Under Valued Draft Prospects 2016

March 21, 2016

Every Draft season we have our standard categories for articles about Prospects: Mock Drafts, Top 100 lists, Sleepers, Overrated/underrated etc. Not to get too cute or play semantical games with you, I would like to put a slight twist and abstain from referring to players as underrated, but rather to term them as Under Valued.
So here is a short list of players, who I think have better pro potential than many are being given credit for by most. Many of them are fighting for inclusion on the 3rd day of the Draft, but a few are from most everyone’s Top 100, but just not high enough for my taste.
They are presented alphabetically, not in any particular ranking order.

BRANDON ALLEN/QB/ARKANSAS 6’1/217 4.84/40 8 7/8″H/31 1/4″A
An awful lot of folks are scared off by the recent failure of other Razorback QB prospects. But other than their school affiliation, I do not see a valid comparison basis with ALLEN. ALLEN has improved every season in school. In 2015 he hit on 66% of his throws, passing for 3340 yards with 30 TD passes. Best of all he reduced his INT total down to only 8. He needs to learn to have more patience in the pocket, but when the pocket collapses he is a dynamic runner. In a balanced offense he looks to have the tools to manufacture 1st Downs, one way or another. ALLEN put in some very solid work during Senior Bowl week. He reminds me of CHASE DANIELS coming out of college. Yes I am concerned about small hands, but his intangibles add up to solid potential, as a Day 3 pick, to be a serviceable, productive back-up NFL QB.

ANTHONY BROWN/CB/PURDUE 5’11/192 4.35/40 8 1/4″H/31 3/4″A
We are not looking at a top prospect, but we may indeed be looking at a good player, trapped on a basically bad football team. I am seeing way too many prospect lists that don’t even include his name. He has some hip tightness to him, but he also blazed that 4.35/40 at the Combine, which was 5th fastest in the entire Combine group of over 300 players. He’s a willing and effective tackler, and shows some press cover skills. Going into 2015 a concern was a lack of any INT during his college career. He fixed that with 4 INT in 2015. As the Draft pickings get slim I think some CB needy team would be well served to call his name by Round 5. He may never earn starter’s status in the NFL, but in the proliferation of sub-packages there should be a niche or two for a player like BROWN.

LeRAVEN CLARK/OT/TEXAS TECH 6’5/316 5.16/40 11 7/8″H/36 1/8″A
This guy looks like the prototype body for an NFL OT. His sculpted, long body stood at during Senior Bowl weigh-in proceedings. Everything about him is massive, even by football standards. To borrow a phrase, his arms are vine-like. Right now he is an unmolded lump of clay, but shows signs of being everything you look for in an NFL OT. His feet are very nimble, and even though he seldom went into a 3-point stance for Tech, he anchored low and fired off the snap in Senior Bowl practices. To my eyes, he will only get better and better as a pro under a solid, teaching OL Coach. I think his size and talent are borderline First Round, based on potential, yet I see many folks hesitant to rank him in their Top 100 overall.

KEYARRIS GARRETT/WR/TULSA 6’3/220 4.53/40 9″H/34 1/2″A
Another young man who has been the victim of a bad injury (2013 fractured leg) and then playing on a mediocre at best football team. But he came alive in 2015 to show NFL personnel people what he’s capable of when healthy. He posted 96 receptions for 1588 yards and 8 TD in 2015. His speed is good for a long legged guy who takes a while to build momentum. I remember watching TULSA trying to keep up with MEMPHIS/LYNCH, and GARRETT came across as clearly the best all-around WR on the field, for either team. This year’s WR group is not as strong as the previous 2 Drafts, but this guy should have great appeal in Round 3, not Saturday. Put him on a team with a quick little slot receiver, and a straight-line speed wideout and he’ll do big time damage as the big-guy, 3rd option ala MICHAEL FLOYD in Arizona.

