12 plays, 75 yards and a rushing touchdown highlighted by a Justin Herbert stiff-arm.
It was a near-perfect opening drive for Herbert and the Oregon Ducks. Herbert’s first possession stats included:
4-of-5 completions for 49 yards
2 rushes for 7 yards and a touchdown
With ease, Justin Herbert and company carved through the Wisconsin Badgers. Although Oregon fans have become accustomed to high-scoring outings by their Ducks, this was against Wisconsin’s ninth-ranked defense in the nation, per Football Outsiders DFEI. To start like that was incredible. If Herbert kept his play at that high of a level, his 2020 NFL Draft stock would have risen substantially.
However, that didn’t happen.
Stalled Offense and Poor Decision Making
On his very next drive, Justin Herbert erased his flawless first possession. Tied at 7-7, following a Wisconsin kick-return touchdown, Herbert threw a horrible throw into traffic. Granted, most of the time passes near lineman are batted down. Few are intercepted like this. But, this throw was different. It was oddly low, into a cluster of players and Wisconsin’s Jack Sanborn was sitting there, waiting with eyes on Herbert. Herbert didn’t even try a different read.
Either he didn’t see the Sanborn or the Wisconsin cluster, threw the ball far lower than he wanted to or thought he could force a football through too tight a window. Regardless of why the interception happened, it grades very poorly for Herbert.
After opening the game with a 12 play, 75 yard touchdown drive, Oregon’s offense faltered for five consecutive drives. Justin Herbert couldn’t get anything going. Interception, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs.
It wasn’t until the final four minutes of the first half when Herbert was able to lead any significant drive. But, that wasn’t solely because of him. Instead, it was mostly due to the Oregon Ducks’ defensive plays.
Relying on Defensive Turnovers
At the end of the game, Oregon forced four turnovers. Three fumbles and one interception. Considering Brady Breeze took one fumble to the house, Herbert doesn’t get credit for those seven points. However, two of Herbert’s three touchdown drives came off of turnovers. His team got him the ball at the Wisconsin 36, the Wisconsin 33 and the Wisconsin 30.
With field position like that, Herbert’s scoring drives were less impressive. Ignoring drives after turnovers and his first-half kneel, Justin Herbert’s nine remaining drives included:
One Game-Sealing Drive to Run out the Clock
Not great. Yes, we can’t take away his touchdowns. He had two, critical touchdowns in the game that came off of turnovers. He didn’t lead them to field goals on those. They came away with 14 points because of him. However, a top-NFL scout needs to be able to create his own success and not rely so heavily on his defense.
Justin Herbert Shows Off Stiff Arm and Dual-Threat Ability
Thankfully, for Justin Herbert’s case, he chose to run. His three rushing touchdowns displayed the NFL’s newest delight: dual-threat ability. In the NFL, the game is evolving. Quarterbacks are running more read-options and designed quarterback runs. It’s a new era. NFL play-callers desperately want quarterbacks with versatility.
With successful stiff-arms and a game-winning 30-yard rushing touchdown, Herbert showed off that versatility. It changed the way scouts will look at him.
Although he’s no Lamar Jackson, Herbert’s athleticism in the Rose Bowl saved his lack of throwing success.
Just Enough to Cover-Up Mistakes and Maintain Draft Stock
While some saw an erratic passer, others saw a leader with grit and the clutch-gene. Herbert’s three rushing touchdowns displayed his athleticism. His 30-yard rushing touchdown showed his athleticism and game-winning ability. Then, at the end of the game, his poise on a game-sealing drive demonstrated his “winning effort”. Like Bucky Brooks said, his play “wasn’t always pretty”. But, Herbert did just enough to erase his mistakes.
At the end of the day, the Rose Bowl is still just one game. Justin Herbert’s four-year career for Oregon has been iconic. Some would even put him above the likes of Marcus Mariota in Ducks’ fame. With his highlight-reel three-touchdown scamper and the Rose Bowl “W”, Herbert kept himself in the top-three quarterback discussion.
