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NFL Draft: QB Joe Burrow, WRs and tackles headline draft


By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer
Top offensive players available in the NFL draft (x-entered draft with college eligibility remaining).
QUARTERBACKS
Position outlook: The presumptive No. 1 overall, a likely top-five pick with injury concerns, another first-rounder — but how high? — and a real wild card.
Joe Burrow, 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, LSU
Strengths: Accuracy, poise and athleticism, plus the ability to command an offense.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t have the biggest arm.
Fact: The Heisman Trophy winner almost doubled his 2018 passing yards per game (222.6) in 2019 (429.2).
Gone by: Once again, Burrow will be No. 1.
x-Tua Tagovailoa, 6-0, 217, Alabama
Strengths: Quick release, with excellent mid-range accuracy and nimble feet.
Weaknesses: Coming off a serious hip injury.
Fact: Threw 76 touchdown passes in 24 starts the past two seasons.
Gone by: Injury history is the only thing that could keep him out of the top five.
Justin Herbert, 6-6, 236, Oregon
Strengths: Ideal size and a good athlete.
Weaknesses: Spotty touch. His passes often sail when he lets loose.
Fact: Surprisingly returned for his senior year to his hometown school and increased his completion percentage from 59.4 percent to 66.8.
Gone by: Conservatively, top-12.
x-Jordan Love, 6-4, 224, Utah State
Strengths: Big and talented arm. Tall, smooth athlete.
Weaknesses: Telegraphs some throws and will bail out of workable pockets at times.
Fact: TD-to-INT ratio went from 32:6 in 2018 to 20:17 last season.
Gone by: Top-10. Or early Day 2.
Others: x-Jake Fromm, Georgia; x-Jacob Eason, Washington; Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma.
RUNNING BACKS
Position outlook: We all know the deal with running backs not getting the love they once did in the NFL, but a couple of these guys could slip into the first round.
x-Jonathan Taylor, 5-10, 226, Wisconsin
Strengths: Checks all the boxes for size and speed and rarely misses a snap.
Weaknesses: Ball security. And durability can work against a guy who carried such a heavy load in college.
Fact: Carried 926 times for 6,174 yards in three seasons.
Gone by: Early second round.
x-D’Andre Swift, 5-8, 212, Georgia
Strengths: Quick cuts combined with good vision.
Weaknesses: Gets home-run happy at times instead of moving piles forward.
Fact: Never had more than 220 touches from scrimmage in a college season.
Gone by: Middle of the second, but probably the running back most likely to be a first-round pick.
x-Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 5-7, 207, LSU;
Strengths: Shifty with great balance.
Weaknesses: So-so speed, especially for his size.
Fact: Had 55 receptions for 453 yards last season.
Gone by: Late second.
Others: x-J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State; x-Cam Akers, Florida State; Zack Moss, Utah; x-AJ Dillon, Boston College.
TACKLES
Position outlook: The deepest position in the draft after wide receiver. Likely to produce three top-15 picks and about a half-dozen first-rounders.
x-Jedrick Wills, 6-4, 312, Alabama
Strengths: Plays smart and mean.
Weaknesses: Lacks ideal size.
Fact: Allowed one sack in 39 college games, playing exclusively at right tackle.
Gone by: Top 15.
x-Mekhi Becton, 6-7, 365, Louisville
Strengths: Huge and nimble for his size.
Weaknesses: Technique needs to be refined.
Fact: Has 7-foot wingspan.
Gone by: Top 15.
x-Tristan Wirfs, 6-5, 320, Iowa
Strengths: Rare athleticism for his size.
Weaknesses: Arm length is less than ideal.
Fact: Ran a 4.85-second 40-yard dash at the combine.
Gone by: Top 15.
x-Andrew Thomas, 6-5, 315, Georgia
Strengths: Strong hands and the ability to play either side of the line.
Weaknesses: Can get off-balance and heavy on his feet.
Fact: Three-year starter and All-American last season.
Gone by: Early second
Josh Jones, 6-5, 319, Houston
Strengths: Fluid athlete.
Weaknesses: Needs to add power in run blocking.
Fact: Four-year starter at left tackle.
Gone by: Early second.
x-Austin Jackson, 6-4, 322, USC
Strengths: Long arms and light on his feet.
Weaknesses: High upside, but very raw.
Fact: Turns 21 in August, making him one of the youngest players available in the draft.
Gone by: Middle of the second.
x-Isaiah Wilson, 6-6, 350, Georgia
Strengths: Ideal size and build.
Weaknesses: Fundamentals and technique have a ways to go.
Fact: Two-year starter at right tackle who redshirted as a freshman.
Gone by: Widest range of possibilities, from middle of the first to middle of the third.
x-Ezra Cleveland, 6-6, 311, Boise State
Strengths: Natural athlete for his size.
Weaknesses: Needs to play with more power.
Fact: Late bloomer in high school who started drawing interest as a junior.
Gone by: Middle of the second.
