Every single year we see draft prospects who fly under the radar all season and then come into the league and make a huge impact. Jordan Lindsey was an undrafted free agent and Donte Jackson did not get much hype as CB 1 but he is playing great this year. I hope to highlight some of the players who I think deserve some more love as we get closer to draft time. I will update this list a couple more times before April, but I think it is a good time to start looking now with Senior Bowl invites being accepted now. I tried to pick players from a wide range of teams, and I tried to stay away from guys who are the obvious choices for this list. Andy Isabelle (WR, Umass) is an awesome player, however, he has been put in enough articles like this that he is becoming a household name. Let’s get this started with the QB that very few people are talking about.
QB: Brett Rypien, Boise State
I know what you are thinking, “Boise State could not possibly produce an NFL QB”, that is where you are wrong. Rypien can make all the needed NFL throws on a consistent basis. He hits corner routes, throws a nice deep ball, and can pick apart zone coverage with ease. My favorite thing about Rypien is that he throws with great anticipation from the pocket. That skill is usually something that comes with time but Rypien has a good grasp on it already. Some of the things holding Rypien back include the occasional bad interception and a lack of mobility. In a QB class this weak and uncertain I really believe that he can be a first-round pick by April.
RB: Devin Singletary, FAU
Over the past two seasons, Devin Singletary has been one of the most productive running backs in all of college football. Last season, he scored 32 touchdowns and so far this year he has 22 touchdowns. That is 54 rushing touchdowns in less than two season of action! Singletary has excellent vision which is why I think he can make the jump to the NFL with success. He can cut on a dime and create yardage when his blocking fails. That is the number one thing I look for when scouting running backs, and Singletary checks that box. Some of the concerns with Singletary is that he will not be a three-down back in the NFL because of his passing game numbers not being good. I believe that is more of a product of FAU not throwing the football much rather than him having bad hands.
WR: Damarkus Lodge, Ole Miss
Ole Miss has two receivers that get a lot of attention: AJ Brown and DK Metcalf. Some people consider both to be first-round talents (not me) and that allows Lodge to get lost in the shuffle. Although he does not run a complex route tree at Ole Miss Lodge possess great burst out of cuts which means he should improve in that area over time. Lodge will flash some elite ball skills by going up and catching balls that are thrown way outside of his frame. When watching him on tape it became obvious to me that he was a great athlete who just needs some refinement in the finer areas of being a WR.
TE: Jace Sternberger, Texas A@M
The tight end class this season is extremely deep, versatile, and talented. Sternberger often gets forgotten about when people talk about the top TEs this year. I love his ability to go up over defenders and make difficult catches. Sternberger is effective after the catch as he almost always gets good YAC yards. He is not one dimensional though because he is a physical and willing blocker in the run game. His technique in that area does need some work, but he has the frame and effort to improve as a blocker over time. I expect Jace to test well at the combine if he enters the draft so that should improve his stock down the road.
OG: Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
You may have heard of Lindstrom because he recently accepted his invite to play in the Senior Bowl. Allow me to give you a more detailed introduction to the most underrated guard in the country. Chris Lindstrom is a mean run blocker and is frequently used as the lead block in the running game. Boston College star running back AJ Dillion has put up great numbers when running behind Lindstrom. Lindstrom also has great hand placement up front which allows him to create push with defenders. The most common knock on Lindstrom is that he has not been tested in the passing game due to the run-heavy offense of Boston College. Since he is going to the Senior Bowl, he will have an opportunity to kill that narrative.
OT: Tyree ST. Louis, Miami
If you could not tell by looking at the picture above ST. Louis is a massive man. He has the perfect thick frame you want from your tackle in today’s NFL. Do not make the mistake of thinking he is a bad mover because Louis moves quite well in space for his size. If Tyree can get his feet in the right position he is extremely difficult for any edge player to move. The tackle class is quite thin and honestly, I had trouble picking a prospect for this spot. ST. Louis needs a lot of technical work but the blueprint of a dominant tackle is there. If Baltimore could draft Orlando Brown as high as they did I think ST. Louis will fair just fine.
DT: Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech
This defensive tackle class is one of the best I have ever seen in my brief life as a “scout”. That being said, it is easy for talented players to get lost in the shuffle. Walker is an elite run defender for Virginia Tech and gets no love for it. He consistently controls blockers, gets into the backfield, and shoots gaps. Walker currently has 9.5 tackles for a loss and he had 12.5 last season. I know that run defenders are going a bit out of style, but dominance in the trenches is still something that wins football games. The one thing I would knock with Walker is that he is a bit small for the typical “run defender” mold. When watching his tape it did not seem to affect him very often, however, NFL teams might shy away from him because of it.
Edge: Jaylon Ferguson, LA Tech
Jaylon Ferguson and Ricky Walker actually have a lot of similarities when it comes to their style of play. Both men are fantastic against the run but lack some pass rush ability. Ferguson holds the point of attack like a beast and he can get off blocks quickly to get into the backfield. He does not get a lot of love for his pass rush ability but when the opposing tackle oversets Ferguson will make them pay pretty quickly. Ferguson’s biggest issue will be that he lacks a high ceiling unlike Jachai Polite or Brian Burns who are elite level athletes. With that said, Ferguson is a safe pick in a draft that is not considered to be very good by most.
LB: Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
A couple of weeks ago I watched Duke play North Carolina so I could scout their QB, Daniel Jones, and Giles- Harris jumped off the screen on defense. So far this season Giles-Harris has 81 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss, and 2 passes defended. That is great production for a guy who plays on a bad defense. Giles-Harris is actually one of the best cover linebackers I have seen so far this season. He can cover tight ends and running backs one on one which is something the NFL needs really badly right now. The only knock that I have for Giles-Harris is that he can get lost in the crowd when it comes to the running game. He needs to get better at dislodging himself off of blocks because sometimes he just disappears when a blocker gets to the second level.
CB: Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
I have had the privilege of seeing Ya-Sin play in person a lot this season and he has impressed. Ya-Sin is an aggressive man to man corner with exceptional ball skills. The interception he made above was against Buffalo and it was a beauty. He had to go through the WR he was covering to come back to the ball and then had to go up and get it. If you want more evidence, go on YouTube and look up his INT against East Carolina. Ya-Sin almost never got burned all season and he always followed the best WR around the field. He has already accepted his invite to the Senior Bowl and was named to the All-AAC First Team. The only troubling thing about him is that he only has one year of college experience heading to the NFL. The Senior Bowl will be a huge test for him.
Safety: Nasir Adderley, Delaware
I am going to be honest with you, I have not watched a ton of film on Adderley yet. It is hard for me to get film this early from a school like Delaware. What I have seen so far is a great athlete on the back end who makes plays. Adderley leads his team with 4 INTs and is tied for the lead in pass breakups with 7. The NFL is salivating for safeties who create turnovers and Adderley seems to fit that bill. Nasir, like some of the other players on this list, has already accepted an invite to play in the Senior Bowl so we will learn plenty more about him as we get closer to April. If you want to do some research on your own I would go on YouTube and look up his kick return for a touchdown that made the ESPN top 10. It highlights his athletic ability very well.