Time again for my annual list of undervalued draft sleepers and smaller school prospects who deserve more attention in the NFL draft.
For 16 years now, I have made the analysis of lesser-known, small school, and undervalued NFL draft prospects my obsession. Over the years, I’ve tweeted about, written about, mock-drafted, interviewed, argued about, and generally died on the hilltop for “my” guys. Over the years, I’ve missed on a few I liked (Hello, Gantrell Johnson!) and missed on some I should have included but didn’t feel worthy (hello, Darius Leonard!)
However, I did hit on a few very unexpected home runs, too. Like when I watched 15 minutes of Texas Tech film and said out loud, “Patrick Mahomes is what a future Hall Of Fame QB looks like.” Checks are great, but I will accept accolades!
Here are a few past B2Bers, more or less the B2B Hall Of Fame:
Patrick Mahomes, Jared Veldheer, Richard Sherman, Carlos Dunlap, Emmanuel Sanders, Jimmy Graham, Josh Norman, Alterraun Verner, Junior Galette, Jordan Cameron, Tarik Cohen, Kevin Byard, Kenny Golladay, Julius Thomas, Buster Skrine, Doug Martin, Bruce Irvin, Robert Turbin, J.R.Sweezy, Jamie Collins, Brandon Williams, Paul Worrilow, Jarvis Landry, Javon Hargrave, George Fant, Malcolm Mitchell, Karl Joseph, Adrian Colbert, Cooper Rush, Chase Allen, Sharif Finch, Jatavis Brown, J.T. Hassel, Jessie Bates… and more each year.
In general, I tend to favor what a player shows they can do that has outlier potential– what is the best this player can be– paired with the football personality to make the jump to the actualization of that talent. Give me a guy with heart, football smarts, and athletic ability and shame on you if you can’t figure out how to make him a player. I’d also like to add that this list isn’t intended to be comprehensive. I’m sure there will be a sleeper or two who make it in the NFL who isn’t on this list… but it’s not because I didn’t try to find him.
For some background on how I got started with this and a list of previous years team, click the following links:
As a side benefit, you’ll know more about the rosters of preseason games and the XFL than you ever thought possible! (Hello, Donald Parham!) Amaze your friends!
Special shout out to: Nick Farabaugh, Ryan Roberts, Bill Carroll, Josh Buchanan, Dom Kay, SteelPerch, Emory Hunt, @DarthBount47, everyone at Steelerfury.com, and especially Damond Talbot at DraftDiamonds.com for bringing names forward.
Without further ado, the best of the B2Best:
B2B Directional Player of the year:
Juwan Green, WR, Albany
I attended the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl practice and game this year, and I found practices to be mesmerizing, since I didn’t have a grasp of the roster before I starting watching the proceedings–I had no preconceptions about the players going in. The first thing I noticed was that #84 in black was open over and over again, on every type of route imaginable, and was getting fed the football by every QB in practice. He did it in 1 on 1s, he did it in 7 on 7, he did it in scrimmages. So who is that guy? Like Randy Moss before him, he was a star basketball player in West Virginia who switched sports and took up WR for his senior year of high school. He then starred for two years at Juco, and played two years at FCS Albany (NY)– meaning he’s only been playing the position for 5 years, and only two at the college level. And what a finale year he put together, catching 83 passes for 1386 yards and an FCS-leading 17 TDs. He reportedly ran a 4.35 40 while at Albany, and not only outran coverage, he also put together an impressive highlight package of leaping and twisting grabs and YAC runs. He even made a cameo on ESPN’s You Got Mossed for a twisting, leaping grab over two defenders in the Great Dane’s playoff game at Montana State. In a draft class considered to be legendarily great at the WR position, he has a chance to be drafted and be among the class’s most successful.
Off-the Map Power 5 Offensive POY:
TE Devin Asiasi, UCLA
Asiasi is something of a football late bloomer, but his 2019 season showed an impressive ability to beat coverage to the seams and a good catch radius. He will have to work on using and improving on his natural strength to use body position better at the catch point, but his willingness as a blocker and commitment to an all-around game vaults him near the top of this year’s TE crop.
Off-the Map Power 5 Defensive POY:
McTelvin “Sosa” Agim, Arkansas
It’s hard to imagine an SEC player being overlooked, but interior defensive linemen have become something of a dinosaur position and, when your own conference has two historically great IDL in the top 15 of the draft class and another couple of great ones ahead of you in perception, I guess even a 300lb +guy can get lost. Agim is a rarity in this or any other draft: he’s a big interior DT with the mass to be stout vs the run, the length to get first hands on most IOL, and outlier penetration ability. Rather than just being a traditional nose tackle who can clog up the middle but doesn’t offer much in the pass rush and comes off the field in packages, he has the ability to work as an interior nickel pass rusher––a commodity becoming more and more important in the NFL game.
The “If This Were 1975, I’d be a 1st Rd Pick” or “Borderline Too Violent For This Sport” Award:
S, Vince Calhoun, Eastern Michigan
You have to love a guy who had 16 tackles and a couple of knockout blows in a game while wearing a cast for a broken hand. A former Minnesota recruit, he blasts with impunity but also make impacts in other ways… 7 INTs, 4 forced fumbles, and 347 tackles–including 108 this year.
EDGE, Nasir Player, East Tennessee
Violence is all over his tape– I felt a little like I had entered a film time machine where I was watching Joe Greene at North Texas film in 1969. The first clip in the highlight is him sending Tennessee starting guard Riley Locklear ass-over-teakettle. He has the mentality of an interior lineman but the size of a modern EDGE player. Either way, there’s a role for him in the NFL, with his advanced hand-fighting and relentless effort to hunt.
