Every season a handful of prospects surprise everyone by finding their way into Round 1 of the NFL Draft. These five guys could do it this year.
At this point in the pre-draft process, everyone has a pretty good idea about 20 or so players that are locks to go in the first round. The real challenge is pegging the guys who might surprise everyone by sneaking into the bottom third of the opening round. This piece will examine five guys with a chance to do just that.
You might see one of two of these players in the first round of a few mock drafts around the internet, but for the most part, these are players rated as second or third round picks by most experts. Players like Cody Ford and Rock Ya-Sin aren’t going to make this list. Everyone knows they have a strong chance to go off the board on Day One.
Instead, this piece focuses on players that could come out of relatively nowhere to make a team fall in love with them. Any of these guys going in Round 1 would be a surprise, but if you’re looking for a dark horse prospect, look no further.
5. Jaylon Ferguson
Some scouts really like production. It’s hard to produce more than Ferguson did at the collegiate level. The former Louisiana Tech star finished his career as the NCAA’s all time sacks leader.
He’s not a consensus first round pick for a couple of important reasons. First, he lacks the elite athleticism that a lot of other edge rushers in this class possess. He got his college sacks by using technique, guile and motor. There are concerns he isn’t athletic enough to thrive in the NFL.
He also has some off-the-field issues that prevented him from being invited to the Combine. That’s a negative in one sense, but it also caused several teams to spend a lot of resources evaluating him in person. That increases the chance that one team might fall in love with him at the bottom of Round 1.