Devy Roundtable: Sleepers

We recently released our 2017 Devy Watch project. Essentially, it’s a set of rankings and profiles for our consensus top 200 college football players or devy prospects. If you missed it, you can download your free copy by clicking here. Believe it or not, some leagues go deeper than 200 devy players so we decided to dig a little to see if we could uncover a few gems outside of our top 200. Below you’ll find sleepers at the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver positions from @allpurposeyrd8g, @_codygarrett, @DFF_BMack, and @pacificscouting.

Quarterbacks

Jason DiRienzo

PROFILE:

QB Pat O’Brien
6’4” 233 lbs
Nebraska
Redshirt Freshman
3-Star (ESPN)

SCOUTING REPORT:

Stands tall in the pocket with a good pocket awareness. A rhythmic passer with a tight carriage and a quick release. Steps up in the pocket when the pocket collapses. Shows very good poise under pressure. Advanced footwork for the amount of experience he has. Above average arm strength with good accuracy at all levels. Impressive athleticism for his size. Can extend the play with his legs and shows good accuracy when throwing on the run. Velocity is inconsistent. Could benefit from improving drive accuracy. Tends to hold the ball too long leaving him vulnerable to defenders in pursuit. Guilty of staring down receivers.

OPPORTUNITY:

With Tanner Lee ultimately being named the starting QB for Nebraska in 2017, O’Brien will have to wait his turn. He may not have to wait too long for his opportunity as Lee has had an injury riddled career so far. If Lee were to get injured, which no one hopes for, there is little doubt O’Brien would make the most of his opportunity.

Highlights

Brad McDaniel

PROFILE:

QB Jake Luton
6’7” 230 lbs
Oregon State
Redshirt Junior
3-star (247Sports)

SCOUTING REPORT:

Luton has more than enough height for the position. He spins the ball well. He has plus arm strength. In fact, he tends to rely too much on his arm at times. He’ll often throw flat-footed rather than from the ground up with good follow-through. He throws with good anticipation. He is always looking for the deep ball, while not always ideal, he doesn’t miss his receivers breaking open. Early on, he would shot-put shorter passes that needed touch in order to take something off. He seems to have fixed that with better trajectory on short passes. As with many inexperienced QBs, he is guilty of frequently staring down his intended targets. He is surprisingly mobile for his size.

OPPORTUNITY:

Luton’s high school offense didn’t ask him to throw much and he was lightly recruited as a result. He accepted a scholarship from Idaho but left after his redshirt freshman season. He went the JUCO route rather than sitting out a year. He played the 2016 season at Ventura College where he was named JUCO All-American. His 3,551 passing yards and 40 touchdowns set both seasonal and career passing records.

After spring practice, the Beavers’ quarterback job is wide open. Luton took the first snaps during open spring practices but spring game reps were split evenly between Luton, Marcus McMaryion, and Darrell Garretson. Oregon State isn’t your typical pass-happy PAC 12 offense so Luton’s strong arm and big play mentality would be a nice addition.

Highlights

Lawrence Chaney

PROFILE:

QB Justin Herbert
6’5” 215 lbs
Oregon
Sophomore
3-Star (ESPN)

SCOUTING REPORT:

As a true freshman Herbert tied a school record with 489 passing yards in his game against Arizona State. He shows very good poise in the pocket and an ability to avoid pressure while keeping his eyes up to find receivers downfield. He has shown the awareness to keep two hands on the ball and climb the pocket while slipping pass rushers and delivering a strike. Herbert has a long frame that could use some added weight but that should come over time as he matures. He knows how to use his feet to escape the pocket and pick up extra yards or roll out and throw on the move. Herbert displays an accurate ball from all throwing platforms. He knows how to square up and let it fly while on the move. Pairing his accuracy with his arm talent serves him very well as a passer. Herbert can make touch throws, throws with anticipation, and drive the ball. He consistently throws his receivers open but still has the mentality to take a shot and fit a ball between a couple defenders. From the ground up, Herbert is fundamentally sound for the most part. His base stays a little wide but he gathers quickly and doesn’t show much of a windup. Herbert makes the right decisions and rarely hurts his team which shows up on the stat sheet as well. He has all the tools one would want to work with at the next level and he should develop nicely over time from experience at the position.