B.J. GOODSON/ILB/CLEMSON 6’1/242 4.69/40 10″H/33 1/4″A
For some reason the phrase “late-bloomer” seems to have become a dirty word around many NFL Personnel Departments. If guys don’t dominate as frosh, scouts get concerned. GOODSON sat early in his college career in great part because of excellent overall talent on the Clemson roster. With graduation losses from the 2014 roster he emerged with a bang last season, leading Clemson in tackles. He totaled 108 tackles, 14 of them TFL, 5.5 for sacks. He even showed the ability to help in coverage with 2 INT & 3 PBU. Looking at this guy’s overall play and measurables he looks to me like a player who could step in very early in his NFL career, as an Inside backer in a 3-4 scheme. The best example of his quality and physical brand of play may have been his work against Notre Dame, and their OC/NICK MARTIN in the big Clemson W last Fall. He’s another guy who I suspect will last well into Saturday on Draft weekend and then we’ll talk about what a steal he was next October.

JOEL HEATH/DT/MICHIGAN STATE 6’5/293 5.02/40 10 1/2″H/34 1/2″A
Now this young man is not hard to figure when it comes to being undervalued. He had a mediocre college career in a crowded Spartan Defense. After his move inside he appeared to pick it up a bit in 2015. He recorded 31 tackles, which included 5.5 TFL & 2 sacks. His length is phenomenal and as I watched him run around I thought he looked even stouter than his listed weight. He might stay inside if drafted by a 4-3 team, but I project his best value to come as a DE in a base 3-4 scheme. His build reminds me a lot of CAMERON HEYWARD. I think he could bump up to 310 easily. He plays hard from snap to whistle, but must improve his weight room strength. Is considered a solid locker room presence. I can understand a late round selection for him, but if undrafted I would expect his agent’s phone to be ringing off the hook when Round 7 is in the books.

DERRICK KINDRED/SS/TCU 5’10/207 9 3/8″H/31 1/4″A
Most scouts will tell you that in a dictionary his picture will appear next to the word “tough”. He reminds me of CHUCK CECIL, former heat-seeking missile primarily with the PACKERS. His best work is done in-the-box, but he is not lost in coverage work. In 2015 he was 1st Team All-Big 12 after recording 87 tackles, 3.5 TFL with 2 INT & 3 PBU. It should not be a surprise that he played on all TCU coverage units and intimidated more than a few PR guys into fair catches on returnable punts. He does miss too many tackles looking for the big hit at this stage of his career. His lack of height will turn off some, but he more than makes up in other areas. His 4.50/40 time at the Combine should have opened a few minds to recheck his game tape. But I still hear more talk than not of him being an URFA. That to me is classic Under-Valued talk.

RICARDO LOUIS/WR/AUBURN 6’2/215 4.43/40 9 1/2″H/32 3/8″A
The prejudices against LOUIS are already set in some NFL team offices, because Auburn receivers have been so hard to project to the pro game in recent years. The primary issue, IMO, is that the QB position at Auburn has been manned by good athletes, who in most cases run better than they throw. This can make receivers look bad on routes and create dropped balls on inaccurate throws. I will admit that I have seen LOUIS drop some balls he should catch, but some drill work by pro receiver coaches should help improve that issue. LOUIS is deceptively fast for his size and was the team’s leading receiver as a senior. He caught 46 balls for 716 yards and 3 TD. Typical of Auburn he also carried for 158 yards rushing and another TD. He’s built like a RB and should look good in a pro Offense that relies on yards-after-catch productivity like the PACKERS.

DEAN LOWRY/DE/NORTHWESTERN 6’6/296 4.87/40 9 3/8″H/31″A
This quality player has been a big secret to much of the football world while toiling for non-football factory Northwestern. You cannot help but be impressed by his measurables as recorded at the Combine. He was invited to the Shrine Game venue and performed well all week long. His one shortcoming may be his very short arms for a man of his overall size. Over and over he showed effectiveness during Shrine week, but his inability to disengage blockers in tight caused him to be fractions of a second late in his pass rush efforts. His 2015 season stats tell of his versatility; 46 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 7 passes defensed. He was asked on a regular basis to drop into shallow pass coverage for the Wildcats. I see his best fit in a 3-4 scheme, which will cover up his lack of pass rush quickness. If he’s not drafted by Round 4 in April, I will be shouting at my TV screen.

