From the FanPosts. Excellent stuff here. -Joel
It's time for the breakdown of the unknown guys, those guys that get their name called on draft day and your response is, "Who the hell is that and where the hell is (insert name of small school here)?"
This is kind of my passion being an alum of Northwest Missouri State University (2013 Division II national champions). I follow these teams and players very closely. While tape is very hard to find on these guys, you can usually find a highlight video here and there on You Tube or Hudl (I apologize for the lack of tape on a few guys).
Now keep in mind that the highlights that I will post on here are just that ... highlights. So you will probably only see the good things that they do. I try to break down these players' strengths and weaknesses from these highlights and scout live games that I have seen over the years. I am very excited for this years class, probably one of the deepest D-II classes that I have seen in a long time.
So without further ado, lets get this thing rolling.
Joe Don Duncan, TE, Dixie State
6'3, 268 pounds
Joe Don Duncan is one of the most impressive players at the TE position that I have seen come out of Division II. Keep in mind that I personally watched Delani Walker (University of Central Missouri) several times over the years, so that is pretty high praise.
This guy has done nothing but produce at a very high level, he was originally a walk-on at Sacramento State where he suffered a micro-fracture injury in his right femur. After the injury he transferred to El Camino Community College where he received offers to play for Division 1 schools. He choose to play at Dixie State, so that he could play with his brother.
In his first year he had 64 catches for 949 yards and nine touchdowns. After that season it was discovered that he needed further surgery on the micro-fracture injury that cost him his 2012 season. He returned to form in 2013 with 71 catches for 1,045 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Strengths: Joe Don is a good route runner and catches the ball with his hands and shows the ability to high point the ball. He is a good but not great athlete. He was unable to run at the Combine because of a hamstring injury (expected to be in the 4.70 range). He is strong as evidenced with his big frame and 35 bench press reps at the Combine. He has decent arm length at 32 3/8" and good hand size at 10 1/2".
Weakness: Injuries have to be one of the biggest concerns on this guy. He has been plagued by this micro-fracture injury. He played in the spread system where he was split out quite a bit. Given that he was split out, I would imagine that he is not the best of blockers (basically no tape on his blocking). He is not the prototypical size at 6'3 and he does not have blazing speed to stretch the field vertically.
Nitty Gritty: If this guy is going to succeed he will need to be used like Delanie Walker was or similar to how Oakland uses Marcel Reece. To be successful at the NFL level, he will need to learn how to block but he has the size and strength make-up to be very good at that. Bottom-line is, Duncan produced at a very high level and he could carve out a niche at the next level as a H-back / slot TE for a spread team.
Draft Stock: 5th-6th round
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
6'1 198 pounds
Pierre Desir is a name I have been throwing around for a while on here. He's your prototypical press-man corner. This would be of great interest to a Chiefs fan. Pierre has been one of the best corners in Division II for basically his entire career. He started his career at Washburn University and transferred to Lindenwood for financial reasons. Pierre is probably the most highly rated Division II player coming out because of his size and athleticism combination.
With the size movement going on in the NFL at the CB position, he is likely to be a hot commodity. The most impressive thing to me is his ball skills, he had 25 interceptions during his career. Let me repeat that TWENTY-FIVE freaking interceptions.
Strengths: You can't talk about him without talking ball skills. Desir truly looks like a wide-out playing the corner position. He is very good at spotting the ball, high pointing it and bringing it down. He has great size for the position at 6'1 and has 33" arms and a 35" vertical. While he isn't a burner, he has decent speed (4.59 40-yard dash). He is used to playing press coverage and gets a good jam on most receivers.
Weakness: Pierre's weaknesses are pretty common for bigger corners. He is not the fastest and he has stiff hips. That is one thing I noticed during the Senior Bowl and heard many on here say the same thing. Another weakness is that he seems to have a difficult time getting his jam in on small, shifty wide-outs. John Brown of Pitt State for example had nine receptions for 237 yards against Lindenwood. Not all of that was against Pierre, but you know that they had him matched up on John several times in that game.
Nitty Gritty: Pierre is the prototype for what teams are looking for now at the corner position. He is long, lean and has great ball skills. Because of this, teams are going to ignore some of the issues he has, like the stiff hips and the trouble with quicker wide-outs. Pierre was easily the best player for Lindenwood (a horrible team), so it will be interesting what he looks like with other talented players around him. It could help him or it could hurt him. From what I have seen of Pierre, he looks like a solid developmental player who could turn out to be very good. Given the love of big corners right now, I would say he probably gets drafted a little higher that what he should.
Draft Stock: 2nd-3rd
Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State
6'3 219 pounds
Ah, Jeff Janis. This guy seems to be the flavor of the month around here after his performance during the Combine. However, there are a few of us that have been talking this kid up for awhile (NN, Saints and Dubbs). He is an absolute physical freak. It honestly blows my mind how a guy like this ends up at the Division II level. He has been the best receiver in Division II for the past few years without question. He had 106 receptions for 1,635 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. I mean 1,635 freaking yards, holy freaking crap!!!
Strengths: The strengths are obvious. I mean, the size and athleticism combination is incredible. Read these Combine numbers:
- 40-yard dash: 4.42 seconds
- 10-yard split: 1.47 seconds
- Vertical jump: 37.5"
- Broad jump: 10'3
Janis is explosive as evidenced by that 10-yard split. And he is not just a workout warrior as you can tell by his production. He high points the ball very well and catches it with his hands well. He is a good route runner, especially on routes that take him down the field.
Weakness: Jeff seems to have trouble with getting of the jam. This has to be a footwork problem, not a size problem (don't freak out Jonathan Baldwin people). I have seen some balls get into his body and isn't super sharp on comeback routes. He hasn't played a lot of top tier talent, really only playing two good corners all year (we will get to them in a second). The reason this concerns me is that he did not play well against those corners and didn't have a standout performance in the Senior Bowl. So it will be interesting going forward.