OPPORTUNITY:

Oregon’s offense was on the upswing once Herbert took over the starting role as the quarterback. His effect on the team wasn’t as great as Sam Darnold for USC but there was a big difference from a confidence standpoint and overall team chemistry. He is in line to remain the starter this season and the coaches will put full belief in Herbert going forward. He completed 63% of his passes and threw for 19 TDs while only giving up 4 INTs. Herbert looked very comfortable in the spring game and he seemed to have full command of the offense the coaches were giving him. Oregon once again has nice pieces on offense and Herbert has the ability to put up massive numbers to build on his resume. He is a player that should be targeted in deeper Devy leagues and name to look out for in this upcoming season.

Highlights

Cody Garrett

Profile:

QB Ryan Finley
6’4” 200 lbs
North Carolina State
Redshirt Junior
3-Star (247 sports)

SCOUTING REPORT:

Finley is a redshirt junior entering his second season as the starter for the Wolfpack after graduating in 3 years and transferring from Boise St. He brings solid mechanics all the way around and sneaky athleticism. He does a decent job reading defenses but will need to improve a bit in that area. Finley has good arm strength but he will need to get a little more zip on his passes to bring his game to the next level. His decision making is his biggest weakness, but another year at the helm will do wonders in that regard.

OPPORTUNITY:

The NC State offense should have some solid weapons giving Finley a great shot at putting up big numbers in 2017. With wide receivers like Kelvin Harmon and Stephen Louis to throw to, NC State could have a powerful offense that can compete week to week. It has also been rumored that the Wolfpack will look for Finley to run the ball more than he did in the previous year, giving him the opportunity show off his athleticism more.

Highlights

Running Backs

Jason Dirienzo

PROFILE:

RB Tony Jones Jr.
5’ 11” 210lbs
Notre Dame
Sophomore
3-Star (ESPN)

SCOUTING REPORT:

Shifty running back that runs with a low center of gravity and good pad level. Sticks his foot in the dirt and changes direction with ease. Fluidly maneuvers through traffic to identify an open lane. Very agile with the ability to spin and pinball off defenders to gain extra yards. Willing to take defenders head on showing good competitive toughness. Decisive and displays good vision. Proved that he can be a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield and while running routes. Pass blocking is a plus. Instincts are hit and miss. Runs himself into tacklers. Takes too much time dancing in the backfield at times. Shows some hesitation if there isn’t a clean running lane.

OPPORTUNITY:

Stuck behind the Notre Dame star running back Josh Adams and junior RB Dexter Williams, Jones Jr. will patiently wait his turn it hit the field. This may be sooner rather than later as he has taken first-team reps during the offseason program and there are reports that he will split time with Dexter Williams. Once Jones hits the field, there is an abundance of opportunity for a RB with his talent. He has all the tools to be a three-down back and a difference maker for the Irish in 2017.

Highlights

Brad McDaniel

PROFILE:

RB Jamarius Henderson
5’11” 200 lbs
Troy
Redshirt Sophomore
3-Star (247Sports)

SCOUTING REPORT:

Henderson has ideal size. He is a slasher who only needs a crease at the line of scrimmage and has the burst to get through. He’s explosive with the ball in his hands and is always a home run threat. He embraces contact but won’t routinely gain the tough yards. He uses a pressure cut to get defenders off balance so he can run through contact. In the passing game, he has reliable hands and he’s dangerous after the catch. He suffered a serious knee injury at the end of the 2015 season before sitting out the 2016 season due to transfer rules.

OPPORTUNITY:

As a true freshman, Henderson joined a crowded and productive Memphis’ backfield. He didn’t waste any time establishing his place in the rotation. By season’s end, he was the team’s fourth-leading rusher with a team-best 5.3 yards per carry. He finished the season with 320 yards and 4 touchdowns on 60 carries. He added seven catches for 90 yards and two scores.

