UCLA linebacker highlights best available prospects
The first round of the 2016 NFL draft is over, and six rounds remain.
The meaty parts of this draft are in the middle rounds — two, three and four — with several linebackers, pass rushers and a few receivers that have impact potential at the NFL level.
Here’s a look at some of the names who will likely be called Friday evening, and who can be special players in the big league.
Tight end Hunter Henry is considered the top inline receiving threats this class has to offer. At 6-foot-5 and 250 lbs., Henry can move well, as his 4.66 second 40-yard dash shows. There is little weakness in his game, and NFL.com compares him to Jason Witten.
Running back Derek Henry was always supposed to play second fiddle to Ezekiel Elliot in this year’s draft, though there was some speculation that he might go in the first 31 picks.
His 6-foot-3 frame is intriguing, Henry is much larger than the prototypical back, though he carries it well and has shown legitimate agility. The only starting running back in the NFL that has similar size is Oakland’s Latavius Murray, who has excellent straight line speed but struggles after contact.
Tackle Le’Raven Clark might be the best offensive line anchor left in this class, though it’s a position group that has struggled in transition to the NFL. Poor technique and fundamentals are something coaches like to point to in regards to underwhelming performance, so chances are that Clark goes in round 2.
Linebacker Myles Jack headlines a list of inside men who are limping through the draft process with knee injuries. Jaylon Smith is in a similar position — both have significant knee injuries that may force them to take things slow at the NFL level.
Both are also considered to be wildly talented and if healthy, could prove to have major value.
Defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard is a lean pass rushing interior down lineman who was not taken in the first round likely due to his frame. Bullard needs a team to believe that he can bulk up properly for him to go in the top 63 picks. But the talent is there.
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander missed the National Championship game with a hamstring injury, and the absence was noticed. Alabama was able to grind away at the Clemson defensive backfield, which might not have been the case if Alexander was healthy.
The impact Alexander can have on a game is undeniable, and it would be shocking if he is not taken within the first 10 picks of day 2.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.