2010 NFL Draft Sleepers – Offense

Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards is one of Taking It to the House’s Sleepers for the 2010 NFL Draft

Though the majority of players taken in the NFL Draft usually come from BCS schools – in the 2009 NFL Draft little over 72% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences.— everyone is enamored with finding a “sleeper”.  Every year around draft time, whether it is friends or on the radio, everyone wants me to identify a “superstar in waiting” that no one is talking about.

Well everyone…I am here to tell you that there are no longer any true “sleepers” in the NFL Draft process.  Trust me — if you have talent, NFL teams with their gaggle of scouts, assistant coaches, GM’s, and others scouring football fields everywhere will find you.  Now smaller school players are even making it easier for NFL teams to scout them by creating recruiting type videos for YouTube and other media outlets.

Some “Diamonds in the Rough” prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft on the offensive side of the ball:

QB Tim Hiller, Western Michigan – This big (6-5, 230) strong armed passer has been touted by some scouts as a better pro prospect than fellow MAC passer Dan Lefevour (Central Michigan).  Hiller is definitely a pocket passer in the mold of Drew Bledsloe, so he will need O-line protection as he learns the NFL game.

QB Ryan Perrilloux, Jacksonville State — Former LSU quarterback (dismissed in 2008) resurrected his career at JSU and became one of the best players in the Ohio Valley Conference.  Perrilloux (6-3, 223) had a great senior year finishing with passing numbers: 138-of-236, 58%, 2,345 yards, 23 TDs, and 2 INTs plus 98 rushes for 443 yards and 8 TDs. The one-time MVP of the SEC championship game showed great arm strength and touch at the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game.

QB/WR Kellen Lewis, Valdosta State – This former University of Indiana quarterback resurfaced for his senior year at Valdosta State after being dismissed.  In 3 years at IU, Lewis was on his way to being one of the conference’s best dual-threat quarterbacks — joined Antwaan Randle El as the only IU quarterback to produce over 6000 passing yards, 40 passing TDs, and 8,000 yards in total offense for their career.  In his one year at VSU, Lewis produced passing numbers: 232-372, 62.4%, 2514 yards, 14 TDs and 9 INTs along with 485 yards and 9 TDs rushing.  Also has experience as a receiver from IU.

QB John Skelton, Fordham – A former under the radar quarterback, who is getting attention on team’s draft boards due to his rocket arm.  Reminds some scouts of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when he entered the NFL.  Skelton is tall (6’4) and has great instincts, but he will need to work on his accuracy especially on mid-range throws.  Likes to go for the big play and sometimes gets burned by interception-happy DB’s.

QB/WR Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State – After his breakout performance in a 2008 upset of Michigan, everyone can never forget Edwards.  This two-time 1-AA Player of the Year is lacks ideal pro quarterback size (5’11, 185), but he is a playmaker and a “winner”.  Edwards leaves ASU as their most decorated athlete having won two National Championships and outstanding numbers (over 10,000 total yards and 74 TDs – passing and rushing).  It will be interesting to see if Edwards gets a legitimate shot as a quarterback in the NFL or will he have to transition to receiver or kick returner or be just a Wildcat.   If Edwards does have to transition to another position he has the athleticism as he is a legitimate 4.4 in the forty guy.

RB Joique Bell, Wayne State – Outside of Fresno’s Ryan Matthews, Bell is the premier big back (6’1, 223) in this year’s NFL draft.  At Wayne State, Bell rushed for almost 7,000 yards while piling up 88 TDs in four years.  Has a chance to be a great short yard and goal-line back in the mold of the Titans’ LenDale White.  The only concern with Bell is that right now he looks like a plodder as he ran a 4.68 in the forty at the NFL Combine.

RB James Starks, Buffalo – Another big back (6’2, 218) that should be able to help on the next level.  Though a shoulder injury caused Starks to miss the 2009 season, there is still a “buzz” about him.  A versatile back who also has experience as a quarterback and defensive back, Starks had a stellar 2008 season (1333 rushing yards with 16 TDs rushing and 52 catches for 361 yards and 1 TD) when he led his team to the conference championship.  The former Niagara Falls HS quarterback ran well at the NFL Combine and showed good fluidity in drills.  In three years at Buffalo, Starks set school records for rushing yards (3,140) and touchdowns (34).

