As I spend time scouting individual players over the course of the college football season, there are inevitably a number of prospects, outside the particular player I’m focusing, on who catch my eye. Here’s a list of day-three prospects who have size, speed, or other limitations that pushed them to the later rounds of the draft, but could end up surprising at the next level.
Rashaad Reynolds – CB – Oregon State
Lacks ideal height and weight (5-9, 197 lbs.), but was a productive starter in a big time conference. Has very good short area quickness (tied for quickest short shuttle among cornerbacks at the combine and was among top performers in the three-cone drill) and excellent ball skills (10 interceptions). Aggressive defender with leadership traits. 4th/5th round nickel or dime defender.
Nevin Lawson – CB – Utah State
Short (5’ 9), but scrappy with adequate speed (4.48). Experienced defender who doesn’t shy away from contact, averaging 64 tackles a year as a three-year starter. Good ball skills, with 34 pass breakups over the last three seasons. Has special teams experience. 4th/5th round nickel or dime defender.
E.J. Gaines – CB – Missouri
First team All-SEC in 2013. Three year starter with 244 career tackles and eight career INTs. Physical defender who shut down Mike Evans despite being only 5-9. Has experience in press or off-man coverage and very good ball skills (eight career interceptions). 4th/5th round prospect with number-two corner upside.
Jabari Price – CB – North Carolina
Solid size/speed prospect (5’10”, 200 lbs). Ran a 4.44 at the combine. Productive two-year starter who could be a high priority free agent.
James Gayle – DE – Virginia Tech
Athletic, high motor defender who was a three-year starter for the Hokies. Has adequate height (6’4”) and weight (259 lbs) to be a rotational DE in a 4-3. Was a top performer at his position in the vertical jump and 20 yard shuttle. Disruptive behind the LOS, with 22 career sacks and 40.5 TFL. 4th round solid backup with longer term starter potential as a RDE.
Jordan Zumwalt – OLB – UCLA
Linear athlete who is a bit stiff when re-directing, but has an exceptional motor and plays with an edge. Has adequate speed (4.65) and size (6’4” 235 lbs) and finished his senior season with 91 tackles, 6.5 TFL and 2 INTs. 5th round backup type who could contribute on special teams early in his career.
Devon Kennard – DE/OLB – USC
Versatile defender who played defensive end, middle linebacker and outside linebacker during his time at USC. Three-year starter who missed 2012 due to torn pectoral muscle, but rebounded in 2013 with nine sacks as a defensive end. Best fit is probably as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but has the height (6’3) and long arms (33 3/8”) to be a situational pass rusher in a 4-3 if he can add some weight. 5th round prospect with the potential to outplay his draft status.
Lamin Barrow – OLB – LSU
Barrow doesn’t possess elite athleticism or size (6-2, 232 lbs.); his instincts put him in position to consistently make plays. He keys and diagnoses quickly to consistently get a jump on the play and though he’s not particularly explosive, has enough speed to make plays along the perimeter. On passing downs, he has enough fluidity to hold up in zone. A high motor player, Barrow is a low risk 5th/6th round prospect with the versatility to back up all three linebacker positions and contribute on special teams.
Morgan Breslin – DE- USC
Breslin, a former JUCO transfer, has been extremely productive during his short career at USC. In 2012, Breslin notched 13 sacks playing with his hand down at LDE in a 43 front. In 2013, Breslin transitioned well to OLB in a 34 front where his quickness and speed allowed him to be equally productive. Though his lack of bulk and power in his lower half presents limitations as a run defender, Breslin is a high motor player who makes many of his plays on second effort. He had 2013 surgeries on his hip and a sports hernia, so there are some durability concerns. Overall, his explosiveness and high motor project him as a solid backup with starter potential down the road at OLB in a 3-4 or as a situational pass rusher in a 4-3. 6th/7th round prospect who could surprise if he stays healthy.
