The Quinnen Williamses and the Ed Olivers will always get the mainstream attention among the draft community, and every year there are guys that fly under the radar that turn out to be impact players. Here are some of those players for all defensive and offensive positions.
Quarterback: Taryn Christion, South Dakota State
Mobile as heck and still accurate? Taryn Christion has just about everything I would want in a mobile QB except super-consistent accuracy and sometimes shaky decision making. I would call him the FCS Lamar Jackson, and that comparison is very, very apt overall.
Per @AJDraftScout I have been checking out Taryn Christion, and I haven’t watched enough film on him yet, but I like him from what I’ve seen. Look at his eyes here manipulate the safety and then just threads this needle. Opens up an area here in the zone. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/dUWCPHpYQH
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 28, 2018
Christion has proven himself to not only have elite pocket presence, but he has the ability of few QBs to extend a play and create something out of nothing. His ability to manipulate defenders is something I enjoyed watching. He worked safeties consistently with his eyes and created windows for himself. Lastly, he has a straight up cannon. You really do not want to give him a shot deep, because he has great accuracy there, too. The concerns are some questionable processing and inconsistent accuracy, but he does have starter potential. Watch out for a potential steal in the late rounds for any team.
Running Back: Wes Hills, Slippery Rock
He got invited to the NFLPA Bowl, and I am so happy he did. Hills is the type of RB that teams want to have in the long haul. He is a guy who can burst any play for a big gain and never goes down. While his receiving ability is unknown, he has shown flashes of it. Once he gets into space, good luck bringing him down because his contact balance is elite.
Love the determination he runs with. This stiff arm is straight up nasty. pic.twitter.com/yTKeSZ2dwH
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 6, 2018
Hills runs with a purpose and sees the field extremely well. I do have questions about his agility and top end speed, but his ability to grind out yardage immediately will make him a valuable NFL RB. I expect to see him on an NFL roster come Week 1 next season.
Wide Receiver: Alex Wesley, Northern Colorado
Just a straight up blur on the screen, Wesley is probably the best FCS receiver in the draft. If you want a deep threat that is most similar to someone like Will Fuller, this is the guy for you. Not only is he fantastic at blowing by guys, but when it is a contested catch, Wesley goes up and gets it. He has everything you would want in a deep threat.
I’m here for WR Alex Wesley. I’ve been hearing a ton about him and man he’s impressive and I’m glad he got a senior bowl invite. The FCS has a good crop of receivers this year, and Wesley might just be the best one I’ve seen. Dude is a blur on the screen. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/BBURtIBg4p
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 7, 2018
Wesley is certainly a raw route runner by all standards and could stand to bulk up his frame as well, but when you are an elite deep threat and a fantastic screen game player, I think teams will be able to look past that. He can have a legitimate impact from day 1.
Tight End: Donald Parham, Stetson
6’8” and as fluid as a receiver, Parham is an impressive TE in a lot of ways. He does have some concentration drops, but his ability to run out of multiple alignments, including from the slot, allow him to be a super intriguing player. He runs more routes than you would usually see a college TE run and man he parlays that into opportunities.
Stetson TE Donald Parham is just a beast man. This dude can straight up move! He can grab just about anything and blocks guys out of the house too. One of the most slept on guys in an already loaded TE class. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/QOmUbQ02Pr
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 23, 2018
Parham has the ability to go up and catch anything with his frame and presents himself as a dang good red zone target. He can obviously do what I showed in the clip as well. A guy who is 6’8” should not run that well. His blocking has some question marks due to leverage issues, but he blocks some guys straight up out of the house.
IOL: Garrett Bradbury, NC State
The guy about whom no one is talking. My fellow DFF writer @AJDraftScout put me onto him, and I watched a good bit of tape on him. Honestly, while I was skeptical at first, I think this guy is pretty dang good. Footwork is crazy fast and he reaches into the second level with absolute ease. Bradbury knows how to play with leverage, fantastic inside hand placement, and uses his strength to steer his body into perfect positioning.
Love this rep from NC State C Garrett Bradbury. Helps secure the first level before taking a perfect angle to get ahead of the second level pursuit and seals. Timing and execution is perfect. pic.twitter.com/zjwU3nSywQ
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) October 8, 2018
His strength isn’t great and he does need to hit the weight room, but he is so nimble and technically sound that he dominates in all facets of OL play. He is fantastic in pass blocking and anchors as well as anyone. The cherry on top might be his high IQ. He communicates stunts extremely well. I am here for this.
