Between there being so many NFL Draft prospects, the big NFL Draft media overhyping certain players, and big names from college being more prominent with fans, there will always be many underrated and overrated prospects. Last year guys like Kolton Miller and James Washington in terms of overrated and Justin Reid and Fred Warner in terms of underrated come to mind. Every draft is full of underrated and overrated prospects. Whether the hype/lack of hype becomes real on draft day and they go far earlier/later than they should, they still fall into these categories. The underrated and overrated prospects are what make NFL Draft day so fun and unpredictable.
Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
People will have questions about Brian Burns weight, but I’m not worried. Dude has rare flexibility around the edge. Top 10 player with double digit sack ability. pic.twitter.com/ee1wweXm2w
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) February 26, 2019
- The NFL Draft is a weird place where teams will draft freaky athletes with upside despite insufficient tape. It’s also the place where a freaky athlete with great tape like Brian Burns might not be a top 10 pick. Hell, he might not even go in the first-round, remember Harold Landry last year? Burns is a top 10 player. The size questions were answered when he weighed in at 249 pounds and yet people still doubt him. With elite explosion, the best bend/flexibility in the class, and a big time motor you’d think the NFL would be all over him. Nick Bosa is the only EDGE better than him in the class. If Burns slides out of the top 15 he could be the steal of the draft.
- Pro Comparison: Jevon Kearse
Jerry Tillery, IDL, Notre Dame
Jerry Tillery mugs this dude with an easy rip move and then ends Kyle Shurmur with a strip sack. After his #NFLCombine first-round seems likely. pic.twitter.com/jscqFFVw7c
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) March 6, 2019
- In an elite and deep interior defensive line class the opinions on Jerry Tillery are often split. Is he a top 20 player or is he a Day 2 guy with inconsistent play? Tillery was a solid player as a Junior and then took a big leap as a Senior. His tape vs Stanford is some of the most dominant in the class, but some question why that wasn’t seen more consistently. Well, he played with a torn shoulder labrum most of the year and was still a force. At his size with elite athleticism, heavy violent hands, consistent leverage, and the power to hold up vs the run he looks like he could be a future Pro Bowler. Tillery and his upside are worth a first-round pick.
- Pro Comparison: Chris Jones
Antoine Wesley, WR, Texas Tech
- There are a ton of big names talked about in this WR class and rightfully so, it’s stacked. Yet, Antoine Wesley’s name feels like it’s rarely mentioned among the top pass catchers in the class. He’s a top 10 WR prospect and makes more circus catches than anybody in the group. With his size (6-4, 206 pounds) and smoothness as a route runner, he’s going to be an instant mismatch on the outside. He knows how to work himself open and is terrific at adjusting to off-target passes. For a bigger guy he’s impressive at creating YAC and should become a QBs best friend in the NFL. Getting a guy with Wesley’s all-around game mid-Day 2 is a steal.
- Pro Comparison: Allen Robinson
Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan
- As the NFL Draft gets closer and closer it feels like people are realizing how good Chase Winovich really is. He was overshadowed by the hype around Rashan Gary, but Winovich is the better football player. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him sneak into the back of the first-round. Winovich plays a well-rounded game that will make him an early every down starter in the NFL. Nobody has a more violent rip move than Wino and he’s excellent at converting speed to power. He might not be a consistent double digit sack artist, but he’ll disrupt a ton of passing plays. The energy he brings to a defensive front with his leadership and motor will be loved by NFL DCs.
- Pro Comparison: Chris Long
Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama
- Normally an impressive defensive prospect from Alabama gets a ton of attention, but with all the talent this year it seems Christian Miller has been somewhat forgotten. He’s the guy who will fit the bill of, “better in the pros than in college.” He missed a lot of time in his first three seasons at Alabama, but was a playmaker all over the field as a senior. Miller is an excellent athlete with the explosiveness to rush the passer and the smoothness and range to drop into coverage. He’s ideal for a 3-4 outside linebacker role. With his get off, active hands, impressive flexibility, and motor he could turn into a double digit sack player. Miller shouldn’t get out of the top 50.
- Pro Comparison: TJ Watt
Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
This TE class is ridiculous. Add Kahale Warring to the list of dudes with loads of potential. Top 10 TE in this class. Day 3 guy with tons of upside. pic.twitter.com/svyix5JFcZ
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) February 23, 2019
- In one of the best tight end classes the NFL Draft has seen this century it’s easy for a guy like Kahale Warring to get lost in the shuffle. Before the NFL Combine he wasn’t on many radars, but after some impressive testing at his size Warring could be a Day 3 steal at tight end. He’s the sleeper who gets the least love and he might be a top 100 player. His ability to make plays in traffic, stretch the field, and block make him an instant threat. Warring is a complete player with tons of upside and quietly has some of the best hands in the tight end group. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him starting by year two of his career.
