In this week’s Friday 5-piece, I’ll be discussing a 5 of the players who I expect to be steals on the offensive side of the ball in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.
Most teams can hit on 1st round and many 2nd-round picks but, the powerhouse franchises find starters deep into the draft. Every year we are left wondering why consistent contributors, starters, Pro Bowlers, and even eventual Hall of Famers aren’t taken earlier. With the knowledge that it was two 3rd round picks battling it out for Offensive Rookie of the Year last season, we have to look for who is going to be next in the line of under drafted players to explode onto the scene. Every player slips for a reason, whether that be concerns off the field, level of competition, size, injury, production or a million other things some of these players overcome the odds and make a huge impact on their team.
Examples of this on the offensive side are Tom Brady (6th), Devonta Freeman (4th), Antonio Brown (6th), and Jason Kelce (6th). Here we try to look into the crystal ball of lotto tickets taken on day 3 or even as undrafted free agents to predict some players you should hope your team takes late in the draft.
Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State:
This doesn’t really fit with the theme of the article but, I strongly believe that Penny is a first round talent and firmly in the second tier of RBs with Sony Michel and Derrius Guice. The fact that some team will likely be able to take him in the 3rd round boggles my mind. Talented power-run based back with the ability to finish with strength or elusiveness and good vision on inside and outside runs. He’s also a 2-time Mountain West Special Teams player of the year with 7 career return TDs. Usually, a returner is reserved for the football “naturals” on the team and end up being 190LB guys who are great in space. Penny is 220-225 in all listen weights and is still consistent in this area of his game. I see a lot of Demarco Murray in his game.
Ryan Nall, RB/FB/H-Back, Oregon State:
He lit up the combine. Here is his spiderweb (https://www.mockdraftable.com/player/ryan-nall), note that he is very similar to Alabama’s former freak athlete, Kenyan Drake but, Nall was better on the bench. Former TE who moved to RB due to need. So you have a plus athlete who has played both RB and TE. Watching him felt like what I wanted Kalen Ballage to be, I believe he is better than Ballage in every way except long speed. Assuming he’s willing to make another position switch (to FB/H), he could rival Jaylen Samuels as the “Superback.” If he opts to stay at RB, I believe he could be a high-end rotational power back and could fit well on a team like the Lions where there are multiple complementary pieces.
Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame:
In a draft void of blocking TEs, Smythe rises to the top. An experienced and quality in-line blocker who helped pave the way for Josh Adams next to Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson. In addition to being a good run blocker, he also displays reliable hands and provides great help in pass protection. While he isn’t going to wow you after the catch, he will be your ideal traditional TE.
Aaron Evans, G, UCF:
Making the move back from T where he spent 4 years as a starter at UCF. Great blocker in space, good strength, and good run blocker. Only played ins spread/option/quick pass offense so pass pro skills are highly undeveloped, which projects him to guard for me. Gap/power blocking scheme. He could certainly be a starter in with a season or two of development taken late in the draft.
Brett Toth, T(/G?), Army:
As you can expect, a high character hard working player but is also a plus athlete yet, lacks technical definition. Consistent snap to whistle effort, block finisher who will race downfield (sometimes stride for stride) with the ball carrier to make blocks. Great blocker in space. Massive technique concerns due to the triple option system of Army but, too talented to be on a practice squad. The world only makes so many 6’6 300 lb plus athletes who give it their all on every snap. He will be some OL coach’s project but, could certainly become a high-quality starter in a few seasons.