There are still eight weeks left in the NFL season, so the first overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft remains very much up for grabs. So is the college player who figures to be that first pick.
Another flood of juniors is expected to fatten up the first round. There were 18 underclassmen chosen among the first 32 picks in the 2015 NFL draft. But there are plenty of known and talented commodities who are guaranteed to be in this draft – the college seniors.
We polled a handful of NFL personnel directors for the seniors who currently sit atop the draft board and came up with these five for this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. We offer you a quarterback, two pass rushers, an offensive tackle and a linebacker. Here are your options – who would you draft with the first overall pick?
(Photo courtesy of the Eric Evans/University of Oregon)
DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
A three-year starter and a second-team All-Pac 12 selection in 2014 when he led the Ducks with 13 tackles for losses. He added four sacks, a safety and batted down four passes last season. He leads Oregon with seven sacks this year and has batted down five passes. He had eight tackles, including two for loss, and batted down a pass in a game against Michigan State and also had a two-sack game versus Washington State. Buckner is a prototypical NFL strongside end at 6-7, 300 pounds.
(Photo courtesy of Matthew Mitchell/Michigan State University)
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Another three-year starter and a two-time All-Big Ten selection – the school’s first back-to-back All-Big Ten defensive end since Bubba Smith in the 1960s. Calhoun had 7 ½ sacks in 2013, eight in 2014 and has eight already in 2015. Five of his 23 ½ career sacks have come against arch-rival Michigan, and he scored three defensive touchdowns in 2013 on two fumble returns and an interception. Calhoun is the prototypical NFL weakside end at 6-5, 250.
(Photo courtesy of Michigan State University)
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
In a college era of the spread and hurry-up offenses, Connor Cook is the most NFL-ready quarterback in today’s NCAA. He’s a pocket passer with Troy Aikman-like size (6-4, 220) and an Andrew Luck-like arm. He’s the all-time winningest quarterback at Michigan State with a 38-4 career record, including bowl victories over Baylor and TCU and regular-season victories over Ohio State and Oregon. He has passed for 2,405 yards this season, with 21 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
(Photo courtesy of Ohio State University)
Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
The best blocker in the Big Ten’s best offense, Decker is a three-year starter at left tackle. The 2014 Buckeyes set school records for touchdowns, points, passing yards and passing touchdowns. He also is a three-time winner of the program’s Iron Buckeye Award for his “physical training, dedication, determination, discipline, toughness and leadership.” In short, he’s what you want on the field, in the huddle and in your locker room. Decker has prototypical NFL size for the left tackle position at 6-8, 315 pounds.
(Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama)
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
A two-year starter, Ragland stepped in at weakside linebacker for the departing C.J. Mosley and there has been no drop off in productivity. That’s saying a lot because Mosley became a first-round NFL draft pick in 2014 and a rookie Pro Bowler for the Baltimore Ravens. Ragland earned All-SEC honors in 2014 with a team runner-up 95 tackles, including 11 for losses. Ragland moved to middle linebacker in 2015 and leads the Crimson Tide in tackles with 74. At 6-2, 252 pounds, Ragland can play inside or out in the NFL.