At this point, it's just a safe assumption that he'll be the first player from the Mid-American Conference to be selected in the NFL Draft. Willie Beavers might not be able to start as a rookie, but that's not to say he's a "project" either.
During his time with Western Michigan, Beavers made 40 straight starts at the blindside position, having to go up against players Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa and Shilique Calhoun. His experience and power has helped him become an all-conference selection in his last two seasons, showing quick feet and agility, making plays in space.
He's got the right attitude, too. Beavers can play either side of the line, but he's willing to move wherever he needs to.
"Let's do it," he said. "Wherever they wanted to see me. If they wanted to see me catching punts, that's what I was going to do." -via The Detroit News
Beavers was able to participate in the Reese's Senior Bowl-- as a right guard. During the practices and game, he wanted to show scouts that he wasn't just, for lack of a better phrase, a big fish in a small pond playing in the MAC, and that he has the tools that teams are looking for in making an investment on him in the draft.
A southeast Michigan product, Beavers has worked out with Jason Jones, a free agent that last played for the Detroit Lions, for three summers. Jones was a second-round pick from Eastern Michigan in 2008 as a defensive end, and the two are also from graduates of Southfield Lathrup high school. No matter where Beavers ends up, the many discussions that the two have had about Jones' stories in playing for three different teams should help the 6-foot-4, 324 pound tackle transition into the league more smoothly.
He'll need to work on his upper body strength before he finds sufficient time on the field at the next level. His 20 reps on the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine was well behind the rest of the pack as 35 others had more than that, 20 with at least 25 reps. His recorded times for agility drills at the combine and at WMU's pro day were on par for average for his position. His 40-time at the combine was clocked at 5.28 seconds, can do the 3-cone drill just a smidgen under 8 seconds, and his short shuttle time is in the ballpark of 4.7 seconds.
Mike Mayock has Beavers as his fifth-ranked offensive tackle; national projections have a wide range on where he'll be drafted, anywhere from the third round to the sixth. ESPN's player rankings ($$$) has him ranked at 181 overall, and obviously that's not how drafts work but the 181st pick in the draft would be the sixth pick of the sixth round, currently held by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The sooner other offensive linemen are selected, the sooner Beavers will (likely) be taken as well. Laramey Tunsil is basically a lock at being a top-5 pick, Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley and Michigan State's Jack Conklin are sure to be first round picks as well. But if the number of defensive players [far] outnumber the amount of offensive players in the first couple of rounds, we could be looking at Beavers in the fourth or fifth rounds.
In any case, there's plenty of potential that goes with Beavers. He's got size, he can move, and he's hungry. Wherever he is selected, he'll have to prove that he can work his way up to a starting role, and can understand his playbook from the left tackle's perspective just as well as he would as a right guard.