- Pro Comparison: Todd Heap
Malik Reed, EDGE, Nevada
- The only reason Malik Reed isn’t on the NFL radar is because he lacks some size. His tape, his production, and his athleticism are all impressive, but he still wasn’t even invited to the NFL Combine. Reed’s one of the rare undersized pass rushers who uses it to his advantage. With his leverage and bend he is a terror for offensive tackles to block. He’s constantly drawing holds because tackles are so tall and get up around his neck, it’s fun to watch. Reed might not go until late-Day 3, but the athleticism and natural bend can make him an early contributor as a pass rush specialist. NFL teams can get too obsessive about size at EDGE and ignore the guys who are natural pass rushers like Reed.
- Pro Comparison: Elvis Dumervil
Sheldrick Redwine, DB, Miami
- In need of a DB who can play corner, nickel, single-high, or in the box? Is Chauncey Gardner-Johnson off the board? Well, have you met Sheldrick Redwine? Redwine is the late-Day 2/early-Day 3 version of CGJ. He’s a dawg on the field and can play just about everywhere. With the fluidity and ball skills to make plays in coverage and the aggressiveness and tackling to come up vs the run, Redwine is ideal as a nickel in today’s game. His versatility and athleticism can make him an instant rotational player if not a starter. There hasn’t been a ton of hype around Redwine yet so getting him in the fourth-round seems plausible. Having a guy on the backend who can fill where he is needed is rare.
- Pro Comparison: Damarious Randall
James Williams, RB, Washington State
Washington State RB James Williams (6-foot, 205) caught 83 passes in Mike Leach’s offense this season. Running the wheel route here on the Mesh concept. @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/oQIUhpbebS
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 14, 2019
- There’s not a ton of value in running backs these days, but finding one who does one thing really really well and utilizing that can be great for an offense. The era of the “satellite back” is here and every team needs one. What’s a satellite back? It’s the type of running back who is used heavily as a pass catcher like Tarik Cohen, James White, and Chris Thompson. James Williams is the ideal player for that role in the 2019 NFL Draft. Coming from the air raid offense he was heavily used as primary pass catcher in college and has wide receiver skills. Williams should be available on Day 3 and can fit almost any offense in this role.
- Pro Comparison: James White
Mark Fields, CB, Clemson
- There’s been lots of hype around Clemson defenders, but very little around Mark Fields. He didn’t start a ton in college, but when he was on the field he looked like an NFL cornerback. Fields is an impressive athlete with clean footwork and fluid hips. He’s got solid ball skills and can play in a man or zone defense. Basically, he just hasn’t played a ton in his career, but he has the size, athleticism, and traits to play corner or nickel. With a few years of NFL coaching he can become a steady NFL starter. It’s likely he’ll be available mid-Day 3 and has more upside than a few more publicized Clemson defenders.
- Pro Comparison: Leodis McKelvin
Tre Lamar, LB, Clemson
- Whoever started the Tre Lamar hype has never seen Tre Lamar play football. There are some folk who think he’s a top five LB prospect, he’s not even a top 25 LB prospect. Lamar is a big backer with negative athleticism and he’s a complete liability in coverage. Where did the hype even come from on Lamar? Going to Clemson automatically gets you draft hype it seems. Lamar doesn’t have the athletic upside to be worth a draft pick to play specials and he’s not good enough vs the run to make a roster in general. Don’t trust anybody who calls Lamar a legit NFL prospect. He might have been the worst starter on Clemson last season and should have returned to school.
- Pro Comparison: Kelvin Sheppard
Marvell Tell III, S, USC
- There’s always going to be former big time high school recruits from big programs who have draft hype despite lackluster tape, Marvell Tell is just that. On paper he’s impressive, a long lean DB with exciting athleticism, but his tape is tough. There are multiple situations where it seems like he doesn’t even want to be on the field. He’ll play lackadaisically and allow big completions and he tries his best to stay away from coming up vs the run. The name and athletic testing will probably get him drafted, but he’s not worth a pick. Switching to cornerback would probably be his best option in the NFL. Too often the NFL overvalues guys who test well when they have subpar tape.
- Pro Comparison: Jason Allen
Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
- One of the wildest things of this NFL Draft season is the idea that Jaylon Ferguson is a first-round talent. He’s a fourth or fifth-round talent who had wild production in college, 45 career sacks, and the big NFL Draft media crowned him a top player. Ferguson is a below-average athlete who lacks bend. That’s automatically not going to translate into sack production in the NFL. He’s a decent run defender with fairly active hands and a solid motor. There’s a role for Ferguson in the NFL, but to act like he’s a future Pro Bowl pass rusher is ludicrous. This is a deep EDGE class and Ferguson has way less upside than a lot of the lesser names.
