Time again for my annual list of undervalued draft sleepers and smaller school prospects who deserve more attention in the NFL draft.

For 17 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, Nik B=Needham, James Robinson, … 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:

2015 B2B Directional State Team
2016 B2B Directional State Team
2017 B2B Directional State Team
2018 B2B Directional State Team
2019 B2B Directional State Team

and the 2020 B2B Directional State Team

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, everyone at Steelerfury.com, and especially Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan & Damond Talbot at DraftDiamonds.com for bringing names forward.

Without further ado, the best of the B2Best:

B2B Directional Player of the year:

EDGE Payton Turner, Houston – Composite Rank:  91  Actual Draft: 1.28 New Orleans Saints

Sometimes you’ll hear of a player outside the power 5 conferences who succeeds with a lot of effort and try-hard but who is athletically limited. Or you might hear of one who tests like an elite athlete but doesn’t have much to show. However, on those rare occasions where an outlier athlete pairs his athletic gifts with an all-out motor… that will you get into POY territory around here. Some Defensive Lineman start out as EDGE players but grow themselves into interior DL players, but Payton went the opposite direction. Playing behind and then next to future NFL stud Ed Oliver, he bided his time and worked his way into being a terrific, bendy pass rusher with terrific length and a stout run defender. He is the rare “transcends scheme” prospect who epitomizes “the kind of guy you want to have on your team”.

Off-the Map Power 5 Offensive POY:

OL Kendrick Green, Illinois – Composite Rank:  257  Actual Draft: 3.87  Pittsburgh Steelers

When the draft season more or less commenced late in 2020, I was widening my net, looking for players who might excel playing center at the next level. Somewhere wayyyyyyyyyy down the list, I saw this Illihois G who had some starts as a center. He was one of those prospects I see and say, “What am I missing? Why is this player’s consensus ranking so low compared to what he looks like on tape? He has good size, plays well on the move, just moves dudes out of the way in the run game… and he actually looked better and more comfortable as a center. He was all-Big10 and yet totally off the radar of the popular draft sheets. Fast-forward to April, and now Green is a popular “sleeper” pick for those just discovering him. I think he’s one of the 2 or 3 best center prospects in the draft, better than several bigger names.

Off-the Map Power 5 Defensive POY:

LB  Garrett Wallow, TCU – Composite Rank:  140  Actual Draft: 5.170  Houston Texans

Playing in a conference not known for defense and starting alongside two much more well-known draft prospects, Wallow was the proverbial heart & soul of the TCU defense. In his last two seasons, he compiled a full stat line, featuring 88 solo and 215 total tackles, 27 TFL,  5.5 sacks, an INT, 4 Passes Defensed, & 3 Forced Fumbles in 22 games started. He has great sideline to sideline range and makes plays downhill, but is also surprisingly comfortable in coverage, with a great feel for zone.

Underappreciated Non-Power 5 FBS DPOY:

DL Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech – Composite Rank:  244  Actual Draft: 3.73  Philadelphia Eagles

Milton Williams is one of a breed that only exists in somewhat undermanned college programs: the undersized interior defensive line player. Despite giving 30 or 40 lbs to interior OL players, Tech mostly hammered Williams into offensive fronts like a big old bowling ball. To say he was disruptive would be an understatement, racking up TFL and sacks    Then, just as you were trying to figure out what to do with him on the inside, he’d kick out to the edge and overpower or even bend his way past overmatched OTs. He may not become the NFL superstar that Aaron Donald is but, like Donald, I can envision him being successful in any scheme, at any position along the defensive front. Some enterprising coordinator could stand him up and let him rush from the outside––a task that might seem a whole lot easier to Willams than banging inside vs bigger players all game.

Underappreciated Non-Power 5 FBS OPOY:

WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas – Composite Rank:  114  Actual Draft: 4.129

Jaelon Darden might only have had one truly spectacular season, but what a season it was.  He scored and scored and scored, often defying reality with a series of bursts, cuts, and the pin the tail on the donkey inducing fear he generated on opponents in the open field. I have my own nickname for him: Houdini. I can’t ever remember watching someone’s highlights and seeing multiple plays where I would watch and rewind endlessly, trying to understand how he scored. Like the great magician, you can watch everything he does in slow motion and still not see how he executes the magic. One of the most fun highlight reels you’ll ever see. Despite his diminutive size (slightly larger than the most recent Heisman Trophy-winner) and good but not great speed, he also managed to get behind defenders and make plays vertically. As part of a creative offensive scheme, he’s going to put up points in quite a few different ways.

