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The Prospects You Haven't Heard Of: Looking at the the Relatively Unknown (3/30/12 Update)


Every Year in the preseason there seems to be a few guys throughout the league that seemingly came out of no where. The best examples of this phenomena would be Victor Cruz, Arian Foster and even the Steelers own Isaac Redman. Less than a month away from the draft some prospects are also impressing scouts with their ability and relative mystery. The following are the back stories behind some of the prospects that have really impressed the scouts according to accounts of their Pro Days. I will try to update these every Friday until the draft with more prospects that impressed scouts in the coming weeks.

Bryce Brown- RB Formerly Tennesse University and Kansas State University:

At his Pro Day-

Brown impressed scouts with his athleticism the 6', 223lbs running back ran the forty and was clock with a low time of a 4.37s and a high time of 4.45s. He had a vertical jump of 34" and put up 22 repetitions in the bench press at 225lbs. According to the accounts he showed scouts why he was once heralded as one of the best highschool running backs ever and definite secured an invite to camp. However the numerous character concerns will keep him from being drafted.

Back Story-

Ironically I began this post about unheard of prospects with a prospect that was at one time hyped to be the second coming of Barry Sanders and coming out of high school was considered to be the best RB since Adrian Petersen. At the time he was rated higher than even Trent Richardson but now he will probably not be considered draft worthy. Brown was considered a good student and an amazing athlete. Unfortunately he had an ego and fell in with a recruiter that did not have his best interest in mind. After the huge publicity surrounding his signing, he decided to go to Tennessee. As a true freshman in the SEC he rushed for 460 yards on 101 carries and had three touchdowns. The spring of his freshman year in the wake of Lane Kiffin leaving the program Brown wanted to transfer to Kansas State to play with his brother among other reasons. He was told he would not be let go of his scholarship and therefore could not get a scholarship at Kansas State. He had to then miss a year because of the transfer and pay his way through college. Still listening to Butler the recruiter who many in college football despised, Brown missed voluntary workouts to do "his own thing". He left the football program after having only three carries. The head coach said he was going through a hard time in the wake of NCAA investigations and the change of scenery. Brown declared early for the draft.

Here are highlights from Brown's freshman year at Tennessee.

Chris Greenwood, CB Albion:

At His Pro Day-

The 6' 1 1/2" 193lbs CB prospect from Albion impressed scouts at his Pro Day with his amazing athleticism. He ran his forty yard dash timed at 4.34s. He continued his athletic display by posting an 11'2" broad jump and an amazing 43" vertical jump. He impressed every scout there but reported really drew the eyes of the Steelers scouts that were present.

His Backstory-

You may be thinking how is a tall prospect, who moves extremely well and has this elite athleticism not better known? Coming out of high school he was given only a couple of scholarship opportunities. He decided to go to Northwood because they recruited him to play his desired position of corner. After a year though he left Northwood because "he did not like the atmosphere at the college." He transferred to Eastern Michigan University but due to credit transfer issues he never saw the field in the year he was there. He then transferred to a school where he could play immediately, Albion. The school that currently has less students then my high school did at 1,513. He was so dominant at Albion that teams rarely threw his way. During his career his two year career there he had 4 INT returns for TDs. In his senior year he finished with 24 tackles and 2 Ints. Greenwood shut down his side of the field so effectively that the rest of the team prospered. The Britons led their conference in Ints with 15 as a team. He was selected in his senior year as a Division III All-American and was invited to the East-West Shrine game. During practices Greenwood showed some flashes but also showed the difficulties from coming from a small time school. At his Pro Day he said scouts didn't ask him about football related questions but more personal and character based questions. He implied they seemed very interest in a prospect that came from a school most had never heard of. he did say scouts had been comparing him to Antonio Cromartie and that his favorite CB of all time was Charles Woodson.

From an evaluation stand point Greenwood is unpolished according to most. He has terrific straight line speed but does have some struggles in change of direction though it isn't a major concerns. He did struggle with route recognition at the East-West Shrine game and also gave too much of a cushion because he was not familiar to playing with higher level competition. He is considered raw and a sixth round to undrafted prospect. My guess is he gets drafted purely on the height, weight, speed aspect.

