Monday Musings: June 26

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

The Big Ten film work has been completed and next week I move on to the ACC. This week’s Monday Musings is filled with thoughts from the film work as well as additional information on prospect rankings.

Last week I mentioned the stratospheric grade handed to Harold Landry, who most scouts grade as the top senior prospect moving towards the 2017 college season. And while Landry is the highest-rated senior, a number of scouts don’t grade the Boston College pass rusher as the top pro prospect in college football.

On rare occasions in the past, scouts have graded underclassmen before they reached their senior year. They were usually special prospects who most expected to be selected in the top half of Round 1. Andrew Luck is one example of an underclassmen graded by scouts before his senior season.  

That all changed last year.

Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk initially reported last September, “the NFL and the American Football Coaches Association have reached an agreement on new guidelines that will allow NFL teams to meet, scout and test certain underclassmen draft prospects nearly a year before they declare — or choose not to declare — for the draft.”  

As a result I’ve been told underclassmen such as Da’Ron Payne of Alabama, Christian Wilkins of Clemson and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley are rated on equal footing with Landry. The Crimson Tide has as many as three underclassmen considered to be potential first-round prospects.

And while Barkley is the primary foucs at Penn State, he is not the only underclassman from the program who will be an early draft pick in the future. After breaking down almost a half dozen games, I was incredibly impressed by redshirt sophomore guard Ryan Bates and junior pass rusher Torrence Brown. There are a variety of opinions on Brown, and not everyone feel he’s worthy of being an early draft pick. I believe Brown will turn out to be everything Aaron Maybin, the 11th pick of the 2009 draft, was expected to be before falling far short.

Staying on the underclassmen theme, it’s amazing how the Ohio State Buckeyes continually reload under Urban Meyer despite losing large numbers of non-seniors to the draft every year.

The situation was similar for LSU, though the Tigers have not competed at the same level as the Buckeyes in recent years.

While watching the film I counted at least two first-round prospects on the Buckeyes defensive line -- Sam Hubbard and Dre’Mont Jones

Three more Buckeye defensive linemen, Robert LandersJalyn Holmes and Ty Lewis, grade as potential second-day choices on my board.

I surprised a few people in early May with my 2018 NFL mock draft when I tabbed Michael Gesicki of Penn State as the first tight end off the board, as most people believe Troy Fumagalli of Wisconsin will be the first player selected at the position.  Since then I’ve learned from conversations most scouts grade Gesicki higher than Fumagalli.

During the upcoming week I’ll finish out team reports from the American Athletic Conference and should start Big Ten reports before the weekend.