FCS Defensive Player Of The Year:

CB Franklin ‘Mac’ McCain III, North Carolina A&T – Composite Rank:  382  Actual Draft: PFA

It would be impossible to tell Mac McClain’s story without talking about him being the ultimate “legacy” player at his university. His grandfather, Franklin McCain was one of the organizers at the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in that, in no small feat, brought integration to a part of the world where that seemed impossible and made his name and city world-renown. Franklin the III not only lives up to the standard of his legacy, he applies that to a leadership role on and off the football field. Captain, and star… his play as a defensive back is absolutely littered with splash plays. When looking at DBs in this draft class, I totaled up splash plays: TFL, Sacks, Forced FUmbles, INT, and Passes defensed.  Total all those up and divide by games played and top players in this accounting had a ratio of about .8/game. McCain has an astounding 55 splash plays and 4 pick 6s in just 40 games. He is what a playmaker looks like, with good mirroring and great ball skills in coverage and then attacking the ballcarrier as an active tackler in the run game. Destined for something great in the future.

FCS Offensive Player of the Year

OT Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa – Composite Rank:  126  Actual Draft: 3.93

The first game I saw Spencer Brown play, on the very first play of the game, he pushed an opposing edge rusher so far and so fast that the poor guy just flew into a crash landing. Brown is so big, so strong, and so athletic that is simply looked like any old rep to him. He’s maybe the greatest athlete we’ve ever seen at the position––whether that will translate to NFL success depends on a lot of other technical issues and staying healthy, but he has pretty much no athletic or size limitations on the football field.

D2 & Below Defensive Player Of The Year:

LB Mar’Quess Daniels, Central Methodist – Composite Rank:  268  Actual Draft: unsigned

Mar’Quess Daniels is one of those guys you see in Division 2 who you don’t have to search for onscreen: he’s the biggest dude, making most of the plays. At 6’3″, 250 pounds, the former basketball star has the size and athleticism to not only go and get the ballcarrier or snag passes out of the air in coverage, he was playing two-way football as recently as junior college. The footage of him playing as flanker/RB and carrying the ball on sweeps vs players half his size is epic. He profiles like a D2 version of players like Zaven Collins & Baron Browning who could find an NFL roster if he can handle the step up in competition.

D2 & Below Offensive Players Of The Year:

FB/H-Back Kevonta Moses, Shaw – Composite Rank:  634  Actual Draft: unsigned

Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan had the ultimate one-liner about Moses: “He is an inaccurate throw eraser.”  Moses has incredible hands and catch radius for an overgrown WR turned FB.  At 6001 and 235lbs, he runs routes like a WR but is also so strong that he knocks down opponents at times just by getting his hands on them. He’s essentially a version of 49ers superstud Kyle Juszczyk who has a chance to be a really useful multitool for the offense and special teams units.

B2B “Hearts & Smarts” Award:

S ArDarius Washington, TCU – Composite Rank:  106  Actual Draft: PFA

2021 is the year of the undersized superstars, with the Heisman going to a player who weighs 166lbs and scored 22 TDs, and a WR who is 174lbs soaking wet scoring 19 TDs in 9 games. Not only that, an NFL defensive back a 5’9″ DB in the NFL was named All-Pro. Size isn’t everything, but Ar’Darius Washington pretty much has everything in a ballplayer that you can pack into a 5’8″ 176lb package. He plays the game as if his life was in the balance, fearlessly laying the wood to bigger opponents, covering acres of ground with great instincts as a deep safety or sticking his nose into the run game and pass rush with ferocity. Just ignore his size— he is one of the best football players in this draft.

The “If This Were 1975, I’d be a 1st Rd Pick” or “Borderline Too Violent For This Sport” Award:

G Sam Cooper, Merrimack

The game of football has changed A LOT since 1975. Back then, you used to be able to hit the QB in the mouth with a forearm club and headshot WRs over the middle with imunity. Defensive linemen head slapped their way past O Lineman, and the OL guys bit, held, punched and otherwise took every liberty. That was the game then… and that is pretty much the game of Samuel Cooper. Cooper has a classic guard’s build and the demeanor of a bully. He plays every rep as if someone told him the only way to get noticed is to finish every rep in every game on film by knocking someone’s ass onto the ground. During the play? After the play! After the game on the way to the bus… it doesn’t seem to matter. He isn’t dirty, though, just has a mindset that is a real throwback. I saw one opponent just get knocked down over and over… and then fist bump Cooper before the next play, as if to say, “Respect.” And he can play, flashing good pass pro base and getting after it as you might expect in the run game. Who doesn’t need a guard like that?