It is no doubt that Kyler Murray is a special and rare talent that is destined for greatness. After all, he is the first player to be selected in the first round of both the NFL and MLB draft. His destiny for greatness does not end on the football field. Murray has not suited up for his first NFL game and is already showing the world that he is “More Than an Athlete” with a partnership he has with LeBron James’ media company, the Uninterrupted. King James and his business partner Maverick Carter started the Uninterrupted to give athletes a platform to share their content.
In the 2019 NFL Draft, Kyler Murray ascended to greatness as he joined two exclusive clubs. He joined the elite club of overall number one picks. Murray also joined the very small elite club of African-American quarterbacks selected as the overall number one pick. Murray is the fifth African-American quarterback to be selected number one. He is preceded by Micheal Vick (2001), JaMarcus Russel (2007), Cam Newtown (2011), and Jameis Winston (2015).
Kyler Murray is not Just Another NFL Player
Murray informed everyone of his partnership with the Uninterrupted during the Draft with his Great Gatsby inspired pink suit. On the inside of the suit were the Uninterrupted’s logo and the slogan “I am More Than an Athlete.”
Murray has a two-year deal with the Uninterrupted to develop content for the platform. The content is likely to include short and medium length videos for social media and a feature-length documentary. Murray stated that he wants to be an example early for all athletes and show that athletes have value off the field. With this deal, Murray is doing just that. Murray has not even attended an NFL practice yet and is already building a brand off the football field. He is a part of a growing trend amongst young athletes who seek to show that they are “More Than an Athlete.”
Rashan Gary is another pioneer in this arena. Prior to the NFL Draft, Gary announced that he was starting his own sports agency. Gary was drafted by the Green Bay Packers as the number twelve first round pick. While Gary is looking forward to his NFL career, he stated that he started the sports agency because he realizes that football is not forever. Gary is showing that he is “More Than an Athlete” with his entrepreneurial spirit in founding his own sports agency.
Young Athletes Adopting the More Than an Athlete Mantra Will Inspire the Next Generation of Athletes
Kyler Murray and Rashan Gary are already inspiring the next generation of athletes. They are serving as an inspiration by setting an example of what it means to be “More Than an Athlete” as a young athlete just starting a professional career. Murray and Gary realize their value and have found a way to capitalize on it off the field. Their endeavors will likely go a long way to increase diversity in sports media and sports management. The precedent that they have set is sure to be a game-changer for future generations.
The NFL Draft Proves that Football Remains the King
Each and every year, the NFL Draft wins over fans. In 2018, the NFL draft totaled 45.8 million people. This year, 11.01 million viewers tuned in for the first round. Football always wins in America. The NFL didn’t just grab fans, they dominated the night. Thursday brought four sporting events:
NFL Draft: First-Round Coverage (11.01 million viewers)
NBA Playoffs: Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs (1.8 million viewers)
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Boston Bruins vs Columbus Blue Jackets (1.4 million viewers)
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars (>1 million viewers)
Unlike other sports, the NFL continue to reign as king of sporting television. Odd as it may be, a football draft is more appealing than NBA or NHL playoffs by a nine million margin. In fact, the first-round NFL draft coverage is over 2.5 times more than the sum of the three NBA/NHL game viewers. Even though many think of the NFL Draft as nothing more than a name-call or chance to boo Roger Goodell, the draft is full of heightened excitement and fun.
Reason One: Following Your Favorite College Athletes
In America, we love football. From high school to the NFL. So, when it comes to the NFL draft fans already have their favorite guys. They already watched their guys make highlight reel jukes, catches, hits or plays on the ball. Fame and prestige (though without the funds that should come with that) are bestowed upon collegiate athletes. Football players have swag and we love to see them on the field. But more than just their success on the field, fans love the stories behind the athletes. Watching collegiate sports is like watching cherry blossoms bloom in Washington D.C. Players are growing on a national platform. One blink and they are gone. These athletes overcome incredible adversity to get to the NFL draft. It’s easy to feel invested into their lives. Happiness and joy culminate when your favorite athlete gets that call.
