Last time, we looked at the the top dogs in the 2017 NFL Draft class, complete with several locked-in first rounders. This time around, we’ll go a bit deeper, examining some of the late risers and lesser known prospects that are guaranteed to make a splash in the upcoming season.
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
Cannon-armed Patrick Mahomes can make just about any throw he wants- but that doesn’t always mean he should. He exhibits great touch, but sometimes those balls can float a bit too much and go off target, leading to a higher number of interceptable passes. Mahomes is bit of a work in progress but the upside is massive. He may have actually had the best combine of the QB bunch, highlighted by his 10.96, 94th-percentile Agility Score. His metrics suggested that he’s faster and more agile than what appeared on film, and his 19.0 (95th-percentile) Breakout Age only helped his case to be the top QB drafted.
DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Kizer checks a lot of the traditional boxes. He shows good touch but can also zip the ball into tight windows. Kizer also has the agility to escape pressure and grab first downs on the ground. While he isn’t a slam dunk prospect, he’s got the tools to succeed at the NFL level. Kizer performed on the underwhelming side at the NFL Scouting Combine, only finishing above the 50th-percentile in one specific workout metric, his 4.83 40-time. It was a bit poetic, seeing as all four of the top quarterbacks in this class represent sort of a mixed bag, and it’ll be interesting to see which guys NFL teams actually like enough to take early on.
Kareem Hunt, Toledo
Hunt is a runner that leans on his ability to cut and remain upright even through heavy contact to make big gains on the ground. Those skills helped him stack up over 4900 rush yards at Toledo, all while amassing 73 receptions for over 550 yards in his four year career. However, Hunt did under-perform expectations at the Combine, particularly with his 4.62 40 and 94.8 (34th-percentile) Speed Score. His college yards per carry of 6.8 remains one of the few bright spots among his metrics, and exactly when an NFL team will choose to take a shot on him in the NFL Draft is difficult to forecast.
Jeremy McNichols, Boise State
It’s no accident that Jeremy McNichols finished No. 3 in rushing TDs and No. 6 in rushing yards in NCAA Division 1A in 2016. This is a classic case of a non-power conference player generating very little buzz until his NFL Scouting Combine performance forced NFL player personnel to pay closer attention. McNichols finished above the 60th-percentile in every drill, highlighted by his 4.49 40-yard dash time and 11.21 (64th percentile) Agility Score.
Jeremy McNichols was also employed heavily in the passing game at Boise State, catching over 100 balls in his three year career, with 51 receptions in 2015 alone. McNichols is an the under-the-radar workhorse of the NFL Draft and would be a screaming value pick in middle rounds.
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Perine’s Best Comparable Player on Player Profiler is Jordan Howard, and that comp looks pretty accurate when examining Perine’s measurables and game. Perine fits the mold of the between the tackles bruiser, but he has the speed and balance to stay upright through contact and reach the second level of the defense, keeping his massive frame churning forward while he pinballs off defenders. Perine made waves at the Combine with a 98th-percentile performance… but unfortunately that was in the bench press, and he was only able to muster a 4.65 40, way down in the 27th-percentile.
It remains to seen which Oklahoma RB will be selected first in the draft, but both Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are certainly worth a spot on your dynasty team.
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
While Samuel is listed as a wideout on Player Profiler, his rushing and receiving yards during his career at Ohio State were nearly identical. His position will likely be defined by the scheme of the team that drafts him, and that team will be getting more than just a gadget player. Samuel is certainly lightning quick, evidenced by his 4.31 (99th-percentile) 40-time and 110.5 (90th-percentile) Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he’s also a serviceable route runner and deadly in the open field. While Samuel might be suited best as a running back, the requisite skills are there for him to become a successful wide receiver at the next level.
Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Hailing from a small school but possessing big-time upside, Carlos Henderson is without question the most dynamic receiver in this class when it comes to open field lethality. Juking and outrunning defenders at an alarming clip, Henderson is a nightmare with the ball in his hands. However, Henderson is also skilled at high-pointing the ball in coverage, but at 5-11, 199-pounds, he is too small to play outside consistently at the NFL level. Henderson unsurprisingly excelled at the NFL Scouting Combine, putting up a 126.7 (80th-percentile) Burst Score to go along with his rock-solid 4.46 40-yard dash time.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
Juju Smith-Schuster is one of the few compelling, young, age-adjusted college mega-producers in this 2017 NFL Draft. Smith-Schuster dominated a relatively early age demonstrating terrific body control contorting his body to adjust to throws in his vicinity. Though he did not participate in agility drills, he demonstrated smooth lateral quickness escaping defenders in the open field. His aggression on the ball is being underrated. Like Part 1’s Chris Godwin, Smith-Schuster also ended his college career with a stand-out performance at the Rose Bowl, racking up 7 catches for 133 yards and his 25th career touchdown. At the Combine, he ran a serviceable 4.54 40-time (49th-percentile) and achieved a 101.2 (71st-percentile) HaSS. Another aspect of Smith-Schuster’s game that can’t be overlooked is the fact that he was dominating college competition at age 18.8 (93rd-percentile). A bit inexplicably, this is a player that is projected to slide in rookie drafts and end up as a sure-fire value for your fantasy team.
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Taywan Taylor‘s ability to track the ball in the air and make defenders miss with the ball in his hands make up for his lack of elite top speed. He’s also strong enough to drag defenders with him for a bit after the catch, keeping his legs churning up the field. Taylor made some serious noise at the Combine, performing at an above-average rate in every drill, highlighted by a 4.50 40-time and 10.78 (92nd-percentile) Agility Score. Add all this to the fact that he’s sporting a 36.8-percent (75th-percentile) College Dominator Rating and a 17.7 (85th-percentile) yards per reception rating and we’ve got a prospect who excels across the board analytically.
KD Cannon, Baylor
An agile, acrobatic athletic, KD Cannon has all the skills needed to succeed at the next level. While mental errors sometimes led to costly drops, Cannon is a home run hitter with the ball in his hands, capable of accelerating past defenders or just juking them into oblivion. Cannon backed up his speed at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.41 (91st-percentile) 40-yard dash time, one of the highest marks of all wideout prospects. It also can’t be ignored that Cannon’s 18.8 (92nd-percentile) Breakout Age has him primed for success early on at the NFL level.
Evan Engram, Ole Miss
Stellar hands and jump ball ability. Engram was used all over the field at Ole Miss and hopefully he’ll land with a team that uses him as a receiving mismatch. He’s got the breakaway speed and pure strength to make big gains after the catch. At the Combine, Engram proved himself one of the very best prospects in a class full of high-end TEs. His PlayerProfiler workout metrics are legitimately NSFW.
Some view Engram as more of a wide receiver than a tight end, and at 6-3, 234-pounds, I’m not too inclined to argue. Engram is going to pose an immediate problem for NFL defenses no matter where on the field he’s deployed.
Gerald Everett, South Alabama
Don’t let the small school syndrome get you here. Everett is about as sure-handed as TE prospects come and he’s got serious open-field agility after the catch. He still has a bit of work to do as a blocker, but as a route runner and red zone weapon, he’s ready to make an immediate impact. Everett more than held his own against the bigger school prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine, with his lowest mark being a 103.0 (67th-percentile) Burst Score. Everett is likely to be a draft day faller, but that will only make it easier to acquire him at a big value in the later rounds of your rookie drafts.