With more than 350 players eligible for the NFL draft, it’s tough to get a read on all of them. Here’s a few guys that caught my eye who could be
diamonds in the rough. With more than 350 players eligible for the NFL draft, it’s tough to get a read on all of them. Every year there are a handful of players that get selected on day 3 who turn out to be capable starters, Pro Bowlers or in some cases even Hall of Famers. Richard Sherman, Jason Kelce, Geno Atkins, Antonio Brown, Kirk Cousins, Josh Norman & Kam Chancellor were all taken in the 4th round or later just to name a few players drafted between 2010 to 2012.
There are obviously more misses than hits and those aforementioned players are few and far between. There are usually only around 25-30 players taken outside of the first two rounds that end up being really good NFL players and have long careers. Here’s a few guys that caught my eye who could be diamonds in the rough.
Atonio Mafi – OG – UCLA
Mafi is a powerful, mean, bulldozing blocker. He is limited athletically but has adequate quickness & lateral movement to be an effective starter in the NFL. He is just oozing with that sort of nastiness I like in my offensive linemen and you get the feeling when watching him play that he just wants to hit someone – I like that.
Dorian Williams LB Tulane
One of the hidden gems in this year’s draft; the best way I can describe him is, if Marshawn Lynch was a linebacker – Dorian Williams is what we’d get. He’s an explosive hitter (run through a mf face, if you will) and a fantastic athlete. Good sideline to sideline speed, superb change of
direction ability and a very strong tackler. He’ll be a steal for the lucky team that drafts him.
Keaton Mitchell RB East Carolina
I’d recommend familiarizing yourself with Keaton Mitchell before he literally bursts onto the scene in the NFL. He’s small, but the kid is an explosive & dynamic player in every sense. A very intelligent player with elite balance, lateral movement & elusiveness. He’s a very patient runner with good vision & world class speed. Special player that will make an impact on day 1. Elite KR potential.
Jaren Hall QB BYU
Hall has the potential to be a steal for the team that drafts him. He’s a fearless competitor that has the physical & mental capacity to carry a team on his back. A great athlete with terrific footwork, can read a defense well, go through progressions and has superb pocket awareness. An intelligent player, good decision maker and knows when to use his legs.
Byron Young EDGE Tennessee
Young is a supremely gifted athlete with lightning speed, power & quickness. He’s so explosive – at times he literally looks like he’s shot out of a cannon. His agility, balance, leverage & bend are all elite traits. Don’t confuse him with the other Byron Young in this draft; this young man from Tennessee is special. Nobody’s talking about him, but he’s one of my sleepers & steals of this draft.
Nick Herbig EDGE Wisconsin
Herbig is a good athlete with some impressive bend & a hefty toolchest of pass rush moves. He has impressive strength & leverage and a feisty competitor that won’t have an issue getting to the quarterback as an edge rusher or DE in the NFL. Herbig is one of the most underrated prospects in this draft and he’ll have a big chip on his shoulder right outta the gate. He’ll be a steal for someone in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Kobie Turner DT Wake Forest
Turner is an explosive athlete with a very quick first step. He has raw strength & packs a powerful punch. He uses his leverage well and solid technique. He is a competitor with a good motor. Kobie is an underrated prospect and a very violent tackler. He won’t be a 1st round pick, but he’ll make a GM look pretty smart for taking him later on.
Rashee Rice WR SMU
Rice is going to leave a lot of teams questioning their scouting departments when he gets into the NFL. He’s got terrific ball skills, good speed & his body control/agility is quite impressive when making adjustments on catches and running after catch. He is a little on the raw side, but has elite natural ability and I would not be surprised if in 3-4 years Rice becomes the best WR in the class.
Kei-Trel Clark CB Louisville
Clark is a very smart cornerback who is a student of the game & plays with an edge. He’s a physical, aggressive tackling cornerback that plays bigger than he is. He’s very quick & fast, has good hips and a very good overall athlete. Clark does extremely well with position and is a fiesty/scrappy cornerback that will frustrate his opponents in the NFL.
