Everyone assesses draft talent differently and as a result every analyst has guys they will generally be higher or lower on than the accepted consensus view.
Here I take a look at five of “my guys” – prospects I’m higher on than most – and explain why it is that I think the consensus is wrong, and why you should be pleased if your team drafts one of these players earlier than you were expecting come draft night.
So without further ado, I present my top 5 undervalued prospects.
Walker Little, Stanford, OT
Walker Little hasn’t taken to a football field to play in a live game since week one of 2019, suffering a knee injury in that game vs Northwestern before opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns over COVID-19.
If you put on Little’s 2019 tape you see an offensive tackle on his way from being an elite 5-star recruit to being a high round draft pick. His drops in pass protection were sublime – his athleticism and quick footwork meant he was rarely beaten off the line of scrimmage.
At 6’7 and around 310lbs he’s got the size that NFL teams look for but can also do all of the finesse work with his hands as well. In short, he showed all the tools to be an elite starting left tackle in the NFL.
Having not seen him play since the knee injury you can maybe understand why there are question marks around him, but I’ve seen mock drafts with him in rounds three or four and, frankly, that’s just disrespectful.
Little is a talented tackle and provided the knee checks out it wouldn’t shock me at all if he goes in round one – with the Kansas City Chiefs at 31 potentially being a prime landing spot.
Nico Collins, Michigan, WR
Wilton Speight, John O’Korn, Brandon Peters, and Shea Patterson – that’s the laundry list of quarterbacks that Nico Collins has had throwing to him during his time at Michigan. Not exactly a group that inspires you with any sort of confidence.
As a result Collins has never put up any sort of stats that might excite you and nor has he really been given the best chance to show what he can do, which is why I’d say he’s definitely undervalued at the moment.
Standing at 6’4, Nico Collins has the frame to be a quarterback’s top possession target as well as a key red zone threat. He’s got a reliable pair of hands and simply doesn’t drop passes, and isn’t afraid of getting stuck into defenders and getting himself open when pressed at the line of scrimmage.
He’s technically very good and while he lacks that top end burst of speed, you’re going to want him on your team as someone who’ll run over the middle and give you an option for an underneath throw while your speedsters run deeper routes.
Carlos Basham Jr, Wake Forest, EDGE
When people talk about this EDGE class you often hear a number of different names – Kwity Paye, Jaelen Phillips, Joseph Ossai, Azeez Ojulari, Gregory Rousseau and Ronnie Perkins to name just a few.
Very little is being said about Carlos Basham Jr and a large number of mock drafts are completely overlooking him in rounds one and two in favour of those names I’ve listed above as well as a fair few others.
Basham is a bigger defensive end, standing at 6’3 and around 280lbs, so he isn’t going to make the splash highlight reel plays where he just bursts past an offensive lineman – and let’s be honest, you barely see that happen in the NFL due to the quality of the offensive tackles that rushers come up against at the next level.
Basham is more of a power rusher who is stout against the run but who also finds ways to make impact plays in the backfield, having had 33.5 TFLs, 19.5 sacks and 7 forced fumbles in his 31 games at Wake Forest.
I’ve got an early second round grade on him but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him taken late in round one – and if you’re a 4-3 team who needs a guy to contribute on all 3 downs and you draft Basham, you should be very happy indeed.
Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA, DT
There isn’t a lot of talk about this defensive tackle class, other than to generally talk it down given the perceived lack of top level quality beyond Christian Barmore.
However, one player who seems to be going unnoticed by many places is UCLA defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa.
He’s actually a very similar size and stature to the guy we’ve just been talking about – Carlos Basham – standing at 6’2 and around 280lbs, and for someone who has spent much of his time on the interior of the defensive line is therefore generally perceived to be undersized.
That may well be true – he’s not going to be a three down starter at defensive tackle at 280lbs.
But if I’m looking for someone to come in and play inside on sub-packages as a rookie as well as being a player I could look to develop into a guy who can play on the end of the line on early downs – think Justin Tuck – then Osa would be the one I’m targeting from round three onwards.
Keith Taylor, Washington, CB
Given the depth in this cornerback class it can hardly be a surprise that there simply isn’t enough airtime to go round for everyone at the position to get the coverage they perhaps deserve.
And then when your college teammate is garnering a lot of buzz, as Elijah Molden is doing, it is even more difficult for someone like Keith Taylor to get himself noticed.
Taylor is a long, tall corner, standing at a little over 6’2 and he’s well versed in using the full extent of his frame to his advantage when it comes to playing coverage.
He’s also a very sure tackler when he needs to get involved in the run game and isn’t afraid to be physical at the line of scrimmage either.
Taylor strikes me as someone who could be a very solid player in a defense that plays a lot of cover-2 or cover-3 and if I’m running that sort of a scheme, Taylor would be someone I’d be thinking about late on day two, and certainly early on day three, of draft weekend.