It happens every year. No matter how much time and research we put into predicting which rookies will don the blue and red, the "inner circle" always finds a way to surprise us come draft time. This dumbfounding phenomena usually manifests itself in one of three ways:
1) They (those at OBD) take a player later who seemingly, according to the "experts," should have gone earlier [i.e. Posluszny]. This is obviously what those experts term "value."
2) They take a player early who would have been available later in the draft [Whitner and McCargo]. I think its the consensus of most, if not all of us, that the Bills should stay away from "reaching" for a particular player.
3) They take a player that virtually none of us had on our radar [Fine and Corner]. This is where things get interesting. Since we don't know as much about this type of draftee, we wait until they suit up and hope they pan out.
This series of posts concerns the third possibility. Though not an exhaustive list by any means, it is designed to detail some of the potential "sleepers" at key positions that our beloved Bills are certainly (or likely-depending upon the position) to address this April.
NOTES: These are NOT first-day picks. In fact, some are bound to go un-drafted. Also, I must give credit where credit is due. While these are my projections, Scott Wright’s www.draftcountdown.com, http://walterfootball.com, and PFW’s Draft Guide contributed to these compilations.
Without further adieu, it’s onto the list of Surprise Sleepers. Enjoy!
Today’s installment – Defensive End
1) David Veikune, Hawaii 6'2" 257 Combine 40 Time: 4.87
Strengths: Excellent production, especially in his senior season (16.5 TFL and 9 sacks). WAC 2nd teamer, though his coach believes he should have been on the 1st team. His motor is always running-chases until the whistle. Versatile-has lined up inside and as rush LB. Playmaker (4 FF) even against better competition (6 tackles, 1 for loss, against Florida, FR in Senior Bowl). Strong (35 reps on the bench), intense, and smart (academic All-WAC honors).
Weaknesses: Not extremely athletic. Shorter than optimal. Not as good against the run as he is in rushing the QB. Will wear down due to his intense nature-will have to play in a rotation. Needs to add/vary moves.
Analysis: A player whose stock is rising. He's in the 2nd wave of DE's available.
My Projected Round: 3
2) Brandon Williams, Texas Tech 6'5" 252 Pro Day 40 Time: 4.78
Strengths: Great burst off the edge. Has length to disrupt the QB's vision and strip the football when he gets a sack. Gets off the snap very quickly and dips well under blockers. Led Big XII with at least 11 sacks.
Weaknesses: Lacks base strength to anchor against the run. Almost too tall to play LB. Struggled at combine with a 5 second 40 yard dash (though his 3 cone drill was 7th best). Not a great tackler.
Analysis: Very productive junior year was partly due to the pass happy offenses in the Big XII. Has the frame to add muscle and rush the passer from the left end. Could have used another year in school to refine his game, but if let loose, he can pin his ears back and get to the QB.
My Projected Round: 4
3) Jamaal Westerman, Rutgers 6'3" 261 Pro Day 40 Time: 4.78
Strengths: Decent production with 44.5 TFL and 26 sacks in his career. Has the body for the position. Decent speed off the corner. Has special teams ability, as he blocked a kick his senior season.
Weaknesses: Tore his bicep this past December and as such has not been able to demonstrate his upper body strength for scouts.
Analysis: Makes plays behind the line and has done so on a regular basis. Has 5th round talent, but his injury concerns could push him out of the draft altogether.
My Projected Round: 5
4) Brandon Swain, West Texas A&M (NCAA Division II) 6'4" 256 Estimated 40 Time: 4.72
Strengths: Very good length. Excellent junior season (24.5 TFL and 14 sacks) earned him All-American Honors from several publications.
Weaknesses: Level of competition is obvious concern. Lack of production as a senior also raises red flag.
Analysis: Strictly a DE (he's never played OLB), Swain has a penchant for getting to the QB. While he has dominated the Division II landscape (in football hotbed Texas I might add), there are concerns if he can adjust to playing at the NFL level. Nevertheless, he's an intriguing prospect.
My Projected Round: 6
5) Darius Davis, Wayne State-Nebraska (NCAA Division II) 6'1" 260 Estimated 40 Time: 4.80
Strengths: Versatile-played DT, though he projects to a DE. Very good base strength. Very quick off the snap. His motor is always running and has a decent swim move.
Weaknesses: Again, the major concern is the level of competition. Also will need to learn the intricacies of the DE position.
Analysis: Had 7 sacks as a senior and made plays on the football (3 FR, 2 FF, and 1 INT). As with Brandon Swain the real question is can he make the jump to the NFL. With his hustle, determination, and heart he could end up contributing as a depth/role player.
My Projected Round: 7