Six former ALL-USA players selected in NFL Draft's first round

Six former ALL-USA players selected in NFL Draft's first round

ALL-USA

Six former ALL-USA players selected in NFL Draft's first round

Leading up to the NFL Draft, USA TODAY High School Sports has tracked the prospects of players who were named to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Football Teams. On Thursday night, in Round 1, six former ALL-USA players were selected.

MORE: Which former ALL-USA players could be drafted

Here are evaluations of those picks along with high school highlights.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, St. Augustine (New Orleans),ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year, 2013; ALL-USA First Team in 2012 and ’13: A very sensible pick. Fournette, widely regarded as the draft’s best back and one who has drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson, immediately bolsters an offense that hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2011. Fournette should take some pressure off Blake Bortles and give him a better chance to prove whether he is the team’s long-term answer under center in his fourth year. But even if Bortles flounders again, Fournette and an underrated defense could be enough to vault this team back to relevance.

12. Houston Texans — Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson, Gainesville (Ga.), ALL-USA Second Team, 2013: The Texans take another crack at solving their perpetual quarterback issues by obtaining Watson, the club’s first Round 1 passer since David Carr was the franchise’s first-ever pick in 2002. Watson’s intangibles are off the charts. The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist led Clemson to consecutive national championship appearances, including the school’s first title since 1981 with the Tigers’ win over Alabama in January. That’s great news for Houston, which has gone 9-7 in all three of coach Bill O’Brien’s seasons but has yet to be a real factor come playoff time. Watson must improve his downfield accuracy and decision making — and adapt to O’Brien’s demanding playbook — in order to unseat veteran Tom Savage. But like Dak Prescott a year ago, he’s joining a team that provides a top-shelf supporting cast.

16. Baltimore Ravens — Marlon Humphrey, DB, Alabama, Hoover (Ala,), ALL-USA First Team, 2013: GM Ozzie Newsome, a ‘Bama alum, lands one of his precious Tide stars. He’ll have to improve his ability to track the ball, especially ones that challenge him deep. But the son of former Alabama and NFL tailback Bobby Humphrey is an excellent athlete with ideal corner size (6 foot, 197). And given receiver John Ross’ arrival in  Cincinnati, the Ravens suddenly need more corners in a division that already featured the pass-happy Steelers.

17. Washington Redskins — Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama, Stone Bridge (Ashburn, Va.), ALL-USA First Team, 2013: It would seem shoulder issues knocked him down a bit, but this could be a heist for the ‘Skins. Allen is an every-down lineman who had 28 sacks in four seasons despite often playing on the interior. He’ll plug beautifully into Washington’s three-man front and should be an instant factor for a defense that struggled in every area in 2016 and won’t have suspended pass rusher Trent Murphy at the outset.
18. Tennessee Titans — Adoree’ Jackson, DB, USC, Serra (Gardena, Calif.), ALL-USA First Team, 2013: The winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as the country’s top defensive back in 2016, he will still need some time to refine his coverage skills — which is just fine in Nashville after the free agent arrival of CB Logan Ryan. But Jackson will be an instant game changer on special teams after posting eight return TDs during his three years with the Trojans. A truly exceptional athlete.
25. Cleveland Browns —Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan, Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.), ALL-USA Defensive Player of the Year and ALL-USA First Team, 2013: He’s taken some hits during the pre-draft process. What’s his best position (safety, slot corner, running back)? Is he a difference maker after picking off one pass in his college career? What about the diluted sample at the combine that counts as a failed drug test? All of that aside, Peppers is a special athlete who provides great versatility when viewed through the optimistic prism. And give him credit for a team-first attitude after playing linebacker in 2016 because it was in the best interest of the Wolverines defense. He does a great job running down offensive players.

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