B2B Adversity Award:

OG Raquan Thomas-Ishman, Buffalo
After a Philadelphia high school game in fall 2013, Thomas-Ishman got caught up in trying to calm down a dispute over a girl, which turned into a fight. He says he didn’t even see a gun or someone firing it–– he just felt the impacts from 5 bullets. As a big offensive lineman, doctors told him he most likely survived because he was bigger and had more muscle mass to slow the bullets. His coach was quoted by The Athletic as saying Raquan told him, “I don’t want to be on a T-shirt, I don’t want a bunch of teddy bears on a corner for me. I’ve got bigger plans for myself.”  I’m sure thoughts of playing football went by the wayside during his recovery, but after a year, despite still re-learning to walk and getting around on crutches, he started petitioning coaches to let him return.  A year and a half later, he had rededicated himself to academics, become a team captain, and earned a full scholarship to UMass.  By the time he started there, with all the time sepnt in recovery, his weight had balooned to 398 pounds. He lost 42 pounds and ended up the starting left tackle faciing futre NFL stars like Montez Sweat and realizing, “Hey, I can play this game against the best.” As a likely undrafted free agent, he’ll have a tough task ahead just to make a team, but it’s nothing compared to where he’s been.

The B2B Honorary Karl Joseph People Had Me As A Third Rounder But I’m Going In The top 50 Award:

S Richie Grant, Central Florida

The NFL is moving to positionless defenders in the middle of the defense. Since every down is a passing down, you need defenders who aren’t a liability in the pass game but who also can make plays vs the run on early downs. Grant played primarily as a deep safety, but when brought closer to the line of scrimmage, he made play after play: 11.5 TFLs,  17.5 Passes defensed,  and a 100 tackle season in 2018. As if that wasn’t enough, he then went to the Senior Bowl and was the inarguable star of the 1-on-1 coverage drills, covering WRs better than even the CBs did.  I predict the NFL values this type of player a lot more than the consensus 77th rating he’s got going into the draft.NEW FOR 2020: The Darius Slayton/”Cinderella Story Out of Nowhere” Award:C/G Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-WhitewaterYou probably know the story by now: Division II Offensive lineman toils in obscurity outside of the greater Whitewater, Wisconsin metropolitan area, has his team’s season canceled due to COVID, gets bored working out at home, so he goes out to the woods and Rocky-V-in-Siberia’s his way to legendary workouts with logs, rocks, trees, and anything else he could find. After not putting on pads for 18 months, he goes to the Senior Bowl and becomes not only a media sensation but dominates against top competition from around the FBS top schools. Now he works out with the Watt Brothers™ and awaits to hear his name called in the NFL draft, possibly as early as Friday evening. An overnight success that was years in the making.

B2B Unwanted to NFL Award: 

Zach Davidson, TE/P, Central Missouri

A basketball player who pretended to know how to punt so that he could join the high school football team, his tryout consisted of 3 punts, the 3rd of which went about 50 yards and got him the gig. Basically, he had no offers out of high school except D2 Central Missouri. While becoming All-American as a punter, he fooled around catching the ball in between drills. The coaches joked that they should try him on offense and, after working on the position in the offseason, he vaulted his way into a completely surreal and ridiculously dominant season featuring a school-record 15 receiving TDs and All-American honors at his second position. This, in turn, brought the NFL scout saround and now it’s entirely possible he will go from “pretending to be a punter” to “pretending to be an NFL draft pick”. At 6065 and 245lbs, his pro-day workout featured a 4.64 40-yard dash, a  4.26 short shuttle, a 37.5″ vertical jump, and an outstanding  6.95 second 3-cone drill… and apparently he punted well, too.  He looks and tests the part–– if his game can translate to the NFL competition, the sky is the limit as a TE… and punter!

New for 2021:  B2B O Canada Canadian Freak Football Player who will probably be in the CFL Hall of Fame someday:

LB Ben Hladik, British Columbia

Canada is on a draft prospect roll. In the last couple of years, there have been some really talented and athletic Canadian U-Sports players who have begun to make some headway on the NFL radar. A few have even made NFL teams. gO Canada!.  Speaking of Zaven Collins and Baron Browning-type hybrid LB/EDGE players, Hladik is like the Saskatchewan version: a ridiculous athlete with a nose for the ball and a wake of disruption and destruction left behind, no matter where he lines up. The Thunderbirds used him as an interior DL, he played deep middle coverage, he ran down RBs in the flats. Now, his level of U Sports in Canada isn’t exactly the SEC but he was easily the best player on the field. It takes a certain kind of person to pass on being a Superstar in the CFL just to try a longshot audition for an NFL team’s last roster spot. If he gets a fair shot in the NFL, he won’t be physically overmatched.

