I have stated in the first two parts of this series that one of the things that can make or break scouts is finding rusty gold in the metaphorical junk pile of the late rounds of the draft and undrafted free agents. Following up on NFL draft idioms, I will also restate that teams are built in the trenches. Linemen on both sides can possess great value very often in the late rounds and undrafted. Every year trench studs emerge as productive players despite not being the highly touted names in the draft process. In this part, I will go through several guys I think could make that impact for a team this year.
Luke Marquardt/OT (Azusa Pacific)
6'9", 315. 40 Time: 5.34
Marquardt was a name most people scratched their heads at when the combine rolled around. The guy from Azusa Pacific had relatively low buzz. That buzz began to get a whole lot louder beginning on the first day of the Combine at the weigh-in. What immediately stands out about Marquardt is that in extremely good shape and has the exact ideal frame of an offensive tackle in today's NFL. Marquardt looks the part to a T, but can he back it up on the field? After watching film on him, I see that he is not only the physical specimen but also a great protector and solid producer. There are a couple big concerns. One is that playing at Azusa Pacific, he is not facing competition that matches up anywhere close to the pro level. The other is that while his skill set matches up perfectly at tackle, he is limited solely to that because he would not be much of a fit at guard. His lack of versatility in this sense may decrease his appeal to a GM looking for a late-round stud. His actual stock is a bit of a mystery. He could go as high as 4th, but could just as well be considered borderline draftable.
Projected Round: 4th-7th
Here is a long highlight of his time at APU.
Luke Marquardt Highlights (via luke marquardt)
Garrett Gilkey/OT/G (Chadron State)
6'6", 318. 40 Time: 5.29
Gilkey is another guy who has been strongly benefited by the pre-draft evaluation process, namely the Senior Bowl. He is a big bruising type lineman who has started at left tackle for Chadron State. While tackle is not out of the question, many project him being more suited to guard at the NFL level. His story is one that has inspired many people as well. In high school he was constantly the brunt of idiot bullies who picked on him for being undersized due to a heart issue. Now getting scouted by NFL teams, Gilkey is getting the last laugh and is using the opportunity to speak out against bullying. Thus, you know character is not a concern, and you will be getting a community minded guy. On tape, I see similarities to Rodger Saffold when he played at Indiana.
Porjected Round: 5th-6th
Here is his highlight tape of playing LT, but his skill set seems to be there to play either on the outside or inside.
Garrett Gilkey Chadron State College LT #73 (via acsfootball60)
Manase Foketi/OT/G (West Texas A&M)
Foketi is a player who had a complicated college career. He began in community college for two years, then transferred to Kansas State. He missed almost all of 2011 due to injury and was supposed to be on the K State roster going into 2012 but then wanted to transfer, preferring Utah, K State wouldn't grant him his release, so he dipped down to Division II West Texas A&M. He dominated at the D-II level, grading out at 95% in all his team's games and helping the offense produce 485 yards per game. While many project him at guard, his lightness on his feet and long arms might allow him to be a tackle at the next level. He is not a polished product, which hurts his draft stock, but the tools are there, and he could be a nice project for a team with good offensive line coaching and development. I hear lots of comparisons to Packers tackle Marshall Newhouse.
Projected Round: 6th-UFA
Here is tape from two of his games at West Texas A&M this past year:
Manase Foketi vs W. Georgia & Winston-Salem State 2012 (via phillyjimmyphilms)
Eric Herman/G (Ohio)
6'4", 319. 40 Time: 5.21.
Herman is yet another riser who was benefited by the pre-draft process, the Combine in particular. Nicknamed "Iron Man," he has been the model of consistency for the Bobcats, starting 51 consecutive games at guard over 4 seasons. Similar to Foketi, Herman played a big role in his offensive backs putting up some gaudy numbers. At the combine, Herman showed off his core strength by leading all offensive linemen with 36 reps at the bench press. He is the classic example of one of those interior linemen who doesn't stick out with anything flashy, but is dependable, a hard worker, and a guy with low downside overall. Even if he doesn't develop into a starter, I have a hard time seeing him at least not becoming a core depth guy.
This is a short highlight reel, but outlines how he plays guard.
Eric Herman #77 Right Guard Ohio University Bobcats Football (via Andrew Mooney)
Ryan Jensen/G (Colorado State-Pueblo)
6'4", 317. 40 Time: 6'4", 317.
Jensen is a guard prospect who has gone from relative obscurity at Division II CSU-Pueblo. Most people didn't know that he was the anchor for a team that was ranked number 1 in D-II. After getting snubbed for a combine invite, Jensen turned around and performed very well at his pro day, and has talked with scouts from at least six teams. Jensen played tackle at Pueblo simply because he was their best lineman, but projects better at guard in the NFL. There isn't a ton of tape from him, but what I have seen shows a guy dominating defensive linemen, but as with many of these guys, level of competition is the biggest red flag. The physical tools for development seem to be there though.
Projected Round: 6th-UFA.
I couldn't find any film on Jensen specifically, but here are highlights from CSU-Pueblo vs West Texas. Jensen is number 66, lined up mostly at left tackle but shifts to right tackle a few times.
Highlights from CSU-Pueblo vs. West Texas 2012 (via Nicholas Lee)
Chris Jones/DT (Bowling Green)
6'2". 302. 40 Time: 5.25.
