NFL draft's overrated, underrated, sleepers

NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas gazes into his crystal ball to determine the overrated, underrated, sleepers and camp finds at each position in this year's NFL draft.

Turn on the television and flip to the sports channels and you will find everyone with their own thoughts, opinions and projections on what will happen on draft day. One of my good friends over at Scout.com, Bill Huber, recently polled me, asking me to choose just one guy at each position that would fit the Green Bay Packers organization. That question led to the charts you will see listed below.

On these charts, I give you my thoughts on who will be the first player (First Pick) selected at each position. Whether I agree with those choices or not, it is what I feel is the consensus from teams as they finished rearranging their draft value boards. That does not mean that the first pick will be the best player, however, just the best “flavor of the month” as far as team general managers, scouting directors and coaches are concerned.

Then, in keeping with my traditional “gazing into the crystal ball” aspect, I break down the positions further, giving you my thoughts on who will excel or flop in the long run. I generally used a format where I ask readers to lock this list up in a time capsule and reopen it in three years. Why? I see the professional ranks as a “red-shirt year” for rookies the first season, as they are swamped with the fast pace of the game and need time to digest the playbook and adjust to life as an NFL player, sort of a “wash” year for most.

The second year is when I see that player mounting his challenge for first-unit playing time. Yes, he might still make more mistakes than fans want to see, but it is the developmental time that will dictate the future for that athlete. Because most contracts are four years and then hit the free agency market, teams need to be confident in that player’s progression before they decide to ink him to a second contract or send him out into the ranks to find another home.

The third year is crucial. By that time, the player needs to establish himself as a starter. He needs to show the front office that their draft-day decision was right. If not, the upcoming draft is where his team will look to either replace the player or bring in someone to compete for his roster spot. Thus, my three-year “crystal ball” request.

With that in mind, I select one player at each of the categories listed, based on my prediction:

Cream of the Crop: This is the player that I feel when his entire career is concluded will have outperformed all others in his draft class at his respective position.

Best of the Rest: Much like the car rental company Avis in the 1960s, these are players that live up to that firm’s slogan, "When you're only No. 2, you try harder." While he may not have had the career to equal that of the Cream of the Crop selection, this is the player I feel will be just a step behind.

Most Underrated: This is the player that I feel will not get drafted as high as his potential and performance level dictate. They are usually later labeled as “draft steals,” but in actuality, they are players out to prove others wrong.

Most Overrated: This list Includes players in the current draft class that I feel are getting too much attention and will never come close to equaling the value on the draft pick that will be used to select him.

Super Sleeper: Unlike the most underrated player, this is an athlete that will go later in the draft that his performance level dictates, only to emerge in camp and etch out a nice professional career before he hangs up his helmet for good.

Camp Find: No matter how hard a scout pushes for his team to draft a hidden talent in the late rounds, there are only so many picks to go around. While they are usually on the outside looking in come roster cutdown day and more likely to be practice squad players, this is a list of those who might not be drafted but might prove to be a big surprise and emerge as roster contributors.

PROJECTING THE 2015 NFL DRAFT OFFENSIVE CLASS
POSITION FIRST PICK CREAM OF CROP BEST OF REST
Quarterback Jameis Winston Marcus Mariotta Bryce Petty
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper DeVante Parker Dorial Green-Beckham
Slot Receiver Nelson Agholor Agholor (Same) Tyler Lockett
Tight End Maxx Williams Clive Walford Mycole Pruitt
Tailback Todd Gurley Gurley (Same) Melvin Gordon
Fullback Jalston Fowler Fowler (Same) Tyler Varga
Center Cameron Erving A.J. Cann Benjamin Finney
Offensive Tackle La'el Collins Collins (Same) Jacob Fisher
Offensive Guard Brandon Scherff Scherff (Same) Laken Tomlinson
Placekicker Justin Manton Joshua Lambo Sam Ficken
Kickoff Returner Duke Johnson (RB) Duke Johnson (Same) Tyler Lockett
NOTE: A player with (Same) listed next to his name is also our projected Cream of the Crop performer.

