But really, you’ve never heard of these guys

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Football, New entries
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The draft is twenty-four days away. Most of the pro football media focus rests on first and second round talent in the NFL Draft. Occasionally you’ll read an article about some “under the radar” guys who soon enough appear over the radar because they’re pretty good. Here are some players who are legitimately “under the radar” from small and big schools who can achieve at the next level.

Ryan Hewitt, Stanford FB

Hewitt’s the prototypical do it all H-back. If H-backs still exist. Hewitt’s shown his ability to block, catch, and run at Stanford and all with ideal size (6’4″, 245 lbs). Hewitt was a humble, team-first guy at a very successful Stanford program in 2013. As a late or even a mid round selection Hewitt sh0uld provide excellent value to fill in at TE, FB, in the slot or to run the ball.

Colt Lyerla, Oregon TE

Lyerla might be a little more well known than the average name on this list because of the program he played for (Oregon), but he’s got terrific speed and the gametape to back it up. Lyerla’s an athletic marvel though unpolished in his routes. Teams will no doubt be most concerned with Lyerla’s run-ins with the law and decision to leave Oregon midseason for “personal reasons.” If Lyerla can keep his demons under control he can be a premium talent in the NFL assuming there is a GM out there willing to risk the draft selection on him.

De’Ron Furr, Fort Valley State SS

Furr plays strong safety but looks like a linebacker. He weighs in 232 and 6’3″. Furr is a little older than most draftees playing at Memphis before his time at Fort Valley State, but he’s still young and looks exactly like the type of player Seattle drafts late and then carves into a pro bowler. Furr’s an experienced and physical talent that can bloom into a starter or physical role player with some grooming.

Danny Kistler Jr., Montana OT

At 6’7″ and 315 lbs, Kistler has a huge frame and started for three seasons at Montana. Kistler would’ve been a premier Tackle at the FBS level and has the physical tools to be an above average tackle in the NFL. His dimensions suggest he can start or perform as a solid backup and play at right or even left tackle if he transitions to the pro game well. Coaches who like to add O-linemen in the later rounds and develop them might see a gem like Kistler and transform him into a reliable starter.

Erle Ladson, Delaware OT

Erle Ladson and Pluto both missed the cut because they are too small to be planets, but Ladson’s almost big enough. Ladson weighs 330 lbs and stands at 6’6″ and participated in the Senior Bowl this season. Ladson played an integral role on a high scoring Delaware offense and started for three seasons. Ladson is an absolute monster and can become a starter at the next level if given time to adjust to the quickness and explosiveness of NFL pass rushers. Small school players can be risky, but Ladson has a ceiling that reaches the stars and an impressive resume at Delaware.

Keith Price, Washington QB

Price played for a relatively well known Washington program under current USC head coach Steve Sarkisian. There hasn’t been an overflow of chatter about QB’s in this draft class outside of the top ten guys at the position or so. Regardless, Price demonstrated a high level of play at Washington but stands at 6’1″ and plays in the same conference as Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion, Taylor Kelly, Cody Kessler and Connor Halliday. Price bounced back from a rocky Junior season with an impressive 8.43 ypa and career low six interceptions (counting seasons where Price started full-time) as a Senior. Price isn’t a highly touted passer among most NFL pundits but can become a solid backup for any team with his passing resume and compete for a starting job evidenced by the maturation of his play on a Washington club without tons of receiving talent for Price to lean on.

Stephen Houston, Indiana RB

Indiana leaned on Houston and Tevin Coleman to do the dirty work (running the ball) for a productive Indiana offense in 2013. While Houston’s sample size isn’t as large as other running backs (424 carries in 3 seasons) that should only mean Houston’s got more life in him than other senior running backs. Houston also totes ideal size at 6’1″ and 230 lbs and a nose for the endzone with 25 touchdowns over three seasons. His 6.7 ypc as a Senior proves he can make the most with what he’s given as a power-back and can become a starter as a bargain-bin acquisition.

Damien Williams, Okla. RB

Williams spent time at Oklahoma as the lead back until his suspension this past November, presumably for legal reasons. Williams may have become “expendable” when Oklahoma RB Brennan Clay put up an otherworldly performance against Kansas State with 200+ rushing yards and two scores. Williams has put up great production against top-level division one defensive talent and warrants taking notice this off-season for NFL teams. Whatever Williams’ unknown infraction might be, he’s a bargain player who can add value to teams in the late rounds.

Zurlon Tipton, Central Michigan U. RB

Tipton missed most of 2013 due to injury but looked sharp in CMU’s pro day. Tipton has desirable measurables at 6’0″ and 221 lbs. His best season came as a Junior in 2012 with 18 scores and 5.9 ypc over 1400 yards. He finished off his career at Central Michigan with a 216-yard, four touchdown performance against rival Eastern Michigan. The RB market has plummeted in the past 18 months so Tipton’s services will likely be available as an UFA.

The turnout of high level talent from college bottlenecks at the Draft and at GM’s/Coaches personal preference for what they want in a player. Half of these guys will never play a down of pro football, but probably could become high level starters in the right circumstance. Only time will tell, good night and good luck.

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