Reason Two: Putting Hope in Your NFL Team
When it’s your team’s turn to pick, nothing else matters. You find yourself glued to the TV, staring at the computer or constantly refreshing your phone’s sports app. There is an overwhelming experience of anticipation. No, it’s not the same as watching a Hail Mary or final shot in basketball, but there is suspense nonetheless. Because this pick matters. It could matter for years. This player could elevate your team to new height. Maybe they could even be a future hall of famer. But, at the same time, that choice could also send your team into a downward spiral. Commit to the wrong quarterback and your team will wait 5-10 years before competing. The stress is real and it defines a fan.
Reason Three: Surveying the Competition
More important than your team’s choices, are the choices of the competition. Division rivalries are once again restoked. The draft is a time to cheer, and to jeer. Hopefully the enemies draft the biggest bust in the draft. It’s a beautiful feeling watching the opposition flair and falter. However, if the opposition is rising while your team is flailing and faltering, it can be maddening. Still, as odd as it may be, excitement can be heightened by that sense of disaster. It’s almost too bad to look away. Whatever success or failures happen, it is a certainty that the draft captivates fans of the game.
Reason Four: The Prep-Work
For the nerd and analyst, preparing for the NFL draft is an adventure in itself. We spend countless hours listening to podcast, reading articles and creating spreadsheets. Friends bet each other about their top picks. Fans fall in love with prospects and painstakingly hope for their team to make the “right” choice. Just as many hobbies are as much about the process as the results, the draft is no different. Pursuing data, opinion and knowledge is an incredible journey to those with passion.
Reason Five: Fulfilling the American Dream
In true American fashion, the NFL captivates us with stories of triumph. Players rising from poverty and heartbreak to national fame. Instantly, players like Christian Wilkins, Josh Jacobs and Kaleb McGary come to mind. They overcame poverty, violence, tragedy and homelessness. This happens again and again. Each round of the NFL is littered with athletes that grew up in foster-care, homeless or eating noodles for dinner. Watching athletes rise from nothing inspires each of us to greatness in our own lives.
Firstly, I could not be more happy for every player drafted and realizing their dream. But, NFL draft itself is excessive, dull, annoying, and illegal. As the NFL Draft wraps-up, I wonder what the hell you are all doing watching this thing. The NFL has gotten so big that the Draft is now three days long and has become like the Oscars in the watching lexicon of many fans. I don’t get it. The funniest thing is to watch the draft from 3 or 4 years ago to see how many times a team gets a pick wrong. Here are some reasons why you should be doing something else with your life!
Excess and what is with that funky music?
The NFL Draft is just another extension of the leagues excess. The NBA Draft is one day in and out quick shopping. The NFL is now three days of 20 million guys on all the networks talking about real, “value” and whom they have rated higher than someone else. People, they are guessing, trust me. Each network has two crews now and 20 talking heads covering the event. Now they have music bands playing blaring music over the coverage making it hard for Rich Eisen or any analyst to speak. Brilliant.
What gets me is the use of creative words during the draft that is just hilarious (“Bubble Butt,” “High Motor,” how a QB can, “Make all the throws”). It’s just overkill, but then again the commentators covering this monotonous event must be creative coming up with unique words to describe over 200 players. This guy has great “hands.” Great. He should. He is a wide receiver. Here are some more buzzwords you will hear that will make you chuckle!
Seeing former players in bad health make the picks
I am going to get killed for this, but it’s hard for me to watch. Jim Brown the other night crawled to the podium to make the Browns draft pick. I admire him, and he is one of the greatest players to play the game, but to see this was hard on my eyes. It’s also a message to these young guys getting drafted that football is a brutal sport that could impact your health when done. I love the old timers, but maybe select a guy who is in better health. Sad moment in the draft that is not needed. Reggie Wayne and Pat McAfee, on the other hand, killed it.
