Instead of assigning draft grades - which seem like one of the more pointless exercises in sports media- we shift towards this time a year from now. Here is a list of a few names currently on the roster that have a chance to hear their name called in 2015.
Knowing how hard it is to predict the 256 called, the list is more select. There are upperclassmen that could have a breakout year and improve their draftability. But as it stands now, there does not appear to be a lot of NFL-level talent on the roster that will be eligible to leave next year.
The list includes players who are entering either their Junior or Senior season as listed on UA's website and my best estimation of which prospect will go first. I am neither Mel, Todd, or Mike so feel free to disagree and add your own to the list.
1) DE Trey Flowers - He led the team in 13.5 tackles for loss in 2014, received a third round grade from the NFL advisory committee for this year's draft, and in a bit of a surprise decided to return to try and improve draft stock. Standing at 6-foot-4, 267-pounds and with a low-40 time of 4.6 seconds, Flowers could rise up draft boards quickly with a good season, even going in the first two rounds. It will be interesting to watch how much Chris Smith aided Flowers' path to the backfield.
2) OG Brey Cook - Here is an opportunity to continue Offensive Line U, which we joked about during recruiting season. Travis Swanson went in the third round to the Lions on Friday and, with some polishing, look for Cook to try and mimic his steps. Cook will most likely project as a guard at 6-7, 328.
3) CB Tevin Mitchel - The potential is there for Mitchell to be drafted. It comes down to whether or not he fulfills that potential. There are glimpses in pass coverage with broken up passes, but then there are still times where he looks lost out there. He has run a 40 in the low 4.4's, which with his length could create trouble if it all comes together.
4) S Alan Turner - Run stopper: check. Pass coverage: questionable. It's the pass coverage that is more important in the League and what scouts will want to see improved going forward. I lived with a guy named Alan Turner and all I want is to buy him a football card with his name on it for his birthday. Improved pass coverage could make that wish come true.
5) LB Martrell Spaight - In the same fashion that Michael Qualls became Sportscenter famous, if Spaight, who is known for his booming hits during practice, can leave some opponents "Spaighted," make his way on to the right highlight reels then maybe the right eyes notice him. Of course there is more to playing linebacker in the NFL than big hits, but if can improve his overall game and get noticed via a tackle or two, a late-round call isn't out of the question.
6) RB Jonathan Williams - Getting drafted as a running back is not easy, especially if you're sharing carries with another, more talented back on your team. After a dip in production as the season wore on last year, I don't see Williams leaving early, but with decreased playing time because of Alex Collins and now Korliss Marshall you never know.
Redshirt sophomores to watch: Darius Philon, Deatrich Wise, Jr.,
Looking at these players, and particularly the dearth of skill position players, it's becomes easier to see how getting to a bowl game will be a miracle, especially since the Hogs play in the league from which the most players were drafted. The good news that the roster is getting more skilled in the younger years. Hopefully this transfers to more NFL-ready players in the next two seasons as the underclassmen become draft eligible.