INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Every year, draft analysts fall in love with different prospects, more so than the rest of their colleagues. That's the case again this year, as analysts have offered varying opinions on their underrated prospects competing at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: "I thinkDuke Johnson** is special. The running back from Miami has an opportunity to be a dynamic player in the National Football League. He reminds me a little bit of Shady (LeSean McCoy) when he was coming out. This guy is a very, very talented player. At Miami he ran inside, outside and caught the ball. He's kind of that hybrid running back that you're looking for."
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report.com:One of the guys I really like is Owa Odighizuwa, the defensive end out of UCLA. He was at the Senior Bowl. He's a freak defensive end, but I think Randy Gregory, Dante Fowler and the other top pass rushers are overshadowing him. He's not quite to that level, but he could be a late first, early second-round player who ends up being a stud in the NFL.
Rob Rang, CBS Sports: "A couple of players, D.J. Humphries, the offensive tackle from Florida. He's getting a little bit of attention now, but he's a really intriguing player. Donovan Smith, another offensive tackle from Penn State is a guy who had a really strong Senior Bowl week. Those are a couple players who I'm higher on than most. I also want to mention TCU safety Chris Hackett. I don't think he gets enough attention and because this safety class is relatively weak, I think he's a guy who has a chance to boost his stock this week.
"Of the skill players, I like the running back out of Northern Iowa, David Johnson. He has such incredible ball skills for a big back. His fluidity, body control, soft hands, he just plucks the ball out of the air. You don't often talk about UNI guys, but he's a legitimate running back who can come in the NFL and play immediately for his skills as a receiver."
Bryan Fischer, NFL.com: "Probably Marcus Mariota is the biggest disagreement I'd have with some of my colleagues. People say he can't make some of the throws, and if you look hard enough, you can find them. He wasn't asked to do that a lot in college, but that doesn't mean he can't make those throws.
"On the other side, I'm not sure if I'm as high on Melvin Gordon as others because he hasn't shown the ability to catch passes. When you talk about him going to the Colts or some of those other teams in the late first that need a running back, those are passing teams. Can he do that on a consistent basis? I think he's more of an early second round guy than a late first.
"Kevin White is another guy who I disagree with others on. I know he's a lot of guy's number one receiver. Physically he certainly fits the bill, but his production was limited to one year. He was a junior college guy that moved his way up the ranks. At the end of the day, especially later in the season, you saw him get shut down by a few corners. He didn't have the production as he did earlier in the season. Defenses adjusted to him and if you're looking for a number one guy, you've got to dominate throughout the year."
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports:"I think one player, he's a guy that people know about but I don't think he's talked about nearly enough is running back David Johnson out of Northern Iowa. He had a good Senior Bowl week and was consistently productive all four years at Northern Iowa. That was at the FCS level, but once he played against FBS talent like Iowa, Iowa State and a few other teams, he was outstanding.
"What really separates him is his ability as a pass catcher and pass protector. If you can do those things as a running back, there's a spot for you in the NFL. I think there's a chance we see David Johnson, if he tests well here, that he could crash the top 100 party. He might be one of the senior running backs that's not being talked about, but will be a good player down the road in the NFL."