Steve Seufert | April 22nd, 2020
Let me preface this by saying this is just one man’s opinion. I wish nothing but success for these players and enjoy evaluating every single one of them, good or bad. Every year we are stuck with players who we feel are overrated. Whether it’s the athletic profile or the logo on the helmet, someone catapults into the first round. Most of the time, there is consensus when we identify an overrated player. I’ve found two prospects that will be severely over drafted and two who will be severely under drafted, yet no one is talking about it.
Tee Higgins won’t Surpass 50 catches in a Year Throughout His Career
Many draft analysts are enamored with the size and catch radius of Higgins. On paper, Higgins might profile as a physical receiver that can dominate against press-coverage but I’m here to tell you that’s inaccurate. For his size, Higgins struggles against press-coverage due to his lack of urgency and effort when releasing off the line of scrimmage. When watching tape, if Higgins gets a clean release, he will often stack the defensive back but he then lacks the nuance and short area quickness to separate. In off-coverage, Higgins is an extremely slow accelerator as evidenced by his 1.66 10-yard split at the Clemson pro day. This creates a struggle when facing off-coverage. He doesn’t have the ability to chew up the cushion of the defensive back, often telegraphing his routes.
With all that being said, it appears that Higgins is going to land somewhere in the top 40 picks and I still can’t figure out why. I think teams and fans will be disappointed when they find out Higgins won’t be a day one contributor. He will need to spend a year in the weight room, and simultaneously work on mastering the entire route tree. Higgins will have to win with nuance and physicality and I don’t foresee that being a smooth development.
Ezra Cleveland will Lead the League in Pressures and Sacks as a Rookie
There’s a good chance that Cleveland lands somewhere in the first round, thanks to the SPARQ athletic score he posted at the combine. To put that into perspective, Cleveland tested in the 91.7 percentile. The athleticism is all fine and dandy, but I don’t see the same athleticism on tape. His foot speed is only average and the quickness to get into his pass sets is only adequate, especially for someone that tested so well.
This isn’t the only deficiency in Cleveland’s game. His play strength is marginal at best. Speed to power rushers get inside his frame and take him for a ride, even the pass rushers from the notoriously weak Moutain West Conference. There’s obviously some projection in Cleveland but he will have to be dedicated to the weight room. Based on his draft position, Cleveland will be thrown into the fire before he’s able to fully tap into his projection.
I’ve saved the best for last, we can finally talk about underrated prospects and the value they may carry in the draft. The objective of the draft is to ultimately find the best value. Each year we put stock into post draft grades, which typically mean nothing but fun to do. However, these grades are typically structured based on perceived value. Whether it’s a special teams demon or a clutch fifth receiver, value is the key to sustained success in the NFL.
Laviska Shenault Jr. will Lead Rookie Wide Receivers in Total Yards Through Year Three
If you like physical ball carriers, you’ll probably love Shenault. If you like versatile players that are considered positionless, you’ll probably love Shenault. Shenault shows the ability to win as an X-receiver, slot-receiver, and the play speed to threaten as a z-receiver. That’s not even the best part, Shenault is extremely efficient and productive as a ball carrier and wildcat quarterback. In off coverage, Shenault eats up defensive backs with sneaky fast play speed. In man coverage, he shows a clean release that he pairs with elite play strength, creating separation at the top of his route.
Shenault is not going to wow you with his route running ability. Certainly not on any horizontal routes, but his very good mental processing allows him to create space late in the play. pic.twitter.com/w50lUPhtJt
— Steve (@FFSteve_) April 5, 2020
That sounds good and all, so why is he projected to go late day two? Well, that’s a good question. I think a lot of it has to do with the perception that this guy is a positionless player, and there might be some confusion on how to use him. Shenault is the epitome of versatility and that can be extremely difficult to identify for evaluators. When teams are setting their big board, it’s typically based on collective group thinking. A player with so much versatility can end up with a range of evaluations. There’s also some concern about a recent core muscle surgery, adding to a list of football injuries that Shenault had to deal with at Colorado. Want a piece of advice regarding the former Buffalo? Don’t overthink him.
Devin Asiasi will Lead Rookie Tight Ends in Receptions, Yards, and Touchdowns
Some fans may have never even heard of Asiasi. The former UCLA Bruin dominates run defenders at the point of attack with pure effort and athleticism. It’s cliche but Asiasi is just nasty in the trenches. Although his technique and hand usage can be shoddy, the effort and physicality are at an elite level. In the receiving game, Asiasi wins with uncanny acceleration for a player of his size. When accelerating through zone-coverage, linebackers and safeties have difficulty processing his speed and acceleration. Asiasi is one of the only tight ends that I would consider a three-level weapon. He averaged roughly 15 yards per catch in Chip Kelly‘s spread offense.
Devin Asiasi is one of the best kept secrets in the 2020 draft. He might have the most upside of any TE in the class. He was a guy I didn’t get to study until late and finished as my TE3. Wins inline with just pure size and effort. Wait till he actually learns how to block. pic.twitter.com/63gp54Zspu
— Steve (@FFSteve_) April 20, 2020
Asiasi was considered a one-year wonder as he didn’t pop until the 2019 season. I’m here to inform you that this prospect is more than pro ready. Calling a tight end pro ready isn’t the easiest pill to swallow. Tight ends typically need time in the weight room, film room, and multiple positional meeting rooms. They are asked to learn all of the protections, on top of the passing offense. Many evaluators would agree that this is the second toughest position to grasp in the entire offense. This is why tight ends are widely considered as slow developers. If you combine the one-year production with the rumored weight concerns, Asiasi should be available early day three for a tight end needy team.
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