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23 fun NFL Draft prospects you should want on your team

You know all about the first-rounders. But here are the players college football fans will be rooting for all draft weekend.

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Kenny Bell, Nebraska WR

by Faux Pelini

It's tempting to reference Bell's amazing afro in the first sentence, but that wouldn't be fair. He's the career leader in receptions and receiving yards at Nebraska (OK yes, it's Nebraska, but still). He also led the Huskers in receiving in each of his four years, the first time that's ever been done.

Most importantly, he led the nation in Most Midwestern White Children Inspired to Wear More-Cute-Than-Racist Afro Wigs to Football Games and once said he "would play for Bo Pelini against Satan himself and a team of demons at the gates of the underworld." You can look it up.

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State WR

by Jason Kirk

2014's No. 1 receiver in all-purpose yards per game is projected to go in the third round or so.

He is nearly impossible to cover or tackle. Look at this pure evil (via Dan Hope):

Round 3 or so? The NFL is not all that smart sometimes.

James Castleman, Oklahoma State DT

by Bill Connelly

Castleman is a solid lineman, and his size is just enough to potentially stick in the NFL. He made 18 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in three seasons, and he was good at batting passes down. That's all fine.

But he also blocked five kicks in two seasons.

And he's a 300-pound wildcat quarterback.

And a tight end.

Top that, Leonard Williams.

Stefon Diggs, Maryland WR

by Pete Volk

He can do things like this:


And when he wasn't injured (he played for Randy Edsall; everyone got injured), he was one of the country's most explosive players. He averaged 15.7 yards per touch as a true freshman while playing with a freshman scout team linebacker at quarterback.

Diggs will live in Maryland lore for his part in the pre-game handshake spat with Penn State. The wide receiver then suffered a lacerated kidney and kept playing, leading Maryland to its first-ever win in State College.

Gerod Holliman, Louisville DB

by Rodger Sherman

Holliman will not fight in this violent war. He's the guy solving the quarterback's Enigma Machine and just ending the whole damn thing by himself.

He sprang from nowhere to tie a 46-year-old NCAA record with 14 interceptions. His tackling varies between "bad" and "disinterested and bad," but his ballhawking and QB mindmeld are unparalleled.

Sam Ficken, Penn State K

by Peter Berkes

In 2012, the Nittany Lions fell to 0-2 in their first year of NCAA sanctions after Ficken missed four field goals, including one from 20 yards, against Virginia. He wasn't supposed to be the starter -- the team's top kicker had transferred out -- but he became a goat.

Two years later, he ranked among the top 20 kickers in the country. In the last game of his college career at the Pinstripe Bowl, he used Derek Jeter's locker and hit a 45-yarder to force overtime, plus the extra point to win it. Coincidence? Doubtful.

Jaelen Strong, Arizona State WR

by Jason Kirk

He could get into the first round if the great wide receiver run of '15 strikes, but that's a minimal description of the dude who took advantage of the worst USC breakdown you'll seeregularly broke out both highlight catches and big blocks and pulled off nonsense like this:


Chris Conley, Georgia WR

by Steven Godfrey

What's most important: Conley was overlooked during his time at UGA and, not surprisingly, tore up the Combine.

What's also important: of the many athletes I've ever stuck a tape recorder in front of, Conley is the most prescient. He knows how words can be confused, especially during the Todd Gurley saga.

More than anything, he seemed amused that the media was so surprised a football player would make a Star Wars fan film. Conley has a bright future in the league and a brighter one as a voice for American athletes.

Michael Bennett, Ohio State DT

by Jason Kirk

The NFL's current Michael Bennett has already set a fun standard, which the new one meets. Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White believes in him on the field, but more importantly:

Nick Marshall, Auburn QB

by Chris Fuhrmeister

No, Marshall won't play quarterback in the NFL. But pro offenses are becoming more innovative, and you can trace a bit of that directly to the former UGA cornerback.

Remember the Kick Six*? It wouldn't have mattered without Marshall's pop pass touchdown. During Week 1 of the next NFL season, fans saw something familiar. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said he borrowed the idea from Auburn's Gus Malzahn, which means Seattle QB Russell Wilson was playing the role of Marshall. Turns out the Tiger was an NFL QB after all.

Marshall also threw the "Prayer at Jordan-Hare" to beat Georgia two weeks earlier.

Shaq Thompson, Washington LB

by Jason Kirk

He might be a first-rounder as a linebacker, where he was a first-team All-American. Or a safety, where he was a five-star recruit.

But when would the 6'1, 228-pounder be drafted as a running back, where he was once a Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week? Nickelback, where he was Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 in 2012? He also dabbled in returning punts and had five defensive touchdowns.

Let's hope that wherever Thompson lands, his coaches get creative.

Senquez Golson, Ole Miss DB

by Jason Kirk

Here was Golson in 2011 against Alabama, getting juked out of his soul by Trent Richardson.

Here was Golson in 2014 against Alabama, snaring the ball that led to Oxford's best night in decades.

Joe Murphy, Getty

Has the Trent Richardson in your life side-stepped you into oblivion? Have the last laugh anyway. Be Senquez Golson.