B2B For The Love Of The Game Award:
RB Jake Funk, Maryland
I can’t even imagine how bad it is to experience a devastating knee injury even once. I consider myself extremely lucky to have played sports for 50 years + with reckless abandon and never <knocks on wood repeatedly> To be an elite college athlete with dreams of playing in the NFL and then suffer an ACL tear must be heartbreaking.  But setbacks are only challenges in disguise. Funk snapped out of his, uh… disappointment and rehabbed his knee well enough to get back to playing, and playing well when he got the chances. Although averaging over 10 yards a carry and scoring 2 Tds in 2 games, he was still buried behind in depth chart, so he worked hard to make a reputation as a great special teams player and just when he was moving up the charts, he tears his other ACL. He doesn’t give up, rehabs all the way back, still plays STs like his life depends on it, and kills it at pro day. It probably helps to have a father who is an orthopedic surgeon… maybe he got the second one at half price!
The Tape Don’t Lie: Best Highlight Highlights of 2021 Class:
Kenneth Gainwell pancaking Mich Parsons in Cotton Bowl

Jaelon Darden Houdini screen pass TDs

Jaycee Horn Beast Mode

Jonathan Adams 3 for 1 block

Before they were B2B…
Mar’Quess Daniels, 6’3″ 240 High School RB/KR:

Kenneth Gainwell High school QB TD Flip
WR Donte Sylencieux catching TD bombs from his High School QB… Lamar Jackson:

The B2B All Value-Buy Lineup:
LT  Brady Christensen, BYU
LG  Kendrick Green, Illinois
C  Robert Hainsey, ND
RG  Larry Borom, Missouri
RT  Greg Eiland, Miss St.
QB Donald Hammond III, Air Force
RB  Deon Jackson, Duke
FB  Kevonta Moses, Shaw
TE  Zach Davidson, Central Missouri
WR  Bailey Gaither, San Jose State
WR  Josh Palmer, Tennessee
WR  Jacob Harris, UCF
IDL  Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech
IDL Dayo Odihengbo, Vanderbilt
IDL Mike Boykin, S. Alabama
EDGE  Payton Turner, Houston
EDGE  Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
LB  Garrett Wallow, TCU
LB  Derrick Barnes, Purdue
SCB  Mac McCain, NC A&T
CB  Aaron Robinson, UCF
CB Benjamin St. Juste, Minnesota
S  Richie Grant, UCF
S  ArDarius Washington, TCU
The Main Event… the 2021 B2B Directional State Team
QB Zach Wilson, BYU
QB Trey Lance, NDSU  These guys are obviously players who came from out of nowhere and one season later are expected to be top 5 draft picks. I’m so glad to be living in a world where QBs playing for schools from outside the power 5 can become coveted draft prospects without starting off as 5-star recruits out of high school. The league is catching up to B2B Directional State!
QB Donald Hammond III, Air Force Hammond played in a triple-option offense that didn’t exactly show off the passing talents he displayed as a high school recruit, but he did use his considerable running and ball-handling talents to lead Air Force to an 11-2 record in his most recent year as starter… but he also showed perhaps the best deep ball in all of college football. He had 18 passing TDs in just 183 passing attempts and 22 rushing TDs in just 204 attempts as a starter.

QB Brady White, Memphis White had incredible production, with 92 passing TDs in only 2 seasons as a starter. More of a ball distributor than an overwhelming arm talent or outlier athlete, he still makes a compelling case as the kind of backup QB who can step in and get the ball in the hands of playmakers.
QB Zach Thomas, Appalachian State  32-6 as a starter, just one win behind Trevor Lawrence for the most of any QB in the 2021 class.
RB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis  The ultimate versatile pocket tool, who can line up anywhere on offense, run routes like a WR, be your wildcat QB, and carve up a defense as a straight RB.

RB Deon Jackson, Duke Bigger and faster than Travis Etienne, he toiled in a much less favorable situation than he might have had at Clemson. Good short-yardage feel, as good as any 2021 RB in pass game, and the top end gear to take it yard on any play.

RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana  Clever sense of picking small creases, he makes the most out of the blocking. Ran 4.35 4o at pro day, but plays more like a patient runner who also excels as a receiver, with a wide catch radius and solid ability to adjust to throws.

RB Jah-Maine Martin, NC A&T/Coastal Carolina In 2016, Tarik Cohen had an all-time highlight-reel season for NC A&T, where he set the program record by scoring 18 TDs in every imaginable way possible. In 2019, Martin scored an outrageous 23 TDs for the Aggies. Martin is a very bursty, compact runner who has real starter potential if he can stay on-track off the field.