Underappreciated Non-Power 5 FBS DPOY:
S/LB, Javin White, UNLV
Speaking of NFL roles growing in importance, the money backer or Safety/LB hybrid role seems to become more essential annually. There aren’t too many athletes who can play package football in the middle of the field and be both sturdy and aggressive like a linebacker vs the run or when blitzing AND sticky/smart in coverage. If they can also bring with them enough length to cover big slot receivers and TEs, they hear their name called before too long in the draft. White resembles another, more well-known B2B player, Jeremy Chinn (see below), in size (6021 211 lb), role, and athletic profile but while Chinn is expected to be a top 50 pick, White is flying low. 54 solos, 79 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 INT, 1 forced fumble, & 14 passes defended.
Underappreciated Non-Power 5 FBS OPOY:
OT Victor Johnson, Appalachian State
In a world where talented Left Tackles with 35 3/4″ arms and college production are coveted league-wide, it’s shocking to me that almost no attention has been drawn to Johnson. He was a four-year starter and 4-time all-conference at LT for a team that has been conference champions and bowl game winners for 4 years straight, has been top 15 nationally in rushing offense and fewest sacks allowed. In his recent matchup on the road against expected 1st-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos, he completely shut down YGM as a pass rusher, countering his speed to the outside and absorbing his power moves into dust with his arms and frame. He has played a number of high profile opponents in his 4 years, including Alex Highsmith of Charlotte every year, and has stood tall vs. every challenge.
FCS Defensive Player Of The Year:
S/LB Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
Chinn bubbled around preseason threads about sleeper safeties. Well, after a strong Senior Bowl performance and an outrageous combine showing, he is a sleeper no more. He is an aggressive, sideline to sideline, LB-sized player who also has man coverage ability and outlier makeup speed for a bigger player. He’s the kind of defender who makes plays on the ball––even intercepting passes––when it looks like the receiver is open when the QB lines up to throw.
FCS Offensive Player of the Year
TE Adam Trautman, Dayton
A former QB who switched to TE for the good of the team, but who plays a little like a defensive player. He is aggressive when asked to block, finds a way to be elusive in space, and made play after play for a team with little else on offense. The defense understood he was getting the ball, and they still couldn’t stop him. He describes his style of play as “relentless” and I think that is a good description. First time I have had a Dayton Flyer on this list since Chuck Noll (okay, so maybe I don’t go back quite that far).
D2 & Below Defensive Player Of The Year:
S/LB Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyme
Like White and Chinn before him, he’s another giant-sized S/LB type player (6007, 217), but with the anticipation to play single-high. He was 5’6″ during his junior year, so he wasn’t offered by nay FCS or FBS school, then spurted to 6’1″ his senior year. He certainly made the most of D2 football during his time at tiny Lenoir Ryhme (it’s in North Carolina and they’re called The Bears, in case you were wondering), completely dominating that level of football like a man amongst boys. His showing at the Senior Bowl should
D2 & Below Offensive Player Of The Year:
RB/ST Deonte Glover, Shepherd
Glover signed with West Virginia as a preferred walk-on, but when he saw the financial hardship in his mother having to pay for his tuition, he transferred to D2 Shepherd, where he got an academic scholarship as a 3.9 GPA student and a partial football scholarship. He then proceeded to reward the Rams with an amazing effort reminiscent of Jim Thorpe. GLover starred on all the Special Teams units– as a kick returner, gunner on punt coverage, kickoff coverage ace, and punt block rusher. Aside from all of that, he rushed for 1359 yards and 19 TDs, while adding 385 yards and 3 TDs as a receiver. Sturdy and built like an NFL RB, he is a tough inside runner with enough agility and burst to get to the outside. Shows good receiving ability, lining up all over the formation and demonstrating soft hands.
B2B “Hearts & Smarts” Award:
Andre Carter, EDGE, Houston Baptist
Carter was probably the biggest surprise I encountered this draft season. I didn’t hear a peep about him until I saw his name while browsing the FCS statistical leaders. It was hard to miss, being at the top of the sacks category with 15.5 in 2019. But why is a slightly undersized EDGE player from a no-name school the kind that has that many sacks in one year? I set out to watch some Houston Baptist film to find out. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but after navigating some recorded internet streams with bad production values and a few better-looking clips, I found that the pass-rushing ability was only part of the story. Yes, he terrorized opposing OL and QBs, utilizing a James-Harrison-like stocky posture, combined with a lethal long-arm and push-pull… but it was his technique and sturdiness holding the edge in the run game that I found most impressive. Until I heard about his education. You see, Walker is a double major: biochemistry and molecular biology. He said that for most of his football career, he slept about 3 hours a night because of the course load and football obligations. It appears in watching tape that he was bigger coming into school and played at closer to 240 than his senior season-low point of 220 lbs. He got back up to 230lbs when measured in January and he said he’s eager to postpone his PhD career for the NFL– and he’s preparing with the same sort of commitment he put towards academics.
B2B Adversity Award:
OL Matthew Burrell, Sam Houston State
What would a B2B Directional State selection be without a great story? This one is a little different, though. Burrell was a 4-star recruit out of high school and he had 42 offers, including offers from every major football factory school. In his words, he thought he was the best, so “I chose the best”. Although he immediately got in the rotation and was well on his way to becoming a starter for the top team in the country, he began to struggle with things much larger than football. He was having daily anxiety attacks, where he’d relive every detail of his day, dwelling on every mistake––real or imagined. This created a sense of dread and depression that he couldn’t overcome. He made two decisions: he needed help and he needed to get out of that football situation, despite his strong connection with teammates and coaches. He asked for a transfer and received permission with the coach’s blessing. Practically every team in college football called him. He returned one call because ‘it just seemed like I could connect with the coach about life, not even football’. That call was from Sam Houston State, best known for last year’s Raiders’ draft pick P.J. Hall. He went to Sam Houston, but didn’t play for a year, during which time his illness and attempts to deal with it cost him weight––he dropped down to 165lbs. But. He got his head together, got his life together and when he learned he was going to have a son, he said it all clicked: I love this. I can do this. Armed with great support and family, he got his strength back, his weight back up to 300lbs in just over a year, and he started… having fun. He played some LT, he played some of his natural position, guard, and finally settled in at what he thinks is his future position on Sundays: Center. Maybe it was practicing against P.J Hall or practicing against now-NFL linemen from his previous stop, but he looks terrific in his SHSU film. Like a new and improved version of his former 4-star recruit self. He looks like a mobile interior player with a rock-solid pass protection base and a ton of competitive energy.
