A look at five prospects who in my mind are going to end up being far superior NFL players in comparison to where they end up going come draft weekend.
ICONSheppard displays the tools needed to start at the next level.
1. Kelvin Sheppard: LSU (6-2, 250)
At 6-2, 250 pounds, Sheppard ran in the 4.7 range at the LSU pro day and proved he has the range to play in a 4-3 and run sideline-to-sideline. He’s a physical downhill guy who generates a pop on contact, will take on blockers and has some natural coordination in the pass game as well. He’s aggressive by nature and will take himself out of plays by overcommitting at times. However, has the skill set the play in both a 3-4 and 4-3 and is one of the few potential ILB prospects with starting potential in this year’s class.
2. DL Pernell McPhee: Mississippi State (6-3, 278)
McPhee hurt himself this postseason with a less than ideal 40 time at the Combine (4.91) and wasn’t quite as big as he was listed on the Mississippi State roster. Nevertheless, on tape he’s a prospect who can be multidimensional as a pass rusher, playing with his hand on the ground or standing up and has some natural suddenness to his game on contact. He’s not an edge rusher, but he’s improved his overall pass rush arsenal this past year and has the power to anchor vs. the run game. I don’t think he’s much more than a mid-round pick, however. In my mind has the ability to potentially start as a down DE in a 43 and could even get some looks as a 3-4 OLB for a team looking for bigger backers.
3. OLB Steven Friday: Virginia Tech (6-3, 228)
I get it — Friday is undersized and doesn’t have much experience playing from a two-point stance. However, when I watch this guy on tape I see a speed rusher with a great first step who is still trying to learn the nuances of rushing the passer. He doesn’t look real comfortable sitting into his stance, but as a 3-4 OLB I think there is a lot of upside and growth potential to his game that could pay dividends down the line.
4. RB Jamie Harper: Clemson (5-11, 233)
Harper lacks the type of great straight-line speed to go overly high. However, when you watch this big back run, he displays an impressive feel in tight areas, exhibits the wiggle to consistently make a defender miss and is impressive catching the football out of the backfield. It’s rare to find a “bigger” back as sudden/coordinated in both the run and pass game as Harper and I think he’s one of the few backs in this year’s class with starting potential at the next level. Is in the Michael Bush mold.
5. Deunta Williams: North Carolina (6-2, 205)
If it wasn’t for a broken leg he suffered in the team’s bowl game this year, I really do believe Williams would be in the running for the top safety off the board come draft day. Now, he isn’t without faults, but when healthy he displays natural coordination/power on contact as a tackler and can open up his hips and drive on the football. He’s not a burner in space, but I certainly think he runs well enough to hold his own in the deep half and if the longterm medical checks out, he could end up being a steal come Saturday. However, the medical is the key.
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