Welcome to the latest edition of 6-pack Thursday where I drop a half-dozen NFL Draft takes and nuggets for your reading pleasure on a weekly basis. This week I am going to spend time highlighting and analyzing six of my favorite underrated prospects in this year’s class. All of these prospects are mid-round picks but have the upside to provide starter returns or carve out an important role for their future teams.
Let’s crack this thing open.
Peter Kalambayi, EDGE, Stanford
If you are a 3-4 team that tasks your outside linebackers with rushing the passer, setting the edge, winning in space and playing in coverage then Kalambayi is a ready-made, versatile defender that will fit perfectly. A steady contributor across four seasons for Stanford, Kalambayi has the physical traits and experience needed to play early in his career.
He is a disciplined run defender that does well to squeeze gaps, set the edge and maintain outside leverage. He takes on pullers with proper technique and easily plays through tight ends. While he is underdeveloped as a pass rusher, he offers the length burst and flexibility needed to win.
Kalambayi had a strong Combine performance and his tape was a pleasant surprise.
Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
Averett is a fleet-footed, quick and fluid cover man with the upside to play boundary or slot corner depending on matchups. He operates best in man coverage but has developed improved zone coverage skills throughout his college career. Despite a thin frame, Averett is willing to play a physical brand of football that is well above his weight class.
He does has some shortcomings when the ball is in the air to drift and be too focused on his man and miss opportunities to make plays on the ball. There are also times where he is overly grabby.
The NFL challenges secondaries with speedy wideouts and Averett has the athletic ability to match strides with them, making him a valuable chess piece on defense. His combination of speed and physicality is very appealing.
Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson
O’Daniel was a prominent playmaker on a talented Clemson defense last season. Lining up in a variety of positions in college, O’Daniel is likely a 4-3 weakside linebacker in the NFL but has the upside to play in a variety of places.
What’s most intriguing about O’Daniel is his ability to pursue, tackle and win in coverage. Today’s NFL requires linebackers to cover ground and be able to chase – O’Daniel is that guy.
While he needs to prove himself to be able to overcome his lack of size to beat blocks near the line of scrimmage in the NFL, O’Daniel has tremendous upside as a nickel linebacker. He’s already proven himself as a standout special teams player in college and that should translate to the NFL.
Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech
Stroman has natural movement skills, fluid hips, route anticipation skills and zone awareness needed to fill a variety of roles on defense. While he may be limited against bigger and more physical receivers, he effectively mirrors routes and does well to disrupt at the catch point. His ability to play the ball in the air is excellent.
Adding to his value, Stroman has upside as a punt returner and had four career touchdowns in college. He isn’t the biggest corner but is willing to play off contact and tackle.
Coming from Bud Foster’s defense, Stroman can help a team in a variety of ways and is one of the most underrated corners in this year’s crop.
Speaking of underrated cornerbacks, Tramon Williams would be an outstanding bargain free agent addition to an NFL secondary in need of a corner with terrific ball skills.
Brian Allen, C, Michigan State
Allen doesn’t meet all the desired size thresholds but he is a strong performer on the field. He effectively uses his squatty frame, outstanding play strength and nasty demeanor to be a bully as a run blocker. His anchor is powerful and he operates from a balanced base in pass protection. With that said, overcoming modest footspeed and a lack of length is his biggest challenge at the next level.
When watching him of tape, it’s apparent that he is simply an ass-kicker. It would come as no surprise to see Allen overachieve his draft status given his tenacity.
Marcus Baugh, TE, Ohio State
While the Big 10 is loaded with tight end prospects this year (Thomas, Fumagalli, Gesicki), Baugh continues to be overlooked.
Offering a well-rounded skill set as an in-line blocker and receiver, Baugh can fill a variety of roles for an NFL offense. While he was under-utilized in college, Baugh has natural hands and route running skills needed to separate from coverage in the NFL. He is an excellent blocker both on the move and in the trenches.
That two-way ability is valuable at the next level and Baugh is primed to be an eventual starter and terrific No. 2 tight end early in his career.
Don’t Forget: My 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Portfolio is now available for Pre-Order! It is sold in conjunction with Kyle Crabbs’ 2018 Draft Prospectus for $20. That’s 2 Draft Guides; a total of 600 full scouting reports from Kyle and myself. I have several exciting enhancements for this years publication which are detailed here and gives you more information on what you can expect from the Portfolio.
If you’re still thirsty after this 6-pack, catch up on others you may have missed.