The countdown to the 2016 NFL draft is ramping up, with the first round just 22 days away.
As usual, the SEC is expected to have the most draft picks of any league; the SEC had 54 players selected last year, giving the league the most draftees for the ninth year in a row.
And over the past five drafts, the SEC has had 50 first-rounders, followed by the ACC with 26, the Pac-12 with 24, the Big 12 with 20 and the Big Ten with 18. No other league has more than the AAC's six.
With all that as a backdrop, GN is going to look a bit more into the SEC players expected to go early in this draft. We have a 20-question, 20-day "SEC Draft Winds" project, whereby we have polled our contributors and asked a specific question about a high-profile SEC player in this draft.
Would you draft Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott in the first three rounds?
Brady Ackerman: I would take Prescott in the second or third round for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, his mobility in and outside the pocket helped the Mississippi State offense thrive the past two seasons. He's a tremendous competitor who passed for 70 touchdowns in the best league in the country. He has shown the ability to process defenses and takes care of the football. The arm strength issue doesn't resonate with me like others because he's a bright kid who is coachable. His recent DUI may force me to dig a little deeper and make sure this is an isolated instance.
Heath Cline: I'd draft a quarterback every single year, but not necessarily in the first three rounds. If you're a team that believes Prescott fits your system and he's there in round three, I'd strongly consider taking a shot. Before that would be too rich for my blood.
Dan Hancock: The comparisons to another Dan Mullen protégé, Tim Tebow, started in 2014 because of Prescott's ability to extend plays with his legs. Behind the right offensive line, like the Dallas Cowboys', Prescott could find his legs. His frame, though, is smaller than Tebow's and Cam Newton's, so he'd need to rely on his arm for real success. That said, his mechanics are not worthy of an early-round pick. I don't see anyone building an offense around him. If he can get drafted in the later rounds, learn from an NFL veteran and improve his mechanics, he can have a nice career at the next level.
Mike Huguenin: No. I think he could potentially develop into a starter, but I think he is more likely to be an effective NFL backup and a spot starter. I would be more comfortable taking him in the fourth round. I think he would be a good locker-room guy right away, but I think his on-field learning curve is going to take a while to finish.
Leslie Koerdt: Yes. At first glance, that seems like a huge risk. But looking at the progress he has made with his mechanics, his ability to carry his team with little protection and his football intellect make him a good pick for a team that has a quarterback on the roster for Prescott to mirror.
David Levin: Yes, I would. While he is not ideal as far as size, what Prescott has that other quarterbacks may lack is seasoning in the SEC and leadership skills. The recent DUI is a blip on his radar; Prescott has been nothing but a solid citizen at Mississippi State.
Dan Mathews: I'm a huge Prescott fan. He was a winner at Mississippi State and, over time, will become one in the NFL. I think he could be a third-round pick and would thrive in a situation where he can sit behind a veteran for a few seasons. He is new to taking snaps under center, but has everything you want in a QB. He is an effective leader and makes plays. He even showed this when he showed quick accountability for his DUI.
David McKinney: I'm not sure on this one. Prescott is certainly talented, but there are questions about his mechanics. I think Prescott has a pretty good chance of being a starting quarterback in the NFL and a third-round pick would not be wasted on him. He's not the best quarterback in this class, but he's no slouch. So, yes, I'd take him somewhere in round three.
Matt Moscona: I hope I'm wrong about Prescott, but all I see is Tim Tebow. Prescott is a great athlete and was the emotional leader of his MSU team, but has a limited arm and, like Tebow, did not take a snap from under center at the college level. If I was trying to take on a project, I might take a flyer on Prescott in the late rounds, but I would not invest a pick in the first three rounds in the hopes of him becoming a franchise quarterback.
Seth Stokes: I would draft him in the third round. I think he has good leadership capabilities as well as a decently high ceiling from a performance perspective. A couple of mechanical tweaks and you have a big quarterback with a strong arm and a lot of athletic ability.
Jake Wimberly: Prescott has shown immense improvement in his completion percentage, his ability to make an important pass and that he can make just about every throw asked of him. When you combine that with his athletic ability to extend plays with his feet and make the right decisions way more than not, he has positioned himself into a quarterback you have to look at. Prescott won't be the first quarterback taken in this draft, but if I am picking in round three and need a quarterback, I would take a serious look at him. He isn't a guy that you would want to depend on day one, but he is a guy that could be a steal in the third round and someone that could develop into a nice player in the NFL.
(Feature photo by JEREMY BREVARD/USA TODAY SPORTS)
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