As the 2017 NFL draft approaches our ‘On the Clock’ series paints the picture of all things tied to the league’s selections of the top college prospects from analysis to under the radar players to prevailing thoughts as draft day draws closer.
In this installment we cover the late rise of Christian McCaffrey, a little known safety with impressive numbers and why the Bills timing in losing a starting corner to free agency could not have been better.
Expert analysis: McCaffrey in the top 10?
Prior to the NFL Combine the prevailing thought was that Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey would be a prospect who could be had by one of the more successful NFL clubs at the bottom of round one. Then McCaffrey put on a show in his workout in Indianapolis that convinced scouts his athletic ability would translate at the pro level. Now there’s talk that he could be the second running back off the board following LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
“In terms of McCaffrey you thought at one point in time he could be down there for Green Bay at 29 or Kansas City (27) or New England and then New England traded out with New Orleans (32). He’s not going to be there late in the first. It’s just not going to happen,” said ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper. “You hear talk about the Eagles (14) having an interest in McCaffrey. Washington (17) would be a good fit. The Colts (15) are another team. Carolina at eight if Fournette was gone ahead of them, I think Carolina could look at McCaffrey at eight.”
Part of the reason that McCaffrey is a potential top 10 pick is because he’s a three-for-one type player.
“He’s more than a running back,” said Kiper. “He can be a slot receiver. Heck he could be a wide receiver and then punt returner, kick returner obviously.”
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Names to know: Xavier Woods has the numbers
The Louisiana Tech product was a playmaking strong safety for the Bulldogs. Woods (5-11, 197) was a three-time All-Conference USA first team selection as he posted 14 interceptions, 16 pass breakups and five forced fumbles over the last three seasons.
Blessed with above average instincts and a willingness to hit in the run game, Woods has enough speed (4.54 40-time), agility (4.13 short shuttle, 6.72 three cone) and explosiveness (33.5 inch vertical, 10-2 broad jump) to be an early day three draft choice.
His only drawback is he will guess too much at times and give up a big play.
Buffalo fortified their starting safety roles in free agency with the signings of
-Seeing Stephon Gilmore leave via free agency wasn’t easy for Bills fans to watch, especially seeing him go to division rival New England. But if there was ever a year to lose a starting corner to free agency this was it. This year’s cornerback class is the deepest in years and offers prospects with starting potential as deep as round four.
-Over the last five years there have been an average of just under 17 defensive players taken in round one, essentially making for close to a 50-50 split between offense and defense. But in a year where the defensive prospects are expected to dominate and no true consensus on a quarterback class that is lacking sure things at the top, there could be as many as 20 to 22 picks in round one on the defensive side of the ball.
-Florida CB Teez Tabor is a prospect who has great game tape, but his workout measurables have not matched up. After posting nine career interceptions at Florida, allowing a passer rating against of 41.2, and showing an ability to play press man or in zone, Tabor was seen as the second or third best corner in the draft class. His combine workout however, told another story when he ran a 4.62.
More eyebrows were raised when he ran a 4.72 at his pro day. Scouts are now wondering if he’s taking his impending pro career seriously enough. At a position where timed speed perhaps counts more than at any other position Tabor has to hope he has enough NFL teams convinced with his game tape.