2015 B2B Directional State: Undervalued & Small School NFL Prospects


B2BDirectionalStateLogoFor more than a decade now, I have made the analysis of lesser-known, small school, and undervalued NFL draft prospects my sometimes (well, more than sometimes) obsessive avocation.  Over the years, I’ve written about, championed, interviewed, chosen in mock draft, defended in arguments, and generally shouted into the wilderness about “my” guys.

How did this get started? Well, I got involved in a nearly legendary 7 round mock draft started on a now more or less defunct Steelers message board and continued each year since on SteelerFury.com, where 32 posters each become GM of a team and make trades, picks– we execute a real 256 pick NFL draft.

The level of knowledge of prospects and quality of this draft was mind-boggling to me. I had played and followed football for 40 years– I was far from a casual fan– yet the competition was fierce. One of the most exciting parts of that draft were the later rounds, where GMs presented obscure picks with glee– they had the satisfaction of drafting 7 rounds of guys that became “their” guys. On the message boards, twitter, and weekly on our podcast, we got credit or ridicule for prospects we’d championed or criticized years earlier. A badge of honor or shame, as it were.

I decided that I’d have a hard time learning the top prospects as well as others who watch way too much college football and were familiar with prospects out of high school and that my best chance was to unearth a few from the discount rack. As in life, I’m a value buy kind of guy. The great part is, much like Day 3 strategy for a team like New England, if you can hit on 1 of 3 lesser known picks as three 6th round selections, you’re a success.

My first class had Gartrell Johnson, Brice McCain, Sammie Lee Hill, and David Bruton… modest overachievers who nonetheless made NFL teams.  Then came my first serious year of becoming an amateur draftnik, and with it the year that gave me some cachet: 2010. That year I screamed to the heavens the names Jared Veldheer, Emmanuel Sanders,  Jimmy Graham,  Alterraun Verner, Clay Harbor,  Nolan Carroll,  Arthur Moats, Ramon Harewood, Joe Webb, Jamar Chaney, and Junior Galette.  I think their subsequent success surprised even me, although I desperately wanted the Steelers to draft Jimmy Graham and Emmanuel Sanders that year.

The next year, feeling pressure to keep the high standard, I included 2011’s James Carpenter, Rob Housler, Jordan Cameron, Kris Durham, Julius Thomas, Buster Skrine, Richard Sherman, Colin Jones, Justin Rogers, and Ricardo Lockette. 2012 brought  Brandon Brooks, Casey Heyward, Doug Martin, Bruce Irvin, Lamar Holmes, Robert Turbin, Miles Burris, Josh Norman, Justin Bethel, J.R.Sweezy, Rishard Matthews,  Junior Hemmingway, Markus Kuhn  In 2013, Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, Brandon Williams, Benny Cunningham, Shamarko Thomas, Earl Wolff, Steve Means, Paul Worrilow, Ryan Schraeder, Eric Rogers, and Terren Jones joined the fraternity, and in 2014 Jarvis Landry, Billy Turner, Jay Bromley, Terrence Brooks, Jerick McKinnon, Justin Ellis, Marqueston Huff, Kevin Norwood, Dontae Johnson, Walt Aikens, Keith Lewis, Nevin Lawson, Ryan Carrethers, Wesley Johnson, Zach Mettenberger, Robert Herron, Jordan Zumwalt, Brandon Dixon, Zach Moore, Garrett Gilbert, T.J. Carrie, Terrence Fede, Tyler Starr, Cornelius Lucas, Zach Kerr, Brock Coyle, Eric Thomas, & Justin Britt got there.

Those who have followed my efforts have nicknamed my players members of the fictional B2B Directional State football team. A couple of years ago, they even were anointed with a mascot, the Battling Basilisks. I figure someday I’ll make T Shirts and send one to each of the selectees.

Anyway, the fraternity of B2Bers play every Sunday in the NFL– in fact, people tweet/text/email me every time one of them makes a play, good or bad.  Generally, though, I secretly track their whereabouts and know of their moments before anyone lets me know… as I said, they’re my guys.

Listen to the latest SteelerFury podcast, Steeler draft edition here:

Without further ado, the B2B Directional State Class of 2015:

Edge
Delaire-Towson2-Playoffs-2014-USATODAY-SportsB2B Directional State Player of the Year: Ryan Delaire, Towson (6041, 256)
Ex-Edge rusher Ryan Riddle said this week that the #1 attribute for edge rushers is closing speed. Others talk about bend and ankle flexion. Delaire’s last two steps to the prey are reminiscent of a jaguar taking down an antelope and his ability to bend the corner is second to none in this class. No other edge prospect in this draft has his combination of classic edge rusher traits: play speed, ability to finish, ability to bend the edge, ferocious tackler, ball skills in coverage , backside pursuit, desire/motor, elite athleticism. A fun highlight reel player who showed well vs. bigger competition including WVU, & Michigan. UPDATE: Delaire showed well in TB but ultimately got cut and signed with the Redskins’ practice squad. A work in progress.