RB Josh Johnson UL Monroe Powerfully-built runner who looked at home vs. SEC competition. He is as good a blocker as you’ll see at the RB position, often leading QB zone-read plays by pancaking a hapless defender. Zero draft buzz, but has a chance because he can be on the field for 3rd downs.
RB JaQuan Hardy, Tiffin
RB Jake Funk, Maryland (see above)
RB C.J. Marable, Coastal Carolina
RB Nate McCrary, Saginaw State
FB Kevonta Moses, Shaw (see above)

C/G Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater (see above)
OL Kendrick Green, Illinois (see above)
C/G Robert Hainsey, ND
G/C Tristan Hoge, BYU
G Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
OL Chandon Herring, BYU
OT Brady Christensen, BYU There is absolutely nothing as satisfying as watching the teamwork and precision of the Notre Dame and BYU offensive lines. These two units are asked to do sophisticated and NFL-style combo blocks, footwork, and protection calls. They are like NFL OL factories. Robert Hainsey might have been the best offensive lineman on the best OL in CFB this past season. He was a 2-time captain and leader while playing as a Right Tackle against an array of top EDGE players in the ACC and playoffs. He’s good enough to play tackle but his size and build is so similar to a move Center like Maurkice Pouncey that I found it fascinating that he heard he practiced at center for a time with the Irish and I had earmarked him as a possible convert to the interior. Then came the Senior Bowl, where Hainsey practiced at Center and Guard and made the transition look effortless, dominating in 1-on-1s, practices, and the game itself. The prospects currently viewed as the top centers aren’t a particularly strong group––three of the best could turn out to be late-risers Hainsey, Green, & Meinerz.  Tristan Hoge was originally a center and shifted to BYU. His play isn’t flashy but he is the kind of guard who is always in the right place and seems thoroughly dependable. He seems like a late-round pick with little fanfare who could step in and be a solid starter for any team. Aaron Banks may be a little less undervalued by those in the know, but versatile OL who play at that high a level are never appreciated as much as they should be. He has power, great movement skills… just a stud. Chandon Herring a/k/a the Viking does look a bit like a Norse god but he is another typical BYU lineman… smart, technically sound, professionally-trained. Brady Christensen might be defined by draft experts by what he isn’t: he’s not the longest-armed, he’s not the freak athlete, he’s not the lowest pad level blocker on the move… but he’s also pretty good at all those things, and the sum of the parts makes him one of the most plug & play ready LTs in the class.

G David Moore, Grambling Showed well at Senior Bowl but HBCU fans know that he’s been a standout for Grambling State for some time. He’s a little short in stature but long-armed and extremely stout.
G Larry Borom, Missouri Excelled at Right Tackle in the SEC but largely an afterthought in draft talk. His combination of intelligence, leadership, and mauling demeanor reminds me of another overlooked RT from the SEC, Ramon Foster. Foster went undrafted but then stepped in to become a long-time starter at guard.

G Robert Jones, Middle Tennessee State
G Sam Cooper, Merrimack (see above)
G/T Teton Saltes, New Mexico It’s not every day a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe makes it to the NFL, but Saltes is exceptional on and off the field. He is a mobile, nasty blocker with some length who will definitely get a shot with a team that values pulling and short-area footwork. He gets low pad level and finishes blocks well… could even stay at RT because of great short-set technique in pass protection.

G Raquan Thomas-Ishman, Buffalo (see above)
OT Spencer Brown, UNI (see above)
OT D’Ante Smith, East Carolina A little light in weight by NFL standards, Smith still showed flashes of superior pass protection, with advanced technique in some ways helping him win battles. A little NFL-weight room, a little coaching, a little more good food… and a future NFL tackle is there to be had.
OT Dillon Radunz, NDSU As tested as a smaller-school OT can be, coming from a program that won the FCS Championship every year he played.
OT James Hudson, Cincinnati Speaking of former Steelers OL, Hudson strikes me as a Willie Colon-type throwback. A former defensive tackle, he plays with the aggression and occasional overexurberance that might suggest. Still learning the position, he managed to put up some impressive performances, including erasing expected 1st round pick Azeez Ojulari in his final game… before getting ejected for targeting. Gotta love an OL getting ejected for targeting.
OL Greg Eiland, Mississippi State They say no man is an island… but at 6’8″ and 321 lbs., Eiland comes close.   (I can’t be the first to crack that line.) Like his former linemate, the similarly-sized Tyre Phillips, he moves remarkably well––playing LT in the SEC––and might even be able to stick at RT for some teams. He also could be a terrific guard. Seeing him coming at you on the move would be a pretty demoralizing sight for most defenders.

