For the first time since 2000, Arizona State had four Sun Devils grace the podium within the first four rounds of the NFL Draft.
Let's take a peak at the reviews regarding how those four players have performed through minicamp and OTAs (organized team activities) thus far.
Damarious Randall, CB — Green Bay Packers (First Round, 30th pick — 30th overall)
Randall has gotten off to a strong start in his new home.
The former JUCO transfer generated a tremendous amount of buzz just a few weeks in advance of the NFL Draft, earning recognition as one of the best cover safeties of the 2015 class. As a result, Randall was the first Sun Devil to have his name read after being selected by the Green Bay Packers with the 30th overall pick.
Randall missed all of the Packers' offseason practices, and Bleacher Report revealed he missed most of rookie orientation, as well as the beginning of OTAs due to a minor ankle injury.
Nonetheless, Randall took part in full team drills after being limited to individual drills early on. He was a full participant of mandatory minicamp, and saw reps with the starting defense as the perimeter or field cornerback (cornerback who plays on the side with the most open field) by the middle of the OTAs.
Clear that Damarious Randall is being trained as a perimeter cornerback, while Rollins gets occasional work both inside and outside— Brian Carriveau (@BrianCarriveau) June 16, 2015
Rob Demovsky of ESPN explained that with the departure of last year's starting corner Tramon Williams, Randall's chances of earning the starting job on the outside may be good. This is especially possible after the absence of returning veteran Casey Hayward throughout offseason practices due to injury, along with Hayward's noted experience in the slot, where the Packers may keep him positioned.
With that said, don't be surprised to see Randall starting on the outside for a team that will surely be a Super Bowl contender this upcoming season.
Jaelen Strong, WR — Houston Texans (Third Round, 6th pick — 70th overall)
Draft day unfortunately (or, fortunately?) didn't go as expected for Strong.
Touted by many as one of the draft's most polarizing receiver prospects, Strong found himself ultimately falling to the third round of the draft, being selected with the 70th overall pick.
Among many popular NFL Draft pundits, Strong was considered to be one of the top receivers in the class, but it wasn't until the Texans traded up to the top of third round before he was taken.
He immediately fills an important need for Houston with the recent departure of long-time Texan receiver, Andre Johnson. Furthermore, while he's had his name in discussion as being a possible replacement for Johnson this upcoming season, he's yet to take a firm grasp of the No. 2 receiver position on the depth chart, based on early reports.
Strong missed the team's rookie minicamp after taking part in the NLFPA Rookie Premiere. Then, on the first day of OTAs, he suffered a hamstring injury that prevented him from participating in the rest of OTAs altogether. The injury kept him out of two of three minicamp practices, per ESPN.com.
Strong was limited strictly to positional drills before taking part in the team's first day of mandatory minicamp. Texans head coach Bill O'Brien was critical of Strong and his conditioning, but hasn't wavered in confidence of the rookie.
"He's got a big stretch here in front of him where he can work on getting his hamstring better," O'Brien told HoustonTexans.com after the first day of mandatory minicamp. "It was a hamstring pull that he was missing with and get(ting) ready to go for training camp."
Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com explained that although the injury doesn't necessarily pit Strong behind the eight ball in learning O'Brien's offense, it has provided an opportunity for veteran addition Nate Washington to seemingly take the lead in the race for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.
When answering a question regarding who the projected No. 2 receiver would be entering the new season, Ganguli threw Strong's name in company with Washington and newly-added Cecil Shorts III. However, she pointed out how Washington has garnered the most praise from O'Brien, particularly for his veteran leadership, work ethic and ability to pick up the playbook quickly.
Strong has some catching up to do, but with his motivation (he's wearing No. 11 for a reason) and his talent, he has an opportunity to contribute in Houston sooner rather than later.
Jamil Douglas, OG — Miami Dolphins (Fourth Round, 15th pick — 114th overall)
Douglas has been working hard to leave a good impression early in Miami.
After watching quarterback Ryan Tannehill go down 139 times over the last three years (the most of any quarterback in that span), the Miami Dolphins are in dire need of stable contribution within the interior of the offensive line.
Preliminary reports suggest that Jamil Douglas is already proving to be a part of the solution.
Douglas began taking reps with the first-team unit at left guard during OTAs. Shawn Krest of CBSSports.com says
he is splitting starting snaps 50/50 with teammate Dallas Thomas, and Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin has shown approval of Douglas' game.
"I like the fact when he's been in there he doesn't make a lot of mental mistakes," said Philbin, according to the Palm Beach Post. "I think he's grasped the system relatively well. ... I really like what I see."
While Douglas has demonstrated he's in serious contention to be the starter entering training camp, The Miami Herald describes the competition between he and his counterpart, Thomas, as being "neck-and-neck" at the moment.
That hasn't kept Douglas from having his strong play standout to this point. Pro Bowl center and teammate Mike Pouncey spoke highly of Douglas' play.
"He's playing at a really high level," Pouncey said. "He's got the eye of a lot of veteran guys in the offensive line room.
Marcus Hardison, DT — Cincinnati Bengals (Fourth Round, 36th pick — 135th overall)
Hardison has found himself buried beneath arguably the deepest defensive line rotation in the league.
The Cincinnati Bengals already have an established and talented starting four along their defensive line: ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, and tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko.
Wallace Gilberry figures to be fifth-man in the rotation, while tackle Brandon Thompson and end Will Clarke have proven to be serviceable rotational players as well. They bring the unit count to seven players. Typically, teams will hold around 8-10 down linemen on their rosters, and based on the quick math, there's presumably one-to-three spots remaining for the other defensive linemen attempting to make the roster.
This means that the excess in talent may surpass the maximum occupancy.
Devon Still, Margus Hunt, Kwame Geathers and Sam Montgomery will each be left to duke it out for the remaining spot(s), despite arguably being able to comfortably make a majority of NFL rosters.
Not to mention there's Hardison, too, whom the Bengals invested a fourth-round pick in (albeit, compensatory).
Hardison certainly came in to the league as a raw prospect, and he's yet to generate much noise in the early going at Bengals camp. It's not fair to count him out so soon, but it will be no easy task for Hardison to ensure he lands a spot on the Bengals' roster.