We should all be familiar with the Quinten Rollins unique story by now. His seemingly untapped potential has scouts drooling after what he was able to do after only one season. CBSSports.com has Rollins as the 7th corner and ranked 55th overall. Most sites seem to have him going in the second round.
Rollins seems to be the consensus number one guy from the MAC but can anyone else move up and usurp the top spot? There's really two guys that seem to have a chance, Leterrius Walton and Titus Davis.
Titus Davis is the total opposite of Rollins. Davis has broken the record books to become one of the most decorated wideouts at Central Michigan after playing four seasons. There is little doubt on what Davis can do and he really has nothing else to prove. CBSSports has him as the 22 ranked wideout and 160 overall.
Walton may not have the name recognition that either Davis or Rollins have but he is still a player. He is an explosive player who has good hands which probably comes from his basketball and baseball background. He has the same kind of mysterious intrigue in that he hasn't played the defensive line for a long time and teams see a lot of potential. CBS has him as the 14 ranked DT and 140 overall.
So what are some of the factors that will determine who gets picked first?
Position, Position, Position
If you watched Super Bowl 49 and weren't a fan of the Seattle Seahawks, you may have had trouble naming any of the wide receivers lining up for the NFC Champs. This seems to be a strategy that is catching on where teams only spend big money on the elite WRs and skimp on the rest. The 2015 WR class is also packed with talent which means a guy like Davis, who don't have great measurable, may get overlooked. So while many teams are looking to add pass catchers through the draft this year is loaded.
Defensive tackle isn't exactly a sexy pick but it is a necessary one. Teams love to rush off the edge but to do that you need a big body to clog up the middle. Successful defenses build from the inside out and teams are always looking for a dominant DT which was confirmed by the contract Ndamukong Suh got from the Dolphins. If a team with a need at DT likes Walton they could take a chance on him before any MAC player.
Cornerback on the other hand plays a coveted position in the pass happy NFL. Teams are always in need of good corners and a guy who was the DPOY in the MAC after only one year of ball puts him near the top of draft boards. More teams will have a need at corner than one at wideout.
Potential and Mystery
Davis was a productive player for four years at CMU and has a ton of game tape to show for it. Teams have seen him progress over his career and (at least in their minds) can more easily project his career path.
Walton isn't exactly the unknown that Rollins is but he certainly isn't the known quantity that Davis is. He started as an offensive lineman before switching to the other side of the ball. In high school he played baseball and basketball before taking up football. According to an AFC West scout he has good hands and feet, probably from his baseball and basketball career.
Rollins playing only one year really helped but only because of how great it ended up being. NFL teams are enamored at his ceiling once they get him into camp and are able to coach him up even more. He is almost like the European NBA prospect that doesn't have a lot of tape on him but has almost fable like stories about him and how good he is. It seems that teams would rather have less tape on a guy and think about what a player could be instead of what he is.
Skills and Abilities
Davis' skills are well documented as he showcased them over four years. He can get separation and rarely drops the open pass. He accumulated 204 catches over his career and 37 touchdowns, never having less than eight in a year. Very few players have been this productive for that long a period of time at the college level. He is not like some of the flash-in-the-pan type prospects who only had one good year.
Walton had three straight seasons of at least 30 tackles and started every game of his junior and senior years. He's shown that he can penetrate in the backfield with 9.5 TFLs in 2013. He's a disciplined player who fills his gaps and does exactly what you want a defensive tackle to do.
Playing only one year of football didn't leave us with much tape on Rollins but what tape he does have is pretty damn good. His ball skills would be exceptional for any player, let alone a guy who spent his last four years on the hardwood. Nine pass breakups along with seven INTs will definitely get you noticed. He also showed that he isn't afraid of run support or getting his nose dirty as he compiled 72 total tackles.
All three players had good, not great workouts. Davis didn't have the greatest measurables, with his small hands and unimpressive 40 time, but did catch pretty much every ball thrown his way in drills. His hands may be small but he proved to scouts that size doesn't matter.
Walton showed his explosiveness with a 1.79 10 yard split and his 5.25 overall 40 was pretty good for a 315 pounder. Despite being 315 pounds, Walton will still have to add some strength and mass and with his frame he could develop into a monster.
Rollins didn't have a 40 time that blew anyone away at the combine. At 4.57 that doesn't put him anywhere near the elite corners in the NFL but he demonstrated his aforementioned ball skills during individual drills. His time won't push him up the draft boards but it wasn't bad enough to warrant a drop either.
If someone is going to take Rollins' spot atop of the MAC draft board I would say Leterrius Walton has the best shot. When compared to Davis he has the higher position need and stands out more against his competition. In terms of potential Walton probably has more only because people aren't totally sure what he is yet. As with Davis you have a pretty good idea. In terms of skills you have to give the edge to Davis as he has time and time again shown that he is a reliable pass catcher and a dominant player. I would say the combine was a push between them and it is tough to judge how much stock teams put into those workouts anyways.
So does Walton have any chance at being drafted before Rollins? Probably not. The Miami product has a ton of hype and is pretty far ahead of Walton in the first three categories. However, it only takes one team who loves Walton or Davis to make a reach and select them earlier than expected. Crazier things have happened. Remember when Christian Ponder went in the first round.