In football, many great prospects emerge not because they practiced and practiced and finally mastered a position, but because they practiced and practiced and mastered the wrong position. Sometimes great prospects emerge when a coach sees the traits to make a player into something else. We've seen Vic Beasley and Anthony Barr turn into great pass-rushers after a previous life at running back, and today I debut a defensive lineman with a previous life as a dominant high school tight end.
Minnesota saw the seeds of a talented defensive lineman in Ra'Shede Hageman and redshirted him to get him time there. And a few years after he was one of the top tight end recruits in the country, Hageman has worked his way into first-round consideration as a defensive lineman.
As always, scouting reports remain similar week to week, with updates on matchups. Asterisks denote juniors; two asterisks denote redshirt sophomores.
Jadeveon Clowney *
No player is schemed around more, and it's hurt his production. Clowney has great strength and quickness as well as strong hands to quickly shed blocks. He's not just an edge rusher looking to quickly turn the corner, as he beats average tackles both inside and outside, which causes many double-teams. His quickness can get him in trouble with overpursuit, but that's a good problem to have.
PREVIOUS RANK: No. 1 | PLAYER CARD
Teddy Bridgewater *
I still have him just ahead of Marcus Mariota among QBs, but it's basically a toss-up. Bridgewater has looked comfortable most of the time, but some of that just raises questions about the competition. He does have great poise and increased polish. He moves his eyes quickly and often scans the whole field. When he sees a target, he has a quick release, plenty of arm strength and good ball placement. I really like how he calibrates his throws, not using too much arm when he doesn't need to.
PREVIOUS RANK: No. 2 | PLAYER CARD
Coming back has helped him -- so far. He can get pinned by bigger blockers, but it's impossible to keep him blocked consistently, and I love his pursuit when the play runs away from him. A former fullback, he has a powerful lower half and has a long frame and reach. He had 13.5 sacks last season and could have left for the NFL, but if he's able to grow with another year of seasoning at the position, it's only going to make him a more attractive talent.
PREVIOUS RANK: No. 3 | PLAYER CARD