The NFL Draft is an inexact science that is often wrong
Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, and Johnny Manziel prove the NFL Draft is not an inexact science. That with all the opinons on these players of what they will be and not is simply ridiculous. Here are just a few opinions of some players from this year alone. Look, the NFL draft is an opinionated soap opera, and teams make these selections without really knowing if that player will live-up to expectations. Opinions from scouts lead to picks by coaches and general managers. It’s a crapshoot. Sportscasters from every network also create tons of opinions before the actual event. Can scouts and sportscasters measure heart? Nope!
Why show emotion, whether happy or sad, from something you can’t judge for three years? Check your feelings. Not worth it for the crapshoot that is the NFL Draft. Go out and enjoy life. Here is an opinion that I think Mr. Taylor would like to take back.
The NFL Draft is boring.
If you think about it, it’s incredibly dull. I’m watching it because I’m covering it. Plus, who wants to see the next Aaron Rodgers sitting in a green room when people are passing him that shouldn’t be. Sure, it’s human drama, but I don’t want to view it. I’m not a soap opera kind of guy. These are all kids who are becoming professional. I wish them all well, but to sit through hours of the NFL Draft you are a fan that needs to jump into life or get one. Besides, the phone updates work just fine, thank you.
Devin Bush, what were you thinking? I mean, I thought he was injured when I first saw that attire. Deion Sanders was lying when he said he liked it. Just horrible. He will be a much better player than that outfit, trust me!
The NFL DRAFT is Illegal.
All the drafts are unethical. Taking a job applicant and assigning the rights to that player to one employer is illegal. But this the NFL, which they do what they want as all the major sports do. The Draft is a moneymaker. It’s not going to change. Why can’t these players pick where they want to work? Like most Americans have that right to choose employment. The “draftee” should be able to pick his team instead of the other way around; the draft should be against the law. Set a salary cap so one organization can’t get everyone, but let them choose who they want to play for. It’s 2019, not 1970. Plus, it would eliminate teams being able to tank and suck for a better draft pick. Make it a free agent process with each club set with equal money and allow these players to pick where they want to play.
Just go outside and enjoy the sunshine!
Is the NFL Draft going away? It should, for it’s illegal, but it will probably only get bigger and more superfluous. You don’t need to worry about this monotony of rounds 4 to 7 or any of the NFL Draft. Your team did well. They got at least one guy that will be a solid player. Which pick that is who knows. The teams don’t even know who will be a great pro, trust me. No need to lose sleep on these 3 days of excessive NFL braggadocio. Beach time!
Day Three of the 2019 NFL Draft is in the books. After seven rounds, we can finally celebrate the UnAfraidShow favorites. Prior to the draft, our writers identified sleepers, hidden gems and adversity-driven athletes to watch for. Here are those players and where they were drafted or if they remain undrafted.
NFL Draft Status: Round 1, Pick 31, No. 31 Overall to Atlanta Falcons
At pick 31, the Falcons traded back into the first round to select McGary. They seem to like him enough to protect quarterback Matt Ryan. McGary landed himself on one of the better teams in the NFL. After living in an RV through high school, McGary can use his first-round paycheck to rent a nice apartment.
Wilkins, persevering through his grandfather’s death (accidentally by the hands of a SWAT team), earned a top-15 pick and is headed to Miami to play against the GOAT Tom Brady. Miami is in need of leadership. Scouts, coaches and fans are drawn to Wilkins’ character. Look for him to become the face of the franchise alongside Josh Rosen.
Chandler Brewer, OG
NFL Draft Status: UDFA to L.A. Rams
When it comes to adversity, Brewer knows it well. The Middle Tennessee State University lineman played through cancer in 2018. After undergoing radiation treatment, Chandler has been building back strength to win his NFL playing time. Signed by the Super Bowl-losing Rams, Brewer will add depth to an
Emanuel Hall, WR
NFL Draft Status: UDFA to Chicago Bears
Dubbed by many as a one-trick pony, Emanuel Hall still found his way onto the Chicago Bears roster because he is the best at that trick. Despite injuries and his father’s unexpected death in 2018, Hall displayed tremendous efficiency. His 4.39 (95th-percentile) 40-yard dash, 109.7 (89th-percentile) Speed Score and 144.5 (99th-percentile) Burst Score are good enough to earn a second look.