Shaquille Riddick, West Virginia (6057, 244)
Proved he can be a dominating pass rusher at the FBS level Gardner-Webb, then transferred to WVU for a show me year vs Power 5 competition.  Was rarely utilized on the edge, but when he was, was disruptive as a pass rusher and showed ability to disengage blockers in the run game.
UPDATE: A nagging hamstring injury kept him from practicing for long stretches but he is now 100% and made the Cardinals as a 5th Rd Draft pick.
Deiontrez Mount, Louisville
UPDATE: A 6th Rd pick with TEN, he made the roster and is Orakpo’s backup.
James Vaughters, Stanford
UPDATE: A UDFA in GB, he nearly made the 53 , signed to practice squad.
Will Schwarz, Saginaw Valley State
UPDATE: A tryout with Miami but didn’t sign.

DL
2c506231e6ec8e026b0f6a7067009232DL Derrick Lott, Chattanooga (6040, 314)
What can you say about a 300lb+ guy who was the first guy down the field on every kick return in the East-West Shrine Game? Great length, athleticism, hands, effort.
UPDATE: Cut by Titans.

DE Tory Slater, West Georgia (6040 275)
Country strong, aggressive and agile.  Huge and raw, but with size and motor you can’t teach. UPDATE: Had a hamstring injury from minicamp and went from PUP to cut for now.

NT Terry Williams, East Carolina (5117, 329)

Speaking of country strong, Williams is an old school NT in a new school world. I suppose the trend in the NFL is taller NTs or more versatile DTs but Williams is oddly overlooked in this class, despite having some VInce Wilfork/Casey Hampton like moments on tape. Had a couple issues off the field a few years ago… add it all up and he’s an afterthought, despite a lot of talent at a position most don’t appreciate. UPDATE: Was fabulous in Bears preseason week 4, nearly week 1 starter because of injury… practice squad.

DE David Irving, Iowa State (6073, 273)
A couple of incidents off the field trashed his career at Iowa State just as it was getting started… but what a start it was. Irving was just too fast and too long for most OL he faced. If he had stayed out of trouble, he would be not just more experienced but more coached– probably a high draft pick in this class. UPDATE: Practice squad for Chiefs– showed well but stacked roster.

DE Caushaud Lyons, Tusculum (6044, 284)
He looks a little like a guy who grabs the whole team and then throws each one out until he finds the one with the ball.  Not much competition at that level for a freakish athlete like him but his desire and size/speed is evident.
UPDATE: On the Steelers’ 53.
DL Henry Anderson, Stanford (6062, 294)
Not exactly a no name player but I have to include him, since the talk of him being a late 3rd or 4th round pick is absurd. He’s a 1st round talent as the very difficult to find 5 technique for a 3-4 team who likes to show even fronts on passing downs. Aaron Smith is the model for that position and Anderson is basically his clone. UPDATE: 3rd Rd pick for Colts, likely to start opposite B2BDS alum Zack Kerr on the IND opening day DL.
Bonus: I don’t know much about him but Nick Seither of NAIA Georgetown College (6026, 273) had 9 sacks this year and posted a pro day workout wherein he was bigger, faster, and more explosive than any edge player in this draft this side of Bud Dupree. UPDATE: Tryout with Cardinals
DT Rodney Gunter, Delaware State UPDATE: 4th round pick, dream camp/preseason, starting for the Cardinals Week 1
DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis
UPDATE: Cut by Rams
Safety
11796286-largeSS Jaquiski Tartt, Samford  (6013, 221)
Maybe it’s his jersey number but watching him immediately made me think of Steve Atwater.  He runs sideline to sideline and hits guys into the team bench. He can also cover and take away the football. Can a Steve Atwater type safety work in today’s NFL? I think so.
UPDATE: 2nd round pick looking good for the 49ers.
FS Cedric Thompson, Minnesota (5114, 211)
A real NFL style DB… can play deep high, in the box, cover the slot vs WRs and TEs. Creates turnovers with quick hands and anticipation. UPDATE: 5th round pick for Miami, practice squad.
S Clayton Geathers, Central Florida  (6015, 218)
Cleans up behind the D… does whatever his team needs him to do to stop the play. In the box, deep half, one on one off the line… he can do it all. UPDATE: 4th Rd pick, excelling on STs, made Indy’s 53.
FS Dean Marlowe, James Madison  (6014, 203)
Big hitter who is always around the football. My thought watching him was: I would love to have a guy like this on my team UPDATE: UDFA made Miami’s 53.
SS Cam Thomas, Western Kentucky  (6002, 200)

Hitter and run supporter with coverage skills who would thrive in a safety role. UPDATE: PUP list of Buffalo.
SS James Sample, Louisville UPDATE: 4th Round pick made Jags roster, despite breaking his arm in OTAs.
FS Brian Suite, Utah State UPDATE: UDFA made it to last cut with detroit.

