Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.
After a down year, Virginia Tech fails to push its typically elite crop of talent to the NFL Draft this spring. But that doesn’t mean Hokies will go unselected. Five former Tech players were invited to last month’s NFL Draft Scouting Combine, and yet none of them will be off the board until day three. It’s both indicative of a weak senior class for VPI, as well as some phenomenal underclassmen depth. Bet on this group being twice as big next season.
Corey Fuller, WR, Senior (Projected: Fifth Round)
With injuries all along Tech’s wide receiving corps, Fuller was given ample opportunity to be “the man” in the passing game. And while he failed to capitalize with consistency, he still showed plenty of potential as a standout receiver who could excel in a three-wideout set as a pro. Though not overly big (6’2″ and 204 pounds), Fuller has can’t miss speed running 40-yard dash in just 4.32 seconds and that alone is what has scouts excited about his upside. His soft hands and spot-on route running also provide some hope for him as a potential big-play target. If he can put on a few more pounds without losing speed, and increase some of that leaping ability, one pro team could end up with one of the breakout sleepers of the draft.
Vinston Painter, OT, Senior (Projected: Fifth Round)
Since the season ended, Painter’s certainly helped his case in workouts, moving up draft boards at one of the tougher spots to do so: offensive tackle. Considering his size (6’4″ and 306 pounds), he runs a very impressive 40-yard dash (4.9 seconds), and possesses a quick first move off the snap. His size and speed also allow him the versatility to play either the tackle or guard position, making him more valuable than other, slower prospects. Strength and conditioning-wise he’s already in some great habits, and those types of smarts speak volumes to scouts, who want to see investments in players pay off. I’ve got him going in the fifth, but if there’s a surge of linemen picked early, he could very well move up into round four.
Marcus Davis, WR, Senior (Projected: Sixth Round)
As Fuller’s counterpart in the Hokies’ passing game, Davis exhibited similar struggles with consistency — though not exclusively due to either of them. At 6’3″ and 233 pounds, he has the physical attributes to be the home run threat Fuller potentially could be, but lacks the true breakaway speed (4.47 40-yard dash) to follow through on that goal. Scouts see issues with his route-running, run-blocking and overall focus — all huge elements of any young wide receiver’s repertoire, and things that Fuller excels at. Also fails to use his hands when catching the ball, opting for catching with his chest. He’ll find himself selected, with ample opportunity to be on a roster this fall, however, he has some work to do to prove he possesses the mental makeup of an NFL player.
Nick Becton, OT, Senior (Projected: Seventh Round)
In a draft that’s decidedly O-line heavy, Becton appears to have all the physical tools to be selected: expansive wing span, large build (6’5″ and 323 pounds) and decent foot speed. And yet, because of that depth, and a few lingering scouting issues, there’s no guarantee he comes off the board at all. Teams seem to love his physical potential, but at the moment, he’s more prospect than known quantity. With his height, Becton automatically goes high when blocking, which can prove dangerous, especially against smaller tacklers. He also struggles maintaining blocks while on the move. Again though, it’s all about potential. If Becton can work on his technique and play a flex guard/tackle role, he has a ton of upside.
Bruce Taylor, ILB, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)
Taylor’s college career may have never materialized into what many thought it could be, but that won’t stop him from becoming a professional football player — drafted or not. Long and athletic, he’s a perfect fit for an inside linebacker spot, with a penchant for run-stopping and some fantastic tackling ability. Unfortunately, his speed (5.0 40-yard dash) and susceptibility to falling for play-action fakes have allowed him to fall on draft boards, but there’s plenty of room for improvement there, too. At 6’1″ and 237 pounds, he should be slightly faster than he is, which would vastly improve his ability to read and react at the snap.