Grier landed himself an offense led by Cam Newton. However, considering Newton’s injury history, Grier could have regular season snaps as early as 2019. With this draft pick, the Panthers believe that Grier is well beyond his PED-suspended past.
Gary Johnson, LB
NFL Draft Status: UDFA to Kansas City Chiefs
Life has never been easy for Johnson. He’s had to scape, claw and earn everything he has. From foster-care to community college football to playing for Texas, Johnson showed grit. Johnson now found his way to a Super Bowl contending team in need of defenders.
Kahzin Daniels, EDGE
NFL Draft Status: UDFA to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Daniels may be the most interesting rookie in this class. He played without any vision in his right eye. Yes, Kahzin Daniels found success in college despite being completely blind in one eye. With that being said, he was able to total 31.5 sacks. Cross your fingers he can overcome this “disability” in the NFL.
In so many ways, football reminds us that anyone, no matter who they are, can make a big splash. Regardless of race, income, or neighborhood. This is what makes the NFL Draft and offseason so captivating.
The 1st Round of the 2019 NFL Draft is in the books. Was your team a winner or loser? Did your team make the right move, who reached, who scored, the best story of the draft and whose left for today? Kyler Murray was the expected first pick. Daniel Jones made New York angry. Josh Jacobs just gave the Raiders a weapon we can all root for. Commissioner Goodell almost got killed.
Biggest Reach: What where the Giants thinking?
The most significant reach of the first round? Oh, the booing heard in Nashville and New York City from Giants fan. The NFL Draft Pick which was the reach of the night, especially with the 6th overall selection, is Daniel Jones from Kentucky. Is this the new Christian Ponder? Yeah, I think so. One scout said of Daniel Jones that he is a “Backup” with “Pedestrian Talent.” Unfortunately, the Giants reached big time and better hope he beats that rap. And the only thing worse than the pick was the blaring bad music between picks. Lord that was bad.
Out of 58 QBs selected in the 1st Round over the previous 20 seasons, Daniel Jones’ career 6.2 AY/A is equal or better than just Jake Locker, Patrick Ramsey and Kyle Boller.
The Biggest Bust potential of the first round is without question Kyler Murray. Let me say, I like the kid a lot, but he had one fantastic year with a boatload of talent. When you are the first pick in the NFL Draft is magnified just ask Johnny Manziel or JaMarcus Russell. Murray has the following attributes:
Second-highest passer rating under pressure in 2018 among quarterback class
Highest passer rating from a clean pocket in 2018 among quarterback class
But, he’s smaller than you like and people have questioned his leadership abilities. At 5-foot and ten-inches, Murray becomes a big question mark. That being said, I want him to succeed but being drafted by Arizona makes you wonder if he is doomed to underperform. However, this organization just drafted Josh Rosen now they are selecting Kyler Murray? Better hope rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury turns him into the next Russell Wilson. For other draft busts of the past, read here.
The Best Story of the NFL Draft 2019 1st Round…
The Best story of the night? The Oakland Raiders selected RB Josh Jacobs with the 24th overall pick. Jacobs is the definition of perseverance, success and overcoming adversity. He went from being homeless and running from gunshots to a first-round draft pick. Jacobs earned an Alabama scholarship by showcasing his highlight reels on Twitter (For more on Jacobs’ story, check out his self-written article on The Players Tribune. For more on his advanced stats and analytics, check out his instant draft reaction on numberFire). He is a guy you can root for no matter if you like the Raiders or not. Josh has Charlier Garner and Le’Veon Bell type skills which fits perfectly with Jon Gruden’s offense. He was the only Day 1 running back for a reason. Good Luck Josh! Other great stories of some of these draft kids.
“I’m never going to forget the nights spent in the back of that Suburban. I’ll never forget the motels. The gunshots. The helicopters. I know what it’s like to be scared. To be hungry. To have nothing in my future but uncertainty.
