Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 NFL Draft: Most Underrated Prospects

I've been busy with a variety of things lately, so I haven't produced any NFL draft related content, but I figured I should get something out before the first round happens tonight. I have some hot takes, as there are a lot of guys that I feel are greatly underrated in this draft. I will go position-by-position to show who are the most underrated prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Quarterback: Cardale Jones
Had Cardale Jones come out last year after three games as a starting quarterback (and a National Title), he would have likely been a first round pick. He then proceeded to go undefeated as a starter this past season as well. Yes, he got benched because J.T. Barrett fits the scheme better, but it's not like he was having any monumental struggles, and he was never really given the opportunity to make adjustments. It seems like most people see three quarterbacks in the first round. Is there any reason Cardale Jones shouldn't be the fourth QB off the board? I mean, couldn't Cardale done at least as well as Paxton Lynch in Memphis? And, come to think of it, would North Dakota State lost anything by having Jones instead of Carson Wentz? I sure don't think so. All quarterbacks are risks, but Jones has the type of talent that makes that risk worth it.

Honorable mention to his total opposite, Vernon Adams Jr. who is small, quick, and super accurate on his throws. The guy just makes plays, and after a slow start at Oregon, he really put it together and was one of the best quarterbacks in college football by the end of the season. I know he's small, but he's worth taking a flyer on in the seventh round.

Running Back: Keith Marshall
Let's remember something about Keith Marshall. During his freshman year, there was no real difference seen between him and Todd Gurley. Now he has struggled with injuries since then and never really got things going, but his athleticism is still there, and I think he just needed an extra year to fully recover from his injuries. Although he's a different style back, he reminds me of Frank Gore as a guy who couldn't stay healthy in college, but if he does stay healthy in the pros, he's going to be one hell of a late round pick for somebody.

Honorable mention to Jordan Howard who runs through contact better than just about any back in this class. He absolutely crushed Iowa, which was sad for me but also super impressive to watch. He's big, fast, and strong. Indiana played to those strengths, so I'm not sure about the vision, but he has all of the physical tools to be successful.

Extra honorable mention to Daniel Lasco who was the best running back at the Shrine Game. I honestly didn't see much from him outside of that exhibition, but that has to count for something.

Wide Receiver: Tyler Boyd
Tyler Boyd just makes plays. He finds ways to get open, and he knows how to catch the football. Let's not make this any more complicated than it has to be. Boyd will be a good pro.

Honorable mention to Corey Coleman who is a damn freak. 
Yeah, I want that guy.

Tight End: Henry Krieger-Coble
Is this a homer pick? Hell yeah. Will it be my last? Hell no. Also, HKC had a nice ability to get open and he has good hands. He's not the most athletic guy, but I think he offers enough to be a solid #2 tight end.

Offensive Tackle: Joe Haeg
He played with Carson Wentz. I figure he must have done a good job of protecting him.

Offensive Guard: Jordan Walsh
He was really good for Iowa last year. This isn't just a homer pick. He could be a quality starter.

Center: Austin Blythe
Yes, just about everything that could go right did for Iowa so I have a soft spot for, like, everyone. Still, this is the type of guy that I like. He's undersized, which is worrisome with the rise of nose tackles, but he consistently played well against everybody that stepped in front of him, and although size may be a concern, he's worth taking a chance on.

Defensive End: Drew Ott
Okay, so not everything went well for Iowa, but let's not forget how great Drew Ott was before he got injured. This dude massacred Iowa's offensive line to the point where I thought Iowa would be garbage this year, and Kirk Ferentz could no longer turn under-recruited players into absolute studs. He's the best player Iowa has in this draft class, and he's going to make a team very happy. The dude eats raw eggs and offensive linemen for fun. He gonna get after it.

Defensive Tackle: Javon Hargrave
Hargrave was another guy who impressed at the Shrine Game, and I think he's going to be one of the standouts from a small school that surprises people.

Linebacker: Joe Schobert
Joe Schobert is one of those guys that just makes plays. He's not the most athletically gifted, but he makes up for it with his instincts. It's probably going to be stupid how far he falls, and he's going to make teams feel stupid when he has a 10-year career as a starting linebacker.

Honorable mention to Scooby Wright III who basically does the same stuff as Schobert. Like he had Heisman hype coming into this past season. People forget that. I didn't. Scooby has the skills to solve any offensive mystery.

And another honorable mention to Jaylon Smith. I'm not sure how toast that knee is, although some have compared his injuries to Marcus Lattimore which is...not ideal. Still, how far can you let a talent like this drop? I mean, he was seen at worst as a top-10 pick and maybe worthy of being in the top-5. If he's there in the third round, I'd have a really hard time passing on him when the guy has that much upside.

Final honorable mention to Eric Striker, because Oklahoma linebackers try to play the game like The Ultimate Warrior, so I ain't messing with that.

Cornerback: Kendall Fuller
An injury is the only reason he really fell. He was seen as the best cornerback in his family, and his brother was drafted in the middle of the first round. I mean, yeah, as a Bears fan, I am aware that the pick hasn't quite turned out all that well, but corners mature later than most other positions, so it's certainly not hopeless. Had he not gotten hurt, he would have easily been a first round pick, yet I haven't seen anybody with him higher than mid-second. Hell, if Kyle had only been a second round pick, Bears fans probably wouldn't be nearly as worried about him, so getting the more talented Fuller at that point should be a steal.

Honorable mention to Zack Sanchez who made a bunch of plays early on in 2014 and got on everyone's radar, and then fell off that radar. I mean, he was never as great as the hype, but he's also not not talented.

Safety: Karl Joseph
Karl Joseph gets interceptions and hits people hard enough for their grandma to be in pain. Karl Joseph is awesome, and I am super bummed that he is getting a lot of late hype and won't be there for the Bears in the second round. Love Karl Joseph, but more importantly, fear Karl Joseph.

Honorable mention to Jordan Lomax, because he's a Hawkeye, and I gots to represent. I mean, he could be a special teams player, maybe, possibly...sort of?

Kicker: Marshall Koehn
Koehn is able. I mean, even if he isn't a great kicker, that sort of marketing slogan is enough to justify using a pick on him. If teams could expand rosters to like 75 and have a kicker who specialized in 50+ yard field goals, he would have a great future in the NFL. Anything inside of that, and uh, it goes down quickly, although he may fare better with the longer distance extra points than he did with the super close college ones. Still, Koehn is able.

And that wraps things up. The draft starts tonight. I can't wait to see how the Bears screw it up.

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