The B2B Honorary Karl Joseph People Had Me As A Third Rounder But I’m Going In The top 50 Award:
WR/RB Antonio Gibson, Memphis
He’s Percy Harvin-esque, but taller, 30lbs heavier, and faster. Percy went Round 1, and it would totally be unsurprising to me if Gibson went in the Top 32 picks. He scored a TD every 6.7 touches this year, and did it in every way conceivable: he outran people, he spun and shook them in tight quarters, he ran over guys, he broke tackles. He might be the scariest weapon in this class, with an unreal 122.8 score. Is he a RB? Is he a WR? Is he a package player? Who cares? Get him the football!
NEW FOR 2020: The Darius Slayton/”Cinderella Story Out of Nowhere” Award:
WR Marquez Callaway, Tennessee
Another NFLPA participant, whose easy speed and polish stood out of that crowd. Tennesse’s tape on offense is an unpleasant melange of poor QB play, bad protection, weird play design/playcalling, and general confusion. Callaway was targeted and missed often, frequently wasn’t even seen by QBs who were panic-throwing to their reportedly self-centered other WR, Juwan Jennings. But when Callaway did get the ball, he made acrobatic plays in the end zone, had some great punt returns, even showed a surprising vertical catch radius with strong hands. At the combine, his 40 wasn’t spectacular, but his 10-yard and 20-yard splits were elite. I was struck by how similarly I viewed Darius Slayton last year. I have the same thoughts here: what am I missing that others see when they have him as an undrafted or late-round pick? Sure the class is deep, but if Callaway is paired with a good passing team/QB, he’s going to make some noise at the next level.
B2B Unwanted to NFL Award:
QB James Morgan, Florida International
“Hello, my name is James Morgan” began the email sent out to 60 college football programs when Morgan was seeking a landing spot as a graduate transfer from Bowling Green. Only one coach responded, Bryn Renner at Florida International… and that turned into Morgan becoming the Panthers’ starting QB and Morgan becoming one of the fastest-rising QB prospects in this draft class. he can sometimes be a bit more aggressive downfield than his arm will allow, but he’s also capable of excellent accuracy and finding ways to win. His leadership, though, seems to be the trait that makes him the most successful and attractive to NFL teams. He’s smart and has skills and a prototypical QB frame, so the floor is high. This QB class has a lot of question marks at the top, so he’s one who could have his name called early.
B2B For The Love Of The Game Award:
QB Jacob Park, Missouri Southern (via Iowa State & Georgia)
I saw one of his first starts on TV– Back in 2016. I wrote his name down in my futures list, along with a notation: “Wow”. Coming out of high school, he was a 5-star recruit who signed with Georgia, then transferred to Iowa State. I think the 2016 version of this QB was the best QB in this class. He has a wonderfully live arm, great movement skills, both in the pocket and on the run, has size and toughness most QBs can only dream of, and has a world-class mullet. But a lot happened since 2016 in Ames. He and his girlfriend had a baby, he freaked out over it and left the Cyclones––WHILE HE WAS THE STARTING QB for a power 5 team. He ended up missing almost two years, transferred to not just a D2 school, but a lowly D2 school, Missouri Southern… and started over there. He became the best player on his team, and despite a lot of adversity, he rejuvenated his desire and ability to play the game. He even survived nearly 30 interceptions which his head coach explained were “95% on mistakes the other players were making”, and having watched some SoMo film I’m inclined to agree. You’ve got to really love the game to make it through that year and want more. Can he recreate the magic of his 2016 career? If you watch the highlight package below from 2016, he’s playing Texas Tech and the announcers are talking about him having comparable and maybe even better arm talent than Mahomes! Could he be worth a shot?
TOP 10 YOUTUBE STARS
For those of you, like me, who dig through hours of video to evaluate potential talent, know that there’s nothing like a clip that sticks in your mind. Every year, I have my favorite moments on tape; here are my 5 favorites from the 2018 draft season:
B2B Directional Game of the Year
The 2019 SWAC Championship between Southern and Alcorn State was absolutely bonkers. The commentators could barely finish talking about the last amazing play before the next one happened. Huge momentum swings, great atmosphere, fired up/intense coaches, crazy feats of strength, airing of grievances… it was like Football Festivus:
Jeremy Chinn toe-tap INT
Antonio Gibson tackle-breaking spin-O-rama TD
Tyler Johnson bowl game TD so crazy the announcers and officials can’t believe he made it
Adrian Magee bad-tempered double pancake
Malcolm Perry sails through Army
Rashard Robinson INT from the jaws of defeat
Kyle Dugger man amongst boys
Joseph Charlton matrix punt run
Deonte Glover — Kickers Believe They Can Fly
Carlos Blackman trucks the state of New Hampshire
Xavier Jones’ Video Controller
Quez Watkins HTF did he catch that?
Solomon Muhammad takes the pitch
Juwan Green You Got MOSSED!
THE MAIN EVENT
If you’re looking for last-minute, below market draft prospects— here’s your menu. The underrated, undervalued, & overlooked 2018 B2B Directional State Battling Basilisks:
QB Kenji Bahar, Monmouth Bahar is a sneaky choice as a sleeper QB with a chance to have an NFL career. He took a huge step forward this year, is very skinny in the lower body… but he has all kinds of talent and excellent judgment. His arm is very good, he is capable of using different arm slots, and he’s mobile as hell. Had a great season, with 3684 yds, 30 TD, only 9 INT, and 4 rushing TDs https://youtu.be/ctojIWDUPgc via @YouTube
QB Steven Buckshot Calvert, Liberty His Dad named him Buckshot after a favorite NASCAR driver, but the mother was like, No. Freaking. Way. So…Buckshot became the middle name and the only name anyone ever called him. He threw for 3663 yds 28 TDs and 7 INts this season… during which he led his team to its first-ever bowl game and bowl win. it was a huge step for a program that was FCS 3 years ago. But the game that made him famous was completely off the hook. Sure you can say he has an NFL WR to throw to, but he spreads it around and just makes shit happen. He’s too this, too that… kid can play for me any time.