So I’m never going to take the privilege of playing in the NFL for granted. I’m going to come in and sacrifice whatever is necessary to succeed. I’m gonna hustle. I’m gonna put the work in and do the right things, like my pops always said.
Everything else will fall into place.”
Josh Jacobs, The Players Tribune
The Christian Wilkins Lift…
Second to Josh Jacobs in our hearts is Christian Wilkins. The second best moment of the NFL Draft is when Christian Wilkins almost destroyed the Commissioner. Roger Goodell showed some stellar moves avoiding 315 pounds of an elated monster prospect who just made the Dolphins defensive line much better. I sense the commish was a bit worried when he saw the lift by the athletic DT.
In addition to giving the commish an early heart attack, Wilkins brought honor to his late-grandfather’s name. He turned a life of tragedy into hope, leadership and success. Highlighted as one of our heartbreaking (and heartwarming) pre-draft stories, everyone at the UnAfraidShow cheered when the Miami Dolphins made him the No. 13 selection.
The Best Pick of the Night!
I love the Buffalo Bills getting Ed Oliver. Landing the next Aaron Donald with the 9th overall pick in the draft was the steal of the night. There was talk of Buffalo trading up to get him, but the Bills held their ground and saw him fall to them. I like Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams, but Ed Oliver is the man he is a beast. Buffalo got the best defensive player at that spot and is a massive addition for the Bills rabid fan base to get excited about. Just watch the tape, Stud!
Seattle Seahawks Swap Meet
In Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks traded down into abundance. They were busy making lots of calls. The Seahawks turned pick 21 into picks 37, 114, 118, 132 and 142. Prior to the Frank Clark trade, the Seahawks only had four total draft picks. They had pick 21, 84, 124 and 159. The Seahawks traded away Frank Clark (and avoiding his big salary cap hit) and pick 84 to the Kansas City Chiefs prior to the draft in exchange for pick 29, 92 and a 2020 second-rounder.
So, the Seattle Seahawks exchanged: Frank Clark, pick 21 and pick 84 For Pick 29, 37, 92, 114, 118, 132, 142 and a 2020 second-round selection from the Kansas City Chiefs. Well played Seahawks.
Who is left for Day 2…
Ahead of Day 2, there are an abundance of good Cornerbacks, Wide Receivers, and some terrific Offensive Line talents. The NFL Draft 2019 is still loaded. With that being said, I like Greedy Williams CB LSU, Jawaan Taylor OT Florida, Cody Ford T, and if you need a QB, Drew Lock from Missouri is still on board. Also, the freakish body of DK Metcalf is still available. Who knows, maybe we will see some of my hidden gems be selected. Enjoy the draft everyone.
There are five names who might be the biggest Sleepers/Hidden Gems in the 2019 NFL Draft. Some may leave you scratching your head when your team drafts them. But, 3 years from now you might say as a fan from a team who didn’t select them, “man, we should have drafted this kid!”
My name is not Mel Kiper or Todd McShay. But, I have worked on shows covering the Draft for ESPN and FOX Sports Radio. What I can do is read and watch videos to see who stands out and assess what scouts or coaches have said about a prospect. I use a combination of information from Todd McShay, Chris Landry, and my favorite, the Ourlads Guide to find the steals of the draft. The draft is scattered with uncertainties because you can’t judge a guys heart and aptitude to adjust to the professional game.
Instead of going over the million mock drafts from either Mel Kiper Jr. or Joe the Grocer from Ralphs, let’s look for the next Tom Brady. Who are some of the NFL Sleeper Picks and Hidden Gems of the 2019 NFL Draft that will get a scout a raise in pay?
There have been so many late round draft picks that go on to be NFL stars. I also want to add that some of the guys I’m going to present could go undrafted, which never stopped the likes of Wes Welker, Nate Newton, Tony Romo, Joe Jacoby, Warren Moon, John Randle, Dick Lane, and Kurt Warner. If you have heart and determination, draft position or being an undrafted free agent can only add to that chip on a shoulder toward greatness.
