The NFL’s Green room is where you want to be. Players have been prepping themselves since the season ended, hoping to create enough buzz to get drafted as early as possible and potentially make the Green Room. For those that don’t know, the Green Room is where players that are expected to be selected early are held before the draft. When it first started and you saw the players in the back room, they were pretty much gone by the time the first round is over. But that has changed over time. There have been some people stay in the Green Room longer than was expected. Who can forget the long wait that quarterback Geno Smith had before he was drafted? Well, this year the NFL has chosen 25 picks. Names like Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and Florida State safety Jalen Ramsey are sure to go pretty quickly. But there are two guys that are in the Green Room that have no business in there. Of course they will be productive players potentially in the NFL, but isn’t the Green Room for potential 1st round picks? Here are the two players we have no idea how they snuck in.
Chris Jones, Defensive tackle (Mississippi State)
When Jones was headed to Mississippi State, the thought was that he would end up being a 1st round draft pick and wreak havoc in Starksville. Well, things did not exactly go as planned for Jones there. Instead of being a stud defensive lineman, there were many that felt he was underwhelming in his three years at Mississippi State. Of course, his measurements were something that people could not ignore. Standing at 6’6” and weighing in at 308 pounds, it would be interesting if he actually played up to his potential. But alas he only has a second to third round grade and is known more for his wardrobe malfunction at the NFL Combine than his actual play by many. There are some analysts think that he has not reached his potential yet, so he could definitely grow more. But what some also see is a guy that can be ran at despite his size. So all in all, he definitely could be one of the last guys hanging out in the Green Room. But he has some competition folks.
Keanu Neal, Safety (Florida)
Neal, like Jones, is entering the draft after his junior season. The 6’0”, 211 pound safety played strong and free safety while in Gainesville and made a memorable impact when he was there to make the plays. Neal will be a player that makes someone’s roster, whether it be as a special teamer to start that turns into a starter. And there is no doubt that he could contribute and have a long NFL career. But there is a reason that he does not have a 1st round grade and could have a long wait in the Green Room. For all the physical tools that Neal possesses, what keeps him from being a 1st round pick is his anticipation and his ball skill. Neal did not have one interception in his entire career at Florida and many question his instincts when tackling in the open field. And it is because of those things that he will be sitting right there with Neal, waiting patiently for someone to call his name.
Both Keanu Neal and Chris Jones are good, solid football players. Both will more than likely make rosters and have good NFL career. But the last time I checked, they did not select players to be in the Green Room that were not at least getting a 1st round grade. Neal and Jones don't have 1st round grades. Both will be selected in the 2nd round or later. So both will probably be playing the waiting game just like Geno Smith did a few years back. If you are not familiar with Geno and what happened, he was thought by some to be a 1st round pick and ended up being there at the end of the first round all by his lonesome in the Green Room. He was later picked by the New York Jets in the second round and it took real courage for him to come back after feeling embarrassed being the last person in the Green Room. When Neal or Lee is the last man sitting in there, it will be interesting to see what they do and how they react to it.