NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks compares Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith to retired seven-time Pro Bowler Patrick Willis.
Willis was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers drafted No. 11 overall in 2007. "Jaylon Smith is an all-time athlete, a guy you absolutely love. He's a thumper in the middle, he can run from sideline to sideline. He's very violent in his play, a guy that I believe is a three-down linebacker, very versatile. He kind of reminds me of a young Patrick Willis in terms of his ability to play in the middle of a 3-4 defense," Brooks said. "(He'll) make plays, communicate all the calls, and do all the things you look for from that position. A natural leader. He's a guy that I think is going to be a star. If not for the injury, I think we're talking about a top-five talent." Smith tore his ACL and LCL in the Fiesta Bowl. His 2016 season is currently in question, though his rehab is reportedly ahead of schedule. An AFC college scouting director said last month that he believes Smith's "draft floor" is the No. 18 selection.
College Football 24/7 writer Chase Goodbread believes Baylor DT Andrew Billings may challenge Stephen Paea's combine record of 49 reps on the bench press.
In the weight room, Billings is a freak among freaks. He and Mark Henry are arguably the two strongest high schoolers in American history (back in the day, Henry was called "the world's strongest teenager" by the Los Angeles Times). Rotoworld's Josh Norris ranks Billings as the No. 10 overall draft prospect and sees him being used in the NFL like the Panthers used Star Lotulelei. The 6-foot-1, 310-pounder has also drawn several comparisons to Aaron Donald.
Alabama QB Jacob Coker was not invited to the NFL Combine.
"A national championship doesn't punch a combine ticket; that's the lesson learned for the Crimson Tide quarterback who will instead prepare for UA's heavily scouted pro day," wrote College Football 24/7 writer Chase Goodbread. "With all the size and arm strength NFL clubs look for, the scouting concerns on Coker surround his relative lack of college experience, a slow delivery and slow field reads." We've never been fans of Coker's work. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder failed to get onto the field throughout his career until finally breaking through in 2015. He was so limited that the Tide turned absurdly conservative through the air despite boasting a series of former elite recruits on the perimeter.
NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks believes North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz could be used like Cam Newton in the NFL.
Similarly to Newton, the 6-foot-5, 233-pound Wentz is huge, athletic, creative, confident, always willing to test the defense. Oh, and they both come equipped with guns. "The comparison comes from watching Wentz play in the fall and watching him execute some of the concepts and tactics that Cam does for the Panthers," Brooks said. "Designed quarterback runs, powers, draw plays, some of the zone-read things, that leads me to believe a creative offensive coordinator could implement some of those things for him to take advantage of his unique athleticism for a guy his size." Brooks concluded: "People say (Joe) Flacco and some other guys (when making Wentz comparisons), but he's far more athletic than that. He's not the physical specimen than Cam is but he is a big-bodied, athletic quarterback who is very comfortable running and putting his body in harm's way."
South Carolina redshirt sophomore WR Shaq Davidson intends to transfer.
Davidson has left the team already. A 2014 four-star signee, Davidson redshirted in his first year and then missed last season with torn knee ligament sustained in preseason practices. The former Shrine Bowl and U.S. Army All-America Bowl selection figures to get plenty of love on the transfer free agent circuit.
Louisville LB James Burgess was not invited to the NFL Combine.
The 6-foot, 229-pounder is an NFL legacy who was highly productive in college, posting 92 tackles with 9.5 TFL and four pass breakups. The son of James Sr., a former Miami Hurricane linebacker who played briefly with the San Diego Chargers, Burgess was denied a trip to Indianapolis primarily due to size concerns. NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter believes Burgess "will be a nice fit for a 3-4 team looking for an inside gap-shooter." Added Reuter: "Don't let Burgess' size fool you. He drills ball carriers into the ground. The Miami native is explosive to the play and brings bad intentions."
Memphis QB Paxton Lynch figures to intrigue the Los Angeles Rams, according to NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
"They've got to get the quarterback position figured out," he said. "They've tried a bunch of different guys, it hasn't worked. I think with the weapons they have, with Todd Gurley, with Tavon Austin, get a mobile quarterback that can move around help you out a little bit in the run game. We've seen Cam Newton run that quarterback power, I can see Paxton Lynch doing the same thing in that offense." Rotoworld's Josh Norris pegs Lynch as the No. 27 prospect in the draft. "Fulfills and offers many of the buzzwords. Height, arm, mobility, velocity, etc.," Norris wrote. "There are games where he puts all of the tools together, namely Ole Miss in 2015. Then there are other contests where he looks out of sorts."
Iowa State LB Luke Knott retired from football due to hip injuries.
Knott was never able to shake his lingering hip issues. His first hip surgery occurred back in 2013. He went another the following year and then battled through another setback last spring. "I didn’t want to give up football because I didn’t want to walk away from my teammates," Knott said. "I barely made it through last season. You can tell when you watch the film. This is an exciting time for Iowa State and I wanted to be a part something special next year. However, going through the initial workouts, I just didn’t have it in my hip."