QB Donovon Isom, Texas Wesleyan (SE Louisiana, Utah) This prospect started as a Utah recruit but struggled with being away from home. After a redshirt year, he transferred to SE Louisiana, close to his hometown. At first, it went well… soon made his first start, on the road against an FBS opponent, Ohio. Even though his team lost, he performed well, with a stat line of: 21-31, 174 YDS, 2 TD, 16 rush, 84 yds. But his trajectory stalled and, in his words, he became convinced he was “terrible at football”. Having lost his confidence, he toiled as the backup and spent a lost two years on the bench. It was then, he says that he had his come to Jesus moment: he realized that he had been short-changing himself and still had the desire to play, play well, and live up to his 3-star recruit billing. He transferred yet again, this time to NAIA Texas Wesleyan, sort of rehab for a broken QB. There he played like you might expect a big-time player to play… like Superman. But the tape doesn’t lie. As he got his mojo back, he put up two seasons that look very impressive and did a dynamite pro day style workout on video. He’s 24, not 20, but he has not only prototypical size, he is also one of the best runners in the class, and has as good an arm as any of them. Perhaps he’s a future XFL guy, proving his way into the league, or maybe someone takes a shot.
QB Cole McDonald, Hawaii If you want to make a name for yourself in college football, don’t play at Hawaii! Because of the time difference, most of the country has never seen a live game from Honolulu. They have some good players there, though, and the 6’4″ 220lb McDonald is one of them. He makes plays with his feet and has a little bit of surfer persona, which works well there, but he also has a big arm and gets it done in a variety of ways, to the tune of over 8,000yds and 70 TDs in his career. There is a lot to work with in terms of tools and talent for the position.
QB James Morgan, Florida International (see above)
QB Jacob Park (see above)
QB JMarr Smith, Louisiana Tech Smith has that escape from Alcatraz gene that great QBs have in the pocket. His highlights are littered with defenders who thought they had an easy sack, only to end up empty-handed. He can head-fake, duck under, and sidestep with the best. He also keeps his eyes downfield and will do whatever it takes to make a play––off-platform throws, putting his head down and getting the 1st down, finding a way.
QB Carter Stanley, Kansas Stanley played QB in a Power 5 conference, had a nice season, looks to have the tools to play QB at the next level– yet he gathered little to no attention. Playing for a program long known for being a conference afterthought will do that to a player’s draft perception. Damn if he doesn’t remind me of Jim McMahon.
QB Nick Tiano, Chattanooga A transfer from Mississippi State, you can see why he was SEC-worthy. If you close your eyes right now, and imagine what a prototype QB looks like, and his personality in the Hollywood version of “The Adventures of Star QB”, Tiano is like the real-life version of that. He has classic QB size at 6’4″ and 231 lbs, throws an achingly beautiful ball, and is very agile in the pocket and on scrambles. His arm strength is near the top of the class, although his game is more about ball placement than it is driving it into tight windows. He’s a touch over-aggressive at times but he’s gotten some big plays out of it and, frankly, I think it’s a lot harder to get a young QB to push the ball downfield and into tight windows than it is to get them to dial it back when needed. Tiano is never going to be a guy who dumps it off short on 4th and 27 and the season in the balance (Hi, there, Joe Flacco!), which is a big plus.
QB Chason Virgil, SE Louisiana Toiling away in the HBCU ranks won’t get you any attention in NFL draft circles, but Virgil stood out in that league, topping the charts with 2 3,000+ yard seasons, after transferring from Fresno State in 2017. He might have played at a lesser level of FCS competition, but he looked unfazed even when facing LSU in Baton Rouge or Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He has mobility and FBS speed, but what really stands out is his arm talent. He can spin it. His throws from the far hash to the deep opposite sideline, darts in the intermediate range, and low trajectory deep throws will wow you.
RB Carlos Blackman, Central Arkansas
He’s big (6001 228lbs), falls forward, finishes every run, pass protects, can catch it and run. He’s the kind of back who takes a toll on a defense. They might stop him for a few series, but they get worn down and he looks fresh in late-game action. He has surprising burst for his size– his 1.53 10 yard split would have been 2nd among combine RBs, behind only James Hasty.
RB Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State
Evans is the ultimate Home Run hitter… every time he touches it, you want to come out of your seat in anticipation. He has a little wiggle to his game, but when you’re this fast and decisive, the smallest misdirection is huge. He’s also a terrific catcher of the football, snagging errant throws and continuing his momentum upfield without having to stop and collect himself–a rare trait for a young RB.
RB/WR Antonio Gibson (see above)
RB Devonte Glover, Shepherd (see above)
RB Pete Guerriero, Monmouth Speaking of fast RBs, this track star’s game is built on speed. His short stature helps him, as he’s hidden in the backfield and has the speed to just explode out of nowhere–by the time you see him, he’s got a step on you… and if he has a step on you, he’s gone.
RB Xavier Jones, Louisiana Tech After years of creating imaginary superplayers in video games, they’ve finally released the Beta-test, real-life version of a video game RB. Jones moves better sideways than most RBs do going straight ahead… and he’s not some 165lb waterbug. He’s 5’10” and a solid 205 lbs. He’ll jump cut you so bad your knees will collapse, and then he’ll drive into you and power through. Makes the impossible look normal.
RB Joshua Kelley, UCLA
The Bruins’ RB may not have a lot of anything, but he has a ton of whatever it takes. You need to break a tackle? Catch an errant pass in the flat? Pass protect? Use some speed through the hole? He can do pretty much everything at a high level. He’s going to be a very versatile and useful piece for some NFL team.