FS Jacob Hagen, Liberty UPDATE: Showed well, practice squad for AZ.
CB
17577274-standardCB Steven Nelson, Oregon State  (5101, 197)
The best CB no one talks about. Not the biggest, nor the smallest… he wins with a terrific and advanced understanding of technique. Watch his game vs Jaelen Strong, where he continually directed Strong to the sideline and left him no room to catch the football. It’s like a Jedi mind trick.  Nelson can step in to a team that plays off-man coverage and contribute immediately while he continues to learn the game. UPDATE: Made KC’s 53.
CB Tray Walker, Texas Southern  (6021, 191)
His “stick a foot in the ground” and attack throws/the catch is as good as anyone in this draft. Going to face much better competition at the next level, but he’s long, with good speed. UPDATE: At least BAL drafted a CB in Rd 4 who made it onto their 53.
CB Senquez Golson, Mississippi  (5085, 176)
Underappreciated because of his size but he covered everyone in the SEC. Can really high point the football and has great ball skills. UPDATE: 2nd Rd pick for Steelers, IR with shoulder injury.
CB/WR Tony Lippett, Michigan State  (6024, 192)
Consider me on the Lippett as football player train. I’m one who thinks his ideal fit is as a CB… although he could contribute on offense as well. UPDATE: 5th Rd pick made the Dolphins as a CB.
FS/CB Bobby McCain, Memphis  (5094, 195)
He hits everything that moves and despite his somewhat less than ideal size, he shows no fear and delivers blows. He adds ball skills and the ability to change directions with anyone. His style, size, and measurables remind me of Devin McCourty, thus the thought that he could work at FS in the NFL. UPDATE: 5th Rd pick made the Dolphins as a CB.
CB Darryl Roberts, Marshall UPDATE: IR with Patriots.
CB SaQwan Edwards, New Mexico UPDATE: OAK practice squad.
CB Craig Mager, West Texas State UPDATE: 3rd Rd pick made the Chargers’ 53.
CB Garry Peters, Clemson UPDATE: Waived/injured from CAR after great minicamp.
CB Jimmy Jean, Alabama-Birmingham UPDATE: Waived by NE.
QB
trevorQB Trevor Siemian, Northwestern(6027, 220)
Sometimes guys get hurt early in senior season and become an afterthought by the time the draft rolls around. Trevor Siemian was money before injury in 2014, including a gutsy 43-40 OT win vs Notre Dame. UPDATE: 7th Rd pick was stellar in preseason, made 53, challenging to be Manning’s top backup.
QB Phillip Sims, Winston-Salem State UPDATE: Beat out Logan Thomas for Cards #3 job but AZ kept only 2 QBs.

OT
6_3159033OT Laurence Gibson, Virginia Tech  (6056, 305)