PROJECTING THE 2015 NFL DRAFT OFFENSIVE CLASS  
POSITION UNDERRATED OVERRATED SLEEPER CAMP FIND
Quarterback Garrett Grayson Jameis Winston Cody Fajardo Chris Bonner
Wide Receiver Devin Smith Sammie Coates Kenny Bell Dezmin Lewis
Slot Receiver Justin Hardy Jamarcus Nelson Mario Alford Darren Waller
Tight End Blake Bell Benjamin Koyack Casey Pierce Khari Lee
Tailback David Johnson Michael Davis Terrence Magee Dreamis Smith
Fullback Aaron Ripkowski Connor Neighbors Kenny Hilliard Zach Zenner
Center Shaquille Mason Dillon Day Gregory Mancz Nick Easton
Offensive Tackle T.J. Clemmings Cedric Ogbuehi Laurence Gibson Darryl Baldwin
Offensive Guard Ali Marpet Adam Shead Mark Glowinski Cody Wichmann
Placekicker Kyle Brindza Justin Manton Tom Obarski Andrew Franks
Kickoff Returner Akeem Hunt Ty Montgomery B.J. Catalon Tre Williams


PROJECTING THE 2015 NFL DRAFT DEFENSIVE CLASS
POSITION FIRST PICK CREAM OF CROP BEST OF REST
End (4-3) Arik Armstead Preston Smith Owamagbe Odighizuwa
End (3-4) Shane Ray Vic Beasley Nate Orchard
Tackle (4-3) Leonard Williams Leonard Williams (Same) Michael Bennett
Nose Guard Danny Shelton Shelton (Same) Malcom Brown
Strong-side OLB Dante Fowler Fowler (Same) Lorenzo Mauldin
Weak-side OLB Shaq Thompson Eli Harold Kwon Alexander
Middle ‘Backer Paul Dawson Dawson (Same) Denzell Perryman
Inside ‘Backer Eric Kendricks Stephone Anthony Jordan Hicks
Boundary Corner Trae Waynes Marcus Peters Eric Rowe
Field Corner Kevin Johnson Trae Waynes (Moves to Field CB) Alex Carter
Free Safety Damarious Randall Randall (Same) Quinten Rollins
Strong Safety Landon Collins Ibraheim Campbell James Sample
Punter Kyle Loomis Loomis (Same)  
Punt Returner Nelson Agholor (WR) Tyler Lockett (WR) Jamison Crowder (WR)
NOTE: While Waynes competed at the boundary position in 2014, our staff rates him higher at his previous “Field” position…Rollins will be drafted as a cornerback, but we project him higher at free safety.

PROJECTING THE 2015 NFL DRAFT DEFENSIVE CLASS 
POSITION UNDERRATED OVERRATED SLEEPER CAMP FIND
End (4-3) Za'Darius Smith Mario Edwards Ryan Russell Shaquille Riddick
End (3-4) Dannielle Hunter Alvin Dupree Lynden Trail Zack Wagenmann
Tackle (4-3) Xavier Cooper Eddie Goldman Marcus Hardison David Parry
Nose Guard Christian Covington Jordan Phillips Xavier Williams Deon Simon
Strong-side OLB Nate Orchard Geneo Grisson Kyle Emmanuel Max Valles
Weak-side OLB Alani Fau Zack Hodges Dallas Tull Obum Gwachum
Middle Backer Juff Luc Trey DePriest Jake Ryan David Mayo
Inside Backer Ramik Wilson Benardrick McKinney Bryce Hager Zach Vigil
Boundary Corner Byron Jones Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Craig Mager Bobby McCain
Field Corner D'Juon Smith Jalen Collins Nick Marshall Randall Evans
Free Safety Adrian Amos Gerod Holliman Durrell Eskridge Ladarius Gunter
Strong Safety Jaquirski Tartt Landon Collins Clayton Gaethers Ronald Martin
Punter Kyle Christy Mike Sadler Justin Manton (PK) Will Johnson
Punter Returner Rashad Greene Jaxon Shipley Levi Norwood Stephan Dickens



SCOUT.COM DRAFT RANKINGS

Prospects by: OVERALL RANK | Position | College | Home State | Name
Position:
QB RB FB WR TE OT OG C DT DE OLB MLB S CB K P LS





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