Every year I get excited when scouting season comes along. Technically scouting season is year round, but it really thickens after the season.
My favorite part of scouting is finding those diamonds in the rough. There's this certain thrill in uncovering a player that has not received much hype. Back in August the player I was most excited about was none other than Carson Wentz. Since then he has propelled him from sleeper and third round pick, second round maybe, to a possible top ten pick. For that reason he no longer qualifies for this list.
This list is all about those players that won't be drafted early and likely won't come off the board before round four at the earliest. However, draft position aside, I believe these guys all have the ability to become standout players and studs over the next two-three years...
Michael Jordan CB #23 Missouri Western
--6'1" 200 lbs
Yes, his name is really Michael Jordan. And yes, he really wears number 23. That's all you need to know for him, future stud guaranteed.
Ok, just kidding... There's plenty more to know. Jordan brings to the table the size that the NFL has started to fall in love with. He's a long rangy corner, with exceptional ball skills. He essentially eliminated one side of the field regularly throughout college finishing his career with 16 career interceptions and 60 passes broken up. He's also a good tackler finishing with 196 tackles for his career.
Teams will be interested but will also have some worries as well. Questions may arise about recovery speed, hip flexibility and level of play. Although for the latter, it should be mentioned the conference that he played in has regularly delivered NFL talent, and one player Jordan shut down personally as a mere sophomore on a senior was former Pittsburg St, and current Arizona Cardinals WR, John Brown.
---Likely Draft Round 5-7
Paul McRoberts WR #1 Southeast Missouri St.
--6'3" 200 lbs
I have to be honest, I am legitimately smitten with this kid. This is indeed a rarity for me, as I rarely get too excited about small school recievers because they are so raw.
But he jumps off the screen when watching him. The first thing you notice is his jaw dropping quickness off the line. He's not the biggest guy in terms of body mass, so jamming him off the line usually would be quintessential and should come easy. But he's so quick its hard to touch him. Next is his speed to burn. I expect him to run very well when the time comes. He's tall and has an amazing stride, but he's also legitimately fast. And then there's his insane hand/eye coordination. He could catch a cold in hell. It's very impressive watching some of his catches that he makes in games while being tightly covered, and borderline interference.
Again his size could be a cause for concern for some teams, and his route running is virtually non-existent. But with his unbelievable COD change of direction) skills, acceleration, and length, he has the tools to become a very dangerous route runner. He's also already a red zone monster, who elevates with ease and wins most jump ball situations.
---Likely Draft Round 4-5
Miles Killebrew S #28 Southern Utah
--6'3" 230 lbs
Say hello to Kam Chancellor 2.0. However, Killebrew makes a strong argument that he has better ball skills than Chancellor. He doesn't have great hands but he does play the ball extremely well preventing a lot of catches.
But coverage isn't what's getting Killebrew his recognition. It's his hitting and knack for making plays. He's always around the ball and he has made a habit of stripping it loose when he's tackling the ball carrier. Killebrew is a killer who happens to understand the rewards of playing under control. A rarity for such a young talent. He's not just out there head hunting, but he's making calculated moves to set up a big play, hence the Kam Chancellor comparison. It also doesn't hurt that he is a few cheeseburgers away from the size of most college defensive ends.
Teams will love his tenacity, but will question if he's better suited as a safety or linebacker. More than anything else, he'll have to prove he can really cover and show he has at least average COD (change of direction) skills.
---Likely Draft Round 5-FA
Victor Ochi DE #91 Stony Brook
--6'2" 254 lbs
There's always someone who comes along and just blows the top off the NFL. And usually leaves people saying where did he come from or how did he not get drafted sooner or at all even. That player could very well (will) be Ochi...
I'll just throw this out there now, I can't help but see Robert Quinn when watching this kid. His sped off the edge just can't be taught. More impressively, his motor is everything you want in a defensive player regardless of position. He comes off the ball like a man on a mission. And no mission is complete until the target is eliminated. Ochi is rare in the sense that he moves so fluidly but can translate that speed into power. It's something every defensive end wants to do, but can't do. His best trait as a pass rusher is his ability to bend. At times it seems like he's as close to parallel to the ground as possible, and then some...
Ochi has exceptional skills and of everyone listed here, he has the best chance to make an immediate impact. He'll have to develop more pass rush moves for his arsenal and play lower more consistently, but make no mistake about it, Ochi is the real deal.
---Likely Draft Round 5-7
Jason Vander Laan QB #15 Ferris St.
--6'4" 244 lbs
I know what you're thinking, who the hell is this? Well that's the point of all this. Vander Laan is the all time rushing leader for quarterbacks regardless of division of play. The division two product rushed for 5,953 yards in his career.
He wears 15, and it's actually quite fitting as he resembles Tim Tebow. However, lucky for him, he's a much better passer than Tebow. He's no Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston, but he's an okay passer. Still plenty of room to grow as a passer, but he's not terrible. His biggest issue is that he ran the ball so much he didn't throw enough to truly get better the way a four year starter should. As a runner, he's a beast. To be 6'4" and nearly 250 pounds, this kid can move. If a team wants him to switch positions he could really make a career as a TE who would excel as a yards after catch weapon. Think Delanie Walker...
Vander Laan will without question need to show teams he can cut it as an NFL passer. He has a strong arm but terrible mechanics which affects his accuracy. Coming from division two there's already a knock on his competition level, so having questions about his passing as a QB is not a good thing. But he wouldn't exactly be the first division two QB to overcome this obstacle.
---Likely Draft Round 7-FA
Joe Haeg -- a very solid tackle from North Dakota State. He's the blind side protector for Carson Wentz, but will likely come off the board no later than round three.
Kwame Bell -- a freakishly strong DE from Clarion University, Bell bullies his way to the quaterback and plays the run very well. He also has a knack for chasing down ball carriers.
Diondre Hall -- a defensive coordinator's dream corner, Hall is 6'2" 205 lbs, and can run with any reciever. He plays the ball in the air extremely well, and has some really good COD skills. Hall played for little Northern Iowa, but made a huge impact. One big enough that he could very well hear his name called on day two of the draft as a possible third round pick.