Russ Lande covers the NFL draft for Sports on Earth and has been a good draft analyst for quite a while. He shared some of the things he’s been hearing.
Kyle Fuller as the top CB?
Rumor 1: Cornerback surprise. Mock drafts have been projecting either Darqueze Dennard, Justin Gilbert or Jason Verrett to be the first cornerback selected in May. But over the last month, we’ve heard from numerous people that Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is the top cornerback on many draft boards. He doesn’t have exceptional height, but at just a shade under 6-foot, Fuller is more than tall enough and when you add in his 32 7/8tharms he has plenty of reach. Teams believe Fuller can excel in any defensive scheme because he has the size, strength, athleticism and physical playing style to excel in tight man coverage, along with the instincts, closing quickness and ball skills to make big plays from zone alignments. When you add in Fuller’s maturity, smarts and consistency, it shouldn’t shock anybody if he’s a first round pick and is as likely as any other cornerback to be the first one selected.
Marqis Lee an underrated WR?
Rumor 2: Receiver sleeper. As the 2013 college season got underway there was a lot of discussion about USC receiver Marqise Lee being a top ten pick, but an injury-plagued season hurt his stock. During my travels attending the Missouri and Texas A&M pro days over the last few weeks, I was fortunate to speak with more than twenty NFL people and Lee’s name kept coming up. He’s an incredibly hard-working young man, while his film shows outstanding routes, excellent use of hands to defeat the press and ability to easily set-up defenders to get them to turn their hips. No one is going to mistake him for Mike Evans or Kelvin Benjamin when it comes to size, but NFL people consistently commented that they were shocked at how physical Lee is, whether fighting through the cornerback’s jam to release off the line, staying on his stem while the defender tries to ride him off it or running through potential tackles to make big plays after the catch. Few top tier prospects would have played through the injuries Lee did in 2013 and his gutty performance against UCLA convinced NFL teams of his toughness. More than a few NFL people told me they would not be surprised if Lee ends up being the best NFL receiver from this years’ draft when we look back in five years.
Lee looked like a Top 10 type of prospect in 2012. He didn’t have as good a year in 2013 and some team could get very lucky.