As good at defeating edge rush and at using inside arm bar to take away counter move as any LT I scouted this year. Awarded leadership award from his coaches and teammates as the team’s hard work and practice leader. His coach called him “one of my all-time favorites.” Nearly the best athleticism of any OL in the draft. How is he considered to be a Day 3 pick? I wonder what Eli Harold thinks? UPDATE: Cut by Dallas, KC practice squad.
OT Jermaine Barton, Illinois State  (6065, 332)
36″ arms and movement skills to get to the second level or win to the edge. A big part of a terrific passing offense and dominant rushing game. UPDATE: Cut by Buffalo.
OG Ali Marpet, Hobart  & William Smith  (6037, 307)
Not exactly an original discovery, but I am a big fan of Marpet’s technique– compared to more highly touted OL prospects, he showed off more advanced 1 on 1 skill at the Senior Bowl, inside and on the edge. Oh, and he was the 2nd best athletic testing OL in the draft. UPDATE: 2nd Rd pick is starting at LG for TB.
OC Antoine Everett, McNeese State  (6030, 323)
Played LT in college despite classic IOL stubby build. Garnered some attention in McNeese’s near upset of Nebraska, where he completely dominated the Nebraska edge guys he faced. If you had a computer put together an ideal NFL Center, he would look and play like Everett.  UPDATE: Cut by TB.
C Nick Easton, Harvard  (6026, 303)
If you like your centers brainy and athletic enough to play ZBS or pull to the edge, Easton is your man. No offense intended to the Ivy League, but the level of competition is closer to D3 than the SEC… but Easton was like a pancake machine. Everything he hits goes down. Top SPARQ OL in the draft. UPDATE: Traded from Ravens to 49ers, made 53.
C/OG Shaquille Olajuwon Mason, Georgia Tech UPDATE: Star of Patriots’ camp, pushing to start at OG.
OG/OC Chad Hamilton, Coastal Carolina  
UPDATE: Retired from football during Bears camp because of nagging injuries.
WRF (featured types)
d78f2aecb4d3114ab92526fa82862138WR Cameron Meredith, Illinois State  (6033, 207)
He has size/speed combination that says NFL starter. Quickness in and out of breaks and adjustment to football in the air.  Good hands and can win in both tough, inside game and over the top. Tested in the 88.8th percentile for NFL WRs athletically and he can play.  UPDATE: UDFA made Bears’ 53. Great preseason.
WR Andre Davis, South Florida  (6007, 211)
A slightly smallerTerrell Owens-style player– with the accompanying flair–  who can win in the small ball, catch and run game, and also win down the field. I can’t for the life of me figure out why his career wasn’t more successful. There is some inconsistency to his game at the catch point– sometimes spectacular and sometimes timid– and he was up and down through out his 4 years, but those are really the only bad things I can say about him. A lot of what college CBs did to defend him will be illegal at the next level, and allowed to run free, he’s as good as almost any WR in this draft class. UPDATE: Led the Bills is receiving yardage, TDs in preseason… still cut.

WR (possession types)

Devante Davis, UNLV  (6027, 220) Uses his body to shield defenders in the middle and can win down the field. Great hands. Not the most dynamic but he can succeed at the next level on size/speed. If he works at his craft, has the skill to be a solid starter.  UPDATE: Cut by Philly after he failed to stand out in practices/OTAs.

Darius Davis, Henderson State  (5110, 219)
Another fun guy to watch on tape. He’s not what you’d call NFL fast but he has an unbelievable knack for turning a 5 yard gain into 20 or 40 or however far it is to the end zone. Has sort of a Hines Ward knack for being faster than timed when it counts and doing whatever it takes to get home.  As Gil Brandt said, Davis needs to play closer to 211, where his already special elusiveness would have the added benefit of speed… could be a special returner and catch and run WR. UPDATE: Davis went through OTAs with 49ers but something caused him to miss the mandatory minicamp in June and he was unceremoniously waived.
WR Jordan Taylor, Rice  (6043, 209)
Let’s face it: Rice gets no love. Taylor is also a lanky guy who doesn’t really look the part and who tests as an only okay athlete for the NFL. He does, however, have a knack for coming down with the football in contested situations– that’s his one dominant skill that gives him a good chance to succeed as an NFL role player, at minimum. Made play after play for the Owls. UPDATE: Denver UDFA made practice squad.
WR R.J. Harris, New Hampshire  (5117, 191)
Not spectacular but does everything well and had tremendous success at his LOC. 100 catches, 1551 yds, 15 TDs. He also was nearly unstoppable vs Toledo, with 9 catches for 141 and a TD. High floor/hard worker, which is a good combination for an FCS player. UPDATE: Practice squad for New Orleans.
WR Dezmin Lewis, Central Arkansas UPDATE: Practice squad for Buffalo.
WR (slot)
WR Deandre Carter, Sacramento State  (5084,  185)
Super quick WR and KR type… stole the show at NFLPA Game practices… was all anyone there wanted to talk about. 1.45 10 yd split, 3.80 shuttle, 6.64 3 cone… I’ve been at this for a while and I can’t remember anyone whose combined times for those three metrics was better. Closest I can think of is former Harvard RB Trevor Scales (out of football and working at ESPN) who put up 1.44. 4.06, 6.71 in 2013… and he was a ridiculous outlier. On top of the quicks, Carter can actually run routes and catch the football– had a game for the ages vs Southern Utah, with 16 catches for 273 yards and 4 TDs. UPDATE: Was having a sensational camp for Ravens, called “a young Randall Cobb by Steve Smith, had three fumbles on returns, got cut.
 