He transferred to Troy after his freshman season. Due to a family situation, he wanted to be closer to home. At Troy, Henderson should be the missing piece in an offense looking to carry the team to a Sun Belt title. Jordan Chunn will again be the feature back in 2017, but without any help, he wore down last season after 279 carries. With his ability on passing downs as well as being able to spell Chunn throughout the season, Henderson should quickly have his own role in the offense. He is the explosive piece that Troy needs to put their offense over the top.

Highlights

Lawrence Chaney

PROFILE:

RB Deon Jackson
6’0” 209 lbs
Duke
Freshman
3-Star (247Sports)

SCOUTING PROFILE:

Jackson is a 3-star recruit out of Pace Academy High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Per 247Sports he ranked as the 45th running back recruit in the nation. Jackson has outstanding vision and reacts quickly to what the defense gives him. He shows nice burst/speed as a runner and possesses the right physicality for the position. Jackson is reported to have run a 4.49 forty and he does show a nice ability to break away from defenders. He is not the most agile runner but he makes the right cuts and has a knack for setting up would be tacklers to break them down and pick up extra yards. Jackson is able to run limited routes and shows good hands out of the backfield. His decision making as a runner is what keyed me in on him. He just makes the right moves and knows when to run a defender over or juke to get past them. He does run tall but maintains nice balance through contact and positions himself well through traffic keeping a strong base despite his high pad level. Jackson somewhat lacks elite movement and fluidity at this stage. He relies on instincts as a runner which is perfectly fine but I would like to see him build on his footwork and continue to develop his movements. He is a player I can get behind with the type of skills he does own.

OPPORTUNITY:

Duke’s leading rusher in ‘16 was 5’9” 190-pound junior running back Shaun Wilson who accounted for 623 yards on the ground. Another talent in the backfield that should emerge is rs-freshman running back Brittain Brown who carries a similar athletic build to Deon Jackson. The competition is wide open and Jackson has a chance to impress this summer. He received offers from a ton of major schools but seemed overlooked by most recruiting sites. Jackson has the opportunity to see playing time as a freshman with all the unproven pieces in Duke’s backfield. He is a player I will monitor closely and someone who is worth a late-round flier in very deep Devy leagues.

Highlights

Cody Garrett

PROFILE:

RB James Williams
5’11” 200lbs
Washington State
Redshirt Sophomore
3-Star (247sports)

SCOUTING REPORT:

James Williams is a redshirt sophomore for Washington State and is the most productive returning back for the Cougars. Williams is a very explosive player with very quick feet helping him get in and out of his cuts quickly. He does a great job using his vision to find open lanes and has excellent balance allowing him to stay on his feet. Williams also does a great job absorbing contact and continues to drive forward.

OPPORTUNITY:

In 2016, Washington State saw 3 different running backs take roughly the same amount of carries. Although all 3 are returning, I expect Williams to be the bell cow for the Cougars this season as he was not only the most talented of the trio but also the most efficient. With a high-powered offense led by an experienced QB, Williams will see plenty of playing time. If he plays well, Williams could become a household name by the end of the season. Could be worth a late-round flier in Devy drafts.

Highlights

Wide Receivers

Jason DiRienzo
PROFILE:

WR Trey Blount
6’2” 196 lbs
Georgia
Freshman
4-star (ESPN)

SCOUTING REPORT:

Good hands catcher. Catches the ball outside his frame. Shows he can make big plays over the defenders. Has very good initial acceleration throughout his vertical stem. Long strider with evident breakaway speed. Very good at tracking the deep ball. Ran vertical routes and can play all over the line. Well timed leaps on the 50/50 ball, showing good physicality at the catch point. Will need to add some muscle to his frame. Route running needs to be cleaned up. Too elongated in his breaks and ran a limited route tree. Will need to improve his functional strength to beat out press coverage.

