Alright ladies and gentlemen, today is the day that I have been waiting for like Christmas... except instead of getting socks, we'll all be getting a stellar football prospect under our proverbial Christmas trees. There is no question that we love every single one of these guys that have declared for the draft. However, the question is, can NFL scouts say the same?
Josh Doctson, Kolby Listenbee, Trevone Boykin, Derrick Kindred, Big V, Jaden Oberkrom, and Aaron Green all have a chance to be drafted over the next couple of days. Even if they don't have their name called, don't lose hope, because they can still make an NFL roster through undrafted free agency (a la Kevin White and Chris Hackett).
If they have the chance to get drafted, the next logical question to ask is; who is going to draft them? A lot of other factors other than how good you are on the grid iron come into play when a team drafts a player. Unless you are an otherworldly talent that is worth the risk, you have to pass character tests, fit the mold of the type of player that the organization is going for, have a good physical upside (because it is often related to a player's ceiling), and possess the intangibles to excel on Sundays. You could be the second coming of Lawrence Taylor, but if you have those two words, "character concerns" hanging over your head, then you could see your draft stock plummet come draft time. In other words, the NFL draft is the manliest beauty pageant ever conceived.
Alright, it' s time to get down to the nitty gritty. Let's try to project what team is going to select which Frog in which round.
Josh Doctson - Cincinnati Bengals, 1st round, 24th overall
If the Doctor isn't a first rounder then it's a crime. I've seen Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell, Baylor's Corey Coleman, and Doctson swap in and out of that top receiver spot on scouts' big boards. Again, it all depends on who you ask and what each team needs. Each of these receivers have their own specific set of skills, strengths and weaknesses. Where Treadwell is best at fighting through contact after the catch and blocking and Coleman has his acceleration off the line of scrimmage, Doctson has the best body control of anybody in this draft. He can high point the ball like no other, and no offense to Boykin, can bail out a quarterback by catching passes that have no business being caught.
He's TCU's all time record holder in all things receiving for a reason (actually Coleman and Treadwell hold records at their respective schools, but bare with me). Doctson can be the first receiver taken in this draft and most have him pegged anywhere between the 22nd and 30th pick.
I'm kind of playing the crowd on this one, but I still think that Treadwell will be the first receiver taken, at 23 to the Vikings, and considering the Bengals lost their #2 and #3 receivers to free agency they need to get another weapon for Dalton to throw to. Cincinnati has shown that they value TCU prospects, so they steal Doctson when he falls into their lap. Oh boy, watching him and his idol, A.J. Green, line up on opposite sides of the field together...watch out AFC North secondaries.
Now here's my hot take alternative scenario: The Cowboys trade with Houston to get back up into the first round and take Doctson 22nd overall. Before you scream out DFW bias just hear me out. We've seen Jerry Jones trade up for worse, and if the Cowboy's drafting strategy of trying and get Romo as many immediate impact players as possible, then why should this be that much of a surprise? Doctson fits the mold of a Cowboy's receiver (tall frame, and not having to rely solely on speed to make plays), and Terrance Williams has struggled as a #2 across from Dez Bryant. Slide Williams back into the slot where he can be productive, let Doctson be the #2, let Dez be Dez, and oh ya there is still Jason Witten as the security blanket extraordinaire. That's a pretty dandy air attack if you ask me.
Kolby Listenbee - Pittsburgh Steelers, 4th or 5th round
Track star, Olympic qualifier, deep ball threat, NFL draftee. Even without adding "potential NFL starter" to that list of names, Kobly's got a pretty solid list going there.
I can see a team that is starving for some young talent and depth at the receiver position, that is waiting to address the position until later rounds, due to other needs being more pressing. There are three teams that come to mind right away: The Lions, 49ers, and the Steelers. While the Steelers don't lack in the receiver department, they did just lose Martavius Bryant for the year due to him being suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Pittsburgh also has a tendency to take receives late in the draft and make stars out of them, just look at Antonio Brown and Martavius Bryant (pre-suspension). That is why I think Steel City would be a good place for the Bee in the later rounds of the draft. Also, come on, his last name is ListenBEE, and the Steelers have bumblebee-like uniforms. Match made in heaven.
Derrick Kindred - Buffalo Bills, 7th round
Come on, don't tell me the thought of hard hitting Derrick Kindred being coached up by Rex Ryan doesn't at least bring a smile to your face. Early on DK had a penchant for biting a little too much and getting burned result, so if he wants to become a regular starter in the secondary he's got to be able to stretch the field with receivers. However, he can step right in and be a difference maker on special teams, like what he did with the Frogs.
Then again, if they want to use him to cover a smaller part of the field, then I think that Kindred can be a difference maker with time and good coaching. After all, DK is an old-style player that I think that Ryan will fall in love with.
