What makes or breaks great scouts in the NFL is the ability to view a massive pool of talent year by year and pick out what in that pool is worth it and what is not. The good scout sees things that we do not, can find faults in the standouts that many mistakenly view as "can't miss," and can dig deep through the seemingly endless pile of information and game film to discover those elusive diamonds in the rough that everyone else misses. In this series, I will try to use my amateur point of view to play the role of the scout and find some sleepers you may not be hearing about, but could very well develop into impact players.
We start with the quarterbacks and running backs. Scouting these two positions can be tricky because level of play has a greater impact at them than at most, and their abilities can be substantially benefited or hindered by the team around them. Since they are very glamorous and important positions, failures and successes are also illuminated. At quarterback, for every time someone can't miss (then does) on a quarterback from Washington State named Ryan Leaf, a team hits a home run taking a doofy-looking backup from Michigan named Tom Brady. Every time Ron Dayne is picked at 11 and his greater commitment to donuts than football causes him to put up only a fraction of what he had in college, some random sixth rounder named Alfred Morris becomes one of the most productive running backs in the league in his first year. Here are some players I believe could fall in the latter category.
Sean Renfree/QB (Duke)
6'3", 219. 40 Time: 4.65
Renfree is not a complete unknown, as he started for an ACC team. Unfortunately, that team was Duke, and that sport wasn't basketball. Regardless, Renfree reportedly caught the eye of several teams earlier in the draft process because of his ideal size and skill set coming out of a pro style offense. A smart three year starter, Renfree has good pocket presence and can make the tough throws. The biggest uncertainty around him right now is that he suffered a fairly serious shoulder injury during the last game of the year and has been unable to throw before the draft. Renfree finished his career with a 64.7 completion percentage with 51 touchdowns. The 40 interceptions that go along with it are likely a product of lack of talent around him.
Projected Round: 5th-7th
Here's a video of Renfree in the Belk Bowl in which he put up big numbers but was then hurt:
Sean Renfree vs Cincinnati (Belk Bowl 2012) (via Josh DB)
Brad Sorenson/QB (Southern Utah):
6'4", 229. 40 Time: 4.93
Sorenson is another guy who isn't a complete unknown, but should be found in the later rounds of the draft. He transferred from BYU and has a couple years older than most of the other players because of a two-year Mormon mission, but two years shouldn't make much of a difference in his stock. His big frame is ideal and can make quick, snap throws that other quarterbacks can't, despite a rather passive delivery. His mechanics are odd which causes his deep throws have a tendency to die near the end of their path through the air. This can probably be coached out.
Projected Round: 6th-UFA
Here is a highlight reel from his senior season:
Brad Sorensen Senior Highlights 2012 (via brad sorensen)
Mike Hermann/QB (RPI)
6'5", 250. 40 Time: 4.64.
Division III Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is not what anyone would consider a football powerhouse. However, Hermann has enticed NFL Scouts from several teams to pay the school a visit because of his rare athleticism for his size. Hermann completed 60.1 % of his passes in 2012 for 2,366 yards and 23 touchdowns with 8 picks. In addition, he led his team in rushing with 510 yards with seven touchdowns on 107 carries. In total, he accounted for a whopping 78 % of RPI's offense. While his first position is quaterback, some may view him as potentially making the switch to tight end at the pro level. Either way, he could be an interesting project for a team as an undrafted free agent.
Projected Round: UFA.
I couldn't find any game film, but here is some film of his pro day at Stony Brook (which also featured the next player on this list)
NFL Pro Day: RPI QB Mike Hermann (via Rick Serritella)
Miguel Maysonet/RB (Stony Brook)
5'9", 209. 40 Time: 4.62.
Maysonet is not a new face around TurfShowTimes, but he's worth repeating. Stony Brook is also not necessarily a football hotbed, but Maysonet has stood out to some in this deep class of running backs. Maysonet's path is similar to that of Greg Zuerlein in that he started his career at a school whose football program was cut (Hofstra) and then transferred to keep his football dreams alive. His is not the flashiest runner, but has excellent vision and one of the best initial cuts of any runner in this class. He sets his sight and goes for it ruthlessly, wasting minimal space. The downside to this is that he can run a little stiff. He also lacks breakaway speed and elite quickness, so he may have to be utilized as a niche runner. Some may also have concerns about level of competition.
Projected round: 6th-UFA.
Here's game film of him against an FBS team:
Miguel Maysonet vs Syracuse (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Michael Hill/RB (Missouri Western)
5'10", 209. 40 Time: 4.61
Hill, on the other hand, is a guy you probably haven't heard of. He is a guy I happen to be particularly fond of after watching film on him. I notice a very complete back who belonged at a place higher than Division II. He is deceptively quick, creative in finding running lanes, can outrun defenders in the open field, and (here is my favorite part) probably has the most impressive stiff arm of any recent college running back, except for maybe Beanie Wells. At times on film he makes defenders look like he's playing a high school squad, although some will question how much of that has to do with level of competition. In 2012, he was a Harlon Trophy finalist (POY award for D2 football) after rushing for a single season conference record of 1,809 yards, averaging 7.4 YPC, also a record. He did play in the inaugural Raycom College Football All-Star Game against some upper-level players, and wound up rushing for almost 150 yards with 2 touchdowns, earning offensive MVP. Seriously, watch out for this kid. It's also noteworthy that the Rams already have an established connection with Missouri Western after drafting one Greg The Leg Zuerlein (that's right, I name-dropped Zuerlein twice in one article.)
Projected Round: 7th-UFA.
Here's a really good highlight video. Lots of stiff-arms right near the beginning.
Michael Hill (RB MWSU) Highlight video (via Ryan Menley)
Jamaine Cook/RB (Youngstown State)
5'9", 209. 40 Time: 4.79.
Every year it seems like at least one undrafted running back makes his way onto an NFL team and is productive. Michael Hill is my favorite to be that guy in 2013, but Cook is another contender I like. Playing for the FCS Youngstown State Penguins (alma mater of former Ram great Jeff Wilkins), Cook did not get much media attention, but there were apparently quite a few NFL scouts at the Penguins' pro day for Cook and several others. A three year starter, Cook amassed over 4,000 career yards. His biggest advantage is his elusiveness which immediately jumps out on film. For a college player, he has outstanding patience and follows his blocks and has natural vision for a back. He's the kind of guy who does what you need him to and can make things happen out of nothing.
Projected round: UFA.
This is a very long highlight, but any select few minutes will demonstrate his quickness.
Jamaine Cook YSU HL (via jamaine cook)
Eric Breitenstein/FB (Wofford)
5'10", 229. 40 Time: 4.70.
I felt obligated to include a fullback. This is a actually a really good fullback class, and the Rams could stand to pick one up. Breitenstein is one of my favorites, even though he probably won't be drafted. Breitenstein is a throwback type player. Despite being a fullback, he led his conference in rushing two straight years, rushing for over 2,000 his senior season. There are two concerns. One is injuries. During his time at Wofford, he suffered a serious knee injury and then a shoulder injury his senior year. The other is whether he can be an effective blocker in the NFL. He is more of a running fullback, so teams will have to evaluate whether or not he can be as good lead blocking as he is with the ball in his hands.
Projected round: UFA.
This video is a couple years old, but demonstrates what he brings to the table.
TerrierVision Profile: Eric Breitenstein (via woffordathletics)
Thanks for the read, and hopefully you will continue to read this series. Part 2 will be coming soon with wide receivers and tight ends. Comments and discussion are always welcome.