NFL Draft: Predicting hits/misses among the top 10 players

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With the NFL Combine behind us and the draft a little more than two months away, NFL teams are already shoring up their draft boards.

Hits/Misses 2015 NFL Draft
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NFL Draft: Predicting hits/misses among the top 10 players

10. Landon Collins: Solid Starter

I’m tempted to designate Collins a star, but doing so would prove a failure to learn from life’s lessons. You see, I felt the last top-ten Alabama safety, Mark Barron in 2012, was destined for stardom as well. Thus far, his career has been anything but.

Even more troubling is the fact that his scouting report then reads much like Collins' today: “big hitter, athletic, struggles some in coverage.”

I believe Collins is a bit better than Barron at each key component of the safety position, but I offer this prediction while covering my eyes.

Luke’s take: Solid Starter

Freak athlete, but struggles in coverage. Needs to stay in the box to reach full potential.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

9. Vic Beasley – Solid Starter

Clemson successfully shed its soft label over the past two seasons, and Vic Beasley is a primary reason why. Yes, from time to time, Beasley gets stuck on blocks, but he also makes the splash defensive plays which can turn around a football game.

All the measurables checked out at the combine as well. Beasley has star potential, but I’m comfortable with this designation today.

Luke’s take: Solid starter

Dominated combine, and film backs it up. On the light side, but should thrive in a 3-4.

(Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)

8. Amari Cooper: Star

Smooth is the first word that comes to mind. If I told you he was able to change the running-first mindset of a coach as rigid as Nick Saban to take advantage of his ability, would you buy? Still no? Okay, how about 115 receptions for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns against the nation’s best defenses last season? Cooper is a surefire stud, who runs beautiful routes. NFL comparison: Jerry Rice/AJ Green.

Luke’s take: Solid Starter

Super smooth routes, great quickness. Think Reggie Wayne + Jeremy Maclin.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

7. Kevin White: Solid Starter

Ah yes – the freak label, heard once or twice per draft season. This has been attached to Kevin White. He’s a slightly shorter version of Julio Jones, but a mirror image in terms of body type and blazing speed (4.35 40).

In last season’s opener, his athleticism and hands were on display against Alabama, frequently coming down with contested balls in traffic. After a very productive season at West Virginia, I like White’s pro prospects. Thousand-yard receiving seasons are not out of the question.

Luke’s take: Solid Starter

Big, physical, great at the catch point. 4.35 40 at his size doesn’t hurt, either.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

6. Randy Gregory: Bust

As strong as I feel about the versatility trait in the positive sense, I’m every bit as observant in the negative direction when I hear the phrase “inconsistent motor.” In the NFL sense, that means he doesn’t always play with 100% effort.

Randy’s mixed effort matched his mixed production at Nebraska. I’m not sure one acquires a strong work ethic. Either you have an unending drive to be the best or you don’t.

Luke’s take: Bust

Showed flashes, but was at 218 pounds before combine training. Can he bulk up and retain explosiveness?

(Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

5. Brandon Scherff: Star

If I was a key decision maker at many companies, versatility would be one of the top traits I’d look for. It’s certainly valued in the NFL as well, and Scherff is capable of playing any of the five positions on the offensive line. His workouts and strength numbers are also off the charts. Pro Bowls are in his future.

Luke’s take: Solid Starter

College tackle who could be an immediate Pro Bowler at guard. Monster in the weight room.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

4. Dante Fowler Jr.: Solid Starter

Fowler Jr. was a consistently disruptive force on Florida’s defensive line in college. Frequently, he was the only D-line starter on that team applying pressure. I really like how he translates to the the NFL level, his combine showing (4.61 40-yard dash, 261 pounds), and feel he’ll be an 8-10 sack per year player for the next ten seasons. As sure a bet as the draft offers.

Luke’s take: Solid starter

Relentless motor, camps out in opposing backfields. Can play in any scheme.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

3. Marcus Mariota: Bust

You know, Mariota is such a good kid, I struggled with this designation. I don’t think he’ll be bad, but some NFL team will select him among the draft’s top ten picks, and therefore the expectation is a minimum of solid starter. I just don’t see Mariota being in the top half of starting signal callers because he’s not a natural passer.

Darron Thomas put up impressive statistics at Oregon: 62% completions, 63 touchdowns, 16 interceptions. Mariota’s were eerily similar: 66%, 63/10 in his first two seasons starting. Is it the system or is it the player at Oregon? I’m afraid it’s the former.

Luke’s take: Star

If he can acclimate to an NFL offense, he should be an electrifying player. Better passer than he’s given credit for.

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

2. Leonard Williams: Solid starter

Leonard’s USC tape is impressive enough, but how many defensive tackles actually become stars? Why wasn’t USC’s defense more dominant? I’m not hating on Williams, and feel he’ll be good. I just didn’t see Warren Sapp on the field in any of Trojans games last season.

Luke’s take: Star

Easily the best overall player in this class. Dominant, disruptive, scheme versatile.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

1. Jameis Winston: Star

In life, some people have that striking presence about them which you can feel upon entering a crowded room. You notice them first. You gravitate toward them. Most of the time, it’s because this person has a charismatic trait aptly named “IT.” Winston has it….in droves.

He’s a galvanizing leader who players want to play with. He’s also an incredibly accurate pocket passer. The ball jumps off his arm like Zach LaVine off the court in the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest. The much ballyhooed off-field incidents are concerning, but I’m betting it’s more a sign of immaturity than poor character. Jameis will be a top-ten signal-caller three years into his career.

Luke’s take: Star

If he can stay out of trouble, he has all the tools to become a Pro Bowl signal-caller.

(AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Every scout, every team has a consensus top ten. Only those players deemed stars or very effective pros ever make it to this esteemed list, but there's a blunt reality which must be faced: roughly 55% of the draft's top ten players historically live up to their marquee hype. I went back and looked at the last ten drafts to generate this number, and invite you to do the same.

Based on this, NFL talent evaluators fail 45% of the time on top ten selections – an alarming rate. And because I don't enjoy being accused of hindsight criticism – it's always crystal clear - I thought we'd exhibit a bit of foresight today.

Perusing mock drafts all over the internet, I've compiled a current consensus – the 2015 NFL Draft's top ten players as of today. And with a second opinion offered by and Bleacher Report's Luke Easterling, he and I peer into our crystal balls to offer "star," "solid starter," and "bust" designations for the cream of the crop this year.

The Big Lead: Post-Combine Mock Draft

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