Connor Halliday, Washington State QB

by Brian Floyd

A list of things from Halliday's college career:

  • The first pass he threw in non-mopup duty went for 85 yards and a touchdown. He went on to throw for 494 yards and four touchdowns, winning a game Wazzu had no business winning.
  • The next game? Three interceptions in the first half. He played better in the second half, after suffering a lacerated liver (while falling asleep on the sideline).
  • Threw the ball 89 times in a blowout loss to Oregon.
  • Broke the Division I record for passing yards in a loss (on a last-second field goal in a ridiculous game) against Cal.
  • Finished ninth in passing yards in 2014 despite breaking his leg and missing a quarter of the season.
  • His mom made this photo from our Washington State blog into a poster, and he hung it up on his wall:

Tayo Fabuluje, TCU OL

Tayo Fabuluje's story is long, so let's make the exposition quick:

1) When he was five, his father was deported to Nigeria. The two haven't seen each other since.

2) Before his breakout sophomore season in 2012, his mother was prosecuted for felony theft. She's still in jail.

3) During the 2012 season, Fabuluje's sister stayed at his college apartment. Almost no one knew -- not his guardians, not his best friend, not TCU head coach Gary Patterson.

4) The 2012 Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year was out of football in 2013, working three jobs to make enough money to support himself and his sister while watching his weight balloon to nearly 400 pounds.


Amarlo Herrera, Georgia LB

by Peter Berkes

Herrera is a fine player who racked up big tackle numbers. That's well and good, but obscures his true value. He is one of the last acolytes of the cowboy collar, football's forgotten fashion piece. Seriously, look at him:

Sam Greenwood, Getty

Jay Ajayi, Boise State RB

by Jason Kirk

Let him explain his Jay-Train celebration, soccer fandom and love of pickle juice.

"It definitely helps. I take a shot before the game or a shot at halftime," he says. "And whenever I feel like my legs are getting kind of tight, I would take a shot of pickle juice. So I will definitely stay with it."

Michael Dyer, Louisville RB

by Chris Fuhrmeister

Dyer was a five-star recruit who broke Bo Jackson's Auburn freshman rushing record. He was BCS Championship MVP, delivering one of the most memorable plays in BCS history.

A year later, he was gone after a violation of team rules. He got a second chance at Arkansas State, then wasted it when he was pulled over with marijuana and a gun in his car. Maurice Clarett, Part II. That's what everyone assumed.

But he earned an associate degree at Arkansas Baptist College, then transferred to Louisville, where he rushed for 704 yards over two injury-plagued seasons. Dyer didn't turn out to be the superstar everyone expected, but after nearly throwing it all away multiple times, he has a chance to make the NFL.

Mike Sadler, Michigan State P

by Faux Pelini

Sadler had one of the most unique careers in college football history. On the field he was a star, averaging 42.2 yards per punt. He dominated in the classroom as well. He was an Academic All-American four times while majoring in "Applied Engineering Sciences," which means he is smarter than you.

He is also funnier than you, unless you have also pet an imaginary cat after placing a punt inside the 5-yard line on national television. He was either taunting or winking at Faux Pelini, his social media pal; in any case, he is destined for the Twitter hall of fame.

Trey Flowers, Arkansas DL

by Ryan Nanni

The Genetics State Lottery Commission did not make Flowers the biggest defensive lineman or the strongest, most agile, or fastest. They did not give him flawless footwork or a supernatural ability to diagnose plays.

Instead, Flowers got terrifying octopus tentacles for arms. They measured 34.25 inches at the Combine, on a 6'2 frame. So while you're right to be terrified of Vic Beasley or Bud Dupree or Arik Armstead (a 6'7 man whose arms are a mere 33 inches long), do not assume you are safe from Flowers and his omnipresent arms. They're always waiting.

Beth Cook, USA Today

Devin Gardner, Michigan QB

by Jason Kirk

Gardner is a good person. He gives freely of his time and comforted archrival J.T. Barrett on the field during the Ohio State QB's injury.

It's good to be a good person, but it's even better to be a good person despite years of Al Borges as your offensive coordinator; constant injuries; an invisible offensive line; being foisted with the No. 98, a Michigan Man honor that nevertheless forces you to sort of play QB like a No. 98 at times; and dealing with the bizarre tactical whimsies of the Brady Hoke era.

Nick O'Leary, Florida State TE

by Bud Elliott

  1. He is great at exposing which broadcasters did not look past the first page of the game notes as they endlessly remind the viewer he is the grandson of Jack Nicklaus.
  2. He does not wear gloves, making him a throwback.
  3. He is legitimately very tough. He trucked multiple poor defensive backs (and suplexed one defender), and was even in an accident with a bus while riding a motorcycle. He walked away!

Brock Hekking, Nevada DE

by Rodger Sherman

Dr. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss QB

by Ryan Nanni

Any quarterback who makes it to the level of FBS starter has confidence, but Dr. Bo's confidence veers into irrationality.

I don't mean to suggest that he's not talented. It's that he doesn't acknowledge hurdles or barriers. Wallace really and truly believes in this throw ...

... as much as he really and truly believes in this one:

And that's what makes Dr. Bo awesome. You tell him there's no time to defuse the bomb, and he charges into the building. Just give him the wire cutters and hope it works out.

(Also, we're responsible for his nickname.)

Screens via ABC, CBS, FOX Sports 1 and ESPN.