Five sleeper draft prospects

Posted: March 28, 2019 in Football, New entries, NFL

U. of Minnesota Safety, Jacob Huff – Huff excelled as both a run-stop safety and in pass coverage, grading out in the top ten of both categories according to ProFootballFocus.com. His playing weight is 210 at the University of Minnesota, so Huff wouldn’t have to bulk up for the NFL. Huff batted down 7 passes, intercepted 2 passes, and forced 2 fumbles during his senior season. Overall Huff performed well throughout the season. During his 13 game senior season, Jacob Huff as the leader of the Minnesota Golden Gophers defense allowed a QBR (score out of max 100) of 54.64 between the 13 starting QBs he faced. That score ranks between Mason Fine of North Texas (#73/128) and Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati (#74/128). Huff faced some serious high level QB talent in first rounder Dwayne Haskins (OSU), Nate Stanley (Iowa), Adrian Martinez (Nebraska), and David Blough (Purdue) throughout the season. I contend Huff performed at a high level on a defense without tons of high level talent around him unlike, say,  safety Taylor Rapp at Washington who functioned as part of an elite defense or Deionte Thompson who played for the fearsome Crimson Tide Defense.

Penn State QB, Trace McSorley – McSorley had a nightmare senior season, completing 53% of his passes and a career low 7.0 (counting full time starter seasons) yards per attempt. In fairness to McSorley, Penn State lost starters Mike Gesicki (Tight End), Daesean Hamilton (wide receiver), and pass-catching fiend Saquon Barkley to the NFL. McSorley also had the #1 drop rate (10%) of receivers in division one college football. If we give McSorley an average drop rate (4%) instead, his completion percentage looks like 59%, which while still a far cry from the 66% he posted in his junior season, is much more forgivable than 53%. McSorley is extremely productive as a runner with over 700 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns (career highs). Against THE Ohio State University, McSorley only completed half of his passes (16/32), for two touchdowns (0 INT), but roasted the Buckeyes defense for 175 yards on the ground with 25 carries. While McSorley likely will need an offense that’s maybe more QB-friendly (Chargers, Giants) but has the deep ball (PFF ranking of 10/53 eligible QBs in average depth of target, how deep a receiver is on the field when pass is thrown) and athleticism to be worth the gamble of a 4-6 round selection.

Utah State RB, Darwin Thompson – The 5’8″ 200-lber averaged 6.9 yards a carry at Utah State. Thompson’s low center of gravity can actually be an asset if we go back and look at the successful careers of Warrick Dunn and Maurice Jones-Drew. Thompson created substantial yards after the carry. Thompson forced 48 missed tackles on 151 handoffs, (PFF.com’s NFL draft guide, subscription required). So on just under one third of Thompson’s carries, he forced a missed tackle. Running backs are undervalued by the nature of playing a in pass-friendly league, and Darwin Thompson who didn’t even get a  combine invite will likely go overlooked in favor of large edge rushers and slot receivers. Thompson didn’t play at a larger program but has shown about as much as a running back can show in order to be a strong NFL prospect.

Northern Illinois EDGE, Sutton Smith – The undersized small school prospect excelled at both stopping the run and pressuring opposing quarterbacks (Top 25% ranking in run-stop percentage and pressures generated according to PFF.com NFL draft report). Smith showed up at the combine weighing in at 233 and ran an unconvincing 4.69 40 for a smaller pass-rusher. Smith may have to get his start on an NFL squad as a special teams contributor. Where Sutton Smith does show up is actual, real football. He sacked the ultra-athletic Utah QB Tyler Huntley twice in a performance where Northern Illinois was over-matched talent-wise and coaching-wise. 230-lb Sutton Smith sacked 6’7″, 245-lb Tyree Jackson twice in the MAC championship game. He can clearly compete against high level athletes despite his size and sub-par 40 time. Smith’s performance at Northern Illinois is no guarantee of success at the NFL level, but his ability to perform at a fundamental level against “better” talent suggests he can do the same at the pro level.

San Diego State WR, Fred Trevillion – Trevillion’s sample size at SDSU is smaller (22 catches, 598 yards, 27.2 yards per catch, 3 TDs) but he shows clear promise as a deep threat receiver in the vein of Brandin Cooks or Josh Gordon. Trevillion stands at 6’2″ but weighed in at 182 on his pro day, so he may struggle with strong press coverage. For those who value the 40 time, Trevillion ran a low-4.4 40 at his pro day (according to draftanalyst.com).  With the success of slot receivers in New England, more teams may be looking for a slot receiver, Trevillion didn’t make a name for himself as a slot receiver at SDCCU Stadium. In a pass-heavy offense, like in New Orleans, Kansas City, or Chicago Trevillion can be an extremely valuable deep threat as a mid to late round player.

 

 

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