NFL Draft 2017: Top Prospects from Michigan State

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Heading into the college football season, the Michigan State Spartans feature several draft eligible prospects that NFL teams will be keeping an eye on.

Sep 26, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio bring his team onto the field prior to a game against Central Michigan at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

Recently, writer Lance Zierlein broke down the Top 10 draft eligible prospects at each position. These lists contain a who’s who in the college football world, including three players from the Michigan State Spartans. While these lists include the elite players in the college football world, there are plenty of talented players not on the lists who will still hear their name called at the NFL draft.

Wide receiver: RJ Shelton

Jesse Temple of ESPN contributed to a “Most Underrated Player on a Top 25 Team” list and identified Shelton as MSU’s guy:

"R.J. Shelton. He is as versatile as any player on the Spartans’ roster, and he figures to be used more in his senior season. His receiving numbers were overshadowed by the monster year produced by Aaron Burbridge, but Shelton caught 43 passes for 503 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also ranked fourth on the team in rushing yards (127) and was the team’s primary kick return man."

The Paul Hornung Award Watch List focuses on the most versatile player in college football and Shelton finds him name on the list for the second straight year. As Rotoworld points out, this selection should “Not (be) surprising for a player who among 11 career touchdowns had six of them through the air, four of them on the ground and one on a kick return.” This versatility will put him on all teams radars, and with so many wide receivers being drafted in recent years, he’ll be in the conversation come draft time.

Tight End: Josiah Price

Lance Zierlein ranks Price at #9 on his Top 10 tight ends list:

"His numbers are solid, not flashy, with his biggest stand-out statistic being that six of his 23 catches were for touchdowns last season. Price’s hands and willingness to mix it up in the running game make him attractive to scouts. While he won’t be able to attack defenses vertically very often, he is a reliable target who can secure the chain-moving throws on third down. He has the ability to contribute as a blocker in the running game. His traits won’t set him apart, but his hard-hat effort might."

Inside the Pylon’s Jon Ledyard had this to say about Price:

"Three years of fairly consistent production has Price’s name on the lips of many draft pundits heading into the 2016 season, but the 6′ 4″, 260-pound tight end is a methodical mover who won’t offer much juice down the field. He has the potential to be a strong blocker and reliable underneath threat at the next level, but there are three or four tight ends like Price every year in the draft."

With the Spartans losing a lot of offensive leadership to the 2016 draft, Price will be asked to step into that role as a senior. With minimal experience at wide receiver, Price will need to be a safety valve option as Michigan State will have a new quarterback this season. Look for Price to be moved around this season in an effort to create mismatches and help open things up on offense. This will help to showcase some his skills for NFL scouts and should help solidify his case to be drafted on day three.

Interior offensive line: Brian Allen

Brian Allen ranks #5 in Lance Zierlein’s Top 10:

"He has the tenacity of his brother, Jack (an undrafted free-agent signee of the Saints), but Brian is more flexible and athletic. His upside is likely greater than his big brother’s. Brian Allen is switching from guard to his natural center spot, but he proved to be more than capable as a second-team All-Big Ten selection at guard last season. Allen’s lack of height and arm length will very likely stymie his draft stock in the future, but that will ultimately benefit the team who steals him. Allen’s core strength, balance and hand strength help him overcome his lack of size (6-2, 303), while his second-level movement skills will help him challenge Pat Elflein for the title of Big Ten’s best center."

Switching one of your best offensive lineman to the Center position is becoming more of a trend in college football. Michigan State joins Michigan, Ohio State and Alabama as teams making the switch this season. With Center being a highly desirable position in the NFL, teams are always looking to solidify it with depth. This bodes well for Allen, who will look to follow his brother’s footsteps to the NFL.

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