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Next Level BU: Baylor players get ready for NFL Draft

April 27, 2017

While Baylor isn't sending any players to Philadelphia for the first day of the draft like Corey Coleman went to New York last year, the Bears have over a dozen players anxiously waiting for that special phone call to make their dreams come true.

Take a look at what to expect from the Baylor prospects over the next couple of days.

KD Cannon, WR

Career Stats: 195 receptions, 3113 yards, 27 TDs (35 games)
Summary: As unfair as it may seem, Cannon’s stock is tethered to how well other productive Baylor receivers have been in the NFL. Sadly, Wide Receiver U hasn’t translated to the pros. Kendall Wright was drafted in the first round in 2011 with limited results. Josh Gordon’s talent has shown but is held up by off-field issues. Most recently, Corey Coleman was held out virtually all of 2016 with an injury. Had Coleman stayed healthy, this could be a different conversation but right now the concern is that Baylor’s scheme is what drives its receivers success and the learning curve is just too great. But between Cannon’s record-bowl game and setting top-five marks in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump at the combine (only Washington’s John Ross can claim the same), his stock has climbed a bit.
Projected Round
: 3rd-4th round
Team Fits: Los Angles Rams, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles
Cannon had a couple of visits following his Pro Day, first going to Philly then went to Detroit and L.A. for private meetings. The Cowboys repped by Miles Austin also spoke with Cannon right after his position drills. He’ll be used as additional depth for a team needing a deep threat target.

Kyle Fuller, C

Career Stats: Three-time All-Big 12 selection, 52 games (39 starts)
Summary: Despite being a three-time all-conference selection, Fuller’s a raw prospect teams will be reluctant to pull the trigger on before Day 3. At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, he has a frame teams will be willing to work with, especially looking at the production he helped pave the way for the past three seasons. He had a disappointing combine performance but looked better in the Pro Day position drills to help his stock a bit.
Projected Round: 5th-6th round
Team Fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins
Following his Pro Day workout, Fuller went to a private meeting with the Dolphins who are in the market for extra depth behind Mike Pouncey.

Seth Russell, QB

Career Stats: 57 percent completion, 5,461 yards, 60 TDs, 18 INTs, 159.4 Passer Rating
Summary: Two season-ending injuries in back-to-back years is not an attractive trait for anyone, let alone a quarterback. Along with being a “system” QB, that’s the biggest obstacle in Russell’s path to the NFL- an affront to virtually any Baylor or Big 12 fan at large. But he has assured teams this week that he’s fully recovered now. While healthy, Russell was as efficient and as athletic under center as they came (and he reminded scouts that at his Pro Day), even touching Robert Griffin-like numbers while showing off his wheels. He’s a project player that might do best staying in his home state to develop under a fanbase largely familiar with him already by association.
Projected Round: 6th-Undrafted
Team Fits: Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals
The Cowboys and Texans both could be in play for a backup QB with some legs as are the Cardinals, a team in need of some extra depth who also have an up-tempo, downfield offense Russell is familiar with. Getting reps behind Carson Palmer would be a dream scenario.

Ishmael Zamora, WR

Career Stats: 72 receptions, 941 yards, 10 TDs (20 games)
Summary: Zamora’s path to the NFL might be the most difficult among Baylor’s class. He not only has to overcome the “system player” tag but also has off-the-field concern after it was learned he abused his dog before the start of the 2016 season. But teams desperate for a playmaking receiver might be willing to play their wild card. He put up impressive marks at the Pro Day with a 4.54-second 40 along with a 40-inch vertical jump and 11-foot-1 broad jump which would have both been third among receivers at the combine. At 6-foot-3 with some muscle, he’s the prototypical receiver teams are looking at in the first round but will be had at a fraction of the cost.

Projected Round: 6th-Undrafted
Team Fits: Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams
The same teams that are looking at Cannon could be in play for Zamora in a later round but he also adds some size Cannon lacks. Teams like the Rams needing another big-bodied target to replace recent departures like Kenny Britt could be more interested if his off-field issues aren’t of concern now.

Orion Stewart, S

Career Stats: 260 tackles, 12 INTs, 14 PDs (46 games)
Summary: Stewart was Baylor’s resident ball hawk that really turned a corner in coverage his last year on campus. He was seventh in the nation with six interceptions in 2016. But that number is seen as inflated because of the sheer amount of opportunity in the Big 12 along with how many passes flew by him for touchdowns. He was also benched at one point last year, leading some to question both his leadership and ability to take new criticism. But he worked his way into more snaps early in his career by playing well on special teams, where he’ll likely end up as a practice squad signing.

