By Dave Ackermann (the Orchestrater)
(Feature Photo credit Kelsie LeRose of BlueGoldSports.com)
Coming off of some great NFL Draft results over recent years where the NFL selected Bruce Irvin (DE), Tavon Austin (WR), Kevin White (WR) and Karl Joseph (S) as first round draft picks, there was plenty of action in later rounds as well. This year, however, could find a little less drama and a longer wait to hear that first Mountaineer’s name called.
Seven or eight Mountaineer players are in the mix this draft, and Rasul Douglas has the greatest opportunity to be the first Mountaineer name one will hear. Douglas rated a 5.81 rating from NFL.com and is projected to go in the third round. However, his work ethic and the fact that many analysts have him as a capable first year starter in the line-up of many teams in need, may get him into the 2nd round and possibly early. He is compared to former Mountaineer Daryl Worley who was pretty successful earning early starts at Carolina. Douglas has solidified his draft position and could go early due to his rare size at the corner back position. He met with the Bears, Giants, Lions and Saints at the Senior Bowl and had a private workout with the Steelers.
The next Mountaineer that provides value earlier in the draft is center Tyler Orlosky. Coming in with a 5.23 NFL.com rating, many teams looking for an immediate back-up at Center will consider Tyler who is expected to go in the 4th to 5th rounds. The right team may even consider him in the late 3rd round. His size strength and abilities to push forward and deter pass rushers from their path to the quarterback are strong values. He is aggressive, has strong hands and his only weakness seems to be average lateral quickness. He is considered strictly a Center and not someone who could also play Guard. Orlosky met with the Bears at the Senior Bowl and worked out for Tampa Bay.
Wide Receiver Shelton Gibson with a 5.56 NFL.com rating may have improved his draft potential with a much better 40 time at his college pro day. Considered a 4th or 5th round draft prospect prior to that WVU Pro Day performance, he could easily go late 3rd round to the right team needing a speedy WR that can get downfield and win 50-50 balls. Gibson weaknesses include focus issues with his hands when working underneath and will need to sharpen his abilities in route running. Gibson is considered to have home run abilities and is projected to be a low volume, high impact starter fairly early in his career. Gibson had private workouts with the Eagles and the Steelers.
With a 5.41 NFL.com rating, Defensive End Noble Nwachukwu is projected to be taken in the 5th or 6th round as a rush end. He is considered agile and explosive and has a quick inside move. He has a motor and keeps it running even in downfield pursuit. Considered a serious player with a great attitude and demeanor, his only weaknesses seem to be he is short in stature for a DE and in clearing his frame when latched onto by a strong, long-arm blocker.
Offensive Guard Adam Pankey comes in with a 5.1 NFL.com rating but has great size at 6’5 and 324 pounds. He is projected to be drafted in the 6th or 7th round. His strengths are lateral footwork and adequate push, along with his wide body that is hard to get around. He has also played both Guard and Tackle showing some flexibility. His weaknesses are he is upright after the snap and does not project as a good downfield blocker. Pankey also worked out for the Tampa bay and met with the Lions at the East-West Shrine Game.
The next couple of players are on the borderline to be drafted but have skills to help NFL teams:
Running Back Rushel Shell, with a 5.1 NFL.com rating is considered to have athleticism for his size ( at 5’10 and 227 pounds). He is considered to have a powerful trunk but flexible and fluid hips allowing for shiftiness and quick bursts. His powerful bottom half allow him to have better than average contact balance. Weaknesses are said to include deceleration before point of contact and rising pad levels when making cuts. He also is said to need to run more downhill and fight his urges to bounce outside. He could go in the draft to teams favoring a running back by committee approach.
Defensive Tackle Christian Brown at 6’2 and 305 pounds garnered a 4.99 NFL.com rating. He is considered a good interior athlete. He also has experience at Nose which adds value to his solid frame and quick first step and push. Weaknesses are projected as an inconsistent anchor due to pad level and he has been relatively ineffective as a pass rusher. He does find running backs rather quickly and has forced fumbles at the point of contact. He may have improved his stock working out for some teams needing depth on the defensive interior.
Other players that might be values even though they may not be drafted include:
WR/SB Daikiel Shorts, who possesses good speed and absolutely great hands, who also runs excellent routes both inside and out. Shorts might be the most underrated offensive player in the draft and it will be interesting to see where he ends up. Size is his biggest weakness according to NFL Scouts. If not drafted, he will sign with an NFL team.
DL Darrien Howard at 6″0 295 will draw some attention due to his stout size and quickness for a big man. His height may be an obstacle but he played well at Nose this past season for the Mountaineers. He also will more than likely sign a free agent contract.
Note: Team Interest and info for players is credited to WalterFootball.com – other sources include NFL.com
Watch this space!