NFL Draft 2019 Sleeper Picks
TYREE JACKSON, QB Buffalo 6’7 250
(Projected 3rd – 5th Round Talent)
College Stats (6,999 Yards 49 TD’s 24 INT 55.8 Comp%, 129.3 Rating)
Strengths: Big, Strong, Mobile, Terrific Arm Strength, Improvises well
Footwork and mechanics need to improve and his decision-making ability questionable, but with proper coaching, this guy has all the tools to be a difference maker. I like Tyree Jackson a lot, and he is a forgotten man in the QB Shuffle that is being dominated by Murray and Haskins. This kid needs time to develop learning ideally from a veteran like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Joe Flacco.
He has the athletic ability with some people wondering about a possible position change. This kid is someone three years from now who could be leading a team to success. To compare him with Josh Freeman is unfair in that Tyree is a lot more mobile. Josh had a few solid years at the NFL level, but he lost all confidence (battled addictions) and was out of football at 28 years of age. Of the NFL Sleeper Picks and Hidden Gems for the 2019 NFL Draft, Tyree Jackson is my favorite pick.
Ideal Fit: Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans, New England, Green Bay.
Other Hidden Gem at QB: Easton Stick – North Dakota State. Watch his tape; you will love this kid. He replaced Carson Wentz and didn’t miss a beat. High completion ratio, who can run and make plays outside of the pocket. What people like most about Easton is his leadership skills. He does not have ideal size nor blessed with a huge arm, but this is the type of guy Bill Belichick drafts who becomes a solid contributor in multiple roles.
Bryce Love, RB Stanford 5’9 210
(Projected 5th or 6th Round)
College Stats (3,865 Yards 6.8 Avg. 30 TD’s)
Strengths: Speed, Production, Shiftiness, Confidence, Character, Toughness ability to play in pain.
Weaknesses: Knee, Size, System back better at zone schemes rather than gap cuts, Blocking took a huge step back last year, Fluidity.
NFL Comparison: Dion Lewis
Ideal fit: Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, and Minnesota Vikings
Okay, this is not a hidden gem (Heisman Finalist two years ago). He might have stayed in College one year too many, and injuries held him back last year, but this kid is a difference maker. Due to the lack of discussion about Love, he is now in the hidden gem class. He is smart, elusive, can return kicks and certainly be a pass catcher out of the backfield. He has a red flag: a knee injury that will require patience from the team that drafts him. Bryce is the perfect stocking stuffer who will be like having a first round talent in the 20-21 season.
The stiffness in the knee will see Bryce plummet in the draft, but with a year to fully recover he could be a Sproles or Dion Lewis instant trouble and mismatch for a defense. His track speed (clocked at 4.4 when healthy) and shiftiness in the open field gives a QB an excellent weapon to have in the fold. He ideally will go to a team that will not use him right away and let him heal. Bryce is that change of pace 3rd down back that could grow into a feature back in time. I also like a guy who writes a letter to all the NFL General Managers and calls himself the best back in this years draft.
Other Hidden Gem at RB: Remember this name, RB Craig Reynolds, Kutztown University. He’s got good speed (4.5 in the 40) and is instinctual when cutting. He does everything (WR/PR/KR) and will help any special teams. Craig is 5’10 and 210 pounds of multi-talent at the RB position. He finished with over 1,500 yards receiving and is also an excellent blocker.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WR/TE Texas 6’4 220
(6th – 7th Round Grade)
College Stats (1,622 Yards 10 TD’s)
Strengths: Big, Good hands, Solid after the catch, Good Footwork, Character, Leaping, Elusive.
Weakness: Poor Speed, Route Running-specific, Tough times with press coverage.
For a hidden gem let’s go with Longhorn WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey who had to deal with sub-par Quarterbacking and still had a solid year. He is not fast (4.75 40 time) but might have the best ball skills in this draft. He is a tall 6’4 with a solid 210-pound frame. He’s got long arms which makes him a mismatch in the slot and a nightmare for secondary people to bring down.
