Zaviar Gooden LB Missouri (6-2, 230 lbs.) Watch highlights of him here
Gooden was one of Missouri’s best defender during the Tigers inaugural season in the SEC. Gooden is extremely fast and explosive. He tracks down ball-carrier in the open field like no one else and has a nose for the football. Sometimes, he’ll run into a crowd of players and come out tackling the ball carrier or even with the ball itself. Gooden is great at stripping the football and helped the Tigers lead the nation in forced fumbles last season. So what’s not to like about Gooden? Well, the biggest issue is that he’s small. He is not big enough to take on blockers and needs his defensive line to keep him unblocked for him to be most effective. This will limit the schemes and, thus, teams he can play for in the NFL. Also, he struggles in man coverage and cannot go one on one with a good tight end. That is something that will also hurt him with the advent of great tight ends in the NFL. Gooden is a good player who will be undervalued due to his size and coverage ability. Look for him to be a third round draft pick.
Sam Montgomery DE LSU (6-3, 262 lbs.) Watch highlights of him here
Of all the players on this list, Montgomery is the most likely to slip out of the first round. He comes from a great football school with a great coach and played well against the best teams in the nation. However, Montgomery himself is not an eye-popping prospect. Montgomery is big and strong enough to play defensive end. He holds his ground in the run game and is very disciplined in both the run and pass games. He is also versatile. He looks very comfortable dropping back and playing zone pass coverage. This leads some scouts to believe that he could be a 3-4 linebacker. While I agree that Montgomery could make the transition, I think he would be best served playing 4-3 defensive end. Montgomery’s big weakness is that he is not very explosive. He cannot run around people to get to the quarterback and relies on technique to get his sacks. His effort has also been questioned and will continue to be questioned thanks to recent comments at the 2013 NFL Combine basically saying that he didn’t try as hard against some teams because he didn’t need to try very hard. Montgomery is worth a second round pick. However, I think because of his school, coach and competition he will be a late first round pick. Whoever takes Montgomery will get a low-risk, low-reward playing who will be a solid NFL starter.
Brandon Williams NT Missouri Southern (6-1, 335 lbs.) Watch highlights of him here
Williams was a beast playing for Missouri Southern. He was just the third person in history to be recognized as a three-time All-American. Moreover, he dominated players from much bigger schools at the Senior Bowl (see video) thus proving that his production was not just the product of inferior competition. Williams is built low to the ground and understands the concept of leverage well. Thus, he is rarely pushed off the ball and often penetrates into the backfield. While not super quick, Williams gives good effort and makes tackles on the sidelines and inside the numbers. Williams is also adept at generating a consistent pass rush when left one on one. While he won’t be a pass rusher in the NFL, he can offer more pass rush than most “run-stuffing” nose tackles. One of Williams’ weaknesses, however, is his inability to use his hands to generate penetration or pressure. If his initial burst off the snap does not work, Williams is basically useless during the play. However, this can be remedied with coaching in the NFL. Another concern is Williams’ injury history given the fact that he missed the entire 2009 season. All this being said, Williams is a hard worker and has a chance to be a quality NFL starter. Look for him to come off the board in the third round with his small school and injuries pushing him down boards the most.
Jordan Hill DT Penn State (6-1, 291 lbs.) Watch highlights of him here
Hill, who stayed with Penn State despite the Joe Paterno scandal, was overshadowed by other players in his first three seasons and the scandal in his senior season. However, he is still a quality prospect. Hill shows great ability in 1-on-1 situations, both in run and pass situations. However, when he is doubled-teamed, Hill gets destroyed. Hill can also be moved when a blocker goes straight into his pads. Nevertheless, Hill keeps his feet well and wraps up well too. He will be a third or early fourth round pick come draft time.
John Jenkins DT Georgia (6-3, 358 lbs.) Watch highlights of him here
Jenkins spent two years in community college before making the jump in competition to Georgia. He is a load of man who specializes in stuffing the run and eating up blockers. Jenkins can routinely take up two blockers and, with a little more coaching about leverage, could potentially take up three blockers. This creates havoc for an offense trying to gameplan against him. However, Jenkins is not a very good finisher as he struggles to make plays and relies on those around him to make plays. Also, he is very slow and not able to effectively rush the passer. Even when he gets a good burst of speed, he struggles to force the quarterback to move around the pocket. Finally, he is not very well-conditioned and wears down as the game goes on. Still, Jenkins has rare size and strength. It is those characteristics that will lead him to be over-drafted this April. Look for him to come off the board in the late first or early second round.