has several players hoping to get the call this weekend. Here is a preview.

After months of speculation and training, the 2017 NFL Draft is getting ready to kick off. College stars will finally see their dreams realized, and the best part is that the entire event will take place on the “Rocky” steps in Philadelphia. Oregon State has multiple players that will be joining NFL rosters via draft picks or as priority free agents, including two with a possibility of being drafted on day two. The remaining players are likely to become rookie free agents, but each situation could change based on the team.

Let’s take a look at the likely landing spots of each player and the likelihood of being drafted.  

Guard/Tackle Sean Harlow - Round 3 or 4

The highest profile player heading into this year’s draft, offensive tackle Sean Harlow could go anywhere between rounds three and five. Given the lack of depth in this year’s offensive line class, you would think that Harlow would go higher, but his shorter arms have caused scouts to drop his value. On the plus side, the former Beaver has shown an impressive amount of toughness coming back from a broken leg, which coaches and general managers absolutely love.

It’s difficult to predict exactly where Harlow will be drafted, but he definitely has some options. He has worked out for the Panthers already and has been tied to the Packers on multiple occasions. The Broncos could also be a dark horse candidate considering their offensive line, but Indianapolis is actually the most logical choice. Quarterback Andrew Luck is returning from offseason shoulder surgery, and new GM Chris Ballard is hell-bent on protecting the face of his franchise.

Destinations: Indianapolis, Green Bay, Denver, Carolina

Guard/Tackle Dustin Stanton - Round 7 or Priority Free Agent

One of the more surprising risers of the offseason, Dustin Stanton has been making more of a name for himself. He’s trained with former NFL tight end Kevin Boss, impressed at the Oregon State Pro Day, and worked out for multiple teams. Stanton worked with the Saints, the Seahawks, and the Bengals, but gained interest from many AFC South teams as well.

During his time with Oregon State, Stanton was a consistent presence along the line, starting two seasons worth of games at guard and tackle. While this meteoric rise won’t necessarily result in Stanton hearing his name called in the first five or six rounds, there is a chance that he will end up as a target late in the draft. The Bengals seem like the best option after the team lost both Andrew Witworth and Kevin Zeitler to Free Agency, but the Seahawks could be a secondary option.

Destinations: Cincinnati, Seattle, Houston, Tennessee

Guard/Tackle Gavin Andrews - Round 7 or Priority Free Agent

By far, Gavin Andrews is the toughest player to predict in the draft. He’s a proven starter that unfortunately dealt with injuries during his early collegiate career. Andrews has the ideal size and power in upper body but has been dinged for stiffness in his legs. Front offices have concerns about his ability to move like a professional lineman, but Andrews will still get a chance given his experience starting every position. Unfortunately, that chance probably won’t come until the draft wraps up.

Unlike Harlow or Stanton, Andrews will be signed as a Priority Free Agent after the draft so he can come in and compete for a spot on the practice squad or active roster. Seattle or San Francisco will be his best bets for an NFL career with their proximity to Oregon State and familiarity with the PAC-12.  

Destinations: San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, San Diego

Cornerback Treston Decoud - Round 4 or 5

Apart from Harlow, Treston Decoud is the former Beaver with the best chance at hearing his name called. Although it probably won’t happen until late Friday or early Saturday. No disrespect to Decoud; he is a wildly talented corner that shut down some of the best receivers in the conference last year. The issue is that the 2017 class is stuffed to the rafters with really good defensive backs. Basically, it’s the complete opposite of last year when teams were struggling to find corners and safeties worth drafting.

Luckily, Decoud could find some suitors with his ideal size and above-average skill at shutting down receivers. Plus, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make a team, including switching positions to safety. He has already visited the Cowboys twice and has taken part in the Saints regional combine. Both teams need to work on secondary depth and could be very likely options. However, NFL analyst Chad Reuter presents another option in San Francisco. Reuter has been consistently linking Decoud with the 49ers in his mock drafts, which actually makes quite a bit of sense. Kyle Shanahan inherited a team in dire need of depth at every single position. Decoud could be a later round pick that fills a need both on defense and special teams.

Destinations: San Francisco, Dallas, New Orleans, Carolina

Fullback Ricky Ortiz - Round 7 or Priority Free Agent

A multi-faceted player, Ricky Ortiz is going to have to work his tail off to earn a roster spot. The traditional “fullback” has been dying off as teams rely on three-receiver formations, but all hope isn’t lost. According to a Vice Sports article from October, at least two fullbacks have been drafted every season since 2004. This bodes well for Ortiz, especially when you consider that he has also played linebacker and tight end during his time with Oregon State. This versatility is a huge bonus for coaches attempting to organize the 46-man gameday roster as Ortiz can shift into the H-back role that melds the tight end and fullback positions together.

Whether this versatility translates into a draft pick remains to be seen. The Falcons have already extended an invitation for offseason workouts to Ortiz, which seems to indicate that teams believe he is worthy of a tryout but not a draft pick. A team like Baltimore could take a seventh-round flier, but Ortiz will likely go undrafted as a Priority Free Agent.

Destinations: Atlanta, Baltimore, Green Bay

Safety Devin Chappell - Round 7 or Priority Free Agent

For two seasons, Devin Chappell has been flying under the radar. He has gone largely ignored, despite being the ideal size for the safety position (6-feet-0-inches, 203-lbs.) and being a vicious hitter. Chappell is seemingly all over the field, laying out receivers with perfectly legal shots to the strike zone and breaking up plays. His game film is a delight to watch, and he could be adding some clips from the NFL.

Like Decoud, Chappell is a very talented player that will sadly fall victim to a completely loaded defensive back class. There are so many safeties available that it ultimately won’t matter that Chappell led the PAC-12 in forced fumbles unless a specific team falls in love with him and takes a chance. Although the forced turnovers and solid tackling will definitely help Chappell find a home. With so many teams in need of defensive backs, there is a chance that Chappell goes in rounds six or seven, but it’s more likely that he will go undrafted.

Destinations: Miami, Houston, Indianapolis, Chicago, Cleveland

Wide Receiver Victor Bolden Jr. - Priority Free Agent

The quickest of the Oregon State prospects, Victor Bolden is one of those players that doesn’t garner much attention but could turn into a surprise during the preseason. His smaller size (5-foot-8-inches, 178-lbs.) and slower 40 times are concerning for some teams, but Bolden’s big play ability should alleviate the worries. The wide receiver/kick returner has shown a penchant for taking the most ordinary play and turning it into a score. Bolden is much quicker on the field than he was during either the Combine or Pro Day, and he could draw attention from quite a few teams.

As exciting as it would be to hear Bolden’s name called during the draft, it’s more likely that he will go undrafted and become a Priority Free Agent. Not to worry, because he should have some suitors. The Titans are a possibility after finding moderate success with Dexter McCluster in the past, as are the Falcons. Atlanta has never shied away from smaller players, and the team’s owner, Arthur Blank, really seems to like signing players from Oregon State. The most likely scenario is that the Steelers will sign Bolden as a Priority Free Agent immediately after the draft. Head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley love speed and have found ways to incorporate all types of receivers into their offense. Bolden could come in and contribute as a slot receiver, a secondary runner out of the backfield, and as a kick returner.

Destinations: Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Tennessee, Kansas City

The NFL Draft starts Thursday at 5:00 p.m. PST and continues Friday evening and all day Saturday. Both ESPN and NFL Network will have in-depth coverage of the event. And don’t worry; BeaverBlitz will keep you updated as each player is drafted or signed.

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