Nitty Gritty: Jeff is just a physical freak. Even though I'm a little concerned about how he will do against higher competition, his production really does speak for itself. Those numbers really are crazy. This guy is a coaches dream, the perfect type of project. I know everyone is probably freaking out about the jam problem, but this guy is a late rounder, not a first rounder like Baldwin.
Draft Stock: 5th-6th
John Brown, WR, Pittsburgh State
5'10 179 pounds
John Brown is actually one of my favorite prospects in this D-II draft class because I have seen him play many times and he is very dangerous. He is a true slot receiver and a fantastic punt and kick returner. His size is not the greatest, but his quickness and straight line speed is very exciting and he's a threat to take it to the house each and every time he touches the ball. He has the ability to be a good pro and i's amazing the production that he had playing in a primarily run-oriented offense. This last year he had 61 catches for 1,196 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with 23 punt returns for a 11.5-yard average and 12 kickoffs for 32.4 yard average and one touchdown. He has had this type of production throughout his career, which is quite impressive.
Strengths: John is very quick and fast. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash with a 1.50 10-yard split. He also had a 4.12 shuttle time and a 6.91 three cone drill. This guy really is what you look for in a slot receiver. He runs sharp precise routes and has good hands and great quickness. He played well in the East-West Shrine Game practices and also performed well at the Combine.
Weaknesses: John's weaknesses are obvious. It's his size. Can his small frame hold up to the grind of the NFL? He also struggles some against press man coverage, which also not surprising for a smaller guy.
Nitty Gritty: John is a project but he is a very talented and dangerous athlete. He has the ability to be very dangerous with the ball in his hands. He will get a shot as a returner at first in the league and could work himself into being a slot receiver. While he wasn't on a lot of radars before the Combine, I have to think that his performance there will rise him up draft boards..
Draft Stock: 6th-UDFA
Larry Webster, DE/OLB, Bloomsburg
6'6 252 pounds
Larry Webster is one of my favorite sleeper picks, an absolute physical freak. Larry started out as a basketball player in college and had a few more years of eligibility left so he decided to try out football and boy did it work for him. The young man is the son of Larry Webster, formerly of the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, so he has the blood line. He is long, lean and fast and has produced in the two years as a DE. In 24 games he had 26 sacks and 31 TFL, three forced fumbles and a pick. That is pretty damn good production for a basketball player.
Strengths: Larry is physically dominating. He had a very good Combine. He had a 40-yard dash of 4.58 seconds, 10-yard split of 1.57 (.01 slower than Jadeveon Clowney) and a 36.5" vertical with 33 1/2" arms. He looks to be very agile and can flip his hips pretty well for such a raw player. His natural bend is impressive and he has a good motor.
Weakness: Larry is very raw, his technique needs refined and he depends on his superior athleticism too much. He also needs to work on his strength (17 bench press reps) for him to be a consistent threat at the next level. He will also have to learn how to cover and how to sit in zones as I see him as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL.
Nitty Gritty: Larry is a project, plain and simple. He is very raw but his athletic ability makes him very interesting. If he can ever master the technique of playing as a pass rushing OLB, he could be a terror coming off the edge. This is not a immediate impact guy but he will produce on special teams to start and hopefully can learn to be a pass rusher. A perfect late round draft pick.
Draft Stock: 5th-6th round
Brandon Dixon, CB, Northwest Missouri State
5'11, 203 pounds
I know what you're thinking: homer pick. But Dixon is really special and is the most underrated of all the D-II prospects. He is a athletic press man corner who shuts down everyone he faces, including some names we have already heard (John Brown - three catches, 17 yards and Jeff Janis - three catches 49 yards ... If you watched the Jeff Janis film above, the first team was Brandon's team and none of those catches were on Brandon). I really don't understand why he is not thought of higher. The only things I can think of is he is not overly tall and he doesn't have the INT numbers (one pick last year and four the year before). Brandon was a Kansas State commit but went the JUCO route because of grades. He again received D1 attention after JUCO but choose to follow his twin brother Brian to Northwest Missouri State.
Related: Brandon Dixon talks Chiefs
Strengths: Brandon is as athletic as any corner in the nation. At the Combine he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash, 17 reps on the bench press, 32.5" vertical and has 32 1/2" arms. He sticks to guys like glue, has the speed to run with everyone and the strength to jam even the biggest receivers (Jeff Janis) or quickest (John Brown). He was one of the main reasons Northwest had the best defense in the nation and led them to the national championship.
Weakness: Brandon has to work on ball skills. This is actually the only place besides height that Pierre Desir has him beat. Brandon has the same ball skills of another Brandon we know, Brandon Carr. He has trouble getting his head around and finding the ball. When he gets beat, it's because he did not get his head around. He also needs to work on tackling. He is not afraid to hit guys but he does not do a good enough job of wrapping up and making the tackle.
Nitty Gritty: Brandon is really good corner and will be a steal in the later rounds. He has the quickness to be a nickel corner and has the size strength combo to cover on the outside. He is a product of just not being in the spotlight enough. His reputation is growing, however, after a strong showing at the NFLPA game and practices and a strong Combine.
Draft Stock: 5th-6th round
2012 Highlights hudl.com
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Brian Dixon, CB Northwest Missouri State
- Franklyn Quiteh, RB Bloomsburg
- Ethan Westbrooks, DE West Texas AM
- Dustin Vaughn, QB West Texas AM
- Matt Armstrong, C Grand Valley St.
All right guys, that's all I have. Of course there are many other players to cover who could get drafted or be UDFAs, but that would take forever. So if you have other guys that you know of, throw your opinions in the comments section below.