Others: Lucas Niang, TCU; Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn; Alex Taylor, South Carolina State.
INTERIOR LINEMAN
Position outlook: Maybe a late first-rounder in this group.
x-Cesar Ruiz, 6-2, 307, Michigan
Strengths: Solid build. Plays smart and instinctive.
Weaknesses: Quickness is lacking.
Fact: Started the final 31 games of his career.
Gone by: Middle of the second.
Others: Lloyd Cushenberry, center, LSU; John Simpson, guard, Clemson; Robert Hunt, guard, Louisiana-Lafayette; Netane Muti, guard, Fresno State.
WIDE RECEIVERS
Position outlook: There are so many good options at receiver in this class teams might look elsewhere in the first round and circle back in Day 2.
x-Jerry Jeudy, 6-1, 193, Alabama
Strengths: Smooth and polished route runner with excellent burst.
Weaknesses: Slim build lacks strength.
Fact: Caught 26 touchdown passes, second behind only Amari Cooper in Alabama history.
Gone by: About No. 12.
x-CeeDee Lamb, 6-1, 195, Oklahoma
Strengths: Game-breaking elusiveness after the catch.
Weaknesses: Will have to develop quickness off the line to beat press coverage.
Fact: All-American and Biletnikoff Award finalist last season.
Gone by: About No. 12.
x-Henry Ruggs III, 5-11, 188, Alabama
Strengths: Elite speed and acceleration.
Weaknesses: His game is somewhat limited but what he does well is hard to find.
Fact: Almost 25% of his 98 career receptions went for touchdowns (24).
Gone by: Top 20.
x-Justin Jefferson, 6-1, 202, LSU
Strengths: Dominated from the slot with great body control.
Weaknesses: Size and strength weren’t tested much in LSU’s offense.
Fact: Led major college football with 111 catches last year for 1,540 yards.
Gone by: End of the first round.
x-Tee Higgins, 6-4, 216, Clemson
Strengths: Takes advantage of his size to make contested catches.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t get a lot of separation in his routes.
Fact: Tied DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins with school-record 27 touchdown catches at Clemson.
Gone by: Middle of the second.
Denzel Mims, 6-2, 207, Baylor
Strengths: Blazing speed and long arms.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent hands. Makes great catches, drops some easy ones.
Fact: Texas state 3A high school champion in the 200-meter dash.
Gone by: Middle of the second.
x-Laviska Shenault Jr., 6-1, 227, Colorado
Strengths: Powerful and explosive player getting to the ball and running with it after the catch.
Weaknesses: Injuries limited him to short bursts of high-level production.
Fact: Scored six touchdowns receiving and five rushing in his breakout 2018 season.
Gone by: Anywhere from end of Round 1 to end of Round 3.
Brandon Aiyuk, 6-0, 205, Arizona State
Strengths: Dangerous after the catch.
Weaknesses: Needs to play stronger in traffic.
Fact: Missed the Senior Bowl after abdominal injury.
Gone by: Middle of the second.
x-K.J. Hamler, 5-9, 185, Penn State
Strengths: Elusive with uncommon burst of speed.
Weaknesses: Undersized and had some drops last season.
Fact: Torn ACL cost him senior year of high school and he redshirted as a freshman in college.
Gone by: Some team might see Tyreek Hill-type playmaker and grab him in the first round. Or he could slip to Day 3.
Chase Claypool, 6-4, 238, Notre Dame
Strengths: Huge with 4.42 speed.
Weaknesses: Much room for improvement in route running. Could end up as a tight end.
Fact: Grew up in British Columbia, Canada, just north of the U.S. border.
Gone by: End of Day 2.
x-Jalen Reagor, 5-10, 206, TCU
Strengths: Speed to get deep and shiftiness to turn short plays into long gains.
Weaknesses: Can get pushed around in coverage.
Fact: The son of former Texas Tech star and longtime NFL defensive lineman Montae Reagor.
Gone by: Middle of Day 2.
Michael Pittman, 6-4, 223, Southern California.
Strengths: Big receiver who can overwhelm defenders with size and body control.
Weaknesses: Lacks quickness.
Fact: Father Michael Pittman played running back for Fresno State and 11 seasons in the NFL.
Gone by: End of Day 2.
Others: Van Jefferson, Florida; Bryan Edwards, South Carolina; K.J. Hill, Ohio State; Collin Johnson, Texas; Lynn Bowden, Kentucky.
TIGHT ENDS
Position outlook: Even the best players in this group aren’t first-round locks.
x-Cole Kmet, 6-6, 262, Notre Dame
Strengths: Big target who can overpower tacklers.
Weaknesses: Needs lot of work as a blocker.
Fact: Played baseball at Notre Dame and had 10 saves in 34 games as a left-handed reliever.
Gone by: Middle of the second round.
Others: Harrison Bryant, FAU; Adam Trautman, Dayton; Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri; Hunter Bryant, Washington.


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