OT Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan
OT Josh Ball, Marshall
OT Drew Himmelman, Illinois State
OL Kayode Awosika, Buffalo
OL Kion Smith, Fayetteville State
OL Calvin Ashley, Florida A&M
OT Tommy Doyle, Miami (OH)  Did I mention that this class of OTs is ridiculously deep? Here are 7 late day 3 or UDFA type Offensive tackles, ranging from Former 5-star recruit Calvin Ashley, to super solid and huge Tommy Doyle, to Alejandro Villanueva clone Drew Himmelman, to bad boy and former SEC-tackle Josh Bell. Jaylon Moore seems to be invisible to most draft analysts, even though he played excellent football in a mid-major conference. His play is so steady and clean that he doesn’t stand out much… this is a great quality in an Offensive Lineman. Even Kayode Awosika & Kion Smith have a shot to develop into quality NFL linemen.
OL Jared Hocker, Texas A&M
OT Jack Batho IV, School of Mines

TE  Zach Davidson (see above)
TE Kenny Yeboah One of the few TEs in the class who are big enough and good enough blockers to play inline in the NFL. That right there makes him valuable. But he adds a sneaky ability to make plays in the passing game. True 2-way threats TEs are more valuable than most great receiving TEs.

TE Tre McKitty Criminally-underused at not one but two power 5 schools, I think he is the best H-Back type blocker in the class and he is so much better as a receiver and YAC guy than his production would indicate.

TE Matt Bushman Other than being overaged and coming off of an Achilles injury, he might be the best overall TE in the class. Great ball skills, good burst to get to the seam, and generally a go-to target for the Cougars.
TE Pederson, UL Monroe The son of former Eagles Head Coach Josh Pederson had one of the best games of his career in a near-upset of Florida State, but mostly suffered through a parade of losses with a bad team. Draft analysts hate players on bad teams––always show up on my “undervalued” lists.
TE Briley Moore, KSU
TE Dylan St. Pierre, Ottawa
TE Carson Williams, Western Kentucky This year’s basketball player who hasn’t played football since high school but put up a great pro day showing and is now likely to be with an NFL team in training camp.  He’s certainly athlete enough to stick and his situation reminds me of a former B2B Directional Stater who did okay for himself, Demetrius Harris.
WR/TE Jacob Harris, UCF The analytics guys will tell you that outlier speed––adjusted for weight and height (HaSS)––is the best indicator of top success for NFL receivers. Their examples usually begin and end with Calvin Johnson, who had the highest HaSS ever recorded. Chase Claypool and D.J. Metcalf were two outliers from the last couple of years, and Kyle Pitts is in the stratospheric range atop this class. But #2 in HaSS this year is a lightly-regarded Hybrid TE/WR from Central Florida, who was often underused by his own team owing to a plethora of passing targets, only to emerge with huge plays and big results when called upon. At 6’5″ and 219lbs, he still has the agility to play as a receiver––inside or out–– but he also has the frame to become a Travis Kelce-type move TE.
WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas (see above)
WR Jalen Camp, Georgia Tech Much like Donald Hammond III above, Camp played for a team that mostly taksed WRs to block on alomst every down. Luckily for Tech, Camp is built like the jacked Superhero version of Hines Ward and happens to run 4.4, so defenders either bailed for fear of his deep speed or offered little resistance to his quality blocking. At the NFL level, he seems like a great fit for a run strong-throw deep offense, but he could also succeed in a more expansive receiving role.

WR  Michael Strachan, Charleston Another freaky HaSS athlete, he has so much height and speed for his D2 competition that his team didnt need to ask him to do much more than catch slants or go balls deep. Still, he piled up TDs and put up the pro day athletic numebrs to indicate he can do so much more at the next level.
WR Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State A freaky athlete who also excels at jump balls and catch radius. If he’s able to refine his route skills, will stick as a depenable target.
WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas (see above)
WR  Bailey Gaither, San Jose State Gaither was probably the biggest surprise I saw at the WR position this year. His speed in the first 20 yards is exceptional and you can immiedately see it on tape, as he eats up cushion on the regular. Then he shows you some great footwork in route-running and cuts. He’ll be pigeonholed as a possession slot receiver, but he has a chance to be an outstanding steal for someone as a likely UDFA.

WR Kawaan Baker, South Alabama Wins with an outstanding burst from a dead stop.  If you are caught flat-footed he will blow past you in the first couple of steps. His straight-line speed and jump-ball skills remind me of last year’s B2B WR Quez Watkins, now with the Eagles.
WR Austin Watkins, Alabama-Birmingham Cousin of Sammy was the go-to target for UAB. Made a ton of plays despite somewhat average athleticism for the class. Floor should be at least a solid possession receiver.
WR Donte Sylencieux, Celebration (see video above) Sylencieux was a highly-touted high school teammate of Lamar Jackson, playing in a football hotspot in Florida. He ended up at one of the smallest football programs we’ve ever profiled here––an NAIA school I had to look up to see if it was real. He has some all-around skills–– maybe Lamar will talk the Ravens into taking a shot at him.
WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa Proof that this WR class is the deepest of all-time, ISM made big play after big play for the Iowa Hawkeyes and also was one of the nation’s top resturn specialists, yet he’s considered a late day 3 selection. If he gets the ball with some space, he hits paydirt more often than not.

