Fowler has ascended to the top of the ranks in a draft rich with edge pass-rushers. Last year at Florida, he racked up 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He has the ability to line up with a hand in the dirt or as a stand-up outside linebacker.
A physical, athletic threat off the edge, Fowler has a chance to immediately transform a team’s pass rush. That’s why we have him slated to the Jaguars at No. 3 as Gus Bradley’s ultimate weapon to disrupt opposing quarterbacks.
There have been some booms and busts when it comes to Alabama safeties over the past couple of drafts, but Collins displays the tools that suggest he is going to be the force that teams interested in him expect.
Collins will be a run-stopping safety to sure up the back-end of a defense. He was a four-year starter with the Tide, and his 2013 season helped him to truly stand out as an elite single-high defender.
We expect Collins to come off the board at No. 9 to the Giants, but there will be teams in the latter half of the first round anxious to grab him.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
3. Amari Cooper, WR
Collins’ teammate, Cooper, may not even be the first wide receiver off the board in the draft. However, he’s sure to be a candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Kevin White and Cooper are Nos. 1 and 1A in terms of wideouts in 2015, and while White may boast a higher upside, there’s no doubting Cooper is going to be a transformative player.
Cooper is already a polished receiver with the physical tools to separate from defenders and get open. He was able to thrive with limited talent under center at Alabama, and now we project him nabbing passes from Nick Foles in St. Louis at No. 10 in a new-look offense.
The top-rated cornerback in the 2015 crop, Waynes is in the mold of a Richard Sherman as that tall, physical, athletic brand of corner that is becoming more and more coveted in the NFL.
Waynes impressed at the NFL Scouting Combine, and since we see him falling to No. 14 to the Dolphins, he has a chance to thrive right off the bat in the No. 2 role opposite perennial Pro Bowler Brent Grimes in a defense that now features Ndamukong Suh.
Gordon is nearly a lock to come off the board sometime in the first 32 picks, and if a team in this era of the NFL is going to spend a first-round pick on a running back, you can expect they will feature him heavily in the offense.
San Diego, Dallas, Indianapolis, New England and Seattle could all be in the market for Gordon, with the Cowboys being our best guess at No. 27 overall. There, Gordon can succeed DeMarco Murray behind one of the league’s top offensive lines and try to mirror the historical campaign Murray just had in 2014.