Draft Buzz: Pre-Combine Rankings

Mike Carter / USA TODAY Sports

Mike Carter / USA TODAY Sports

Today marks the beginning of the 2015 NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis. With that in mind here is the latest draft buzz.

Frank Cooney of CBSSports.com ranked the top 64 draft prospects and has Michigan State CB Trae Waynes listed as the top cornerback and 19th overall:

The son of track star parents — Ron and Erin Waynes — Trae was born to be fast, which became obvious at Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wis. He had the fastest time in 40 yards (4.37 seconds) at the 2010 Midwest Ultimate 100 Camp and won the 60- and 220-yard dashes that same year at the county championships. As a defensive back, however, his ability to handle man coverage is more impressive than his speed, some of which apparently didn’t transfer from track to the football field. Instead, his instincts and length make him the boss in most one-on-one situations. Scouts rave that Waynes is menacing in press and cover-two assignments and should be an asset against the NFL’s tall and talented receivers. But, going into the combine at Indianapolis, it seems ironic that his final draft grade may hinge on how fast he is against the clock in 40 yards.

Kevin Weidl of ESPN.com ranked the top 10 cornerback prospects and gave the top spot to Washington’s Marcus Peters:

Peters has the most complete package of any cornerback in the class. He has good size and strength and is loaded with athletic ability. He also shows impressive overall awareness and recognizes route concepts, and he quickly locates and plays the ball.

While Peters’ tape speaks for itself, he comes with off-the-field baggage, having been kicked out of the Washington football program during the 2014 season. NFL teams will put him through   interviews and psychological testing to figure out how he’s wired and then make a decision about whether the talent outweighs the risk.

Todd McShay of ESPN.com also thinks highly of Peters and believes he has a lot riding on his interviews at the combine:

If he isn’t the first cornerback taken in 2015, it will be a direct result of his behavioral issues because he is the clear-cut No. 1 corner in this class. But teams are going to have to really look into his maturity and accountability, as he has had a laundry list of off-field incidents: a failed drug test in 2011, an academic suspension in 2014, and several suspensions and ultimate dismissal from the program in 2014 related to showing up late or missing practices and throwing a tantrum with coaches on the sideline of a game. He’s talked openly about taking responsibility for his past behavior and is a fiery competitor on the field who loves the game, but teams are going to need to be convinced they can trust him.

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com released his Pre-Combine Big Board and has Alabama safety Landon Collins as the top secondary prospect:

He’s easily the top safety in the draft class right now. He just does too many things well and for that reason maintains a high floor. I love how well he plays close to the line of scrimmage. Super-versatile, he can play deep, if not dominate there — making good reads and taking the right angle to the ball — and he has the ability to line up in the box, cover tight ends and tackle in the run game. A strong tackler, Collins is fearless in taking on running backs, but he shows good technique and doesn’t just throw himself at the ball.

Doug Farrar of SI.com believes Miami (OH) CB Quinten Rollins needs a nice showing at the combine to continue his climb up the draft board:

Rollins was a basketball recruit out of high school, but he did enough in just one season of MAC football to gain traction as a possible first-day prospect—and a great combine could seal the deal. Rollins plays bigger than his size (5’11”, 193 pounds), and he excels as a press/bail pass defender with above-average tackling technique. He’ll be a project at the NFL level unless he hits a team that requires its cornerbacks to play press coverage and trail receivers outside, but even with that, he’ll have a lot of interest.