Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Sleepers - Part I

Middle to Late Round STEALS for NFL Teams
By Taber Small

1. Ty Powell, DE/LB Harding 6-2 250 lb.

Strength: Powell is a very intriguing prospect with a great combination of size, power and athleticism. Well built athlete and is best suited to play OLB in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Very explosive player who covers a lot of ground with his speed and plays with a great motor. Shows good upper body strength and holds his ground at the point of attack. Can break down and tackle in space. Effective pass rusher and is also comfortable dropping back in coverage while playing in space. Plays with good balance and knee bend. Can get under offensive tackles and drive them back into the quarterback. Shows above-average speed when closing end on the quarterback. Have good fluid hips for a player his size and has the ability to blanket RBs and/or TEs in coverage. Has good ball skills and the ability to change direction to make plays in pass game. Does a good job of diagnosing plays and reacts quickly in the run or pass game.

Weakness: Relies a good amount on his athletic ability to make plays and is still a raw player. Will sometimes over pursuit on a play and not stay discipline. Needs to learn how to actively use his hands and play with better technique. Also needs to develop more pass rushing moves as he has not spent a lot of time at the rush DE position. Small school guy and level of competition. Played in the Great American football conference which is not known for producing a lot of NFL talent.

Analysis: I received a call in early November from a NFL college scout highly recommending Powell for the Texas vs the Nation all-star game which I did to our staff after checking him out myself. He's a hybrid type player that popped up on many NFL scouts radar by the middle of his senior year. Powell's versatility and experience as a safety gives him great value as 3-4 OLB and also the fact that he can beat opponents with speed and power. A relentless player and consistently plays at a high level on every snap. He impressed during Senior Bowl week which has drawn a lot more attention from NFL teams. At the NFL Combine he ran in the low 4.6s, jumped 37 inches and benched 28 reps. He only did positional drills at his pro day and looked very impressive and fluid in every drill. Each year more NFL teams are adopting the 3-4 defensive scheme and Powell is someone who is quickly rising up draft boards. Had some character issues in the past but is not a huge concern for teams. I do not see him getting out of the 4th Round.

*NFL Draft Grade: 3rd-4th RD

Check out Ty Powel NFL Proday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmzKXntDOd4

2. Mike Catapano, DE Princeton 6-5 270 lb.

Strength: An underrated explosive and athletic defender. Plays with above-average strength, closing speed and quickness for a player his size. Well built size player with long arms and great wingspan. Does a good job of reading the snap and exploding off of the ball. High motor prospect that shows ability to rush the passer and defend against the run. Display good instincts and has a nose for the ball when diagnosing plays while reading his keys. Great leaping ability for a player his size and has shown the ability to knockdown passes at the line of scrimmage. He shows the ability to smoothly redirect and change direction and also the power to bend back inside. Actively uses his hands and is able to quickly shed once he locates the ball.

Weakness: Level of competition (Ivy League). Small school prospect. Tends to play high at times and needs to consistently stay low out of his stance. Also needs to improve his balance and body control. Will sometimes rush to far up field and take himself out of a run play. Needs to consistently play with better leverage and use his strength to drive offensive lineman in the backfield.

Analysis: Dominated lower level competition with speed and power. Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and one of the best prospects to come out of that conference in a while. Had a real good week against FBS competition in the East West Shrine game and impressed NFL scouts with his overall play. Has the tools to be a starting DE in the NFL. Was a NFL combine snub and should of received an invite. Catapano recently impressed at his pro day running in the low 4.7 40s, 37.5 inch vertical and 33 bench press reps. He also impressed with his quickness displaying a 7.03 3-cone and 4.31 short shuttle. Good character player and well respected among his teammates and coaches. Catapano is a great hard working athlete with the potential to be a good contributor at the next level.

*NFL Draft Grade: 4th-5th RD

Check out Mike Catapano doing pass rushing drills: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyocdm4R354

3. Vince Williams, ILB Florida State 6-1 247 lb.

Strength: Williams is a physical hitting inside linebacker with great size. Has a nose for the football and makes plays from sideline to sideline. Chases down ball carriers and takes good angles. Fills gaps, takes on blockers and holds his ground at the point of attack. Williams has a great knack for diagnosing offensive plays pre-snap. Fights through blocks and actively uses his hands. Good body control, breaks down in space and wraps up on contact.

Weakness: Not very strong in pass coverage. This is a big weakness to his game. Showed some potential in the Senior Bowl that he could get better in this area but this is still a concern for scouts. Has a tendency to bite on play action and will take false steps. Does not always look comfortable dropping back in zone and playing in space. Williams also gets into trouble sometimes when he tries to cheat gaps and gets himself out of position to make the play.

