Football

Rating the top fullback prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft

What the Chiefs look for: The ideal fullback for the West Coast offense is versatile. He’s comfortable as a blocker and as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Running ability is a plus.

Chiefs’ needs: Anthony Sherman signed a contract extension last season and is a Pro Bowl-type player at the position. The Chiefs could always stand to add a young, developmental type talent at the position, however.

Sleeper: Michael Burton of Rutgers has the mentality, athleticism and hands to become a potential value pick in the seventh round for a team that runs the West Coast offense.

1. Nick O’Leary, 6-3, 252, Florida State

Bio: Three-year starter who caught 48 passes for 618 yards (12.9 average) and six touchdowns in 14 games in 2014. Turns 23 this year. 29 3/4-inch arms. 9 3/8-inch hands. 4.93-second 40-yard dash. 21 bench reps. 30.5-inch vertical. 110-inch broad jump. 4.50-second 20-yard shuttle. 12.40-second 60-yard shuttle. Is the grandson of iconic golfer Jack Nicklaus.

Evaluation: 2014 Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end. Is undersized with very short arms so he will be limited as an inline blocker. Gives good effort in that area but lacks bulk and can be overpowered. Has a really good feel for working underneath and has very reliable hands. Could potentially serve as a “move” tight end at his size, but he might be more of a receiving fullback in the mold of Baltimore’s Kyle Juszczyk, who converted from tight end to the position.

Grade: 6.2

2. Jalston Fowler, 5-11, 254, Alabama

Bio: One-year starter who rushed 12 times for 69 yards and zero touchdowns in 13 games in 2014. Also caught 11 passes for 129 yards (11.7 average) and two touchdowns. 10 1/2-inch arms. 32 3/4-inch hands. 4.94-second 40-yard dash. 23 bench reps. 33.5-inch vertical. 114-inch broad jump. 7.56-second three-cone drill.

Evaluation: Has adequate bulk. Former running back who possesses good athleticism for the position. Moves well for a fullback and can locate second-level targets. Isn’t a mauler but generally gets his job done and will stick his nose in there. Shows upside as a receiving and running option — gets upfield quickly as a runner and has good initial burst — and profiles as a West Coast fullback.

Grade: 6.2

3. Michael Burton, 5-11, 242, Rutgers

Bio: Three-year starter who rushed once for two yards in 13 games in 2014. Caught 15 passes for 150 yards (10.0 average) and zero touchdowns. 29 1/4-inch arms. 9 1/2-inch hands. 4.74-second 40-yard dash. 30 bench reps. 33-inch vertical. 115-inch broad jump. 7.08-second three-cone drill. 4.28-second 20-yard shuttle.

Evaluation: Former running back who developed into a good blocker. Plays with a chip, walls defenders off and plays to the whistle. Gets out of his stance quickly and can reach the second level but can be shed. Displays good athleticism for the position and some upside as a receiver; displays quick feet.

Grade: 6.0

4. Aaron Ripkowski, 6-1, 238, Oklahoma

Bio: Two-year starter who rushed six times for 13 yards and three touchdowns in 2014. Also caught seven passes for 38 yards (5.4 average) and one touchdown. 31 3/4-inch arms. 10 1/2-inch hands. 4.92-second 40-yard dash. 33-inch vertical. 123-inch broad jump. 7.59-second three-cone drill. 4.33-second 20-yard shuttle.

Evaluation: Emotional football player with good size and a tough-guy mentality. Served as an inline blocker at times. Feet are solid and has some receiving skills, too — flashes good hands. Keeps his legs churning and does not go down easily.

Grade: 6.0

5. Connor Neighbors, 5-11, 235, LSU

Bio: Two-year starter who didn’t record a rushing stat in 10 games in 2014. Caught four passes for 27 yards (6.7 average) and zero touchdowns. Turns 24 this year. 30 1/2-inch arms. 9-inch hands. 4.81-second 40-yard dash. 23 bench reps. 29.5-inch vertical. 104-inch broad jump. 7.19-second three-cone drill. 4.38-second 20-yard shuttle.

Evaluation: Is old for a prospect. Limited runner who wasn’t featured much as a receiver. Will need to make his money as a blocker. Feisty, competitive guy who fires out of his three-point stance, attacks defenders and blocks to the whistle. Sometimes struggles to locate second-level targets.

Grade: 6.0

6. Joey Iosefa, 6-0, 247, Hawaii

Bio: Three-year starter who rushed 151 times for 617 yards and eight touchdowns in six games in 2014. Also caught 11 passes for 76 yards (6.9 average) and zero touchdowns. 31 3/4-inch arms. 10 1/4-inch hands. 5.02-second 40-yard dash. 30 bench reps. 31.5-inch vertical. 110-inch broad jump. 7.24-second three-cone drill. 4.33-second 20-yard shuttle.

Evaluation: College running back with solid burst for his size. Hard-charging runner who gets upfield quickly and keeps his legs churning. Can break tackles. Will be a short yardage back or a fullback in the NFL. Has the size to hold up in pass pro and seems like a willing blocker, but lacks thump as a run blocker.

Grade: 6.0

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor.

GRADING SCALE

7.5-7.1: Top 10 pick

7.0: 11-20

6.9: 21-32

6.8: Top half of the second

6.7: Bottom half of the second

6.6: Top half of the third

6.5: Bottom half of the third

6.4: Fourth round pick

6.3: Fifth-round pick

6.2: Sixth-round pick

6.1: Seventh-round pick

6.0: Priority free agent

NOTE: All rankings are based on a combination of extensive personal film study, interviews conducted with draft analysts and information gleaned from NFL Network draft broadcasts. Evaluations are cross-checked with multiple draft resources. Measurements and testing results are from the combine and pro days, according to NFL.com. Grades are assigned based on where The Star believes the Chiefs should take each player, based on their needs and scheme fit.

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