- Pro Comparison: Za’Darius Smith
Lonnie Johnson, CB, Kentucky
CB Lonnie Johnson out of Kentucky is 6’2” 213 lbs. and runs a 4.52 40. You’d expect him to be physical, but he’s not. He’s bad against double routes which he over compensates for and leaves basic curl routes wide open. Plays like a robot and doesn’t trust his instincts. pic.twitter.com/cAGeG61r7B
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinnerNFL) April 4, 2019
- Nobody has benefited more from random hype leading up to the NFL Draft than Lonnie Johnson. After a solid Senior Bowl week and good combine performance he’s been talked about as a potential first-round pick for some reason. Johnson isn’t a top 100 player. He’s a developmental prospect with size, some ball skills, and athletic upside. Way too often he gets lost in coverage and his footwork gets messy. To think he can come in and start right away is scary. He’s also got a tendency to not get involved vs the run and shy away from hitting. Johnson could develop into a starter, but he’s far from it right now. Taking him in the top 100 is a huge gamble.
- Pro Comparison: Artie Burns
Will Grier/Ryan Finley/Clayton Thorson, QBs, West Virginia/NC State/Northwestern
- The NFL overvalues quarterbacks who aren’t good. Will Grier, Ryan Finley, and Clayton Thorson should all be late-Day 3 picks or UDFAs, but each have been rumored as potential Day 2 developmental starters. Grier is the only one who should maybe go before the sixth-round and even then he’s not an NFL starter, he’s a high-end backup. With his poor decision making, wonky mechanics, and inconsistent accuracy Grier isn’t going to wow in the NFL. Finley is quite solid as a seventh-round option due to his accuracy and football IQ, but he’s got a weak arm and not much upside. Thorson probably shouldn’t get drafted. His arm isn’t good enough and his accuracy is poor. These aren’t the guy’s teams should bet on to develop into starters.
- Grier Pro Comparison: Case Keenum
- Finley Pro Comparison: Nathan Peterman
- Thorson Pro Comparison: Matt Barkley
Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
- Some people love Kaleb McGary enough to claim he’s worth a first-round pick, he isn’t. McGary has some stuff that could make him worth a late-Day 2 pick, but the fourth-round is the sweet spot for him. The size and athleticism have been pushing his hype up, but he’s a raw prospect who needs a lot of technical work. In pass protection he plays too high and has messy footwork. He’ll be a liability in the passing game if asked to play right away. In the run game he’s physical and mean, but struggles to consistently get to the second level. There are pieces with McGary to turn into a solid starting right tackle, but first-round is way too early.
- Pro Comparison: Eric Winston
Drew Lock/Daniels Jones, QBs, Missouri/Duke
Drew Lock is such an effortless thrower. He's going to be the guy teams fall in love with at the Senior Bowl. The physical tools are going to get him drafted way too high for my liking. pic.twitter.com/zh1iB0SZAy
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) January 17, 2019
- Again, the NFL overvalues QBs. If a QB has franchise traits then by all means draft them high, but too often teams search for what could be and take a third-round talent top 10. Drew Lock and Daniel Jones aren’t first-round talents and both will probably go top 20. Lock is far more impressive with his arm talent and athleticism, but he’s nowhere near ready to start in the NFL. His lower body mechanics/footwork are a mess, he’s a sloppy decision maker, and he struggles to work through his reads. Jones going in the first-round is awful. He’s got clean mechanics and decent accuracy, but his ceiling is low. There just isn’t enough there with his arm to develop into a true franchise QB.
- Lock Pro Comparison: Jay Cutler
- Jones Pro Comparison: Ryan Tannehill
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
- This is a deep running back class that lacks top-end talent. That’s causing some RBs to get more hype than they should, like Miles Sanders. Sanders is a fine running back prospect and can find a role in the NFL right away, but to take him in the top 100 is a risk. What he does well is create big runs with his elusiveness, lateral agility, and burst, but he’s a boom or bust runner. He goes down on first contact too frequently, passes up the smart run to try and create more, and doesn’t add enough on passing downs. Another huge issue with taking Sanders early is his fumbling. He’s the most fumble prone RB in the draft.
- Pro Comparison: Felix Jones
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
- It’s not that Andy Isabella is a bad football player, he’s worth a top 100 pick, but the first-round hype is too much. Isabella is tiny (5-9, 188 pounds), not a great route runner, and struggles with drops. What he does well is separate and stretch the field. His speed is impressive, but there are too many questions to take him in the first-round. Isabella needs to refine his route running, he has the agility and footwork to do it, and become a better hands catcher. He often struggles to extend and make catches and is too much of a body catcher. Isabella’s speed is bringing too much hype right now. The third-round as a deep threat seems right for him.
- Pro Comparison: John Brown
AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss
- There’s not doubting that AJ Brown is going to be a productive NFL receiver, but some act like he’s a can’t miss first-round lock. In reality Brown should be a Day 2 pick and find a role as a big slot. At Ole Miss he rarely played outside and isn’t used to facing press coverage. It’s not even that he’s a poor athlete, but he does struggle to separate downfield. He’s got strong hands, great YAC ability, and can win 50/50 balls, but there’s not a ton of upside. Brown has a high floor, but low ceiling. If he can develop into an outside threat it would go along way into justifying an earlier selection, but there’s no proof that will happen. The earliest Brown should go is in the late-second-round.
- Pro Comparison: Quincy Enunwa
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