All fans of the NFL have their favorite draft day moments! Whether it be the flashy first round picks, shocking trades that redefine a franchises success, or maybe it could be the gaudy outfits players wear! (yes I’m looking at you Ezekiel Elliott!) While watching the stars come off the board one by one is the main draw with every draft, what captivates me is when teams find a diamond in the rough come to light in the latter rounds. Here are three undervalued NFL draft prospects!
What if I told you there was an NFL-sized offensive lineman, who could block in a zone-heavy or power-heavy scheme, without a significant red flag or weakness anywhere on his evaluation? What if I told you he had almost 50 consecutive starts over four years at school, with some at guard and some at tackle? And you could just plug him in somewhere on your interior and never think about the position again for another 10 years? Meet Chris Lindstrom, a 6’4 305 pound offensive lineman that has played has played both guard and tackle across his four years as a starter for Boston College, he projects best inside at offensive guard in the NFL. Few guards offer his combination of size, commitment to playing with great technique, football IQ, mobility and play strength. Versatility will set Lindstrom apart from the crowd and make him a quality starter for years to come. When checking the film there are no major flaws in Lindstrom’s game, yes he may be short armed or have sub-par length, but that doesn’t stop his quick, agile frame from gaining the upper hand at the line of scrimmage. Don’t be surprised when some team takes Lindstrom late and over time we see just how durable and capable this Golden Eagle really is.
Personal achievements in the college football world are what help distinguish the men from the boys. Our next NFL prospect, Sutton Smith, is without a doubt the most decorated on this list. Smith is a two time Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year, that over the past two seasons, has finished top 3 in sacks, leading the NCAA in sacks this past season with 15. Now due to his size, or lack of size, Smith will be viewed by a lot of teams as an outside linebacker that has the quickness to cover short areas of the field while also providing quality pass rushing contributions. Humbly, Smith embraces the noticeable size gap as he’s being quoted to say he “will bring something to the table that a lot of these guys can’t”. During the Utah game, Smith’s best performance, we saw exactly what you’d want out of a defender. Smith was relentlessly in the backfield with 4.5 tackles for loss and the quarterback pressure came modestly with 2 sacks on plays which his undying pursuit was the difference, one sack even forced the Utes out of field goal range. Overall his football IQ and lateral mobility will land Smith a job in the NFL this upcoming fall, but to really blossom into his full potential, work will need to be done on his run blocking ability and finishing through blocks.
NFL prospects entering the draft from a predominantly known basketball college, will have a tough finding their name mentioned amongst the stars. Gale Sayers, Chris Harris Jr., and Aqib Talib are NFL players that once walked The University of Kansas hallways, along with our third and final prospect, Daniel Wise. Firing out of his first step like a cannon, we saw Wise memorize the nation during his week six matchup against West Virginia with a five tackle (3.5 for loss) and two sack game. This aggressive type of play hasn’t diminished as recently during the East-West Shrine game scouts were impressed with his ability to shed blockers cleanly, perform hip tosses against double teams, and win one on one reps. Who doesn’t love looking at the stats in a players overall career and discovering where there was some growth or consistency, with that being said, feast your eyes on these numbers. Wise averaged over 10 tackles for loss per season for his Jayhawk career, including 28 TFLs and 10 sacks across his final two years. Now he’ll need to add strength and power for the next level, but what the NFL scouts love about Wise is his scheme diversity, playing throughout his career in the 7, 5, and 3 technique, as well as a little nose tackle. Look for Wise to be drafted day 3 to a team in need of quality interior defensive skills.