Kaevon Merriweather S Iowa
Merriweather is one of the smartest players in the draft, a true student of the game and just a pure football player. Kaevon has good ball skills, is instinctive and unafraid to stick his nose in on a play. He’s a strong tackler and can lay a big hit occasionally. He’s a versatile Safety that can play close or away from the line of scrimmage. He’s not physically elite at anything, but he is just a very intelligent player.
Brandon Hill S PITT
Hill is a very powerful, hard hitting tackler and terrific athlete. He has decent instincts as a deep safety and solid ball skills. He’s a little inconsistent when it comes to his play recognition and pursuit, but he has terrific speed to make up some ground. He has some work to do in the fundamentals department if he hopes to stick around in the NFL.
Jalen Redmond DT Oklahoma
Redmond is a supreme athlete with super quick feet & agility. He’s a freakish athlete that plays with good leverage and has solid technique to build upon at the next level. Did I mention he’s a phenomenal athlete?
Davis Allen TE Clemson
Allen is a big boy with good athleticism. He has good hands and good game speed. Runs effective routes and uses his body/frame well while catching in traffic. He has a wide catching radius and has good RAC ability.
Will Mallory TE Miami
Mallory has good hands and excellent ball skills. He’s got good speed & quickness and is a gifted athlete. His blocking could be better, but he is definitely more of a receiving tight end. He has a big frame that he uses very well and is a very effective red zone target.
Roschon Johnson RB Texas
Roschon was Texas’ best kept secret. Hiding behind Bijan in that backfield; Johnson quietly made himself a top 10 RB prospect in this years’ draft. A big, physical runner & superb athlete; Roschon can run around defenders, run through them, or even jump over them. Johnson has shades of Adrian Peterson or Derrick Henry to his game, but he may not be that special of a talent.
Clark Phillips III CB Utah
Phillips is one of the most instinctive corners in this draft class. He is a highly intelligent playerand student of the game that recognizes plays well. He’s a good athlete with quick feet, nicehips and can turn & run with anyone. He has excellent ball skills and is a willing tackler, albeit
just average in that regard. He’s an intriguing ballhawk type player.
Daniel Scott S CAL
Scott is a smart, instinctive football player and a terrific athlete. He’s a physical, powerful hitter and aggressive tackler. He plays the game at an explosive pace with good speed & quickness. He has terrific pursuit & closing speed and uses his leverage well when making tackles and rushing the passer. Underrated player.
Payne Durham TE Purdue
Durham is a big, strong blocking tight end that offers value quietly as a receiver. He is deceptively athletic and a nightmare for DB’s to bring down.
Tyjae Spears RB Tulane
Spears is a uniquely gifted athlete with a bouncy/elastic running ability that makes him hard to tackle. He has supreme balance & agility and is an explosive runner. He’s a good receiver, has terrific vision and has the elusiveness to make a man miss in the open field. He would also be a difference maker in the return game.
Alex Austin CB Oregon State
Austin plays the ball and ball carrier aggressively. He’s a lengthy cornerback that uses his physical tools well. He’s more quick than fast and has good closing speed. He’s a high level competitor and a more than willing tackler. Keep your eye on this kid, he could be a pleasant surprise.
Deuce Vaughn RB Kansas St
Think Darren Sproles or Maurice Jones-Drew when it comes to the 5’5” Deuce Vaughn. While it’s rare to have a player this size crack a top 10 list, let alone make it to the NFL; Deuce fits the bill. With incredibly quick feet, cat-like quickness, elite start/start ability, Vaughn is one of the more gifted athletes in this draft, and at his size you need to be in order to make it, and make it he will.
Clayton Tune QB Houston
Tune is a gunslinger with good size & an NFL arm. He exhibits good accuracy on his deep balls and can make all the throws in the NFL. His footwork & mechanics are very solid & while he isn’t necessarily a threat on his legs; he does have some mobility. Clayton tends to lock in on a receiver which he’ll need to adjust in the NFL. He projects as a high upside backup in the NFL with starting potential.
Malik Cunningham QB Louisville
Cunningham is ‘Lamar Lite’. He’s a run-first QB that is explosive with his legs. He’s not nearly as impressive with his arm, but it may be adequate enough to survive in the NFL. If more teams ran a ‘QB-by-committee’, Malik would be much more valuable. I could see a team using him in a Taysom Hill type role, and he’d be a perfect backup for a team with a running QB. He does have upside.