NEWS AND INFORMATION ON THE NFL DRAFT
UNDER-THE-RADAR PROSPECTS TO WATCH FOR THE 2013 DRAFT
For the most part, the NFL
draft is the preserve of the big-time college football programs.
Indeed, every year, something in the neighborhood of 85% of all players
drafted are from a D1A school with the large majority of those coming
from BCS conferences. Hope springs eternal though, and NFL teams - and
their most loyal followers - are always looking for that diamond in the
rough who just might be the difference between an also-ran and a
championship team. In fact, there are quite a number of very good lower
level prospects who will be available in the 2013 draft including Elon
WR Aaron Melette, Arkansas-Pine Bluff OT Terron Armstead, DE David Bass
of Missouri Western State, NT Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern
State, Cornell OG J.C. Tretter, Howard LB Keith Pough and CBs Robert
Alford of Southeastern Louisiana and B.W. Webb of William & Mary
who are already well known to draft watchers, but there are other good
prospects out there who still aren't likely household names in even
their own homes.
Over the next month, we'll be profiling several of these sleeper types
for the 2013 draft
Moving up from Indy
Ty Powell of Harding is an emerging prospect from unheralded DII school which has only ever had three players draft and none since 1983. And in many ways Harding is an unlikely guy to end that streak. He was a lightly recruited prep QB and CB who spent two years as a community college safety before transferring to Harding where he barely made a splash as DB in 2011. However, Powell switched to DE last season and made an immediate impact registering 8.5 sacks and 6.5 other tackles for loss the 9-2 Bisons who qualified for their first ever DII playoffs this past fall. Powell was then played well in the Texas/Nation all-star game before getting a late invite to the Senior Bowl where he held up well enough, although he really didn‘t have a position in Mobile. Powell really started to attract some attention, though, when he turned in a very athletic performance at the combine here he ran the 40 in 4.64 seconds, posted a 37-inch vertical, managed 28 reps in the bench press and had a top 5 time for a LB in the 3-cone drill. Indeed, Powell will almost certainly be making another position switch on his way to the NFL as his only fit looks to be as a 3-4 rush LB. He’s really not big enough to play as a 4-3 DE at the next level and lacks the agility to play OLB in that scheme. What Powell brings to the table, though, is some real power and explosion coming off the edge, although he needs to refine his pass-rush technique. For the record, he’s also somewhat overaged as he’ll turn 25 on the 3rd day of the draft.
There are also a couple of rising small school DTs in Jared Smith of New Hampshire and Samford’s Nick Williams, although they took different roads to the party. Smith is a 3-year starter at UNH who had 12.5 career sacks and 26 total career tackles for loss; he also blocked 5 kicks in his career including three last fall. Williams, on the other and, is another late bloomer who didn’t play football until his senior year in high school and didn’t start for D1AA Samford until his 4th year on campus. He blossomed in 2012 though when he had 6 sacks coming up the middle. Both guys also solidified their claim to be legitimate late-round sleepers with impressive performances at the combine in February. Williams, in particular, measured in at a full-sized 6-4, 310 with long arms and big hands, and then went out and an a quick 4.94 40, which was just a couple of 100s behnd Sharrif Floyd’s pace-setting times for DTs. Williams, though, was actually even quicker over 10 yards (1.63 seconds to 1.68) than Floyd. Williams also posted a solid 28 reps in the bench press. Smith isn‘t quite as big at 6-3, 302, and was a tad slower with a 5.08 40 clocking, but that too was among the leaders at the position at the combine. Smth, though, was very quick in the agility drills posting the second fastest time among DTs in the 3-cone drill and the fastest in the short shuttle that was actually the 6th fastest time among all defensive linemen including the DEs.
On the other side of the line, there are a bunch of good lower level offensive line prospects including OTs Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Chadron State’s Garrett Gilkey and Cornell OG J.C. Tretter. Armstead, in particular, had a spectacular combine where he ran the fastest 40 ever by an offensive lineman. And while he wasn’t quite as fast, James Madison OG Earl Watford has earned some extra looks because of a strong pre-draft period. Watford, a 37 game-starter at JMU including the last 35 straight, was actually a highly regarded recruit who was named to the same all-decade team in Philadelphia as Sharrif Floyd. He was also a consensus D1AA All-American who played well at this year’s Shrine game. And he showed some unexpected athleticism at the combine when the 6-3, 300-pounder ran the 40 in 5.06 seconds with a solid 1.73 second 10-yard split, although his shuttle times were slower. Watford needs to add some strength although with relatively long arms (34”) and big hands, he has a good initial punch and moves well in the pocket and in space.
On first blush, one would think that a receiver from the Patriot League with 57 receptions for 850 yards and 4 TDs would need a ticket to get into the combine, however, that was not the case for Lehigh WR Ryan Spadola. That’s because Spadola was never really at 100% in 2012 when he missed time because of mononucleosis and never appeared to be at full strength. The previous two years, though, Spadola tore up the conference including the 2011 campaign in which he caught 96 passes for over 1,600 yards and 11 scores. Spadola, who is still more a possession receiver, who has good hands and runs nice routes, also showed some speed and quickness at the combine, where he ran the 40 in a respectable 4.48 seconds and was in the top 5-6 wideouts in both shuttle drills.
The GREAT BLUE NORTH DRAFT REPORT is a division of SQUITERLAND ENTERPRISES, Ottawa, Ontario,Canada