Aaron Green - San Francisco 49ers, 6th round
I predict that Mr. Green will be wearing heading to the Golden state this offseason. Why? Well San Fran has the most draft picks of any team (tied with Cleveland) with 12 total picks. Other than Carlos Hyde, the Niners don't really have that strong of a stable of running backs. While Hyde is more of a power runner with a "run through, not around" defenders mentality, Green can be a piece to compliment him in Chip Kelly's system. Green can cut like nobody's business and is underrated as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
He doesn't have the "prototypical size" of an NFL back, well neither did Darren Sproles and he's doing just fine. Aaron runs like LeSean "Shady" McCoy, shifty and with a lot of heart. If he can improve his game in terms of getting through the gaps up front, then I don't see why he can't be a player like McCoy, maybe not workload wise, but he's got a great heart and mind for the game. At this moment though, I can really see AG being used as a running back that runs a couple of wheel routes or screens out of the backfield, similar to what Lance Dunbar does for the Cowboys.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai "Big V' - Tennessee Titans, 6th round
Right now, what is the Titan's most valued asset? The answer: Marcus Mariota, the guy they drafted #2 overall last year to be their franchise quarterback for the future. For a QB to have a long successful career in the NFL, what does he need? A good offensive line in front of him.
While it is likely that the Titans will select an offensive lineman in the first round, they desperately still need depth on the offensive line. Big V has been a solid starter, when healthy, for the Frogs. To be honest, I don't see him playing the left side of the O-line, because he's not as big or as athletic as some of the other really really good prospects in this year's draft.
Big V's biggest asset is and has been his consistent play. He's done really well on the right side of the field, and rarely played sloppy. He may not be a superstar at the next level (oh no you make millions of dollars anyways), but he can have a foreseeable future as a solid relief guy that comes off the bench and ensures that your quarterback stays on his feet long enough to finish the game. A role similar to that of a reliever in baseball. Not as flashy as the starter, but still a necessary component if you want to win games.
Jaden Oberkrom - Pittsburgh Steelers, 7th round/Undrafted Free Agent
I know it stings a little to say this, but kickers are typically taken in free agency after the draft. It's just the way that a lot of organizations strategically take on the draft. That being said, that does not mean that a team doesn't already know that he is their guy from day one. They may just be trying to get more value out of their other picks or have more important needs to address. Don't get me wrong, when it comes down to crunch time, there are few things scarier than a inconsistent kicker. Just imagine the West Virginia game, or the second overtime of the Alamo Bowl if Oberkrom had been back and forth all season.
Florida State's Robert Aguayo is rated by many as being the best kicker available in this year's draft, so I'm placing my money on him going before anyone else. However, after that it's there is not much, if anything, separating the rest of the crop from one another. What scouts are going to love about Oberkrom is how is accuracy has improved over the course of his career. He's got the leg strength, there's no doubting that, but he has gone from making 73% of his kicks in 2012 to 84% in 2015.
I have him joining the Bee in Pittsburgh because of the Steelers' need for a consistent kicker that can be there for the long run. Last year they lost their starting kicker for the season to a knee injury, traded for Josh Scobee who ended up being the NFL equivalent of me kicking PK's in soccer, cut Scobee, and signed Chris Boswell for the remainder of the season. Something tells me that they are going to want a new kicker if 34 year old Shaun Suisham can't return to form and have concerns about Boswell's consistency.
Jaden can be a successful NFL kicker that can come in during clutch moments and deliver, I truly believe that. If he can just improve the hang time/trajectory of his short yardage kicks, which in the NFL where you are getting paid to improve your game and play football shouldn't be too tall of a task, he can be a top 5 kicker in the league. All Jaden has to do is work hard. He's got the leg, he's got the accuracy to separate himself from other prospects, all he needs is to smooth out those edges and he can be automatic at the next level.
Trevone Boykin - New Orleans Saints, 6th - Undrafted Free Agent
I know all of our hearts broke when we heard the news about what happened in San Antonio. I believe Trevone has moved passed that, and any scout worth their salt should believe that as well. That incident was not at all a reflection of the character that Boykin tries to represent. It is unfortunate that it came at the very end of the season, but Tre has worked hard to rebuild his image, and focus on the NFL draft.
If we all want Trevone to remain a QB at the next level, then this is the best scenario. He gets brought in by Sean Payton and the Saints, and gets to be mentored by none other than Drew Brees. Guess who has a lot of the same criticisms as Boykin coming out of College. Drew "Super Bowl Winning, 5000 passing yards a year throwing' Brees.
Boykin has a ways to go in terms of scanning the field and making progressions, and becoming a next level signal caller. He's shown his ability to grow and improve as a passer over his four years at TCU, and has the athleticism to compete at the next level. Thankfully Brees has the crystal clear cut footwork, can dissect a defense and make them pay, and he can help Boykin learn how to play the QB position well, despite not having the prototypical size.
Trevone throws the best deep ball of any QB in this draft, and is arguably the most elusive of the bunch when in the pocket. Drew Brees isn't getting any younger and Boykin can be the guy in the future, or a back up that can provide energy to the offense if Brees goes down.
Worst case scenario, the Saints get a player that can be mini Randall Cobb, and can aid in the passing attack with the occasional wildcat pass play. Bottom line: Boykin is not ready for a starting job nor the complicated defensive schemes of NFL defenses right out of the gate, but with time and the right mentor he can develop into a solid starter once he gets his chance.
Be sure to tune in to ESPN to watch the draft tomorrow at 7:00 CT. What are some of the teams that you think are willing to take a chance on the Frogs in this draft? Be sure to let us know in the comments!