Who will be drafted at the top of each positional class? In this article, I’ll examine some of the really close battles at the top of each position. I’ll update this article every few days until I’ve analyzed each of the eight battles. I’ll also be referencing the Prospect Rankings at CBSSPORTS.COM, as of early April.
QB- Winston vs Mariota
We’ve all heard the story by now. Jameis Winston is supposed to be the safe, pocket passer, while Marcus Mariota is supposed to be the risky, mobile quarterback. The twist is that Winston has off-field character concerns. I believe that many of the widespread beliefs about these quarterbacks are incorrect. CBS SPORTS rates Winston above Mariota, and I agree.
Throughout the season, it became evident that Winston threw really catchable footballs. This is why, even after losing Kelvin Benjamin, Jamies Winston’s completion percentage didn’t even drop 2%. However, there are concerns with Winston. He likes to take risks on the field. He threw 18 interceptions last season, tied for second-most in the FBS. But, once he’s coached for a few years, he may be able to turn into a true, franchise quarterback. Winston is like Aaron Rodgers, except for that Winston is taller.
Mariota, on the other hand, is the safer quarterback in my opinion. He is a mature player who can come in and lead a team today. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe that Mariota is probably more pro ready than Winston. Mariota reminds me of Cam Newton. This class sort of reminds me of the 2012 Quarterback Class. Andrew Luck was seen as more pro-ready, when, in reality, Robert Griffin III had a better rookie year. This was in large part due to the fact that, like Mariota, Griffin has great speed. So, I feel that Mariota is more pro-ready and will make a greater impact early, but Winston has the potential to be greater in the long run, if he works on his interception problems and deals with his character problems.
Verdict: Jameis Winston, and CBS agrees.
HB- Gurley vs Gordon
All was well for Todd Gurley, back in early October of 2014. Gurley seemed to be coasting in as the top running back in this class. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he was suspended four games for receiving money for signing autographs. After the suspension, Gurley suited up to play against the Auburn Tigers. As the clock was winding down, Georgia found themselves ahead by 20 points. They handed the ball to Gurley with 5 minutes to go, and he tore his ACL.
Melvin Gordon saw these opportunities, and he ran with them. The day that Todd Gurley tore his ACL, Gordon rushed for a whopping 408 yards, setting an FBS record. He followed that up by rushing for 200 yards in an away game against Iowa. Later, in the Outback Bowl, Gordon rushed for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns. He did not stop there. He ran the 5th best 40 yard dash time of all running backs at the combine. He also finished 2nd of all players in the 60 yard shuttle. Gordon is a freak of nature, who reminds me very much of a healthier, young version of Darren McFadden.
It’s close. Todd Gurley is an immense talent who might end up becoming a player like Marshawn Lynch. But, since I think the two running backs have similar amounts of talent, I have to go with the safer player, Melvin Gordon.
Verdict: Melvin Gordon, but CBS disagrees.
WR- Cooper vs White
Kevin White and Amari Cooper are the most talented wide receivers to come out of college since A.J. Green and Julio Jones in 2011. When White and Cooper left college, they were neck-and-neck as to who would be the first wide receiver selected. But, now, it seems as though White has separated himself as a clear favorite to be the number one wide receiver taken. He proved to have great top-end speed at the combine, one of the concerns that teams may have had about him.
Kevin White really improved his ball skills since the 2013 season. He shows great aggressiveness and physicality when going for the ball. He is ultra-competitive, and he showed sparks of big play ability last year. He has great measurables, and I believe that this will eventually translate onto the field. His size, ball skills, and competiveness reminds me of Brandon Marshall the WR.
Amari Cooper, on the contrary, has had incredible production throughout his college career. Aside from his drop problems, he has an NFL skillset already. Cooper can defiantly make spectacular catches, and he can run with the ball in his hands. He reminds me of a younger version of Roddy White. However, while he may be a surer thing, Cooper doesn’t have the ceiling that White does.
Verdict: Kevin White, but CBS disagrees.