RB Sewo Oloinua, TCU
Sewo is the kind of college running back with size and low mileage who drops some weight/gets NFL conditioned and is better in the pros than he was in his collegiate career. For a guy who is 6025 and 232 lbs, Oloinua is extremely explosive, with a quick get-off. He has skills as a pass receiver and can even make tacklers miss in the open field. He definitely has some ball-security issues, but if he can improve in that area, he has a chance to be a valuable contributor.
RB James Robinson, Northern Illinois
Robinson may not be the best RB in the class, but he’s one of my favorites. You will rarely see a back with a shorter elapsed time from decision-to-cut to through-the-whole. For a guy who isn’t world-class fast, he ends up breaking a lot of big runs because he defeats angles and can make defenders miss with subtle moves.
RB K’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
Good-looking straight-ahead back without a ton of nuance but with speed and power. In a different era, would have been a coveted centerpiece for a cold-weather, run-first team.
WR Omar Bayless, Arkansas State A leaping red zone weapon who had a huge season. His outlier skill in contested situations may outweigh his agility concerns, provided he improves his route craft.
(P.S. You can see me in the above video… I’m standing under the goalpost: my 3 seconds of fame!)
WR Lynn Bowden, Kentucky
This slash QB/WR/RB offers a little sizzle to go along with a creative offensive mind’s dream versatility. Think along the lines of Antwaan Randle El, and you’ll have a good starting point.
WR Marquez Callaway (see above)
WR Quinton Cephus, Wisconsin Acrobatic combat-catcher whose work is lost in the shuffle of this year’s class.
WR/KR Matt Cole (McKendree) Extremely quick first step, although lateral agility is not equal to the task. Very tough, destined to be a great STs player who can dress on Sundays.
WR Isaiah Coulter, Rhode Island Coulter has good speed––faster play speed than even his 4.45 combine 40yd time– and he wins with a very quick first step out of his stance. He also has a thick lower body, which makes him harder to get down to the ground once he’s on the move.
WR Gabriel Davis, Central Florida You can see clip after clip of Davis winning immediately off the line–he consistently gets a release and stacks CBs. He also has great body control and catch radius to win 50/50 balls. Has the look of a long-term, solid pro.
WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty There are lots of big receivers in this draft class, but few have the combination of ball-tracking, determination, burst, and ball skills that Antonio Gandy-Golden has. He also has a reputation as an engaging person whose teammates find funny and a great part of the team. With 3 consecutive 1000 yard/10 TD seasons, while playing for an often outmatched Liberty Squad, he’s as productive as he is easy to like.
WR Lucky Jackson, Western Kentucky Speedy slot receiver (4.36 40 yd, 3.97 SS, 6.57 3c) who capped his Hilltoppers’career with a First Responders Bowl day to remember… 17 receptions, 148 yards, and the game-winning TD catch.WR Zimari Manning, Tarleton State
Great hands, high pointing ability, and the only time he’s not getting extra YAC is when he catches it in the End Zone.
WR Juwan Green (see above)
WR Kirk Merritt, Arkansas State Was dismissed from Texas A&M after an incident of either indecency or “really bad jock itch”. Regardless, He seems to have rebounded his life and career at Arkansas State, posting an eye-popping pro day of 4.33 40yd, an absurd 45.5″ VJ, and a 4.1 SS. He is a solidly built, quick slot receiver with elite top-end speed.
WR Aaron Parker, Rhode Island You know how it isn’t always the tallest nor biggest guys who are the best basketball rebounders? Jerome Lane was the best I’ve ever seen, and he was often 8-10″ shorter than the other guys he was beating. Knowing how to get body position, understanding how to use it, the timing of your leap, the anticipation of where the ball is going, and desire once it’s up there for grabs–this makes a rebounder and it’s a big part of Aaron Parker’s success. He isn’t outlier-sized (6015 209) but he understands how to use his body to shield off the defender. He also has a skill some others don’t have in the toolbox: leaping while on the dead run. Great hands and catch radius because of his positioning and ball tracking. He’s a much better receiver than the sum of his parts.
WR Josh Pearson, Jacksonville State You shouldn’t be able to be this big (6033 205lb) and this explosive (4.49 40yd, 41 1/2 VJ, 4.18 SS). Pearson was the featured receiver for JSU, winning on in-breaking routes with a combination of quicks and size. DBs had to respect his downfield ability and Pearson used the space of the cushion to work underneath with impunity. He looks like a good bet to follow in the NFL footsteps of former Gamecocks Siran Neal and Chris Landrum.
WR Quez Watkins, Southern Mississippi He’s one of the fastest straight-line receivers in the class, and you can see it in the ease with which he runs by defenses. He can eat up cushion, stack cbs, and go and get it. On top of that, he has some of the best above-the-rim game in this stacked draft’s WR group. Despite only average side to side mobility, he can make a lot of money with his explosion and vertical game. BEEP BEEP!
WR Kristian Wilkerson, Southeaast Missouri State Wilkerson is a big game hunter– one of his best performances of the year came against 1st round draft talent Jeremy Chinn and late round pick Madre Harper in SEMO’s rivalry game vs. Southern Illinois. He shows toughness to take a shot, a feel for setting up defenders with route adjustments, and great ball skills. He scored 14 TDs in 13 games in 2018 and in ’19 put up a 10 catch 254 yard, 2 TD performance vs. Eastern Kentucky.
FB Adam Rechsteiner, Kennesaw State He’s appropriately named: he seems like the kind of guy who wrecks things for you, even if it means running through a wall. As the son of professional wrestler Scott Steiner, Rechsteiner is part showman, part ball of muscle, part fullback, part running back. His upright running style is a little like Forrest Gump’s, if Forrest were a weightlifter with deceptive speed and talent.
TE Devin Cates, Drake
A really big WR? A move TE? You can decide… but either way, Cates is this year’s version of the modern TE: 6’4″, 255lbs, 4.59 40, 4.20 SS, and 6.9 3cone. And, he can play, showing high effort in blocking, quickness into routes, and good catch radius.