Jones, like a few of the guys in this series, I have discussed on this site before. Jones is a classic hustle and production guy who doesn't possess the ideal physical tools. He was overlooked by Big 10 teams out of high school mostly due to being somewhat undersized for defensive tackle. Jones, however, silenced many of his critics by being productive all 4 years of his career. He has excellent burst and strength out of the snap, which is how he gains much of his advantage against offensive linemen. He is also consistently high-motor and plays all the way to the sideline. Most NFL scouts will just wonder whether his size will hinder him from being productive against big NFL linemen. At the very least, I think he can be a good situational rotation guy.
Projected Round: 6th-7th.
Here is film of him in a big matchup against Miami of Ohio:
Chris Jones vs Miami of Ohio (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Mike Purcell/DT (Wyoming)
6'3", 305. 40 Time: 5.22
There aren't a ton of sleepers I can find film to analyze in this defensive tackle class, but Purcell took me by surprise. Purcell is a similar guy to Jones. He is not the biggest or fastest guy out there, but he is super productive and finds ways to interfere with the offense. He earned all MWC first team in 2012 after churning out 83 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. He is simply most valuable because he is an interruption and finds ways to make himself a thorn in the side of the offense. He may not have the highest upside, but is consistent and you know what you're going to get game to game. His best fit may be as a situational guy in a 4-3 or rotational man at DE in a 3-4. There hasn't been a ton of buzz around him, but watching film, I feel he is someone team could get a lot of use out of.
Some highlights of Purcell throughout his senior campaign:
Mike Purcell DT#50 (Wyo) (via Michael Purcell)
Lawrence Okoye/DL [Great Britain: Track & Field; Rugby)
6'6", 308. 40 Time: 4.83.
Okoye has been a guy who has emerged on the draft scene completely out of field but has generated a ton of buzz for his upside. Okoye, still only 21, is the current British record holder in discus, and has played professional rugby. He is also an accomplished academic who has an outstanding spot at Oxford Law School. Now he plans to play in the NFL because, after all that, why the hell not? At a recent regional combine, Okoye was reported to have shown unbelievable burst and explosion. Originally just looking like a guy who could be signed as an experiment, it now looks like despite having never played American football, he could very well be drafted. Keep an eye on this guy as one of the most fascinating prospects in years.
Here's a video of Okoye throwing discus. He is a frightening looking individual.
Lawrence Okoye Discus Diamond League London 2012 (via AthleticsWorldwide)
Mike Catapono/DE (Princeton)
6'4", 271. 40 Time: 4.75.
Catapono has been on the receiving end of a late boost in draft stock after demonstrating his All-American level production at Princeton was no fluke. He has displayed phenomenal athleticism for his size and looks to be the prototypical pass rusher in today's NFL. Catapono finished second in the nation in sacks his senior year with 12 and also totaled 15.5 TFL in winning Ivy League defensive player of the year. AT least half of the teams in the NFL have been looking at Catapono as a mid-round prospect. While some think 3-4 OLB is his best spot, I think he would be perfect at end in a 4-3. Catapono seems like a sure bet to be the first Princeton player drafted in 2001, and could be a huge steal for a team in the middle to late rounds.
Projected Round: 4th-6th.
Here's film of Catapono in Princeton's matchup against Penn:
Mike Catapano vs Penn (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
David Bass/DE (Missouri Western)
6'4", 262. 40 Time: 4.74
Could Missouri Western fast be becoming a prospect factory? Greg Zuerlein this past year, I covered Michael Hill in Part 1, and now another prospect very likely to be drafted, defensive end David Bass. The native St. Louisan Bass's resume in D-II is stunning, amassing 56 total TFL and 39.5 sacks over his career. He was one of those guys who was simply above the level he played at, making D-II linemen look silly. The physical ability is undoubtedly there, and he is built in the mold of what teams look for in NFL pass rushers, displaying strong burst and quickness off the snap. His pass rushing moves will need refined against higher level of competition, so he is not a sure thing and may hit a learning curve early in his career. Scouts were all over him at the East-West Shrine Game, and he has the versatility to play end in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4. Bass is a guy I see as having high probability of becoming very productive someday for a team who snags him late in the draft.
Projected Round: 5th-6th.
A short, but sweet highlight reel of Bass tearing it up:
David Bass Missouri Western State University (via Ryan Menley)
Zach Anderson/DE (Northern Michigan)
6'2", 269. 40 Time: 4.68
I'll end with a player a lot more obscure than most of these other guys. Don't kick yourself if you haven't heard of Zach Anderson, he has had a fairly quiet draft process. Anderson is chiseled out of the mold of NFL defensive ends. He's kind of like the Luke Marquardt of defense; he's worth scouting just because he looks exactly the part. What sets Anderson apart in the huge pool of pass rushers is his outstanding strength, which stacks up against pretty much any player in the draft. Type in his name on youtube and you can find him squatting a hefty 605 pounds. He uses his strength to boss around tackles at will at the lower level, the big question is how well his rugged style works against NFL linemen. I happen to think with his strength and work ethic, he can become a hidden gem for any team, although his best is probably the 4-3. I see a lot of Jared Allen in him.
Projected Round: 7th-UFA.
Here's a nice highlight film of his 2012 season.
Zach Anderson Highlight Tape 2012 NMU (via Nathan Linsmeier)
Thanks for the read, and hopefully you will continue to read the series. Part 4 will be coming shortly and will outline some potential steals at the linebacker position. Comments and discussion are always welcome.