OPPORTUNITY:

With names like Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley, and freshman Jeremiah Holloman in his way, Blount may have to wait for his opportunity. Once he is on the field, he is a player to keep your eyes on. He has all the talent to make a big impact for the Bulldogs.

Highlights

Brad McDaniel

PROFILE:

WR Tyron Johnson
6’1” 189 lbs
Oklahoma State
Redshirt Sophomore
5-Star (247Sports)

SCOUTING REPORT:

Johnson is a long receiver with a very slender frame. He has better game speed than timed speed. He is equally effective across the middle of the field as he is vertically. He excels after the catch with quickness, agility and hesitation moves. He has good body control, nice balance and consistent hands. He doesn’t get fazed by contested catch situations.

OPPORTUNITY:

In high school, Johnson was a 5-star recruit and an Under Armor All-American. He played in four games at LSU before transferring to Oklahoma State. In those four games, he had 150 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 9 catches.

At Oklahoma State, Johnson joins James Washington, Jalen McCleskey and Marcel Ateman to form an elite college receiving corps. With Mason Rudolph at the helm of the air-it-out style of offense, there should be plenty of balls to go around. Over the next couple of seasons, Johnson has a real chance to return to the elite receiver that he was coming out of high school.

Highlights

Lawrence Chaney

PROFILE:

WR Nick Westbrook
6’3” 215 lbs
Indiana
Junior
3-Star (ESPN)

SCOUTING REPORT:

Westbrook is put together well. He has a nice athletic build and the speed to go along with it. Westbrook led Indiana in receiving yards as a sophomore with 995. Based on the stat sheet you would think Westbrook is just a guy who takes the top off the defense with his 18.4 yards per catch but he’s much more than that. He could use some refinement with his footwork and release but regardless he is able to win at all levels. He creates enough separation off the line and uses his body to shield defenders and make catches across the middle. Westbrook has an understanding of how to attack zone coverage and he knows where to sit for the quarterback. Corners have to respect Westbrook’s ability to get downfield and he uses that to his advantage when working back to the quarterback in his routes. He’s not a very precise route runner but he knows how to get open. Westbrook shows plus tracking ability and adjustments when the ball is in the air. He has a long frame and good athletic ability which allows him to attack the ball with his strong hands. He shows good physicality as a receiver and does exceptionally well when high pointing the ball securing it and keeping it away from the defender. He looks like a natural hands catcher and a very reliable target for his quarterback. The build and production are there he just needs to work on his deception as a route runner and his suddenness in his release.

OPPORTUNITY:

Westbrook was the team’s leading receiver in ‘16 with Simmie Cobbs sidelined and will maintain his role as a starter in ‘17. The pair will be fighting for targets and there will likely be a good split between the two. Westbrook is primed for another solid season and he will be able to develop and evolve his game this year while being a part of one of the better wide receiver tandems in the Big Ten.

Highlights

Cody Garrett

PROFILE:

WR Brandon Martin
6’4” 214 lbs
Arkansas
Redshirt Sophomore
4-Star (247sports)

SCOUTING REPORT:

At 6’5” 210, Brandon Martin is a big bodied WR transferring from the JUCO ranks and joining the Arkansas Razorbacks. For a player his size, Martin is very fluid in his movements and gets in and out of his breaks rather quickly and smoothly. More impressively, Martin has very strong hands and good body control to go up and over defenders. Something that makes him a nightmare to cover especially once he gets upfield. Martin will need to expand his route tree to make himself an even more dangerous receiver.

OPPORTUNITY:

With a few wide receivers ahead of him, Martin may not begin the season as a starter for the Razorbacks. He should see some time in 3 wide receiver sets and even more so as a red zone target as a big bodied wide out. Though he may not see initial time with the 1st team, Martin has the skill to end the season as a starter, making way for a more hyped up junior season. He may be under the radar as of now, but when it comes time for the 2018 devy drafts, his stock could be through the roof.

Highlights

 

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