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Indiana Hoosiers NFL Draft Primer — Part I

The 2018 NFL Draft will be held in Dallas from April 26 through April 28. There are seven rounds and 256 selections in the draft.  You can see the complete draft order here.

Several former IU players will either be drafted or signed as free agents this year.  Indiana has never had more than three players drafted in the first seven rounds in the draft, but it has a chance to meet or exceed that record in 2018.

Today we will look at the five former players that were invited to the NFL Draft Combine last month.  Tomorrow we will look at the remaining six Hoosiers that were not invited to the Combine but participated in the IU NFL Pro Day.

SIMMIE COBBS

Simmie Cobbs is a 6-4 wide receiver from Oak Park, Illinois.  He was a 2017 First Team All Big Ten performer.

Outlook:  Cobbs appears likely to be drafted on Saturday (rounds 4-7).

Selected Draft Projections/Rankings

  • 5th round (155th overall) — NFL Network
  • 32nd ranked receiver, 215th overall — CBS
  • 239th overall — Pro Football Focus
  • Mel Kiper’s 143rd overall / 19th overall WR

What They are Saying

Cobbs has excellent body control and ball skills, shows really good focus and has an outstanding catch radius. He lacks suddenness and won’t make many miss, but is strong runner after the catch. The biggest concern is his limited route tree, and he will need a lot of work to refine those skills.  — ESPN

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CHRIS COVINGTON

Chris Covington is 6-2, 245 pound linebacker out of Chicago.  He was voted as IU’s 2017 defensive player of the year.

Outlook:  Covington appears to be on the fence between being selected on Saturday (rounds 4-7), and going undrafted.  He would be signed during free agency and get an opportunity at training camp if undrafted.

Selected Draft Projections/Rankings

  • 340th overall/28th LB — CBS
  • Mel Kiper’s 229th overall / 12th ranked ILB

What They are Saying

Chris Covington is a sturdy athlete with the requisite athleticism and power to compete for a role in the NFL. As a converted quarterback who began his collegiate career as a passer, the questions about Covington’s long-term linebacker projection linger. He’ll have to spend a couple of years learning the nuances of the linebacker position before being expected to do too much, but the foundation is there to warrant a look during training camp. — Bleacher Report

Covington was featured in a NFL Network video here that discusses potential “mid-round gems”.

Video

RASHARD FANT

Rashard Fant is a 5-10, 180 pound cornerback from Atlanta.  He was voted 2nd-team All Big Ten by the media.

Outlook:  Fant appears to be on the fence between being selected on Saturday (rounds 4-7), and going undrafted.  He would be signed during free agency and get an opportunity at training camp if undrafted.

Draft Projections/Rankings

  • 302nd overall / 36th CB – CBS
  • Mel Kiper’s 41st overall CB

What They are Saying

If Fant were a little bigger, we’d be talking about him as an early Day 3 selection, but his lack of size is hard to overlook. Teams that want a high-character depth cornerback with some development potential will like him as a priority free agent. — Bleacher Report.

You can also read an interesting Draft Wire interview with Fant here.

Video

TEGRAY SCALES

Tegray Scales is a 6-0, 230 pound linebacker from Cincinnati.  He was voted first team All Big Ten by the media and was the IU team MVP.

Outlook:  Scales appears likely to be drafted on Saturday (rounds 4-7).  If he is selected he will be the first Indiana linebacker taken since Van Waiters in 1988.

Draft Projections/Rankings

  • Round 6 / 191st overall – NFL Network
  • 9th ranked OLB/117th overall – CBS
  • 197th overall — Pro Football Focus
  • Mel Kiper’s 271st overall / 22nd OLB

What They are Saying

Scales is built like a weakside outside linebacker and plays like an inside linebacker. His frame and length will likely prevent him from developing into a starter but he has a chance to be an above-average backup WILB or WLB and core special teams contributor. — ESPN

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IAN THOMAS

Ian Thomas is a 6-3, 259 pound tight end from Baltimore.  He was Honorable Mention All Big Ten.

Outlook:  Thomas should be the first Hoosier selected and appears likely to be drafted on Friday (rounds 2 and 3).

Draft Projections/Rankings

  • Round 3 / 83rd overall — NFL Network
  • 139th overall / 5th TE — CBS
  • 177th overall — Pro Football Focus
  • Mel Kiper’s 53rd overall / 4th overall TE

What They are Saying

He has slightly below-average height, but is tightly packed with a thick, muscular build. He’s a natural hands catcher and reliable target with impressive body control, but needs to learn an NFL route tree and show the ability to separate more frequently on his own. He’s not elusive after the catch and needs to do a better job with ball security, but does show adequate acceleration. He’s not dominant at the point of attack, but has adequate size and the strength to sustain blocks. — ESPN

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