I am going to look at three guys in the NFL who did nothing in their rookie season (due to either injury or being put on a practice squad) who have a genuine shot at doing something big this year. I am not saying that these guys are going to be WR/RB1’s, only that they could be picked up off the waiver wire this coming season.
DeAngelo Yancey, WR, Green Bay Packers
I was a huge fan of Yancey coming into the draft last year and expected him to hit the ground running after being drafted in the 5th round by the Packers. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for him as he sat on the Packers practice squad all year and never got the opportunity to step up to the first team. He was cut in September but has since been re-signed to a future contract. At 6’1” 220lb, he possesses good enough size to play in the NFL. While he doesn’t measure up with the bigger receivers like Julio Jones, he measures pretty much the same as his teammate Davante Adams. He also possesses good speed, clocking 4.53 in his 40-yard dash.
His senior year in college at Purdue was good. He totaled 49 receptions for 951 yards and ten touchdowns with his longest being an 88-yard reception. Why do I think he could have a chance this season? Look at Green Bay’s receiving group. They have Davante Adams and Randall Cobb as their obvious WR1 and WR2. Past that it is basically who impresses in pre-season out of Geronimo Allison, J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown WR3 in Green Bay, but all it will take is an injury for Yancey to start getting on the field for Green Bay. He is worth keeping an eye out for on your waiver wire as the usual NFL injuries start to rack up.
Malachi Dupre, WR, Buffalo Bills
Are you sensing a pattern?. This is another guy that was drafted in the later rounds of last year’s draft by Green Bay. Dupre was taken with the 247th pick (7th round) and never saw the field for the Packers. This was another guy I was pretty high on going into the draft, but again it never worked out for him in Wisconsin.
He has now been given the opportunity of a lifetime having been picked up by Buffalo where he sits in a quagmire of average receivers. Zay Jones and Kelvin Benjamin are maybe the exceptions to this; they are both barely above average. Past them, we have Andre Holmes, Brandon Reilly, Kaelin Clay, Jeremy Kerley, Quan Bray, Rod Streater and a couple of rookies. The majority of these receivers aren’t going to be on the roster when they cut it down. But with training camp coming up, it will be a battle to make the final roster.
So why do I think Dupre will come out of this on top? At 6’2” 196 lb, he is just about a good size. During his three years at college, he went under the radar due to LSU’s run-heavy game with Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice taking on a lot of work. Dupre still managed 1,609 yards in his three seasons averaging 17.8 yards per catch.
It is also worth bearing in mind that this is the same college that has produced several NFL level receivers in recent years such as Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Brandon LaFell.
Dupre should manage to beat out his competition in Buffalo. If he can make a good connection with Josh Allen (despite him not being their starter right now), there is every chance he could see the field next season and potentially break out, showing the NFL what he can do.
Quincy Adeboyejo, WR, Baltimore Ravens
I know what you’re thinking – and I get it. Baltimore hasn’t done well at the wide receiver position in recent years. How Breshad Perriman is still on their roster, I will never know. But this situation is very similar to that of Malachi Dupres’.
Looking past their top three receivers (Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree, and John Brown), there isn’t a great deal of competition for the 4th receiver slot. Chris Moore, DeVier Posey, Tim White, Breshad Perriman plus several rookies are the competition for Adeboyejo. Out of this group, Adeboyejo should come out on top.
He possesses good speed (coming from his time as a track athlete in high school) and measures at 6’3” 197lb. Now I would be lying if I said I was high on him coming out of Ole’ Miss, but I have now seen enough of him to believe that he is a talented receiver. When you combine both his talent and his situation, this is exactly why I believe he could make an impact on this roster.
Looking again at their top three guys, Willie Snead missed a lot of time last year because of off-field issues and injury. John Brown has missed his fair share of games due to injury issues, and Michael Crabtree also has a history (although not recent) of injuries and is also now into his thirties. Opportunities abound on the Ravens roster. I wouldn’t expect Adeboyejo to break into the starting lineup immediately, but once the injuries (or suspensions) start coming, he is going to get his chance and should be grabbing it with both hands.
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, Philadelphia Eagles – People forget how good this guy was in college. He is only an honorable mention because of how much competition he is up against in Philly.
Carlos Henderson, WR, Denver Broncos – I had high hopes for him coming into the NFL, but injury restricted him last year. Again, he only gets an honorable mention because it seems Courtland Sutton is making big strides so far in Denver.
ArDarius Stewart, WR, New York Jets – Full disclosure, I am not a huge fan. But I would imagine Robby Anderson is going to get suspended at some stage once his legal battles are done. So somebody will have to catch the ball for the Jets behind Enunwa or Kearse.
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