OT: Andre Dillard, Washington State
Dillard is quick and nimble-footed, and in an offensive lineman, that is a great trait to have. I like his hand placement and his improvement in the leverage game this year. Last year his anchor was nowhere to be seen, but he has gotten stronger and plays way lower in his pads. That, by the way, also allows Dillard to maul guys at the second level, and he reaches them easily.
Taking a look at WSU's LT Andre Dillard. 6'5"/300lbs. Really good feet. pic.twitter.com/wRwu4wXeaJ
— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) July 29, 2018
His football IQ makes him more appealing to teams. He still could improve his sets and footwork, as he is susceptible to being beat around the edge. However, Dillard’s improvements have made him one of the best mid-round OTs in this draft.
IDL: Renell Wren, Arizona State
Wren is an athletic guy, and really, if you want to go further, perhaps an elite athlete at the DL position. His strength is great, and with an explosive first step, he can run right over IOL. It is clear that his athleticism can be used to fit through tight spaces, and he uses his hands well enough to position himself to rip through OL.
ASU's DL at it again 😲 this time #95 6'5 297 Renell Wren tossing MSU's center pic.twitter.com/ND8jZxXqZS
— Kyle (@marblekyle) September 9, 2018
There are some concerns, such as leverage, that do indeed scare me, but the tools are scary-good right now. His fluidity and ability to wreak havoc is an ability that few Day 2 IDL will have. Even in a historically good class, Wren sticks out as an intriguing prospect who can develop into something special.
EDGE: Anthony Nelson, Iowa
He might not have the bend you would want in an EDGE, but he might have everything else. Nelson is not a great athlete but has a quick first step, and his hands are fantastic. He has moves like a spin, cross-rip combo, and counter moves, too. In that area, he truly is advanced in this class.
Iowa EDGE Anthony Nelson might be one of the most underrated players in this draft. This dude has some serious bend and active hands. I have a second round grade on him, love his fans. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/JIoSIpAADU
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 29, 2018
Nelson is going to be one of those guys that is better suited as 4-3 DE because of his ability to play strong and anchor with his leverage. Nelson would feel at home inside, and his first step and hands would make him a mismatch in a 4-3. Regardless, this guy is not getting talked about enough for how good he is.
ILB: Germaine Pratt, NC State
A former FS at ILB? Yes, please. Pratt’s safety background shines every time you watch his tape. He never has a bad play in coverage and is so fluid in his range. Also, he has elite ball skills for the LB position. Pratt is probably the best coverage ILB in the entire draft, and that is going to be key in this draft.
Every time I watched N.C. States defense, Germaine Pratt always impresses. He's a former safety who moved to linebacker. Reads and react so well and gets to this swing so quickly. Over pursues but recovers well. Love it! pic.twitter.com/XFmB5Tttfd
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) March 19, 2018
His run defense could be better, as he needs to sift through traffic better and learn how to shed blocks, but the range is there, too. He is a fantastic tackler and, with coverage ability like that and the sideline-to-sideline ability in a weak class, you have to be excited about him.
S: Adarius Pickett, UCLA
Pickett is a straight-up playmaker who is going to be a fantastic box safety. He has the elite ball skills and plays with the aggressive nature needed to be a fantastic strong safety at the next level. His run fills are some of the best in the NFL, as you will see this guy come flying as fast as a missile downhill.
Big pass breakup by Adarius Pickett, preventing what could have been many yards after catch. pic.twitter.com/e4T5cMIwZe
— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) September 8, 2018
Pickett’s most appealing ability is his instinctive ability to read the defense and make huge plays. That is why he can make such aggressive plays because he trusts himself. I do have some concerns about his length and ability to man up in the slot, but he certainly has tools to be a very good safety
Cornerback: Essang Bassey, Wake Forest
Bassey is a ballhawk. His length and instinctive ability to get a hand on the ball is something few CBs in this draft have. Bassey combines that with amazing ball skills and makes some of the best INTs you will see in college football. He has some of the smoothest footwork and can mirror with anyone for days.
Wake Forest CB Essang Bassey is a playmaker man. Ball skills for days, fluid as heck, processes everything extremely well, and fleet footwork. I love this kid as a real sleeper in the CB class. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/fUJKquEExK
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 20, 2018
Bassey needs to work on his hands and getting better at press, but his off-man ability is straight-up elite. I love how fluid of an athlete he is, and man can he ever flip his hips effortlessly. Bassey, regardless of his ability to press, should be a hot commodity as the process goes on.
Have any questions about the article? Contact me @FarabaughFB.