Projected Round: Priority free agent

Team Fits: New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys
The Patriots have shown plenty ability to develop project players in the secondary. That could help Stewart tap into his full potential but from a needs basis, the Cowboys and Titans are both in play for some help in the secondary to boost their turnover rate.

Pat Levels, DB

Career Stats: 89 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, 0 INTs, 2 passes defended, 4 forced fumbles (35 games)
Summary: Levels took on a new role in Baylor’s defense with ease in 2016, shifting over to nickel back to play back in coverage and blitz packages. It worked out for the best as he led the team with 12 tackles for loss and was second with 5.5 sacks. He may be undersized by NFL standards at 5-foot-9 but he packs plenty of muscle. He put up 20 reps on the bench press which would rank third at the combine among defensive backs. The NFL has started moving to more defensive back-linebacker hybrids, giving some hope Levels could end up on some practice squad at a minimum.
Projected Round: Priority free agent

Team Fits: N/A

Shock Linwood, HB

Career Stats: 4213 yards, 5.9-yard average, 36 TDs (48 games)
Summary: Linwood got the short end of the stick amid the sexual assault scandal his senior year. Had the program’s all-time leading rusher jetted for the NFL last year, he’d likely be on a roster now but one bad move after another has hurt his odds to end up anywhere this weekend. There was already concern about his size at 5-foot-9 and his limited ability as a receiving back that most players his size need to possess. He stopped practicing at the end of the 2016 season and skipped the bowl game to train for the draft instead, bringing into question his team commitment. He is/was incredibly shifty on the field but his Pro Day marks of 4.7 seconds in the 40 and the worst marks in the agility drills haven’t helped his cause any.
Projected Round: Undrafted

Team Fits: N/A

Ryan Reid, CB

Career Stats: 89 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 6 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, 28 passes defended (40 games)
Summary: While Reid had a few growing pains his first season as a starter, he soon developed some big play ability, swatting down a dozen passes defended as a sophomore. He then showed off some ball skills the next couple seasons with three picks each year, taking one to the house. But while the big plays became more readily seen he still gave up some of the team’s biggest plays downfield, likely to drive teams away from offering a contract.
Projected Round: Undrafted

Team Fits: N/A

Aiavion Edwards, LB

Career Stats: 213 tackles, 6 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, 6 passes defended (44 games)
Summary: Edwards came into the Pro Day needing a big showing to get teams’ attention. His 4.6-second 40-yard dash would have ranked third among linebackers and his 21 bench press reps places him in good company as well. He showed substantial growth over his four years in Waco, leading the team in tackles in 2016 and held his own in coverage as well but at 6-foot-1, he is a bit undersized for most team’s liking.
Projected Round: Undrafted
Team Fits: N/A

Lynx Hawthorne, WR

Career Stats: 32 receptions, 380 yards, 3 TDs (30 games)
Summary: Hawthorne’s best shot on an NFL roster is on special teams. He was constantly buried on the depth chart behind bigger and faster receivers like Cannon and Zamora- it showed on the stat line. Hawthorne’s biggest season saw him haul in 14 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest contribution to the team, aside from his energy and leadership the team responded to, was stepping in as a QB following the catastrophic injuries under center in 2015. While he completed under half his passes and was without a touchdown, he exhibited great mobility with 17 runs for 129 yards and a pair of scores. He’ll take on whatever role that’s needed from him.
Projected Round: Undrafted
Team Fits: N/A

Tion Wright, CB

Career Stats: 41 tackles, 1 INT, 5 passes defended (19 games)
Summary: There’s not much of Wright to show both figuratively and literally. He stands at 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds wet. He was never able to overcome even Baylor’s most limited depth charts and when on the field, struggled to make his name heard, only ever getting an interception against SMU in 2015. He has potential as a slot corner playing man coverage but there’s not much game film for teams to go over enough to draw interest.
Projected Round: Undrafted

Team Fits: N/A

Kaleb More, WR

Career Stats: N/A
Summary: Moore came to Baylor with promise as a high school track star but never turned that into production. The highest he made it on the depth chart was a reserve receiver and special teams player that saw action in nine games his final two years. His Pro Day was the most scouts ever saw of him, leaving a 4.62-second 40-yard dash, 7.2-second 3-cone drill and 2.7-second 20-yard shuttle as his calling card few are likely to look at.
Projected Round: Undrafted

Team Fits: N/A
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Next Level BU: Baylor players get ready for NFL Draft

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