TE Adam Trautman, Dayton (see above)
TE Stephen Sullivan, LSU Sullivan played second fiddle to Randy Moss’s kid, but when given the chance to play as the starter in an early-season matchup vs Northwestern State, he showed in-line blocking skill and some breathtaking catching radius
TE Devin Asiasi, UCLA (see above)
TE Joey Magnifico, Memphis Magnifico is the kind of hard-working, all-around player who can be a great role player, even if he doesn’t often jump off the screen. Did a nice job as a blocker and clutch receiver on 3rd downs for a team with a lot of flashy talent who relied on someone to do a little dirty work.
OL Kevin Hall, Alcorn State Solid and technically sound RT with lots of experience, who probably projects to guard at the next level. He is a very quiet blocker–– by that I mean his movements are concise and he uses his feet to get position and maintain knee-bending balance so he doesn’t have to flail. Easy to imagine him as an early contributor.
OL Kevin Dotson, Louisiana Very little draft buzz for an extremely powerful guard. He uses long arms and upper body strength to maul opponents. Prototypical RG.
OL Robert Handy-Hunt, Louisiana Right next door to Dotson is the other half of one of the most powerful right side combinations on any offensive line this year. Hunt has good movement skills, long arms, and good height/size (6051 323) for the Right Tackle position.
OL Josh Jones, Houston Talented Left tackle who may sneak into the NFL Draft’s 1st round. Long frame with good bend, anchor for a left-side player. He’s somewhat raw but on a path of improvement–ascending player.
OL Kyle Hinton, Washburn Slightly undersized C/G who has great lower body power and movement skills. He can pull and hit the target, but he also shows a lot of power––he collapsed interior DL on short-yardage plays. Held his own in pass protection at his all-star game (NFLPA)
OL Keith Ismael, San Diego State & OL Daishawn Dixon, San Diego State Ismael and Dixon formed another great pair of linemen. They provided excellent interior pass protection and got movement in power runs, ZBS stretch plays, and especially in trapping plays where they both display well-coached footwork.
OL Ben Bartch, St. John’s Big Red not only has the size and movement skills to be a future NFL left tackle, he showed a lot of poise at the Senior Bowl, playing against a much higher level of competition and seeming unfazed. Former TE who famously bulked up with a power shake only an offensive lineman could love:
OL Kyle Murphy, Rhode Island Man, what a year for Rhode Island Football. They were absolutely terrible at winning games but they had THREE bonafide NFL players on offense. Murphy is easy to love… he’s a baller. He plays like he is completely dissatisfied unless the guy he’s blocking ends up buried on the ground. Pancaking isn’t enough; he wants to steal the other guy’s soul and throw dirt on top of the body. The kind of player who you never get tired of watching on any rep. He played left tackle pretty well for the Rams, but his demeanor and body is built for guard.
OL Matthew Burrell, Sam Houston (Ohio State) (see above)
OL Netane Muti, Fresno State If you draft him, you have to hire an orthopedic surgeon, too: he’s had two ruptured Achilles (one on each leg) and a Lisfranc in 4 years. BUT. When he’s healthy he’s a wildebeest on the field. He gets his hands on you, you go down and he smiles a little. HULK SMASH. He doesn’t have the most agility and plays a little forward at times when on the move, but you can tell he’s a guy who lives to punish defenders.
OT Javon Mosely, New Mexico I’ve stood next to Mosley: he’s really big. And he’s a big dude who can move. He wins with size and quick feet; the Lobos used him on pulls and to climb to second level a lot more than most left tackles are asked to do. He looked great vs Notre Dame.
OG Logan Stenberg, Kentucky Tough guy, tough-talking enforcer whose teammates probably love him. Plays on the edge of dirty and sometimes over. He has very good short-area movement skills and finishes his blocks.
OL Zach Sammartino, Dartmouth Sammartino dominated an overmatched the Ivy League’s interior defensive linemen, but he also showed well at the College Gridiron Showcase against better competition. He is a mauler who looks like a guy with at least some wrestling background which, considering he’s the great-nephew of Bruno Sammartino– one of the greatest wrestling stars of all time–you would think is a safe bet. It turns out he actually doesn’t-just has a natural solid base. He is an immovable object in pass protection (has never given up a sack)… and his highlight reel should be an ad for IHOP: All you can eat pancakes!
OT Cameron Clark, Charlotte He strikes me as a late-round pick who might be able to transition to starting NFL left tackle. His game isn’t perfect but he looks a lot more natural in the footwork of his pass sets than most college LT’s with his size/length. He looks cool and contained in pass protection.
OL Brandon Kemp, Valdosta State Another late-round Left Tackle who held the edge for a prolific FCS winner. Quick into his pass sets and the frame to get bigger/stronger.
OL Carter O’Donnell, Alberta It’s not only hard to find USports Canadian college football tape, the level of competition can be very uneven–something akin to D3 college tape. But Canadians are starting to poke through into the NFL Draft’s field of vision. O’Donnell scored a rare Canadian invite to a US all-star game and he was arguably one of the stars of both practices and the East-West Shrine game, itself. He did well catching and re-directing EDGE rushers in Tampa, and he has good mobility that allows him to get to reach blocks. He may not have the length to stay on the outside but he definitely has size and frame to succeed.
IDL McTelvin Agim, Arkansas (see above)
IDL Auzoyah Alufohai, West Georgia He has an explosive first step and the size and length (6044 313lbs with 34 1/8″ arms) to eat in the middle. His hands are powerful and it seems like e he has some real potential to grow as a pass rusher, which would give him a chance to stay on the field outside of base defense.
IDL Teair Tart, Florida International Motor runs hot and cold, but when he has it going, is impossible to contain. He dominated in the NFLPA game, just blowing up play after play with gap-shooting or plain bull-rush wins.
IDL Joe Gaziano, Northwestern Gaziano got little love, playing for an afterthought team in a big conference and playing a little out of position at EDGE in a conference with a slew of big-name pass rushers. But he produced like mad as a 4-year starter, finishing with 49.0 TFL, 30 sacks, 15 Passes Defensed, and 8 Forced Fumbles.
