TDN Mailbag: Gauging The Draft Stock Of The Clemson DL

Photo: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

We've got mail! Friday mornings at The Draft Network are one of my favorite times of the week, as we wrap up an awesome week of content with some terrific questions from our readers, while also getting prepared for an exciting slate of college football this weekend.

This week, I tackle linebackers not named Wilson or White that have a shot at Round 1, the Clemson DL's draft stock, Steelers top corner targets in Round 1, WR prospects for the Colts and why Bama's WRs >>>>>> Michigan's WRs.

Honestly, I don't think so, but let's pretend for a second like we know three will go Round 1. Currently, my money would be on either Florida's Vosean Joseph or Oregon's Troy Dye. I think both have a long way to go, but at least there is potential and athleticism there, two things the NFL really values in second level defenders. Having said that, both have plenty of concerns, and I just can't see them being valued on that level by the league.

Remember, the Steelers aren't taking any cornerback in Round 1 who doesn't test well, but the two names to watch are Virginia CB Bryce Hall and Georgia CB Deandre Baker. Hall has had a monster breakout season as a converted wide receiver with natural ball skills. Baker has cleaned up his game and not given up vertical separation this year, while also making more plays at the catch point.

The Colts could go so many different directions with this pick, but lets think about what Reich had in Philly and how he'd like to replicate that cast in Indianapolis. He had a hypothetical deep threat in Torrey Smith, who didn't really pan out in Philly, but is easily trumped by Reich's current version in T.Y. Hilton anyway. Hilton can do a Agholor (slot work) and Smith's (vertical) areas of expertise better than both of them so Reich almost kills two birds with one stone there.

Still, finding another piece comparable to Hilton could be important. Ryan Grant has actually done a decent job this season, but I don't think he's a preferable starter for most teams. If the Colts are looking for someone in the mold of Smith that also has the ceiling to do much more than get vertical, Ole Miss wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge could be their guy.

I just finished up my formal report on Lodge, who combines blazing speed with polished releases and unbelievable body control in the air. His frame is a little slight and drops are too frequent on his tape, but talent-wise he's going to be a big riser over the pre-draft months.

If the Colts are looking to prioritize an Alshon Jeffery-type, something they clearly do not currently possess, I would expect a big-bodied receiver like D.K. Metcalf, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside or N'Keal Harry to be the pick. Metcalf has the highest ceiling, while J-Jaw would immediately contribute in the red zone. Harry could be the most versatile of the group, which might appeal heavily to a scheme that asks a variety of things from their wide receivers.

Lawrence has looked better as his health returned this season, but he's a nose tackle. At some point being athletic for a 340-pound defensive tackle doesn't help you that much. You're still 340 pounds and you only need to be 315 or less in today's NFL. Concerns about his three-down value will come to light and he'll probably still get over-drafted somewhat, but none of that should take away from what will probably still be a good career in the NFL. It isn't Lawrence's fault that the media labeled him a top 10 lock when there was never any evidence he was that caliber of a player.

No chance ha. I've seen this suggested a few times and I just shake my head. Michigan has talented pass-catchers, but Bama's crew is unreal. Jerry Jeudy is going to be one of the more hyped receiver prospects we've ever seen, and Henry Ruggs is a legit 4.2 guy with incredible body control in the air. Two guys like that do not come around every year. And we haven't even mentioned Devonta Smith who also has elite speed and some crazy catches on his resume, or freshman Jaylen Waddle who has been jaw-droppingly veteran-like this season.

Alabama's group is absolutely special. Michigan has talent that shouldn't be diminished by being held to a comparison like this one. They've simply got no shot to hold a candle to Bama's guys.

Greg Little has a great tool set, but hitting his set points, cleaning up his footwork and setting the tone earlier in pass protection are all things that needed to happen at a better rate for him this season, and they just haven't. His punch doesn't have anything on it, and more savvy rushers have taken advantage of his technical lapses to beat him 1v1 this season.

There is still a relatively high ceiling with Little, but on tape he reminds me of Germain Ifedi in some ways. If he can be more teachable than Ifedi has been and land in a better situation, things could definitely work out for him.

But as a rule of thumb, athletic tackles with very little technique are players I don't touch early on (although the NFL does). There are only about five locations in the league that have a chance to get those players to their peak when looking at offensive line coaching around the NFL. Not odds that I like.

First, have fun! For Pitt, both running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall have a shot to be late picks, while right tackle Alex Bookser will get some day three interest as well. Wake Forest is also extremely thin on prospects, but redshirt sophomore wide receiver Greg Dortch is one of the more productive receivers in the country. Center Ryan Anderson, right guard Phil Haynes, running back Matt Colburn, cornerback Essang Bassey and safety Cameron Glenn are worth a look as well. Colburn is fun.

He'd probably have to test at an insane level, because I think Bosa is going to. But in any event, I don't think anyone is wrong who puts him over Bosa. Both are elite prospects who will have monster careers in the NFL. I'll probably have Bosa in my top spot the whole draft season because I've seen it for two years with him and just think there is no chance he busts, but anyone who has Williams in the top spot is alright by me.

It's definitely a bit aggressive, but the landing spot is going to tell the story for Javon Kinlaw. Right now his flashes are excellent, but the consistency is definitely missing. He's physical, high-energy and has legit pass rush moves, but he can get body-bagged by more technical players and needs to develop his overall awareness of blocking concepts.

My guess is he comes off the board in Round 3 unless he tests extremely well. I would think that Round 2 is not out of the question at all, and Philly would be a good landing spot.

Here's why big media's coverage of the NFL Draft often leaves so much to be desired. They dip into a realm they haven't fully done their homework on, make statements like "Clemson's whole defensive line will be top 15 picks, three of them top ten" and then when they don't produce in the box score at an elite level this season, many of these outlets allow the hype train to quietly come to a halt.

But why? There is nothing different this season about the play of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant than there was last year (with the exception of Lawrence, who has been better). Yet Ferrell is the only one who has sort of maintained the energy about his draft stock that existing coming into the season. All four are good players in their own way, but Wilkins and Lawrence were always being overhyped, and Bryant is likely a day three prospect.

My issue isn't that the hype on them seems to have died. It's that there was never any reason for that level of hype in the first place. The whole group "coming back to Clemson for one more year" storyline plays out great in the media, but they came back because they were getting day two projections from the advisory board.

Ferrell should be the first one off the board, but I think Lawrence and Wilkins earliest shot is late Round 1, more likely sometime in Round 2. Bryant has no shot at Round 1, don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.