Analysis: Started at middle linebacker the last two years for FSU and was the leader of the defense. Williams was a steady and consistent performer and is your classic inside linebacker that can fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. He had a very productive Senior Bowl week and also played well in the game with six tackles for the South squad. Williams has quietly been rising up draft boards ever since then. He's smart, physical player with great instincts to be a starter at the next level.

*NFL Draft Grade: 5th-6th RD 

4. Roger Gaines, OL Tennessee State 6-6 334 lb.

Strength: A big massive athletic offensive tackle with great size and long arms. Gaines is a nasty and aggressive lineman who packs a powerful punch when stopping defenders to slow down their momentum. Has the wide frame that NFL scouts like to engulf smaller defensive ends in the run game and possess the lower body strength to finish off blocks. Does a good job of locking on to his blocks and sustaining them. Uses his long arms to his advantage to keep separation and force pass-rushers wide. Has a good wide base to pass protect verses the bull rush and is also strong enough to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage as a run blocker. Posses good enough mobility to consistently get in position of the defender and uses good hand placement to drive them off the snap. Takes good first step and angles on reach blocks. Has the size and strength that scouts like to match up against defenders in confined quarters. Does a good job of recognizing twists, double moves and stunts.

Weakness: Needs to take better blocking angles and to become more technically sound in pass protection. Must improve his balance and lateral movement to slide and shuffle back inside. Has had some difficulty pass blocking faster defensive ends. Has to become more tactical which will help him with overcoming physical deficiencies. Mostly been a tackle through out his career not sure if he has the versatility to fill in at multiple positions which could add more value to him. Needs to develop quicker feet to anticipate and pick-up blitzes. Another concern for scouts is the level of competition he faced in college. He played in the OVC Conference which has produced some NFL talent in the past but he didn't face elite competition every weekend.

Analysis:  Gaines has not received the publicity as Arkansas Pine-Bluff Terron Armstead another HBCU OL prospect did during the NFL Combine but he definitely should be talked about in his own right.  He has the ability to be a starting offensive tackle in the NFL for years to come. As of right now he is better suited to started out at right tackle but with better grooming and coaching could possible make the switch to left tackle. He impressed at the NFL Combine with his king size at 6-6 335 and then running a 5.2 40 and bench pressing 28 reps which is very good considering his arm length. I believe a team selecting him in the later rounds will get a steal and because he is someone who can help anchor an offensive line for years.

*NFL Draft Grade: 6th-7th RD

Roger Gaines NFL Combine workout video: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine/0ap2000000153018/2013-Combine-workout-Rogers-Gaines

5. Mark Harrison, WR Rutgers 6-3 231 lb.

Strength: Harrison has the size, speed and strength that you look for in a receiver. He does a decent job of looking the ball in while showing soft hands and not letting it get into his body. Will adjust to poorly thrown balls and has shown the ability to make tough catches over the middle and in traffic. Harrison is a nice big target with a large wingspan for a quarterback and uses his body well to create mismatches in the secondary. Very fluid and smooth for a player his size and does a nice job of coming back to the football to help the quarterback. Has flashed the ability to make big plays and shown the ability to be good after the catch. He is also an effective blocker and competes hard to stay on his blocks. Shows good leaping ability and could be a red zone threat in the right offensive scheme.

Weakness: Does not have the great ability to consistently separate from defenders. Not a very quick or agile WR. Needs to improve his route running. Does not have top end speed to burn CBs and relies on build up speed to setup defenders. His play was inconsistent throughout his career and at times struggled with drops. NFL scouts have their concerns weather he can consistently get open at the next level. He could be converted to TE and has the frame to add 10-15 pounds.

Analysis: Harrison has the blend of size and athleticism that scouts look for in a WR at the next level. He's flashed ability to make big plays but his inconsistent play has made scouts wonder what type of player they would actually be getting if selected. They would hope to get the player that had a break out year as a sophomore with 44 catches for 829 yards 9 touchdowns and not the one who struggled with consistency the next two years after. As a result, the team that selects him may possibly look to switch his position to TE after he's been given ample time to see how he does at WR. Harrison will be in camp somewhere fighting for a spot and will need to show the potential that he displayed earlier in his college career. He will also need to show value as a special teams player to help his chances in sticking with a team.

*NFL Draft Grade: 7th-PFA 

Mark Harrison NFL Combine workout video: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-network-path-to-the-draft/0ap2000000154394/2013-Combine-workout-Mark-Harrison?continuous=true