I already talked about my top ten prospects for each position on offense and defense, so I decided to take a look at some players who might not be on everybody’s radar, but whom we should really keep an eye on. Of the twelve names mentioned you probably won’t hear any called before the third day of the Draft, but they could become impact players at some point.
Karlos Williams, RB, Florida State:
This guy has a huge frame and therefore doesn’t look like your average NFL running back, but he has a lot of upside. After converting from safety to the offensive side he is still learning the position. He has an aggressive, downhill running style with way better top-end speed than he gets credit for (4.58 in the 40). He is very hard to tackle and pushes the pile, although he often plays too upright and doesn’t make a lot of defenders miss at the second level. He will be suited best playing in a zone-scheme where he can make one cut and go, but he has shown great development in his patience and vision. He lost his starting job to a freshman last year and he will need to clean up character issues though.
DeAndrew White, WR, Alabama:
Many people forget Amari Cooper isn’t the only receiver coming out of Alabama. His counterpart White is certainly not as polished or has put up great numbers, mainly because he had to fight through a couple of injuries (like a torn ACL in 2012), but he runs great routes, works hard and is steadily improving. And let me tell you – this guy is special after the catch. He may need to earn his snaps at receiver through special teams play early in his career though.
Jean Sifrin, TE, UMass:
This former basketball player is already 27 years old, but has gathered very little experience playing football before exploding onto the scene in his only year of Division I Football. His 6’7’’ frame and natural catching ability make him an intriguing prospect. He plays too high and it shows when he’s blocking but he has the ability to explode into the air and make highlight reel catches, plus his catch radius is ridiculous. His age hurts is draft stock, but if he learns the nuances of the game, like shielding the ball away with his body, he could be a huge vertical threat that mostly will line up in the slot and make it happen in the open field.
Robert Myers, G, Tennessee State:
This is another guy I had to watch some extra tape on since TSU is not on your average TV schedule. He drew my attention during the Senior Bowl practices, where he really looked like he’d be able to overpower just about everybody. At the same time I also saw a couple of defensive linemen blow by him in one-on-ones and that’s pretty much what I think he is – a strong kid that is technically sound but sometimes forgets to move his feet laterally to stay in front of defenders. I think he’s an ideal fit in a power scheme, where he can be used as a lead blocker on pulls.
Max Garcia, C, Florida:
He has the size to play tackle and wins with excellent positioning. He has tremendous upper body strength and very strong hands that won’t come off once he has them on the defender. He lacks the desired foot quickness, but I think he can improve on his pad level, since he tends to be too high. He’s a tough kid who has the leadership qualities you want to see out of center with the ability to move to the guard spot.
Bobby Richardson, DT, Indiana:
It’s crazy how slippery and nasty Richardson is. I love how active and great he is with his hands and that he never stops running to the football. He often is referred to as being too small to play the position, but I think he’s just fine with his long arms and outstanding combination of athleticism and agility. If he works on improving his pass rush arsenal he could become a very special player.
Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami:
He is a guy that is receiving some buzz after how dominant he was at the East-West Shrine Game, but I still don’t think is talked about enough. I already liked him at Miami, but after what I’ve seen since he left the U I had to completely reevaluate him, because he played in a 3-4 and I project him as a 4-3 defensive end now. Most of all this is because of his explosive get-off which I didn’t see during his collegiate career. He’s stout against one-on-one blocking in the run game, has very strong hands and will only get better when he starts getting coached up to play on the edge.
Zack Wagenmann, OLB, Montana:
He is a pass rush specialist. He played defensive end in college, but I project him to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense because of his lack of size and power to set the edge consistently. He won’t be a starter on base downs, but when you get into your nickel and sub packages and split him out wide he can really get after quarterbacks with his explosiveness and burst, even though he will need to add some inside and counter moves to his game.
Davis Tull, OLB, Tennessee-Chattanooga:
I just love this kid on tape. He gets off the ball and is as relentless as any player in this year’s draft class. He didn’t run at the Combine, but reportedly ran a 4.49 before pulling his hamstring adding to his impressive vertical (42,5 inches) and broad jump (132 inches), which ranked number one and two among linebackers. He started all of his four years and was named Southern Conference Player of the Year three times. I think he has fallen under the radar because he played at a small school and has short arms, but I think he will be a great 3-4 outside linebacker because of his outstanding athleticism, technique and effort.
Ben Heeney, ILB, Kansas:
This guy is not talked about because he doesn’t look the part of an NFL linebacker, misses too many tackles and hasn’t covered very well in space, but he is a beast. He is always around the ball, has great understanding of the game, loves football, stays hours in the film room and runs around like a mad man. He absolutely has to become a more secure tackler and might be limited on third down, but he lays it all out on the field.
Ladarius Gunter, CB, Miami:
This Gunter kid shined at Senior Bowl practices. And while his tape doesn’t quite match what I saw there in man coverage drills I still think this could be a big steal later in the draft. He has the desired height and weight, but what I love about him is how he attacks the ball when receivers put their hands on it. You see so many plays where you think receivers have already made the catch and suddenly the ball is knocked loose. He will fit a zone scheme well, where his versatility of playing multiple positions when needed really helps him and he will contribute on special teams as well.
Sequez Golson, CB, Ole Miss:
I already had Golson close to my top ten corners in the Draft in my last column, but I think I need to mention his name once again. Most people aren’t very high on him because of his lack of height, but not me. He’s athletic, twitchy and aggressive. I love how hard he competes, that he doesn’t shy away from coming down in the run game and with how much confidence he plays.
A couple of other names to keep an eye on:
Michael Dyer, RB, Louisville – potential workhorse
Trey Williams, RB, Texas A&M – special shiftiness and moves
Shane Wynn, WR, Indiana – only 5’7’’, but fast, quick and competes
Darren Waller, WR, Georgia Tech – tall, fast with great body control and solid hands; like many Georgia Tech receivers he wasn’t used much as a pass catcher
Rory “Busta” Anderson, TE, South Carolina – injury concerns are the only thing that keep him from being of the top rated tight ends of this year’s class
Donovan Smith, OT/G, Penn State – athleticism may not be there to play tackle in the NFL, but has good power and sets up defenders well in pass protection
Joey Mbu, DT, Houston – ideal 2 down nose guard
Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan – ball magnet that lacks athletic traits
Bobby McCain, Memphis – athletic but undersized (slot) corner who likes to attack to what’s happening in front of him
Durrell Eskridge, S, Syracuse – tall and fast safety who I’m not sure where he can and will line up since he needs to redefine his coverage skills