WR Donnie Corley, Texas Southern Corely was a top 5 national recruit from Detroit, who signed with Michigan State, but got kicked out of school after being charged with sexual assault after a campus incident. He plead to a lesser charge and denies wrongdoing, but either way he had to prove himself all over again at end-opf-the-road Texas Southern. He still has it, producing well in his short time there, but it remains to be seen how NFL teams feel about his past.
WR Cade Johnson, South Dakota State
WR Tim Jones, Southern Miss Both these undervalued WRs have smooth skills and deserve better than to be near the bottom of the rankings. it’s that kind of year, though, where NFL-caliber WRs seemingly grow on trees.
WR Josh Palmer, Tennessee
WR Cornell Powell, Clemson
EDGE PaytonTurner, Houston (see above)
EDGE Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh His teammate Patrick Jones got the notoriety, but Weaver’s combination of solid play vs run, slick pass rush skills, and freaky bend push him near the top of the EDGE rusher pile. If he goes to a 3-4 team, I think he’ll end up being a top 5 pass rusher from this class.

EDGE Chris Garrett Concordia Small-schooler who plays with the requisite motor to catch the attention of NFL teams but adds a lateral quickness that was untouchable by opponents at his level.

EDGE Ellerson Smith, Northern Iowa Great length and some tools in the box. I think he has the upside in frame and strength growth to blossom into a successful NFL rusher.
EDGE Jordan Smith, Alabama-Birmingham
EDGE Patrick Johnson, Tulane
EDGE Raymond Johnson III, Georgia Southen
EDGE Andre Mintze, Vanderbilt
EDGE Darius Hodge, Marshall A little short and undersized, he gets under opponents pads with power and was a really irritating guy for opposing OTs.EDGE Alani Putulau, Adams State Slightly undersized speed rusher who tormented QBs by running the arc or countering back to the inside if OTs overset to the outside.
EDGE William Bradley-King Baylor
EDGE Chris Rumph II, Duke A hard evaluation, since his size is better suited the college game and his late injury impacted his ability to test athletically, but Rumph seems worth a bet. He is aggressive and a total pain to play against. If he can build his strength and mass enough to battle NFL OTs without losing his athleticism, he could have a very high ceiling.
DL Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech (see above)
DL Cam Sample, Tulane
DL Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt Both Sample and Odeyingbo could survive as EDGE playwers, but I think they would both thrive as 1-gapping 5-techs more on the interior. They are both tough and long athletes who win at the POA and are great vs. the run.
DL Kenny Randall, Charleston His power and explosion is going to surprise some pros in camp. His mass-adjusted explosion numbers are eye-popping. If he gets with coaching that can maximize his technique and had usage, he will become a big name around the NFL.
DL Mike Boykin, South Alabama
DL Jarrett Goldwire, Lousiville Boykin and Goldwire are two more lengthy candidates to play 5-tech at the next level. Interior Defensive linemen with his kind of juice, power, and length present very difficult matchup problems for offenses.
LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far into the article, mentioned Zaven Collins at least three times but have yet to expand on his superlative play. He may not be the best Linebacker playing football but he’s the best football player playing Linebacker. His instincts and feel for the game are crucial to LB success. They constantly have to read and evaulate the situation and act confidently, without hesitation. His abiltiy to feel receivers in zone coverage, to know when he has the opportunity for a delayed blitz, to understand where the ball is going and how to get there make him one of the very most dynamic off-ball LBs in the class.
LB Garret Wallow, TCU (see above)
LB Mar’Quess Daniels, Central Methodist (see above)
LB Derrick Barnes, Purdue Heart and soul of his team-type LB. He’ll make some roster as a core special teams player and then work his way up to being their unexpected success sotry as a starter on defense. Tested okay but plays better than that because of his anticipation and awareness.
LB KJ Britt Auburn
LB Chaz Surratt, North Carolina Former College QB who understands offensive concepts and it shows in his ability to read and anticipate plays… He makes so many plays on the ball.
LB Ben Hladik, Saskatchewan (see above)
S Richie Grant, UCF (see above)
S Ar’Darius Washington, TCU (see above)
S/LB Zayne Anderson BYU When you are fast-forwarding through BYU defensive snaps so that you can get back to watching their sublime offense and you accidentally drop in on defenseive plays… and that same guy always seems to be making the play. Anderson is a college football rarity: a DB ewith man to man athleticism who has a innate feel for zone coverage.
S Tariq Thompson, San Diego State
S Michael Carter II, North Carolina Great athlete and very underrated for a Power 5 player with his skillset. Can play slot and alley coverage or line up as a single high deep and still make plays on the ball.
S Christian Uphoff, Illinois State
S Ky’el Hemby, Southern Mississippi
S Ben DeLuca, Charlotte He’ll be pegged as a try hard guy, but had tremendous ball production for the 49ers.
S Jovan Grant, Merrimack A real revelation on tape, he is solid in coverage and hits/plays the run the way you dream your strong safety will play. Who knew Merrimack with two NFL draft prospects??!!
S Nelson Lokombo, Saskatchewan
S Christian Uphoff, Illinois State
S Tyler Coyle, Purdue
S Derrick Forrest, Cincy
S J.R. Pace, Northwestern
Another surprise find for me, based on his pro day workout. His ability in coverage––specifically clicking and closing to break on the ball in the air––is terrific.
CB Mac McCain North Carolina A&T (see above)
CB Darren Hall San Diego State One of the most productive DBs in the class, in terms of TFL, INTs, Passes defensed, and Forced fumbles (my standard of playmaking production). He’ll toughness and ball skills will make him a perfect slot defender who could also drop as a safety in cover 3 looks.
CB Thomas Graham, Oregon
CB Jason Pinnock, Pittsburgh
CB Benjamin St. Juste, Minnesota For a lengthy, tall CB, St. Juste sure does have outstanding quicks and agility. He also seems to have a competitive streak––whether it’s practices or reps in shorts, he visibly wants to not just do well, he wants to dominate.
CB Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina
Corners with this length (6041 & 34″ arms) who jump out of the gym and have good ball skills present a real problem for offenses trying to get the ball over the top on deep outside routes.

