2018 NFL Draft

2014 NFL Draft: Houston Cougars preview

2014 NFL Draft: Houston Cougars preview

By Derek Stephens | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

In preparation for the 2014 NFL Draft, NFLDraftScout.com
will profile the top draft-eligible prospects from FBS-level programs. This
summer series will run until the start of the college football season.


NFL Draft picks the last five years: 2

2013 NFL Draft picks: 1 -- CB DJ Hayden (Oakland Raiders,
first round)

With top-five running back prospect Charles Sims announcing
that he's transferring to West Virginia, the Cougars' NFL prospect pool for the
2014 draft has taken a substantial hit. Offensive linemen Kevin Forsch (G/C) and Ty Cloud (G) join All-Conference USA punter Richie Leone and honorable mention cornerback Zachary
McMillan as a quartet of seniors who could earn mid-to-late round consideration
if they're able to build on solid '12-'13 seasons.

Top Houston prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft

1. P Richie Leone (6-3, 215)

Richie Leone's conference-leading 45.5 yards/punt average
in 2012 included 20 punts of 50 or more yards, with four of them sailing over
60 including a season-long of 77 yards -- a performance strong enough to earn
him first-team All-Conference USA honors, and put him among the nations top
punters. What has gone somewhat overlooked in all of this, is the fact that he also handled kickoff duties, and posted 25 touchbacks on 71 attempts. In short, Leone has an NFL leg, and a decent shot of being selected next May assuming he stays healthy and avoids a sudden drop-off in performance.

2. OL Kevin Forsch (6-3, 304)

Forsch has started 26 straight games in one of the nation's top offenses and has proven to be versatile in the process, lining up and excelling both at right guard (21 starts) and at center (five starts) during that time. While he lacks the wide, thick frame that you typically look for in an NFL guard, he does a good job of utilizing light feet and lower-half bend to absorb impact and reset rapidly when bull-rushed, and exhibits consistent extension and punch to keep defenders at arm's length. When asked to pull or trap, he gets off the snap quickly and targets decisively, though he struggles to stop and square up, often electing to extend a forearm or lower his shoulder to "check" or brush his target instead. He also doubles over at the waste at times when anticipating contact at the second level, and can be tossed aside or will end up whiffing altogether. Forsch is a tough, durable and versatile lineman with good awareness and natural instincts, but he may not be a legitimate guard prospect at the next
level without bulking up a bit, and improving his approach when on the run. Look for him to take more reps at center in 2013 as well, which is where he may best fit as a pro.

3. OG Ty Cloud (6-4, 315)

Like Forsch, Cloud has been a reliable contributor up front, also having started 26 straight games for the Cougars -- all of them at left guard. Cloud possesses a bit of a nasty streak, and utilizes better natural power than Forsch to dictate his opponent off the snap, exhibiting strong punch, and persistent drive to finish through the whistle. While there are some flashes of quickness in a short area, there are other times where he struggles to get up to speed, particularly when asked to get out in front of the run. In pass-protection, he tends to
plant his feet and demand too much of his upper half rather than sliding laterally and exchanging with his opponent, and is susceptible to quick, more agile defenders getting around him with a swim or jab-step as a result. NFL teams covet the toughness and physical
nature that Cloud exhibits, but they also want to see better movement in space than he's been able to routinely show to this point. Flashes are there, but consistency will be key for Cloud in 2013, if he hopes to have his name called next May.

4. CB Zachary McMillan (5-10, 178, 4.49)

McMillan earned honorable mention All-Conference USA accolades as a junior, with five interceptions and six pass break-ups while starting all 12 games for the Cougars in 2012. He also compiled 51 tackles on the year, including posting a season-high 11, two
times (Louisiana Tech and Marshall). Playing primarily in off-man coverage, McMillan exhibits good recognition and a strong first step when driving back to the football, and displays good body control and natural ball skills when competing for the pass. He's a bit stiff in the hips though when asked to flip and mirror receivers across the field, and lacks fluidity when
transitioning to go vertical from his backpedal. He also hasn't worked in press coverage much, so there remain questions about the prospects of him being able to hold his own
on the outside in the NFL. McMillan has done everything asked of him and more while at Houston, but if he's going to be considered a legitimate NFL prospect after this season, he'll need to show improved downfield coverage ability to go with more physicality at the line of

Other Houston Prospects Worth Watching:

WR Xavier Maxwell (6-1, 182, 4.57)

JC transfer who started five games last season and led team
(10 catches or more) with a 17.9 per-catch average. Also had 2 TD receptions.

OL DeAnthony Sims (6-3, 320, 4.96)

Converted defensive lineman who started three games at
guard last season.

LB Austin Wilson (6-0, 225, 4.6)

Athletic LB who has primarily contributed on special
teams throughout his career, but will have a chance to compete for significant
time on defense as a senior.

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