As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Who are going to be some day three steals that could blossom into quality starters or even stars?
Every year there are always playmakers to be had on both sides of the ball in every round of the draft. Some prospects aren’t as high on some teams’ draft boards not because they don’t believe they can contribute, but because they believe that they can scoop them up later on in the draft as a mid to late round bargain. Here is a list of some prospects that will likely be taken on day three of the draft but could become day one starters and maybe even stars at the next level:
• RB Alex Mattison, Boise State:
He is one of the most complete backs in this draft who can run inside, outside and be a factor as a receiver out of the backfield. His is extremely elusive in the open field both as a runner and as a pass catcher. Mattison runs with a low center of gravity that makes him a tough tackle and he posses the agility to hurdle over and juke out anyone that he encounters once he gets the ball in his hands. He also displays soft and reliable hands as a receiver and can take a dump off, check down or wheel route for a first down and then some. His versatility and style of play draw comparisons to a young Ray Rice in his heyday.
• LB Cole Holcomb, UNC-Chapel Hill:
He was an absolute tackling machine for the Tar Heels who possesses excellent lateral quickness and great instincts. Holcomb is a fantastic form tackler who not only stuffs the run at or behind the line of scrimmage and snuffs out screens before they can develop. He also plays with the type of heads up style that shows when he puts his helmet on the ball to dislodge it and on hustle plays downfield where he refuses to give up which can lead to timely turnovers for his defense. He was a walk-on in college, but he has the ability to hit the ground running in the NFL.
• S Malik Grant, Marshall:
Even though he played safety in college he played the vast majority of his snaps in the box near the line of scrimmage and he could be great dime linebacker in sub packages. He possesses tremendous closing speed that he uses to knife into the backfield to stuff the run and blitz the quarterback. Gant is also a great open field tackler, delivers huge hits and plays the ball aggressively when he does drop into coverage.
• RB Elijah Holyfield, Georgia:
The son of former world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield packs a punch in the running game like his father did in the ring for nearly three decades. The former Bulldog is punishing power back who would prefer to run through a defender rather than juke him out. He’s a downhill runner that doesn’t wasn’t time trying to bounce a run to the outside and gets north and south in a hurry. Holyfield has quick feet and keeps his legs churning near the goal line and drags would be tacklers for extra yards.
• TE Alize Mack, Notre Dame:
He is a strong presence in the run game as well as the pass and provides a huge target in the red zone for his quarterbacks. He excels as a sure-handed target on bootlegs that can uncover off of play action and can also seal the edge for ball carriers as an inline blocker.
• S Sheldrick Redwine, Miami:
He was a human bullet from his safety position that flies all over the field to get involved in both the pass and the run game. Redwine is a heat-seeking missile on blitzes that levels unsuspecting quarterbacks and forces fumbles. He happens to always find himself around the football and received the turnover chain quite a bit during his time with the Hurricanes.
• CB Justin Layne, Michigan State:
The former Spartan is a tall big-bodied corner who plays receivers so tight in coverage that when you watch his highlights the fans booing and pleading for a pass interference can drown out the background music and sometimes even the people calling the game. He extremely physical when matched up one on one, possess decent ball skills and improved as a tackler each year he’s been in college.
• CB David Long, Michigan:
While he played predominantly on the outside for the Wolverines, his feisty style of play coupled with his 5-11 stature would make him better suited as a slot corner in the NFL. Long plays with the physicality of a defensive back twice his size in both zone and man coverage and possesses the quick-twitch reflexes to keep up with the squirrely receivers that line up inside at the slot position.