by Daniel Visconti
-Football is king here in the southeast. It is a religion in the southeast. Personally, I am an alumni from the University of Georgia and I’ve been a season ticket holder ever since graduation. Therefore, if any of the readers out there sense some bias with some of my remarks regarding UGA, please forgive me.
Because I truly bleed red and black, I know about most top notch talent going to play in the SEC before they even graduate high school. As a diehard UGA fan, this has lead me to know everything going on in the SEC. Several months ago I was approached by Mike to write a blog about certain topics/players in the SEC. Since I love college football more than any other sport, I follow the “future phenomes” by constantly checking each prospects game film through the website Rivals100.com. All three of the players listed below I followed since high school. All of these players were 5 star athletes and very highly recruited by almost every team in the country.
This article below I will discuss the top 3 skilled position players in the SEC that are entering the draft. All three of these players will be first round picks and have an impact on the teams that choose them during their rookie season. The three athletes are Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Alabama’s Landon Collins, and Georgia’s Todd Gurley.
7th pick of the Draft the Chicago Bears will choose Alabama’s Amari Cooper. Although he’s good enough to be a go to receiver as a rookie in the NFL in my opinion, it makes a lot of sense to me that the Chicago Bears draft Cooper at the number 7 spot. The Bears just parted ways with Brandon Marshall, Cutler’s go to wide out last year. After quite possibly the greatest WR draft class last year, the 2015 class matches up very well and Cooper might be the best prospect in both classes. Therefore, I think it wouldn’t be a smart move to pass up on a talent like Amari Cooper. (On Sunday NFL Countdown, they did a special on how Chris Carter meets up with Amari Cooper to give him advice about being successful in the NFL. Also, Carter stated “Amari Cooper is the best wide receiver to ever play at the University of Alabama. Although Julio Jones, rising superstar in Atlanta came from Alabama, Chris Carter affirmed that he said hands down Amari Cooper was and will be the better wide receiver than Julio Jones.”) Given new head coach, John Fox’s penchant for big receivers, (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker etc.) it only makes sense for the Bears to tandem Alshon Jeffery with Amari Cooper and give the NFC North nightmares about matchup problems for the next 5 years.
With 20th pick in the draft the Eagles will draft Landon Collins from Alabama. When Collins was a sophomore, a lot of scouts thought that Collins was a better safety than NFL star Clinton Ha Ha Dix. The Eagles are really weak at safety, and Collins is the best safety of the draft. Collins has the following strengths that will surely help him start as a rookie in the NFL:
• Collins is extremely physical
• Collins is great at defending the run. He will take your head off, or break down in the open field and make the sure tackle.
• Collins is very intelligent. He seems to react to plays faster than other players.
All those qualities encompass what you would want from a future all-pro safety. And perhaps none more than the last one. Nick Saban is a notoriously tough and demanding coach. GMs and coaches all around the league pluck from the Alabama draft tree because, yes talent, but also they know that Saban’s players will be able to handle the work load and terminology that a typical rookie struggles with in there first year. Given that Saban is a defensive minded coach with an emphasis in defensive secondary, no draft prospects are more better prepared for the demands to succeed at the next level than Saban’s defensive backs. When you pair that with exponential talent and skills, you get a can’t miss draft prospect.
32th pick of the draft the New England Patriots will choose Todd Gurley. This pick to me is exactly what Belichick does. Belichick isn’t going to lose the opportunity of obtaining a “generational talent” like Todd Gurley is over concerns about an injury. Not too long ago, a tight end out of Arizona named Rob Gronkowski fell into the second round because of injury concerns over his back. Fast forward 5 years and Gronkowski is the prototype TE and a generational talent, and all because Belicheck knows talent and a potential matchup nightmare when he sees it.
Gurley is 6’1, 233 lbs., runs a sub 4.5 40, with a 41 inch vertical leap and 12 foot broad jump. Gurley can return kicks, run you over, jump over you, etc. Along with these numbers, Todd Gurley has fantastic hands as he proved he can catch the ball out of the backfield, which is a must to be a starting running back in the NFL. Also, with Gurley’s size and running style, he truly is an NFL ready back who will shine once he gets healthy. What NFL teams want are running backs who can get 25-30 touches a game and be big enough to run between the tackles. This is exactly what Gurley is. It’s easy to forget that Todd Gurley was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy until the autograph scandal and injury cut his season short. Todd Gurley is a GENERATIONAL TALENT and this is why if he isn’t chosen by the Patriots, he will get picked in the first round by somebody.
This wraps up Part I of BTL NFL Draft Primer. Thank you very much for reading my opinion in regards to the top three SEC athletes that will be selected in the first round, and who are capable of having an immediate impact as rookies in the NFL.
-Daniel Visconti reporting from Atlanta, GA.