EDGE Ron’Dell Carter JMU Carter is a very solid is 6’3″ 265lbs, w 33 1/2″ arm, 9.5″ hands, and 80 3/8″ wingspan. He logged 66 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 12 sacks during 2019, while leading his team to the FCS Championship runner-up and winning his Conference’s DPOY. He is a prototype NFL 4-3 DE, with a truly impressive push-pull move and strong hands. The sound of him hitting the DL drills bag at the NFLPA Bowl was so notably different from the other guys that it literally turned heads… like, “Whoa what was that?” You can see him regularly just engage with OTs and then toss them to the side. If they tried to get his chip down, he’d use the swim or club inside as a counter. He doesn’t yet have the low leverage bull rush down, but he seems to have the power to learn to use that better. He’s a Baltimore native and seems destined to be a Ravens EDGE rusher.
EDGE Austin Edwards, Ferris State He might be a D2 lineman, but Edwards has terrific size and length––he’ll look good as a 4-3 team’s strong-side DE. He stepped up at the East-West Shrine game, where the better competition level didn’t faze him at all –in fact, he stood out when disrupting the pocket and knocking down passes.
EDGE Tipa Galeai, Utah State There was a drunken off-field incident before he arrived at Utah State, but Galeai has bounced back with some good play in Logan. He has terrific length for a stand up EDGE rusher and also displays very good skills dropping into coverage.
EDGE Jessie Lemonier, Liberty Probably the best pure EDGE rusher no one talks about, which is shocking considering he’s the younger brother of Corey Lemonier, former Auburn star and 3rd round pick in the NFL Draft. Jessie is a big-time speed bender around the edge but has good speed to power when he sets up the inside counter. He also makes a lot of plays in the run game and on short passes, with a high number of tackles for a pass rusher. 29 TFL and 20.5 sacks in just two seasons with the Flames.
EDGE Alex Highsmith, Charlotte He isn’t the best athlete, but he has a ton of drive to get to the ballcarrier and sack the QB. Relentless pursuit and a motor that doesn’t turn off. Hard worker with some explosion that will translate to Sundays.
EDGE Tevis Gipson, Tulsa Gipson is a strong-side type EDGE, with good leverage vs the run and more bend than you’d think by looking at his powerful build. He seems to be a somewhat raw prospect with the power and agility to become a stud pass rusher at the next level.
EDGE Nasir Player, East Tennesee (see above)
EDGE Andre Carter, Houston Baptist (see above)
LB Logan Wilson, Wyoming
I understand that Wyoming doesn’t get a lot of exposure, but Wilson shined as a classic do-it-all middle linebacker. He is a bit of weird athlete, with some very athletic capabilities and some limitations but, as is usually the case with inside linebackers, outlier reading and anticipation makes players look fast, and Wilson is excellent at reading plays and getting to where he needs to go to defeat blocks and make plays. Nose for the ball is a cliché, but it fits.
LB Dante Olson, Montana Big, physical LB who is surprisingly athletic for his size. High motor and impressive explosion/vertical that show up in playmaking on tape.
LB Mykal Walker, Fresno State Raw LB still learning the position who is a terrific ILB/EDGE hybrid with gifts in both areas. He gets by now on athletic ability but has taken great strides learning the game. Just starting to put it together but a lot of promise.
LB Evan Weaver, California Tackling machine who wants to make every tackle on every play. Also a special teams star. Would probably star at waterboy if it were the only way to get in the football game. Can you tell he loves football?
LB Shaun Bradley, Temple Heart and soul of his defense, with a penchant for hitting and being around the action. Accumulated an impressive array of stats and counted on to make plays. Also a stud Special Teams contributor.
LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
Classic WOLB who makes play after play for his defense. Whether in coverage, or reading stretch plays/QB options, or blitzing… he can do it all at a very high level. Great at reading plays and ending them.
LB Christian Roseboom Solid run defender who also displays good instincts in zone coverage. Team leader who sets the defense and understands where everyone is supposed to be.
LB Jonas Griffith, Indiana State Old-school linebacker with explosive power. When he hits things, they go backward.
LB Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State Short, stocky, and intimidating middle linebacker like from the days of yore. He doesn’t just read and react– he attacks plays. Aggressive style feeds his fellow defenders and he often wrecks plays so that others can finish them.
LB Solomon Muhammad, Alcorn State Great anticipation and sense for where the ball is going. For some guys, it’s a gift. They just see the game come to them. Powerfully built, but more lives-and-breathes-defense than great athlete.
S/LB Kyle Dugger, Lenoir Rhyme (see above)
S/LB Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois (see above)
S/LB Adam Auclair, Laval (Canada) Maybe the best and most advanced coverage film I’ve ever seen from a nickel backer/SS type prospect in all the time I’ve been doing this. Laval lined him up all over the place and on one occasion, he started lined up on a slot receiver, carried him in motion toward the QB, took off backpedaling just before the snap to play single-high safety, then picked off an overthrown pass on a deep ball… and returned it ~90 yards for a TD. He is the brother of Tampa Bay TE Anthony Auclair, and it looks like both could be collecting an NFL paycheck this summer.
S/LB Javin White (see above)
S/LB Donald Rutledge, Georgia Southern Rutledge is yet another fantastic S/LB prospect in this class– he’s terrific in coverage, will lay the wood on ballcarriers, is a very active participant. His huge hit tackle and forced fumble vs the Miami Hurricanes as a member of Charleston Southern brought on the biggest sideline celebration you’ll ever see from a squad getting absolutely pummeled in a payday game. His teammates and coaches just went nuts.
S Rodney Clemons, SMU Enforcer Linebacker type who made lots of plays in coverage. Just the kind of playmaker who makes stuff happen for your team… if you’re lucky enough to have one.