Might be transitioned into a pass-catching tight end role. You watch the tape, and you wonder how this guy is late-round fodder. Very productive and his level of competition was high. Better to start as a third or fourth WR option utilized as a mismatch guy to start.
I want to state that I had JJ Arcega-Whiteside from Stanford who was my hidden gem guy until I saw over the past two months his stock climb as high as a 2nd round pick. We might only see one or two wide receivers (D.K. Metcalf or Hakeem Butler selected in the first round so if JJ is considered a 2nd round guy he has moved up the list a lot. Just for the record, I think he will be the best WR in this year’s draft.
Other Hidden Gem at WR: Michael Walker WR Boston College. He is as raw as they come, but I see a Wes Welker in this kid. His immediate impact will be returning kicks (Averaged 25.5 yards on kick returns and had a punt return for a TD in his senior year). He makes things happen when he gets a chance but was never a featured player at Boston College. Very shifty and will be a terrific undrafted rookie pick-up and will help on special teams immediately.
The best year for Michael was his sophomore year where he caught 33 passes for 420 yards. He needs time to develop receiving abilities, route running but could be a diamond in the rough and is one of the best returners in this year’s draft. This kid screams Patriots and Bill Belichick. I also like Keelan Doss from UC Davis. A pure route-running WR who will make his QB happy with his precise placement on the field.
Carl Granderson, DE Wyoming 6’5 250
(Projected 4th Round Pick)
Strengths: Long, fast off the edge, good at recognizing plays, good at being in position, athletic, tremendous at running stunts, good at dropping into coverage.
Weakness: Tweener, Not stout in the running game, needs to add bulk, gets neutralized to quickly. Better in the 4-3 base then a 3-4 set thought he looks like a Linebacker type. Carl has some off the field concerns.
NFL Comparison: Jabaal Sheard
Ideal Fit: New England, Kansas City, San Diego, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay.
I love watching the tape of this kid. I remember people saying Vikings DE Danielle Hunter couldn’t get at the QB when he played at LSU. He might get drafted a lot higher than I have him based on projection much the same way Hunter was with the Vikings. Carl struggled last year with only three sacks, which is why his stock is so low. You look at him, and you see the perfect 3rd Down DE. Carl Granderson is a smart football player, and many a defensive coach would love to mold this kid into a professional.
Michael Jackson, CB Miami 6’0 210
(Projected 5th Round)
NFL Comparison: Siran Neal
Ideal Fits: Any team that specializes in a zone defense that can be patient and work on completing his skill set. Could be moved to a safety position utilizing his tackling ability.
Strengths: Size, Speed, Strong Tackler, Long Arms, Good on Special Teams.
Weaknesses: Feet Fluidity, Gets lost in coverage at times, does not turn head enough to locate the football.
Go ahead play Thriller or Billie Jean as you read this. I’m in all honesty wondering why I’m putting this guy here because his tape doesn’t help him out much. Michael is a projection pick in the hopes he gets selected by a team that can mold him into a complete player. The athleticism has yet to transfer into on-field production. He flashes ability as he did two years ago but didn’t produce the way many hoped last year. He has the size, speed, ability to be a solid zone coverage guy.
Michael is the type of player that a Mike Zimmer can mold into something at the next level. The problem is many have doubts about his ability to play outside of a zone/cover two defense. Just watching the tape, he looks so ominous you wonder how the athletic ability has not produced into more significant numbers. He is the type of guy with good coaching develops into a player at the next level and in the later rounds of the NFL Draft a wanted commodity.
So what do you think of my NFL Sleeper Picks and Hidden Gems for the 2019 NFL Draft! Who do you have as guys that have impressed you? The draft nears, just hours away, you have 5 Sleeper Picks/Hidden Gems Tyree Jackson, Bryce Love, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Carl Granderson, and Michael Jackson. Each has the talent that could make your NFL team much better. Here is a quick look back at some late round picks from last year that had an impact in the National Football League. Enjoy the draft everyone.