We see it every single year during the draft. Players go much higher than experts had predicted leading up to the annual event.
Last year was no different with the likes of cornerback Denzel Ward (fourth), tackle Mike McGlinchey (ninth) and defensive end Marcus Davenport (14th) all going higher than most anticipated.
We’re going to see the same thing later in April. Does Daniel Jones have a shot at going in the top 15? With the wide receiver position stacked, Hakeem Butler and Parris Campbell have flown under the radar. They are also among the 10 NFL Draft prospects we believe will go higher than expected.
Daniel Jones, quarterback, Duke
We could very well be looking at four quarterbacks going within the top-15 picks of the draft. Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins are both already guaranteed to be off the board early. Meanwhile, Missouri’s Drew Lock is drawing top-10 consideration from the Broncos. There’s now a good chance that this young kid from Duke finds himself selected within the top-15 picks. The Miami Dolphins at 13 and the Washington Redskins, selecting 15th overall, both make a ton of sense here.
Chris Lindstrom, guard, Boston College
As we’ve seen with the hefty contracts handed out to guards, NFL teams are valuing this position more than ever before. Quarterbacks tend to struggle more with pressure up the middle. Hence, teams focusing on bolstering the interior of their offensive lines. Last year, it was generational talent Quenton Nelson going within the top-six picks. This coming draft, we’re fully expecting Lindstrom’s name to be called much earlier than anticipated. He’s seen as a plug-in-play guard with an ability to make an immediate impact. Teams value that.
Nasir Adderley, safety, Delaware
Adderley received a ton of praise earlier in the pre-draft process for his performance both at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. As a small-school product, this is no small thing. The former Delaware standout can play both corner and safety, but is seen by NFL teams more as a traditional center fielder. That position has also been valued big time around the league in recent offseasons. We wouldn’t be surprised if Adderley were the first safety off the board within the top-25 picks. That’s how good he’s proven to be.
Devin Bush, linebacker, Michigan
Late in the 2018 season, this former Wolverines star was considered a mid-round pick with a ceiling in the third round. Something seemed to change during the pre-draft process. He’s now closer to consensus No. 1 inside linebacker prospect Devin White than those in the second tier. At 5-foot-11 and 235 pounds, Bush is a physical marvel. He showed that while dominating at Michigan over the past two seasons. That included 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. We envision Bush going somewhere within the top-20 selections come draft time.
Hakeem Butler, wide receiver, Iowa State
The contested catches Butler made during a breakout 2018 campaign with the Cyclones were legendary. His 6-foot-6, 225 pound frame made tackling this receiver a useless endeavor for opposing college defensive backs. However, Butler has taken a back seat to the likes of A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. He didn’t put up astounding combine numbers while those two performed well. Even then, the tape doesn’t lie. Butler has the earmarks of a true No. 1 receiver. Teams will bank on that tape and his frame when deciding on a receiver to take toward the end of the first round or the beginning of Day 2.
Tytus Howard, offensive tackle, Alabama State
New Orleans Saints stud left tackle Terron Armstead is the most recent example of a small-school player at this position showing out in a big way during the pre-draft process. No one saw Armstead as a third-round pick months before the 2013 NFL Draft. We predict Howard will follow suit with a ceiling in the second round later in April. Howard will have taken well over a dozen top-30 visits before the draft comes calling. His tape against lesser competition is dominant. Howard also looked like a beast going up against some of the best edge rushers in the class during the Senior Bowl.
Rock Ya-Sin, cornerback, Temple
Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy and Deandre Baker have gotten most of the play as potential first-round picks in the draft. Given that a strength of this class is cornerback, and with team’s valuing that position in a pass-first NFL, it would not be a surprise if Ya-Sin joined those three as a first-round selection. At 5-foot-11, he’s a borderline outside cover guy, but excels in man coverage and is not afraid of taking on receivers in space. That’s a tremendous trait for teams that run man coverage schemes. New England at the end of Round 1 could be his ceiling.
T.J. Hockenson, tight end, Iowa
The success of George Kittle in San Francisco last season will play a role in how teams view Iowa tight ends. That includes a better-known prospect — at least from the perspective of the layman — in Noah Fant. But we’re here to tell you that Hockenson has everything needed to be a dominant pass-catching tight end. At 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, Hockenson ran an 4.7 40-yard dash at the combine. He’s a coverage nightmare against smaller corners or safeties. Linebackers have no chance in man coverage. We could very well be looking at the next Kittle or Travis Kelce. Top-six seems to be Hockenson’s ceiling.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, defensive back, Florida
For some, being a tweener could impact Gardner-Johnson’s draft stock. Most view this former Gator standout as single-high safety at the next level. While he could excel in that role, we’re highly intrigued to see if a team takes a chance on Johnson as a cornerback initially. He’s as aggressive as they come. Couple that with tremendous play-making ability and a top-notch attitude on the field, and teams could view this kid as a draft crush. We wouldn’t be terribly surprised if he landed in the top 40 come draft time.
Parris Campbell, wide receiver, Ohio State
Campbell is the perfect example of a workout warrior. He absolutely dominated competition in the generic and individual drills during the NFL Scouting Combine. Add in a 6-foot-1 frame and solid production (90 receptions, 1,063 yards last season), and there’s every reason to believe Campbell’s ceiling is the bottom of the first round or top of Round 2. The only issue here is he suffered a seemingly minor injury during Ohio State’s pro day. Injury issues also arose last season with the Buckeyes. Even then, teams are not going to overlook the insane athleticism he brings to he table.