MARQUEZ NORTH/WR/TENNESSEE 6’2/223 4.48/40 10 1/4″H/33 3/8″A
I can fully understand why personnel people are lukewarm on this man who has struggled the past two years against multiple injuries. A torn labrum late in 2013 lingered through 2015 and yet he declared for Draft entry. It seems clear he did not feel comfortable in BUTCH JONES’ program. His outstanding freshman season, with 38 catches for 496 yards had scouts on high alert. But Draft decisions will have to be based in large part on his impressive measurables. His 4.48/40 time, at over 220 lbs. is very impressive as are his hand and arm measurements. If I need a big WR to balance my team’s passing attack I am inviting NORTH to town for a work out. I have heard nothing to indicate he has any lingering, serious health issues. I call him under-valued based on what his ceiling appears to be.

EMMANUEL OGBAH/DE/OKLAHOMA STATE 6’4/273 4.63/40 10″H/35 1/2″A
So your first question is why is he even on this list? Because, I have not seen anyone put him in their First Round Mock yet and I think he’s potentially a star at the NFL level. He’s not quite as quick off the ball as his 40-time might indicate, but his long arms and big hands help him throw aside blockers and chase down QBs. He is high energy and relentless in his pursuit of the ball. In 2015 he recorded 64 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 13 sacks & 3 FF. His 13 sacks led the Big 12 on the season. Bulking up to 280-285 should not be a problem, nor cost him any quickness. He’s not a DWIGHT FREENEY, speed Edge Rusher, but I do see a guy who will probably anchor a 4-3 DL scheme, and get double digit sacks annually. I think he’s clearly more talented than a lot of names I see projected to go in the last third of Round 1 in most Mocks. I’ve seen him ranked as low as Round 3, which is arguably insane.

JUSTIN SIMMONS/FS/BOSTON COLLEGE 6’2/202 4.61/40 9 5/8″H/32 5/8″A
It’s possible that the more people tune in to MIKE MAYOCK Draft projections I might have to take SIMMONS’ name off of this list. MAYOCK has been effusive in praise of SIMMONS since the Shrine Game, and rightly so. Watching BC play was painful again this past season because of their pathetic Offense, but I struggled through 3 of their games to watch SIMMONS lead their very solid Defense. He is extremely athletic and instinctive to the ball. He can do it all from his FS slot. His 2015 season included 67 Tackles, 5 INT, 2 PBU, 2 FF. He was impressive in the Shrine Game itself and should be a slam dunk for Round 3. His only goal in the next two months might be to add 10 lbs. of muscle to his angular frame. He belongs on my list at this time because of seeming general apathy regarding his play and pro prospects, but stay tuned.

NICK VIGIL/ILB/UTAH STATE 6’2/239 4.72/40 10 1/4″H/32 3/8″A
Despite being a tackling machine and athletic team leader many folks seem to be digging pretty deep to diminish his pro potential. But none of his numbers indicate a lack of size or athleticism to hinder his transition into the NFL. He has been a tackling machine his entire career. He piled up 144 tackles in 2015 which included 13.5 TFL. For those still skeptical of his athleticism, how about his play as a RB in 2014. Forced into double duty because of injuries to the RB group he carried 41 times for 152 yards and 3 TD. Last year his brother went undrafted, only to make the DOLPHINS roster and earn his stripes as a back-up LB and Special Teams ace. Based on productivity and measurables there is no way NICK is not in my Top 100 Prospect rankings. Fundamentally sound, productive players like VIGIL do not disappear between the college and NFL levels of play.

Pigskin Paul