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Earlier Than We Think

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With the draft just days away, it’s time to look at players who could be selected much earlier than anyone presently expects and mention the teams that could choose those players. I’ve talked about the rising status of Juan Thornhill, Sean Bunting, Dexter Lawrence and Andre Dillard multiple times in stories and during podcasts, and it’s time to move on to newer names.

Will Grier/QB/West Virginia: In all honesty, I’m late to the party on Grier despite listing him as a Riser in week five. I was informed that he was rising up draft boards weeks ago and struggled to believe it, but as they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. So where could Grier land? As early as the late part of Round 1 and no later than the middle portion of the second frame. Who could draft the Mountaineers quarterback? The New England Patriots have shown a ton of interest in Grier and could draft him as the first round closes out. The New York Giants also like Grier, and he could be their fallback plan if they don’t take a signal caller in Round 1. The Carolina Panthers also have an infatuation with Grier and will consider him in the second round. As we mentioned last week during The Draft Analysts podcast, Carolina is looking to add a quarterback during the second day of the draft.

Dawson Knox/TE/Mississippi: I was debating Knox and Jace Sternberger of Texas A&M with a scout buddy during the Senior Bowl, and he believed Knox would be drafted earlier, as he was the better athlete. How much earlier? Right now, the belief is that Knox could end up being the fourth tight end off the board and land in the top half of Round 2. Teams love his athleticism and upside and believe he was miscast at Ole Miss. He’s visited or worked out for 13 teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Billsand Tennessee Titans. The Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars are two more teams on that list and are the franchises currently leading the chase for Knox heading into the draft.

Nate Davis/OG/Charlotte: Since the Senior Bowl, Davis has been a player on the rise. Teams love his size and believe he could quickly start on Sundays. Truth be told, there was a concern over whether Davis could handle a complex blocking scheme, one reason he’s had a large number of predraft visits. His official visit list included the Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. Right now the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthersseem the hottest for Davis, and they could look his way in Round 3.  

Trysten Hill/DT/Central Florida: Over the summer, I labeled Hill as the top pro prospect from UCF and stamped him as a potential fourth-round pick. I may have underestimated the defensive tackle by two rounds, as he’s presently getting top-60 buzz. His travel schedule the past three weeks has been extensive, as Hill made trips to visit defensive tackle-needy teams such as the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns. Where does he end up? Don’t be surprised if the Dallas Cowboys, another team that needs help up front, grab Hill late in Round 2, as the UCF junior is the perfect fit for Rod Marinelli’s defense.

Ben Banogu/Edge/TCU: Banogu followed up a terrific week of practice at the Senior Bowl with a strong workout at the combine and looked outstanding during his pro day. He’s an athletic defender with size, speed and growth potential, and teams love his versatility. The ability to rush the passer out of a three-point stance or standing over tackle has a large amount of the league interested in Banogu, and it’s the prime reason why he may end up in the second round. His official visit list includes the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys. The Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawkscurrently have second-round interest in Banogu.

Sione Takitaki/LB/BYU: Takitaki was not graded by scouts entering the season, but he could land in the draft’s initial 75 selections. He’s displayed a well-rounded game and in many ways reminds me of former BYU linebacker Fred Warner, the 70th selection of last year’s draft who is now starting for the San Francisco 49ers. Takitaki visited the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans over the past month. Right now, it seems like the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs andCincinnati Bengals are the favorites for his services.

Ty Summers/LB/TCU: Summers has really flown under the radar outside of the scouting community despite outstanding workouts during the combine and pro day. His 40-yard dash time of 4.51 seconds was in the top third of linebackers at the combine, and it was an outstanding mark for a prospect who measures 6017 and 241 pounds. The versatility to be a run-and-chase linebacker on the inside and a coverage ‘backer on the outside is helping to push Summers up draft boards. Considered by most to be a late-round pick, it’s not out of the question that Summers lands in the fourth round. Three teams who have an early grade on Summers include the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans andBaltimore Ravens.

Darnell Savage/S/Maryland: We’ve documented Savage’s rise during our podcast multiple times, as the safety left the combine graded as a third-round pick but has now moved into the early part of Round 2. Why the furious move up draft boards? Teams believe Savage is a safety who can transition to cornerback in certain packages and most assuredly play over the slot receiver. His list of official visits included the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Bucs. Based on sheer interest, the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals are leading the charge for Savage.


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14 hours ago, g-dawg said:

I see Nate Davis as the likely pick for Falcons if we don't take an Offensive Lineman in rounds 1 & 2.  If Falcons go DT/CB in first two rounds and Davis was still available, I could see his tag getting pulled off the board at #79 - would be a great pick!

Can Nate Davis handle RT in the NFL?  With his long arms, I don't mind his relatively short stature.  He is a tough guy with great strength; the question is whether he has the feet to handle edge rushers.  

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