Tuesday Draft Notes: Pre-Combine 1.0

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

As we get closer to the NFL combine, teams are preparing their positional draft boards. Most have completed the offensive line, and there are a few surprises. Also, we have the latest on Brett Toth of Army and Duke Ejiofor from Wake Forest.

It should come as no surprise that most teams grade Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame as the only left tackle worthy of a first-round selection. Even less of a surprise is that teams stamp Orlando Brown of Oklahoma solely as a right tackle prospect and grade him as a late first-rounder. This is an opinion we agree with and will expound on next week.

The big surprise surrounds Connor Williams of Texas.

Several teams believe Williams is overrated and won’t be able to handle the left tackle spot at the next level. Some teams presently have Williams on their guard board.

Chukwuma Okorafor of Western Michigan, Brian O'Neill of Pittsburgh and Kolton Miller of UCLA are all stamped as second-day selections, with teams believing they will need significant work on their games before they are NFL-ready.

I’ve yet to speak with anyone who believes Martinas Rankin of Mississippi State will be drafted as a left tackle. I continue to hear a move into guard or possibly center is very likely.

Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and Leighton Vander Esch of Boise State are two linebackers moving up draft boards, and the pair will be selected earlier than most presently predict.

Teams love Edmunds’ size, speed and power, which were things we mentioned last August. Right now, the belief is that Edmunds will be drafted in the top 12. I am anxious to see his shuttle times at the combine, as Edmunds does not have quick change-of-direction skills; he must slow and gather before he alters his path.

The voices inside the league comparing Vander Esch to former Mountain West star Brian Urlacher continue to get louder. He continues to be pegged as a three-down defender, and from everything I’m hearing he will test great at the combine.

Roquan Smith of Georgia could drop a little later in the first round than most anticipate. His deficiencies in coverage, especially when manned up against running backs or tight ends, are a concern for teams. It’s an opinion I agree with, although Smith is terrific facing the action when covering in zone.

I don’t expect Duke Ejiofor to drop on draft boards due to the shoulder surgery he recently underwent to repair a torn labrum. The pass rusher has two years of good tape and scouts pegged him to run 4.75s in the 40-yard dash entering the season, a good time for someone who will tip the scales near 270 pounds.  Teams are intrigued by Ejiofor’s explosiveness, power and athleticism.

We presently grade Ejiofor as a third-round prospect on our defensive end board.