football Edit

Five programs making the most noise prior to the NFL Draft

Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick
Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick (AP Images)

As the NFL Draft approaches later this month, here are five teams that had plenty of players making news over the last few months through the NFL Scouting Combine and pro days.

MORE: NFL Mock Draft: Post NFL Combine | Five potential steals in the draft

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team


Calvin Ridley
Calvin Ridley (AP Images)

Storyline: The Crimson Tide, coming off another national championship, led all schools with 14 participants at to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. There is definitely buzz around many of the players heading into the draft. Minkah Fitzpatrick could be the first defensive back taken and could be a top 10 pick. Calvin Ridley is almost certainly the No. 1 receiver on every team’s board. Da’Ron Payne has worked his way into first-round discussion at defensive tackle. Linebacker Rashaan Evans could also go in the first round because of his freaky athleticism. Many others have also boosted their stock in recent weeks, too.

Farrell’s Take: Are you surprised? The way Alabama has recruited it’s no surprise to see so many five-stars near the top of the draft. And this is how it seems to be every year. Nick Saban recruits as well as anyone and continues to put players in the NFL Draft, which will only continue the excellent recruiting. There’s no need for fancy analysis here - Alabama is like a minor league NFL team.


Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield (AP Images)

Storyline: In a draft filled with quarterbacks near the top of the first round, Baker Mayfield could be one of the first four taken early on. He’s done tremendously well from the Senior Bowl to the combine and to his pro day, recouping his image a little bit, and now he’s being discussed as a top-five pick. On the flip side, offensive tackle Orlando Brown had an historically bad combine, did a little better at Oklahoma’s pro day and has been mentioned as a possible late first-round pick, if that can be believed. Six Oklahoma players are draft eligible, with Mark Andrews probably one of the first tight ends off the board.

Farrell’s Take: Mayfield will go off quick, but many of the others are sliding a bit. Oklahoma will put quite a few players in the draft, but it looked better before the combine. Mayfield could be a star and is a former transfer who had to walk on at Texas Tech, so he’s a true success story. Oklahoma continues to be the gold standard in recruiting in the Big 12 in many ways, especially with very few top players in their home state, and the battle between OU and Texas on the recruiting trail is now an exciting one again.


Denzel Ward
Denzel Ward (AP Images)

Storyline: The Buckeyes have had 19 players drafted the last two years, and this could be another impressive haul for coach Urban Meyer’s club. Leading the way is cornerback Denzel Ward, who could be the first at his position taken off the board and is a possible top 10 pick. Center Billy Price is a fringe first- or second-round pick, and defensive end Sam Hubbard could be taken in the early rounds, too, along with linebacker Jerome Baker. The Buckeyes have 11 draft-eligible players.

Farrell’s Take: This will be a deep draft for Ohio State but it has fewer first-rounders than the last couple of years. But that won’t last long, as next year and beyond look great for the Buckeyes producing great players. Urban Meyer, to me, is the best recruiter in the country as a head coach and the talent will keep flowing through Columbus.


Connor Williams
Connor Williams (AP Images)

Storyline: Six players from Texas are draft eligibile, and the only one likely to go in the first round is offensive lineman Connor Williams. He should be a mid- to late-first round pick in a draft that’s marginal on offensive line talent (led by Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson). Former five-star linebacker Malik Jefferson could be a mid-round steal and defensive backs Holton Hill and Deshon Elliott should definitely be drafted as well. Oklahoma’s Mayfield and Williams might be the only two Big 12 first-round selections this year.

Farrell’s Take: Finally, Texas is back and this will get better and better each year. The lean years were ugly, but now there is plenty of talent on the roster and we should see the Longhorns consistently put players in the draft and more and more up near the first or second round. Even if it takes a few more years to turn it around on the field, the talent being recruited is at its highest level in a while.


Derwin James
Derwin James (AP Images)

Storyline: Safety Derwin James is expected to be a top-10 pick, but there has also been some movement down for Florida State players through the combine and pro day. No longer is cornerback Tarvarus McFadden considered a first-round pick, and Deion Sanders said at the combine that McFadden might be more suited for safety. But there is also some upward momentum, too, as defensive end Josh Sweat posted great numbers at the combine and receiver Auden Tate is a big-bodied player who could intrigue teams in the early rounds.

Farrell’s Take: It's a period of ups and downs for Florida State prospects, but there will still be quite a few from an underachieving team last season. FSU always puts players in the NFL, which will continue to help recruiting, and I expect things to remain status quo in this area under Willie Taggart.