The 2014 NFL draft is barely even in the ground. But what about the 2015 Draft?
Le roi est mort, vive le roi!
The cycle never stops, after all.
After having a record-tying six players selected in the 2014 NFL draft, Stanford football now turns its attention to the season this fall - and the players that will define just how good this season will be. Naturally, those players are also garnering attention from NFL scouts and those who are enraptured by scouts' every word: mock drafters.
And, of course, there are already mock drafts aplenty. SB Nation, Sports Illustrated and USA Today have all released their 2015 first round mocks, and there's a common thread among them: there's a lot of Cardinal.
Left tackle Andrus Peat is a consensus pick as one of the top players in the nation going into the fall, and it appears that his competition for the top offensive line spot will be against Brandon Scherff from Iowa and Cedric Ogbuehi from Texas A&M. Peat, who's projected to go 2nd, 14th, or 21st in the three mock drafts listed above, is even seen by some draft-heads as the top NFL prospect for next year.
See Rotoworld's Josh Norris, trying to start a trend:
Given Peat's enormous frame and near-flawless technique, it's no surprise to see him rated so highly, especially when taking a tackle with a top pick in so en vogue. An All-American season, an Outland Trophy and a top-five pick might all be in the cards for the junior from Arizona.
After his breakout 2013 season, Ty Montgomery has also vaulted his way into the first round of all three mock drafts. The senior All-American had the best season for a Stanford receiver since the dawn of the Harbaugh/Shaw era, and the only thing that might be stopping him from repeating that is a deeper receiving corps this year. Given his ability to get deep in a hurry, accelerate quickly on screens, and his versatility returning kicks, Montgomery should be seen as one of the top 5 wide receivers in college football this season.
Kevin Hogan makes a surprise appearance as the 14th overall pick in USA Today's mock draft, which seems to be an overly optimistic (read: bonkers) assessment of the market. Hogan will only be a redshirt junior this fall - and I expect him to stay for his senior year - but whenever he decides to test his skills in the NFL, he should be a trendy project pick given his size, strength and running ability. An NFL quarterback coach would probably just love the chance to work on his throwing motion a little bit. (I mean, Logan freaking Thomas was drafted last week.)
Another junior who isn't mentioned in the mock drafts but should be considered a threat to leave early is cornerback Alex Carter. He might be a sneaky candidate to get drafted very high. Carter's got NFL size and strength, and he's quickly proven himself to be Stanford's best corner over the last two years. After three years of grappling with some of the better wideouts in college football, Carter might jump from the Farm to the NFL and find himself as a top-three round pick.
While those juniors may be drawing the most interest at the moment - and they may all decide to stick around for one more year anyway - Henry Anderson won't have a choice to make come next May. He'll just be waiting on a phone call. Anderson will probably get a lot of love from scouts as a nasty, run-stuffing 5-technique defensive end. The Stanford defense functions at its best when he's in the game, and hopefully he'll be healthy all season and can showcase his immense 6-foot-6, 295-pound frame by ruining opposing offenses.
Fellow defender A.J. Tarpley might also be a good pick to be among the top 5 inside linebackers in the 2015 draft. He's an excellent tackler and he's been Stanford's best linebacker in coverage - bar none - over the past three seasons. On top of that, Tarpley has no health concerns like Shayne Skov had after his tenure at Stanford, and he should run quite well based on what he's put on tape. I wouldn't put it past him to be a second or third round pick.
Outside linebacker James Vaughters could also pique scouts' interest come draft time.Take new USC coach Steve Sarkisian's comment from last fall:
Sarkisian said Stanford linebacker James Vaughters "looks like he plays for the Seattle Seahawks."— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) October 7, 2013
If that's not high praise, I don't know what is. At 6-foot-2, 254 pounds (the same size as #5 overall pick Khalil Mack), it may all just come down to how fast Vaughters can run - NFL teams do get hot and bothered over outside linebackers that can move it.
Wayne Lyons is another name to watch as the fall progresses, and a guy who could considerably improve his draft stock with one superb season. Lyons has been a capable player over his three years on the Farm, if not the absurdly hyped player some thought he might be, but he's for sure going to get interest from the NFL. 37 cornerbacks were picked in 2014 draft as defenses try to keep up with the dangerous modern passing game, and corners who can actually tackle - as Lyons can - are highly valued.
Last but not least, kicker Jordan Williamson might also earn a spot at an NFL camp a year from now. Kickers don't get drafted, but Williamson has showed he has an NFL-caliber leg when his accuracy's on.
So can Stanford finally break its own draft record? May 2015 is a long way off - as the extra two weeks before the 2014 draft taught us - but the Cardinal's chances are looking pretty good.