CB Shemar Jean-Charles Appalachian State
Fantastic zone CB who makes plays with ease from off coverage.  Good ball-tracking and tackling skills along with quick reactions at the top of the route stem will give him a great shot at an NFL career, especially for a team that like to play cover 3.

CB Brandon Stephens, SMU
CB Zech McPherson, Texas Tech
CB Nick McCloud Notre Dame Stephens, Zech from Tech, and McCloud are all outlier athletes with size and who makes plays on tape.  They’ll all be late round steals for someone.
CB Aaron Robinson, UCF
CB Tay Gowan, UCF Much like my praise for the BYU & ND OL above, I love the UCF DBs. Just draft all three and be happy. Gowan missed the 2020 season but he is a solid cover guy. Robinson might be the most underrated all-around CB in the draft. He can play outside, inside, probably even safety. Other than his teammate Grant, he might have been the best-looking DB in drills at the Senior Bowl.
CB Brian Mills, NC Central
CB Tre Brown, Oklahoma
CB Robert Rochell,  Freakiest of the freaky in athletic testing, he is this year’s “piece of clay to mold” prospect.
RS  Avery Williams, Boise State
STer Grant Stuard, Oklahoma
Honorable Mention:
QB Shane Buechele, SMU
QB Brady Davis, Illinois State
QB David Moore, Central Michigan
RB B.J. Emmons, Florida Atlantic (Alabama)
RB C.J. Marable, Coastal Carolina
RB Tre Harbison, Charlotte
OL Cole Van Lanen, Wisonsin
OG Peter Nestrowitz, Navy
OL Taaga Tuulima, Hawaii
OG Braylon Jones, Houston
OG Donovaugh Campbell
OG Farniok, Nebraska
OT Chandon, BYU
WR Brennan Eagles, Texas
WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
WR Javon McKinley, Notre Dame
WR T.J. Vasher, Texas Tech
WR Keyion Dixon, Eastern Kentucky
WR Marlon Williams, UCF
WR Adrian Hardy, Louisiana Tech
WR Tre Walker, San Jose State
WR Blake Proehl, East Carolina
WR Warren Jackson, Colorado State
WR DreSonte Dorton, Eastern Washington
EDGE Warren Thomas, Midland (Nebraska)
EDGE Malcolm Koonce Buffalo
DL Marquiss Spencer, Mississippi State
DL Arkansas State
LB Buddy Johnson Texas A&M
LB Riley Cole South Alabama
LB Curtis Robinson Stanford
LB Trajan Stephens-McQueen Georgia State
LB Lawrence Garner Old Dominion
LB Anthony Butler Liberty
S Thomas Leggett, Texas Tech
CB Cameron Kinley Navy
CB Antonio Phillips Ball State
CB Jerry Jacobs Arkansas/Arkansas St
CB Mark Gilbert Duke
CB Emmanuel Rugamba Miami (OH)
CB Rachad Wildgoose, Wisconsin
CB Marco Wilson Florida