The NFL Draft is always risky business. There are no sure-fire, slam-dunk, can't-miss prospects.
You would like to think that's not true, but it's simply not the case.
Having said that, there are certainly players that are safer selections than others, and there are definitely some players that are riskier than most.
Let's take a closer look at prospects that are safe picks and risky picks.
A Handful Of Wide Receivers
Nelson Agholor (USC), Amari Cooper (Alabama), DeVante Parker (Louisville), and Devin Smith (Ohio State), barring injury, all look like safe bets in making a smooth and quick transition into the NFL. Obviously, where they land and how they will be utilized will be critical. Agholor and Cooper are the two that run the best routes. Meanwhile Smith was the most productive, especially if you factor in the analytics and production. He’s a big-play guy that should land in the bottom of the first round or early second. Then you have Parker. Scout’s chief draft scout, Dave-Te' Thomas, believes Parker will be the most productive of this bunch.
Dante Fowler (DE) Florida
This is an easy one because Fowler is the best pass rusher in this draft. Add to the fact that he plays like his hair is on fire. Seriously, Fowler oozes with speed and athleticism and plays his tail off on every down.
Brandon Scherff (OL) Iowa
If Scherff is really this draft’s Zack Martin, then he certainly belongs on this list. He’s a sure-fire guy on the inside at guard and that’s where he likely gets started for one lucky franchise.
Leonard Williams (DT) USC
Williams is the top-rated prospect in this draft. This is a versatile 300-pounder that can play multiple positions on the defensive front and be a disruptive force, much like Super-Texan J.J. Watt. Ideally suited to play defensive end or the five-technique in a 3-4, Williams could also be an under tackle in a 4-3 or even a strong-side end. And get this – Williams is only 20 years old.
Any quarterback in this class
All the quarterbacks in this class have their share of risk, some greater than others. For Jameis Winston (FSU) it’s primarily the maturity/character issues away from the game. Marcus Mariota(Oregon) comes from a spread offense and many of those guys have not transitioned well to the NFL. I hope that this is not the case with the former Ducks star. But remember this – all the things people are saying about Mariota they said about Sam Bradford when he came out of Oklahoma. Bryce Petty (Baylor), Brett Hundley (UCLA), Garrett Grayson (Colorado State) and the other signal callers in this draft all have their playing issues. That’s not saying none of these guys are franchise quarterbacks. It’s just that this is a risky group overall, as there is no Andrew Luck or Matthew Stafford.
La'el Collins (OT) LSU
There's not much downside to Collins the player, as he's as good as they come in terms of offensive linemen in the draft pool. He was a sure bet to land in the first round. Collins is now being sought after by police for questioning in a murder investigation, although he's not a suspect. This could alter his landing spot and out of the first round.
Dorial Green-Beckham (WR) Oklahoma
Physically DGB is as intriguing as any player in this draft, especially considering his size and athletic ability. But has he matured away from the game? He was dismissed from Missouri and never played a down at Oklahoma. He enters the NFL with a clean slate. If DGB keeps it clean, the sky’s the limit for this blessed wide receiver prospect.
Todd Gurley (RB) Georgia
I view Gurley as a franchise running back, a player at this position that hasn’t come along all that often of late. In fact, there has been no running back drafted in the first round the last two years. To me, he’s the best back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson. But he showed some durability issues at Georgia, including a knee injury that he’s currently rehabbing. All things being equal, there’s no doubt in my mind that Gurley is one of the top four or five players in this draft. But he’s a risk if drafted high and never overcomes the injury bug.
Jordan Phillips (DT) Oklahoma
Phillips is a supremely talented defensive tackle with size and athleticism. He has shown flashes but has been inconsistent and has battled a bad back. If he can get healthy and play better down to down, Phillips could be a steal. But he comes with a risk.
Note: Scout draft analyst Dave-Te' Thomas contributed to this story.
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