S Marc-Anthony Dequoy, Montreal (Canada) Dequoy has tremendous speed, leaping ability, (4.35 40yd and 6.65 3c) and had 6 pick-6s in his Canadian USports career.
S Reggie Floyd, Virginia Tech Active defender whose ‘rover’ position allowed him to get involved on most plays. Plays downhill and cleans up the run; also tackles the catch well. Finisher.
S Da’Quaun Jamison, CMU Versatile safety, who had success as a pass rusher, in deep coverage, supporting the run, and playing in the box.
S Kenny Robinson, WVU/XFL The forgotten man in this draft class, Robinson was an all Big-12 Conference 2st team selection as a sophomore at West Virginia, before an academic scandal soured his time there and he spent a year out of football. When the XFL came calling, he got drafted bythe St. Louis Battlehawks and put up a DPOY-type performance in their abbreviated season. He’s a deep single high eraser, with sideline to sideline range and abiity to take the ball away. He also has the rare ability to make plays at the LOS even he starting from 20 yards deep.
S L’Jarius Sneed, Louisiana Tech Sneed has all the tools and athleticism you could possibly want in a safety. He has length, 4.38 speed, ball skills galore, and is a solid hitter and tackler. The ball finds him and he knows what to do with it when it gets there: 8 INTS and 3 pick 6s in his career.
S Daniel Thomas, Auburn Auburn had a loaded secondary, but Thomas quietly made the others look good with solid play and the occasional splash.
CB Nevelle Clark, Central Florida Clarke has some swag and really good ability to play the football, as evidenced by his 4 INTs and 24 pass breakups in the past two seasons. Uses physicality to fight at the catch point and has good ball skills/timing.
CB Jaravis Davis, Auburn
I like to give the overlooked Power 5 guys a shout out once in a while. Davis isn’t big but he makes a ton of plays and is probably a top-level NFL slot CB, a job that requires versatility and toughness.
CB Reid Harrison-Ducros, Duquesne He’s 5’10”, 186 lbs, with a 4.39 40, 3.85 shuttle, 6.42 3-cone. A transfer from Boise State whose athleticism and production (4 INT, 6 PBU, 39 passer rating when targeted) will get him a training camp shot.
CB/S Madre Harper, Southern Illinois Harper is an incredible athlete (4.43 40yd, 40″ vertical jump, 11’02” broad jump, 6.88 3 cone) who has outlier height (6016) & arm length (33 7/8″) for the position. He fits best as a cover-3 outside corner who, due to his physicality and anticipation in off-man coverage, can probably also fit as an active safety. Number 25 at the bottom of the screen in this Jeremy Chinn video:
CB Darnay Holmes, UCLA See Javaris Davis above. Holmes lacks the deep speed to play outside corner, but he can be a playmaker on the inside. Tough-nosed CBs with cover and tackling skills for slot CB is an essential part of every NFL defense.
CB Michael Jacquet III, Louisiana I’m a sucker for guys with confidence and verbal skills. The talkative and personable Jacquet has an obvious and notable rapport with coaches and teammates He also has the measurables to match, with prototypical shutdown corner length (6013 195, 33 1/2 arms). He plays with some swagger and is the kind of guy to energize your team and locker room
CB/S Thakarius “Bopete” Keyes, Tulane Keyes is a very polished cover 3, off-man corner who will come up on occasion to play an adept man to man press. But his game is reading the route combinations and a quick transition into bailing on deep routes. He rarely is out of position and puts himself in good position to get hands on the ball on any deep throw. He combines that with tenacity defeating blocks and making tackles… he is ideally suited for a defense that has a good pass rush and plays a 3-deep shell.
CB Kevin McGill, E Michigan All MAC-Conference CB known for coverage and ball skills but who hits and tackles like a safety.
CB Parnell Motley, Oklahoma
Playing in a conference not known for its defense is hard on the reputation, but Motley is a quality corner with great ball skills/timing on breakups who is very actively involved in run support and tackling the catch.
CB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
Undersized outside corner who fights like hell and, at times, dominates larger opponents.
CB Prince Robinson, Tarleton State
Robinson displays great anticipation and break on the football, which will get you a nickname like “pick 6 Prince”. Some guys just find the football, which is a nice trait for a DB to have.
CB Rashard Robinson, James Madison
Before a 2018 foot injury cost him an entire season, Robinson was the feature CB for JMU. But then his counterpart Jimmy Moreland blew up in his absence, got drafted to the NFL, and jumped right into playing time for the Redskins. Robinson became the forgotten man, even though he returned to a high level of play. He is excellent at playing the football or getting to the pocket of the receiver. And once he gets the football, he’s a threat to take it for 6.
CB Reggie Robinson II, Tulsa
It’s not often you find a late-round CB with size, length, ball skills, and safety-like tackling toughness. Robinson is all of those things and runs well, to boot.
CB Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern
Tough as leather defender with a knack for being around the football even when his man is not involved in the play. Good movement skills and sticky coverage.
RB Jet Anderson, TCU
RB Levante Bellamy, Western Michigan
RB/KR Ray Calais, Louisiana
RB Jason Huntley, New Mexico State
RB Anthony MacFarland, Maryland
RB Jonathan Ward, Central Michigan
RB Michael Warren II, Cincinnati
WR Jelani “Aj” Greene, New Haven
WR Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State
WR Darnell Mooney, Tulane
WR Riley Stapleton, JMU
WR Easop Winston, Jr., Washington State
FB/H-Back Charlie Tamoepenu, Portland State
FB/H-Back Joseph Deguara, Cincinnati
TE Dylan Stapleton, JMU
TE Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech
OT Michael Onwenu, Michigan
CB Grayland Arnold, Baylor
CB Javelin Guidry Utah
CB Zane Lewis, Air Force
IDL Alex Miller, Northwestern
IDL Breiden Feheko, LSU
IDL Chris Williams, Wagner
EDGE Oluwole Betiku
S Jaylinn Hawkins NFLPA
S Dehonta Hayes, Eastern Washington
S Jovante Moffatt, Middle Tennessee State
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