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Top Sleepers of the 2017 NFL Draft

3 May

football - t.j. watt

T.J. Watt, Wisconsin, Edge – That is not a misprint. The last Watt who came out of Wisconsin was named J.J. or James Justin Watt and is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the pros. T.J. Watt is the little brother of one of the best defensive players in the National Football League, and his talent level is on par with his big brother. He relies on the same motor and uses similar athleticism and technique to get to the football off the edge. And, their combine numbers were nearly identical, yet the younger Watt is projected to slip into the second round. If that happens, then some team could get the steal of the draft with a big, athletic kid who does not take plays off and is mentored by a NFL superstar, his brother.


Marcus Williams, Utah, Safety – Williams has averaged 5 interceptions over the last two seasons with 8 passes defended over the same stretch. He snatched those 10 total interceptions in only 44 throws against him. Williams is very athletic and utilizes good closing speed to defend passes. He is instinctive, tackles well, and makes plays on the ball in space. The only reason that he has not been projected to go higher is his size. If Williams were 6’4″ and 220 pounds instead of 6’1″ and 202 pounds, he would be a high first round pick. He may surprise a lot of teams with his play in the pros next year despite his stature because of his physical gifts and his intelligence. Williams seems to recognize pass routes well and reacts quickly to what he sees. He uses his explosiveness to fight for and win on most 50/50 balls in the air. Williams ran a respectable 4.56 in the 40 yard dash, but his broad jump of 10’8″ and his vertical leap of 43′ 1/2″ confirmed his rare athletic tools. He earned 2 All-Pac-12 safety and 2 All-Pac-12 Academic honors while at Utah. Marcus Williams is a smart and talented kid.


Adoree’ Jackson, University of Southern California, Defensive Back/Returner - Jackson has been ranked as the 13th best cornerback by, however he has the potential to be the best corner taken in the 2017 draft because of his ability to play all over the field. His elite athleticism sets him apart from a very deep secondary class. Jackson was actually an All-American in track in 2015 and 2016, and his speed makes him dangerous in all phases of the game. He has played offense, defense, and special teams for the Trojans over his career in Los Angeles and excelled in every role. He takes good angles on defense, can play press, and closes well in open space. Adoree’ Jackson plays like a monster in the return game, and breaks games open on kickoffs and punt returns.

Joe Mixon, Oklahoma University, Running Back - Joe Mixon’s stock has plummeted because of all the off-the-field issues during his Sooner career. He has been abusive towards women in his past, and that tag has followed him over the years because he has had a couple of smaller character issues that went public. He probably will not be taken in the draft until the 2nd or 3rd round despite possessing the talent of a 1st rounder. However, where he will drafted has no bearing on what he can do on the football field. Mixon is as physically talented as any running back in this draft, and from an overall skill standpoint, only Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook are rated as better backs than him. Mixon has a great burst, surprisingly nimble feet, and can also be a very patient runner. His size, agility, and ability to run great routes and catch the football make him a complete back. He could be a star in the National Football League if he gets his off-field issues together and becomes a little more decisive with his moves at the line of scrimmage.


Jake Butt, University of Michigan, Tight End – Jake Butt was rated as one of the top tight end prospects in the nation before he tore up his ACL in a loss to Florida State. He will be a good pro if he fully recovers from his injury, and has the potential to be an All-Pro if he is more athletic than he appears to be. Butt has soft hands and catches the football cleanly every time. He highpoints the football in traffic and comes down with the ball. And though he does not show a lot of dazzle in his runs after the catch, he gets positive yardage after contact because he plays physical. With the right team, Butt could be a star.


Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State University, Running Back – One of the biggest indicators for a running back’s success at the professional level is his production at the college level, and Donnel Pumphrey has produced more than any running back in NCAA history. He has a great burst off jump cuts and has good vision. He gets into seams and makes people miss. Though Pumphrey is undersized, he can make decisive cuts in space and make people miss. Pumphrey could be a very productive running back behind a good offensive line. If he gets stronger, learns his new team’s blocking scheme, and becomes a better receiver Donnel Pumphrey could be an everyday starter in the league.

football - donnel pumphrey

Samaje Perine, Oklahoma University, Running Back – Samaje Perine scored 50 touchdowns during his Oklahoma career with the aforementioned, super-talented Mixon in the same backfield. Perine could be special if he gets to the right team in the National Football League. He is not the prototypical running back like Fournette or Cook perfect size and speed, but he has some intangibles that like power and balance that could serve him well at the next level.


D’Onta Foreman

Foreman could be the surprise running back of the season if he gets to the right team. He runs through arm tackles at the point of attack, and when he gets to the second level, he is as difficult to tackle as any running back in the nation. And, he is surprisingly explosive for a 250+ lb. man. He ran a 4.45 at his pro day at the University of Texas. With some improvements in route running and learning blocking schemes D’Onta Foreman could be the power back that revitalizes physical offensive football and fills the void left by Marshawn Lynch. He should be very effective in short yardage downs and goal line situations. Foreman is talented enough to takeover the starting position in Green Bay, Houston, and either New York team right now.

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