We all know about the Luck’s, RG3’s, Blackmon’s, Trent Richardson’s, and the other college football stars of the world that will be selected early in this year’s NFL Draft. Here are a few players who didn’t dominate the headlines of college football, but will hear their name called earlier than some think come Thursday.

 

1.  Fletcher Cox (Defensive Tackle, Mississippi St.) Here’s a guy who very well may be the first surprise pick in round 1. There’s been a lot of hype behind Dontari Poe after the combine as well as Michael Brockers after LSU’s great season, but Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox will most likely be the first defensive tackle off the board. The most productive and disruptive of the top defensive tackles, Cox has the athleticism to match. At 6’4 and just under 300 pounds, Cox ran a spectacular 4.79 40 in Indy, along with long 34 ½ inch arms. This gives Cox all the tools needed to be a great 3-technique tackle in a 4-3. Cox could benefit from teams’ desire to add disruptive defensive lineman ala the New York Giants and should land himself a spot in the top 15, possibly even the top 10.

 

2.  Stephon Gilmore (Cornerback, South Carolina): After perennial top pick Morris Claiborne, this years cornerback class is a bit of a toss up and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore could potentially end up as the second CB off the board. While bigger names like Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins are often ranked ahead of Gilmore, both players have character and off the field issues that could knock them down some draft boards. Measuring at 6’0 ½ 190 and running a scorching 4.40 in Indy, Gilmore has everything teams want in a shutdown corner and may very easily hear his name called in the top half of round 1.

 

3.  Cordy Glenn (Offensive Tackle/Guard, Georgia): While not looked at as one of the elite offensive tackle prospects, Glenn’s massive size at over 6-5 340 and athleticism that allow him to play multiple line positions could make him a very attractive option for teams looking for offensive line help. Glenn initially entered the draft process being looked at as a guard, but showed the athleticism and ability to play right tackle at the Senior Bowl, where he put up a great performance. Glenn is now seen as a road grader right tackle prospect that also has the ability to move inside to guard if needed. Glenn’s size, athleticism, and versatility make him a very attractive option to teams in need of offensive line help. Glenn should go somewhere in the mid-first round, with the potential to go as high as #10 to Buffalo.

 

4.  Stephen Hill (Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech): Coming into the combine as a fairly unknown name, Hill burst onto the scene, measuring in at 6’4 215 and running an incredible 4.36 40. Hill is undoubtedly raw and his ability is relatively unknown due to Georgia Tech’s run heavy offense, but any team that needs a pass catcher will take a serious look at those physical numbers. Due to his massive potential, Hill could see himself go as high as the mid-first round and likely won’t slide past the early second round.

 

5.  Josh Robinson (Cornerback, Central Florida): Another Indy combine darling, Josh Robinson broke onto the scene running the fastest 40 in Indy with a 4.33 along with an explosive 38.5” vertical. At a very solid 5’10” 199, Robinson is an elite athlete with fluid hips as well as big time return ability. Although very raw, there’s always a team willing to take a gamble on those type of measurables, especially in the increasingly pass-happy NFL.  Robinson shouldn’t go any later than mid-round 2 and may even sneak into the back end of round 1.


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