By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
Potential can be a like a mirage. An illusion that mystifies and intrigues but often leaves us with nothing. So is it purely a show to distract us from the prospects’ real value? Maybe, but isn’t it fun? Rarely does an elite athlete clearly also possess all the necessary intangibles to be great.
Here is your Second Team Offense
QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Oregon’s lighting quick and incredibly explosive offense has produced a lot of talent and flashy statistics. Mariota was a lightly recruited prospect out of Hawaii but might be the best offensive prospect to come out of Eugene. He has a rocket arm, the height that scouts look for and elite speed for the position. Put him in the right offense, say Chip Kelly’s, and he could develop into a true star. As evidenced by the Stanford game where he was hobbled by an MCL sprain, he needs to evolve into a consistent pocket passer.
RB Michael Dyer, Louisville
It’s not surprising on a list like this to see players that have dealt with off field issues or failed to live up to the hype. Dyer was stellar as the lead back of the BCS Champion Auburn Tigers and led the SEC in rushing for the running back position. Showing a rare blend of size, speed and vision he pounded elite SEC defenses and looked like a first round lock. Then came the trouble.
After leaving Auburn, he joined former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn at Arkansas St. before another early exit. Drugs and weapons charges were to blame for him bouncing from Auburn to Arkansas St to Arkansas Baptist where he focused on academics, and finally to Louisville. When scouts and GMs consider Dyer they will be focusing as much on his maturity level as his talent level. The latter is well known. In the end he’s a first round talent who will likely go on day three due to his past and decreasing value of running back prospects.
WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
Coleman has been on my watch list for a while, and its easy to see why. At 6’6 Coleman has rare size for the receiver position, yet is a very fluid athlete with good long speed. Coleman isn’t a burner, but does have to be. With his size, soft hands and athleticism he is an instant match up nightmare even in the NFL. If he can refine his route running enough to create even the slightest of space, that towering frame and ability to high point the ball will prove to be truly potent weapon.
6’6 fluid athletes don’t grow on trees, and Coleman’s skill set is highly valued. A rational upside is the mid first round with an early round two selection more probable.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St.
The Seminole has the size to bully corners and the athleticism and body control to compete at a high level as a receiver. He’s actually more similar to the size of a tight end, but when you can move like he does and high point the football there isn’t much corners can do to stop him. Benjamin shows an innate ability to track the ball in the air and then, while using that frame, extend and snatch the ball over the helpless defender.
WR L’Damian Washington, Missouri
This Mizzou Tiger is a classic high potential prospect. Washington is tall and fast with a long lanky frame that has plenty of room for muscle. He runs a 4.39 at 6’4! That in and of itself is enough to make the list. He absolutely needs to get better in almost every aspect, and at this point lacks the awareness and natural instincts for the position. But remember this is all about potential and he’s oozing with it.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
With the frame and strength of a defensive lineman yet the athleticism of a receiver the (former) two sport star is truly scary for anyone to matchup against. He could become the first legitimately dominant duel threat tight end since the Gronk as his upside as a blocker is just as big as his receiving ability.
Good luck covering this guy in the red zone with anyone expect maybe Dwight Howard and defensive backs seeing this guy barreling toward them might simply get out of the way. Either way, this guy has the talent to be one of the best in the entire NFL.
OT Cameron Erving, FSU
Last year it was Menelik Watson who was the Seminole to soar late in the process and ultimately go to the Raiders in round two. This year Cameron Erving might even out do his former line mate as the first round isn’t out of the question.
It isn’t often you see an offensive lineman so light on his feet, but Erving is an effortless mover who looks to be the type of athlete scouts love in a left tackle. Athletes of Erving’s size are so uncommon he could realistically go anywhere from the third round to the top half of round one, depending on the team picking.
OG Tre Jackson, FSU
Another FSU product, Jackson was able to impress as a sophomore ultimately earning All ACC Second Team Honors. If Jackson can continue his development he could join Erving as a day two candidate. He has the bulk, strength, length and athleticism that very few other guard prospects can boast. While a very solid prospect he is looking up at Cyril Richardson, Gabe Jackson and David Yankey at the guard position.
OC Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
As Chip Kelly leads the up tempo zone blocking revolution in the NFL his former center at Eugene will be ideally suited to follow his coach’s success to the pros. Grasu has the foot speed, agility and endurance to handle such a demanding system, but also the skills to succeed in almost any system especially as a pass blocker. I’ve seen Grasu anywhere from the top center prospect to the third or fourth. Round 3 to 4 likely with round 2 upside.
OG Xavier Sua-Filo, UCLA
As he said himself there aren’t many 6’5 300 Mormons out there. Su’a-Filo spent two years on an LDS mission after already staring as a true freshman for the Bruins. Upon returning to the Bruins he looks poised to once again impress in Pac-12 circles as well as the NFL draft community.
Having played left tackle as a freshman we already know he has the athleticism to be one of the most agile interior linemen, and his 305 pound frame also speaks to his ability to anchor inside. Much like Tre Jackson he will fall just below the upper tier of guard prospects but has a little more upside to possibly work his way into that category with time.
OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
While he almost certainly passed up a first round selection to return to Ann Arbor, Lewan could push his way into the top ten discussion. In fact, he already has according to a number of draft sources. Lewan is massive at 6’8 yet has quick feet to backpedal effectively and is a force in the running game. If he can work on technique and sustaining his blocks, he has the tools to be an elite tackle prospect. Most evaluators seem to put him in the top half of round one, but I need to see more consistency.