RB LaMarcus Coker, Hampton — Began his college football career at the University of Tennessee where he contributed including a 42-yard touchdown run in the 2006 Outback Bowl against Penn State. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s leading rusher last season totaled 1,027 rushing yards with six touchdowns. Coker (5-10, 195) participated in the East Coast Bowl, where he ran the 40 for scouts in 4.28 seconds. Also caught a 33-yard TD pass in the HBCU Bowl All-Star Game and finished with a game-high 82 yards receiving on three catches.

WR Chris Bell, Norfolk State — A big receiver prospect, who originally started out at Penn State then transferred after an off the field incident.  Bell (6’2, 211) had a very good NFL Combine where he was timed at 4.47  seconds in the 40-yard dash (tied for 11th among receivers), put up 15 reps in the bench press, broad jumped 9-9 and ran a the 3-cone drill in 6.76 seconds.   In 2009, Bell had 51 catches for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns in a breakout junior season at Norfolk State.

WR Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green – Reminds a lot of Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin as he is not the biggest (6’0, 212) or the fastest (4.65), but he produces big-time.  In 2009, Barnes set an NCAA record by catching 155 passes for 1770 yards and 19 TDs – also had two other touchdowns rushing.  After converting from the quarterback position, Barnes put up 298 catches for 3,299 yards and 30 TDs in only two seasons as a full-time receiver.  Had a very good East-West Shrine game and is being looked at as a slot receiver and potential Wildcat at the next level.

WR Kyle Williams, Arizona State – Surprisingly the son of Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams has flown under the radar this draft season.  Williams was Arizona State’s leading receiver last year with 57 catches for 815 yards and 8 TDs.  Though some are viewing the form Sun Devil as only a punt returner due to his size (5’9/185), I believe that Williams should have an impact as a receiver too.

WR Ali Villanueva, Army – A huge developmental player who could wind-up as a blocking tight end or as an offensive tackle.  If you can believe it, Villanueva (6’9/277) was Army’s leading receiver in all categories for the 2009 season.  Had a solid East-West Shrine Game, but there are concerns about his military commitment and where to play him.

ATH Joseph Wielgat, Western Illinois – This rugby player has drawn the eye of NFL scouts after performing very well at his school’s Pro Day.  Wieglat, who projects to be an H-Back or TE at the next level, weighed-in at a solid 6-6 1/8 and 243 while running 4.66 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

OG/OT Vladimir Ducasse, UMass — After a solid Senior Bowl week, this native of Haiti showed that he has the size (6-5, 330) and strength to play at the next level.  Has experience as a 1-AA left tackle, but seems ideally suited to play offensive guard at the next level.  Has long arms and a good punch at the snap, but is still developing as a player.

OT Jared Veldheer, Hillsdale — A Division II offensive lineman who is shooting up a lot of team’s draft boards.  Veldheer fit right in at the NFL Combine running in the 4.9 range and looking comfortable in drills.  Seems to have better footwork and mechanics than most small-school O-linemen.

OT Tony Washington, Abilene Christian — A highly recruited player in the state of Texas who ended up at a smaller school after some off the field issues.  Washington is a long offensive lineman (6’6, 311) with the potential to be a bookend at the next level.  Has very good feet and athleticism.  Answered every team’s questions about his past at the NFL Combine, but it will be interesting to see which team takes a shot on him.

OT James Williams, Harvard – That’s right… even Harvard has a potential NFL caliber O-lineman.  Trying to follow in the footsteps of Ross Tucker (Princeton), Williams (6-5, 295, 5.20) is a big, smart, and athletic lineman from the Ivy League.  Though he is not a road-grader, Williams is getting scouts’ attention due to his long arms, good feet, and sound blocking techniques.  Looks like a very good pro right tackle prospect. 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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