Connor Shaw – QB – South Carolina
The Lions are looking for a late round quarterback, and Connor Shaw could be a hidden gem. Lacks ideal height and weight (6-0, 206 lbs.), but is a gritty, athletic competitor who just finds a way to win. Posted a 27-5 record at South Carolina, finishing his senior season with 24 touchdown passes and only one interception. Has the speed to extend the play with his feet (4.62). Exceptional leader who is tough and highly competitive. 7th round developmental prospect.
Tre Boston – S – North Carolina
Former corner back with very good cover skills and penchant for turnovers (13 career INTs). Solid build (5-11, 204 lbs.) with good speed (4.59) and plays the game with highly competitive, energetic, hard-hitting style. Needs to continue to improve pass reads, but has a lot of upside. 6th/7th round backup with starter potential.
Daniel Sorensen – S – BYU
The Lions have two BYU defenders on the roster, why not add another? Sorensen finished a productive career as a three-year starter at safety, with 211 career tackles and eight interceptions. He has good size for the position (6-1, 205 lbs.), solid speed (4.67) and excellent short area quickness (top performer at the combine in 3-cone and 20 yard shuttle). Instinctive player who is always around the ball and has leadership traits (team captain). 6th/7th round backup/special teams option with starter potential.
Alden Darby – S – Arizona State
Three-year starter and team captain who is solid in run support despite lack of ideal size (5-10, 192 lbs.). Has very good instincts and the short area quickness to be effective in coverage. Aggressive ball skills with ten career interceptions. Exceptional leadership traits and plays with an edge. 6th/7th round special teams/backup safety.
Daytawion Lowe – S – Oklahoma State
Underrated aggressive and intelligent player who finished with 269 tackles, three sacks and five interceptions in 39 career starts. Lacks prototypical size (5113, 195 lbs.), but is rangy with excellent speed (4.45) and can play zone coverage or man to man. Solid intangibles. 6th/7th special teams/backup safety with starter upside.
Kevin Norwood – WR – Alabama
“Jack of all trades, master of none” receiving prospect who didn’t have big college production in Alabama’s ball control offense, but could emerge as a solid pro. Has very good size (6-2, 198 lbs.) to go along with adequate speed (4.48) and is a solid technician. Combines reliable hands with excellent body control to adjust to off target throws. 5th/6th round number three or four receiver.
Jalen Saunders – WR- Oklahoma
Tiny dynamo (5-8, 164 lbs.) who is slight in stature, but big in heart. Versatile receiving and special teams weapon with big play speed (4.44) and explosiveness. Finished ultra-productive college career with 203 receptions, 3085 yards and twenty six touchdowns. 6th/7th round slot receiver who has added value as a punt returner.
Jeremy Gallon – WR – Michigan
Gallon’s biggest issue is his lack of size (5-8, 189 lbs.), but he has potential as a slot receiver, showcasing nice quickness in and out of his breaks. Though he’ll struggle to beat press coverage, Gallon exhibits the ability to stretch the field (15.43 yards per catch average) when he gets a clean release and has excellent hands. 6th/7th round slot receiver who could surprise.
Isaiah Burse – WR – Fresno State
Second-team All-Mountain West punt return specialist selection and named to the All-Mountain honorable mention team as a wide receiver. Played opposite Davante Adams and finished his career with 99receptions for 1,026 yards and six touchdowns. Slight build (5-10, 188 lbs.), but plays bigger than his size, is highly competitive and has reliable hands. 7th round/PFA slot receiver.
Allen Hurns – WR – Miami
Former three star recruit who quietly put together a strong senior season with 62 receptions, 1162 yards and six touchdowns, which set the school single season record. Has good size (6-3, 195 lbs.) and solid speed (4.52) to go along with very reliable hands. 7th round/FA fourth or fifth receiver.
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Alden Darby Allen Hurns Connor Shaw Daniel Sorensen Daytawion Lowe Detroit Lions Devon Kennard E.J. Gaines Isaiah Burse Jabari Price Jalen Saunders James Gayle Jeremy Gallon Jordan Zumwalt Kevin Norwood Lamin Barrow Morgan Breslin Nevin Lawson Rashaad Reynolds Tre Boston