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5 Underrated Prospects Heading into the 2016 NFL Draft

These are players who are not getting enough attention for the talent and potential they possess. These players provide the best overall production and value as first-round selections. These players are higher on my draft board than other scouts. Let’s dive in!

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

RB_Ezekiel_Elliott_NCAA_1

Even though he is being mocked in the top 10 by most, he still isn’t getting enough credit. He is the next great running back in the NFL. He’s a game-changing talent who makes defensive coordinators cringe the week leading up to the game. He does everything you ask for in an elite feature back. He creates constant production in between the tackles, can bounce it outside and make big plays, catch the ball out of the backfield with soft hands, and take on blitzing defenders in pass protection. He will be provide the same production and value to a team’s offense as Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch and Arian Foster when completely healthy. He is No. 1 on my big board.

NFL Comparison: Arian Foster (Current Free Agent)

Non-injured younger version, of course. Can win with the run game, pass-catching and protect the quarterback. Can carry an entire offense.

 

Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

Ragland is extremely underrated as a possible All-Pro linebacker in the NFL. Concerned about speed? Instincts are always better than blazing speed and Ragland possess the rare ability to just have a nose for the ball. He was a tackling machine in college who will translate nicely to the pros. Since Jaylon Smith is injured, Reggie Ragland is the best inside linebacker prospect by far. Myles Jack is a Swiss army knife and more of an athlete than natural linebacker. Ragland is the type of player who is a constant force from the second level of the defense. He’s in the top 10 of my big board and should be drafted within the top 15 of the draft.

NFL Comparison: Paul Posluszny (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Instinctive middle linebackers who are tackling machines. Not elite athletes, but know how to play the inside linebacker position extremely well.

 

Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor

In a draft filled with talented defensive lineman, it’s understandable that a top 15 prospect falls into the last first round. If it was a weak class, Billings would probably be a Top 10 pick. He is extremely impressive with his strength as a 21-year-old prospect who can quickly overpower you. In a pass-happy league, he would be a great nose tackle due to his ability to easily clog running lanes from the inside of a 3-4 and creates great pocket push. A team will be very happy to have him fall to them in this year’s draft.

NFL Comparison: Ian Williams (San Francisco 49ers)

Similar bodies with incredible strength. Both have the ability to be a nuisance all game long in the middle of the line and rack up tackles.

 

Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State

Whitehair is a versatile offensive lineman who can help you in many ways. He can step in Week 1 and be a great guard for your offensive line. Some scouts argue his best long-term position is center. He also could fill in for your team as a right tackle if in desperate need. It’s hard to find versatile offensive lineman who have the natural skills to be successful very early in the NFL. He has great technique and natural skills to be an effective run blocker from the interior but also pass protect. He can play multiple positions.

NFL Comparison: Justin Pugh (New York Giants)

Very similar players in college and entering the draft. Body statures and skill set are great for above-average guards but could play right tackle in dire circumstances.

 

Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

Natural athlete with great character and leadership qualities. He is the kind of player you want on your team. If the New England Patriots had a first-round pick, he would be their kind of player. Extremely productive and makes playing wide receiver look very easy. Smooth pass catcher with soft hands after running a crisp route. Not getting the attention he deserves, he will go high in the second round and make a team very happy. Very similar to Keenan Allen in 2013 and Jarvis Landry in 2014 where I had low first-round grades on them but they fell into the mid-rounds.

NFL Comparison: Doug Baldwin (Seattle Seahawks)

Underrated NFL receiver. Bodies say slot receiver but the production is one of a solid wide receiver in the NFL. Can win on the inside or outside and is a savvy route runner.

About Dan Collins

I have always been an avid football enthusiast. The NFL Draft and Fantasy Football is my passion in the realm of football. I write Mock Drafts and inform readers of what is happening during the critical stages of the NFL Draft. I spend way too much time working through Fantasy Football analysis, situations, and thoughts; it is an issue. Follow on Twitter @Dan_R_Collins for Football info and the occasional joke or wisecrack.