The names at the top of the draft are burned into our brains by now: Myles Garrett, Jamal Adams, Solomon Thomas, etc, but what about everyone else? Despite tons of empirical evidence that’s begging for a new way of doing things, teams continue to follow their doctrine of height/weight/speed, allowing good prospects to fall through the cracks and become obtainable to the wise decision makers on draft weekend. Let’s explore …
Good players, players like Michael Bennett, Pernell McPhee, Wes Welker, and Julian Edelman for example, were once afterthoughts in war rooms during their draft experience. So who are the representatives from this year’s list of overlooked draft prospects? Let’s find out.
MY FIVE FAVORITE GUYS
These five prospects are my absolute favorite players from the 2017 Draft class. You’ll recognize most of the names here, so I’m offering a synopsis of what makes them my personal favorites, as well as a pro player comparison for each prospect.
» Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State
Player Comparison: Ed Thomas Woodson, Baltimore Steelhawks
Ed Thomas Woodson isn’t a real person. Ed Thomas Woodson is a lab-created safety from the donor DNA of Ed Reed, Earl Thomas and Rod Woodson.
This is who Malik Hooker reminds me of. He’s a lab creation of all three players. With all of his uniquely special gifts, Malik Hooker is as rare as they come from the safety position. He’ll undoubtedly become a turnover-waiting-to-happen in the pros. In five years from now — when we’re all reviewing this year’s Draft class, dissecting the picks while discussing all the hypothetical’s in hindsight 20/20 form — fans and owners alike will forever resent the day that their team passed on the opportunity to draft Malik Hooker.
My instincts are telling me that Malik will go down as one of the greatest safeties of all-time. He’s a generational-type of player. He’s peerless. And, without hesitation, he would be my #1 pick … if I were Sashi Brown.
» Christian McCaffrey, Running Back/Receiver/Return Specialist, Stanford
Player Comparison: Tiki Faulk, New York Rams
Tiki Faulk isn’t a real person. Tiki Faulk is a lab-created running back/wide receiver from the donor DNA of Tiki Barber and Marshall Faulk.
Gun to my head and I had to choose a comp between Tiki Barber and Marshall Faulk, I’m saying Tiki but I’m quietly mumbling Marshall’s name under my breath. It is all but likely we will never see another Marshall Faulk in the National Football League ever again, just like we’ll never see another Barry Sanders. However, Christian McCaffrey is a blend of both Faulk and Barber, with speed being the obvious factor here that differentiates Faulk from McCaffrey. Christian has Tiki’s running style, his athleticism, his speed, his size and his build. But he also has Faulk’s special route-running ability, as well as his innate spacial awareness when he flanks out as a receiver. His hands are reminiscent of Faulk’s, too; same for his toughness. Players like Christian McCaffrey are rare these days, and given his caucasian ethnicity, you could very well tag the now overused NBA label onto McCaffrey’s profile: Unicorn.
» Leonard Fournette, Running Back, LSU
Player Comparison: Bo Campbell, Los Angeles Oilers
Bo Campbell is not a real person. Bo Campbell is a lab-created running back from the donor DNA of Bo Jackson and Earl Campbell.
What else can I say about Leonard Fournette that you haven’t already heard? There isn’t much. Fournette is a true power-back, one who’s blessed with breakaway speed and nimble feet, as well a unique desire to violate would-be-tacklers with punishing stiff-arms and jolting shoulders as he gets to where he wants to go. And believe me … he will get there — with or without compliance. Leonard Fournette is built like Bo but is violent like Earl, which easily makes him one of my Top Five Guys.
» DeMarcus Walker, Defensive Lineman, Florida State
Player Comparison: Michael Hardy, Seattle Panthers
Michael Hardy is not a real person. Michael Hardy is a lab-created defensive lineman from the donor DNA of Michael Bennett and Greg Hardy.
DeMarcus Walker has arguably the best tape of any defensive lineman in this year’s class. What I like most about Walker is his versatility. Walker can play anywhere along the defensive line and still be a force both against the run and the pass. He’s strong, he’s big, he’s relentless. Walker’s stab move is almost as technically perfect as his swim move. Oh, and he can handle a heavy snap-count, due to his incredible stamina. DeMarcus sets the edge versus the run, which is his best attribute, in my opinion (well, it’s really a tie between this and Walker’s hand usage), but he’s also sneaky athletic. DeMarcus Walker commands attention and will likely require a game-plan from opposing coordinators. I see his best days ahead of him, following a similar path to how Michael Bennett blossomed in the pros.
» Jonathan Allen, Defensive Lineman, Alabama
Player Comparison: Geno Sapp, Cincinnati Buccaneers
Geno Sapp is not a real person. Geno Sapp is a lab-created defensive lineman from the donor DNA of Geno Atkins and Warren Sapp.
Players like Jonathan Allen are also rare. You just don’t see 290-pound defensive linemen (surely Allen’s playing weight) entering the league with the quickness, the foot agility and the body control that Allen has. His best attribute, in my opinion, is his hand usage. Jonathan Allen controls offensive lineman with his hands — plain and simple. Whether he’s clamping his mitts under a tackle’s pads on a stretch-run, waiting for the precise moment to disengage, or he’s slapping away the hands of a guard that just entered his pass-set, Allen dictates the engagement and sets the tone with his physicality. Then, just as his opponents get settled, Jonathan flashes his athleticism, his footwork and his well-crafted swim move, fretting his competition and giving them something new to try and figure out. Key word there is try.
THE SLEEPER LIST OF THE 2017 DRAFT CLASS
There is a list out there — a list of names that the majority of Draft analysts from every network and every publication have slept on during this year’s draft process. Big surprise there. Many of the prospects from this list of names will make their mark in the NFL. Some will become impact players.
Here is that list.
(In no particular order)
› DeMarcus Walker, D-Line, Florida State (see above)
› Blair Brown, Linebacker, Ohio
› Alex Anzalone, Linebacker, Florida
› Anthony Walker, Linebacker, Northwestern
› Ryan Switzer, Wide Receiver, North Carolina
› Carlos Henderson, Wide Receiver, Louisiana Lafayette
› Shelton Gibson, Wide Receiver, Virginia Tech
› George Kittle, Tight End, Iowa
› Jeremy Sprinkle, Tight End, Arkansas
› Zach Banner, Offensive Tackle, USC
› Jermaine Eluemenor, Offensive Guard, Texas A&M
› Brad Seaton, Offensive Tackle, Villanova
› Samaje Perine, Running Back, Oklahoma
› James Connor, Running Back, Pittsburgh
› D’Onta Foreman, Running Back, Texas
› Wayne Gallman, Running Back, Clemson
› Tarik Cohen, Running Back, North Carolina A&T
› T.J. Logan, Running Back, North Carolina
› Jamal Williams, Running Back, BYU
› Aaron Jones, Running Back, Texas El Paso
› Elijah McGuire, Running Back, Louisiana Lafayette
› Sam Rodgers, Running Back/Fullback, Virginia Tech
› Deatrich Wise, Defensive Lineman, Mississippi
› Daeshon Hall, Defensive End, Texas A&M
› Keionta Davis, Defensive End, Chattanooga
› Ryan Anderson, OLB/D-End, Alabama
› Keion Adams, OLB/D-End, Western Michigan
› Howard Wilson, Cornerback, Houston
› Ahkello Witherspoon, Cornerback, Colorado
› Xavier Woods, Safety, Louisiana Tech
› Desmond King, Defensive Back, Iowa
› Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, D-Tackle, USC
› Treyvon Hester, D-Tackle, Toledo