WR Damarr Altmann, Maine UPDATE: last cuts by Miami.
WR/KR Kaelin Clay, Utah UPDATE: TB practice squad.
WR Rannell Hall, Central Florida UPDATE: TB practice squad.
TE/HBack
8068853HBack/TE Will Tye, Stony Brook  
(6026, 256)
Ok, so this is in my top 5 or 6 most enjoyable prospect tape ever. Not only is he a talented receiver and good blocker from the HBack position, he is a 256lb punt returner. Has to be seen to be believed.  He runs 4.49 at 6’3, 256 and catches everything. UPDATE: Giants practice squad.
TE James O’Shaughnessy, Illinois State  (6042, 248)
Illinois State was loaded last year, and it showed in their postseason run where they came within seconds of knocking of perennial champion NDSU. O’Shaughnessy made some terrific plays in that game, including a STs tackle that featured his full speed 45 yard run and head-first collision with the Kickoff returner.  Let’s just say he’s not a prima donna glorified WR. UPDATE: Stud. 5th Rd pick made KC 53 as #2 TE behind Kelce.
TE Busta Anderson, South Carolina  (6045, 244)
A terrific blocker who also does everything move TEs do… good speed up the field and can go up an get it. UPDATE: Mysterious IR hours after he caught the winning TD in preseason game.

TE/WR Neal Sterling, Monmouth  (6033, 238) A giant WR who played in a running offense.  Dedicated blocker already and the team’s go-to receiver. UPDATE: Jags practice squad.

dt.common.streams.StreamServerTE Jean Sifrin, Massachusetts  (6052, 245)
Amazing story: in and out of football to make ends meet and support his family. Basically got one final chance with UMass, had to pay his own way through summer classes, wasn’t cleared by the NCAA until the day before the Minutemen played their second game of the season– never even practiced with the team before that– and then caught 4 balls for 40 yards, and 2 TDs, one of which was possibly the college football play of the year– a leaping, one-handed grab between two defenders that announced his arrival on the NFL radar. His age (27) will hurt his stock but his floor is basically early-career Larry Donnell and his upside current Larry Donnell. UPDATE: UDFA waived by Colts in minicamp. Sad story.
H-Back MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois UPDATE: 5th Rd pick made Minnesota 53.
TE/WR Darren Waller, Georgia Tech UPDATE: 6th Rd pick made Ravens’ 53.
TE Brian Parker, Albany UPDATE: UDFA made KC 53.
TE Gerald Christian, Louisville  UPDATE: Season long IR with Cards.

RB

AR-140839967RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa  (6005, 224)
Le’veon Bell clone. He shares Bell’s versatility, lanky build, and skill at sifting through traffic.  He can split out wide and run WR routes, or make a short yardage power run. He may not have Bell’s ceiling as an All-Pro but he fits the NFL game to a T. UPDATE: Stud. Preseason debut was awesome. Made Cards 53, may start.
RB Zach Zenner, South Dakota State  (5114, 223)

FCS RB this year was crazy stacked. At least 4 will likely be drafted and at least two juniors were draftable prospects worth getting excited about. Zenner is a white guy skill player, which I think is why he got tagged with the dreaded FB label. He is nothing of the sort, as his performances vs. Nebraska & Missouri demonstrated. In both those games, defenders routinely misjudged Zenner’s speed and took bad angles. That tells me he has more game speed than you’d think by looking at him on paper or even sizing him up on the field. UPDATE: Stud. UDFA made Detroit roster as RB/KR.

RB Dominique Brown, Louisville  (6017, 234)
Don’t presume to know exactly what went on between him and his coaches on college but he contributed heavily when Louisville had a great QB, then was slowly phased out last year after landing in the coaches’ doghouse. All I know is, the player on tape in 2013 and the one who played like his hair was on fire in the East-West Shrine Game is an NFL back who can run WR routes and pass protect, so he’s going to have a role on 3rd downs at a minimum. UPDATE: Cut by TB and PIT.
RB Dreamius Smith, West Virginia  (5015, 223)
Underutilized as part of a rotation, he has size to win in short yardage and open-field speed (4.48 40yd), and change of direction agility (4.05 SS, 6.90 3c) to be far more than a big plodder. He also can contribute on third downs– good pass protector with blitz pickup recognition skills and the agility to get to DBs/LB on the opposite side of the field. UPDATE: Good camp for SD, practice squad.
RB Terrell Watson, Azusa  UPDATE: UDFA made Cincy Practice Squad.
RB John Crockett, North Dakota State 
UPDATE: Green Bay practice squad.
RB Brandon Wegher, Morningside UPDATE: UDFA made Miami’s 53.
B2B Directional State… serving up the underserved but deserving since 2005.
about the author:
B2B is the alter ego of Wil Masisak, host of the SteelerFury podcast. You can contact him at steelerfuryshow@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “2015 B2B Directional State: Undervalued & Small School NFL Prospects”

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