Here is a highlight film of Greenwood from his Albion years. As you can see he was by far the fastest player on the field when he played.

Tim Fugger, DE/OLB Vanderbilt:

At His Pro Day-

Tim Fugger put in a surprisingly athletic day. At 6'3 1/2" 248lbs the potential 3-4 OLB prospect ran a 4.55 forty yard dash. He did 29 repetitions of 225lbs on the bench press and put up a 6.97 3 cone , 4.10 short shuttle and 34" vertical jump. He also looked surprisingly fluid in both the defensive line and linebacker drill, where he displayed an ability to drop back.

His Back Story-

Fugger is a former TE and DE in high school. During his Vanderbilt career he recorded 91 tackles (53 solo), 11.5 sacks including 18.5 tackles for loss. His senior year he put up 34 tackles (21 solo), 13.5 for loss and 7.5 sacks. He was second team All-SEC in his senior year and became a leader on the defensive line. Though he looked fluid in his work out in his game tape he showed some slight stiffness. He is considered to have push himself into the last day of the draft and could be a good special teams player and possibly contributor for a NFL team. He seems like a good character guy and was quoted saying this about his Pro Day,

“I worked my tail off, so I hope some people are now thinking a little different about me than they were before,” Fugger told the media after his workout. “I came out and put up the numbers I did while training, so hopefully that helped me out a bit.”

Korey Toomer OLB Idaho-

At His Pro Day-

Measuring 6'2" 236lbs Toomer put in an great performance for the scouts in attendance. He ran his forty yard dash in 4.49s, completed 20 reps at 225lbs in the bench. However the story of his work out was his vertical jump. He jump over the 40" maximum the device present could measure. Scout decided to credit it as 41". He tahn went on to perform brilliantly in drills for the eight teams there.

His Back Story-

If you asked the scouts prior to the season they probably couldn't tell you who Toomer was. He wasn't even seen as camp fodder material. Transferring to Idaho from Arizona Western Junior college he barely played in 2009. In 2010 he took a red shirt year i believe for medical reasons. In the spring of 2011 the team needed a new leader on defense due to the loss of their leading tackler to graduation. Toomer step up to the challenge. He won a starting spot and in the season was there leading tackler and a leader on the defense. He had 68 tackles (30 solo) led the team in sacks with 4, had 4 pass defensed, one interception and converted a two points as a fullback. Toomer impressed so much that he now has 16 pre-draft visits and looks to have made his way into the final day of the draft. He need to bulk up but he is seen as a good special teams prospect and possible contributor to a 4-3 defense at the Will.

Derek Carrier, WR Beloit-

At His Pro Day-

The 6'3" 240lbs prospect left scouts scrambling to get tape on him. He ran under a 4.5 40 yard dash reports estimate about a 4.47 had a 40 inch vertical leap a 10'2" broad jump and a ridiculous 6.67 3 cone drill time. He look fluid in his routes and by the end of his Pro Day had two dozen requests for game film by team officials.

His Back Story-

Carrier went to Beliot after his mom received a call about the school his junior year. Though in his junior year he was being recruited by Division I Wisconsin he focused on basket ball his senior year and that recruitment dried up. Beliot never lost interest in him though. Again another ridiculously small school with only 1250 students. He decided to go there because it was one of the few schools recruiting him in his senior year to play both football and basket ball. At Beloit he shattered the school records for receiving. With 189 receptions 3,111 yards and 29 TDs. This last year he also broke the schools single season receptions record with 75 catches for 1250 yards and 12 TDs. During his 3 year career at Beliot he had 15 100yard receiving games. This was inspite of being double teamed nearly every play and having a poor QB and overall team as a Senior. Carrier wasn't just a football player though he played basketball and ran track at the Division III school.Carrier in track was a long jump, triple jump and 55m runner but succeed most in the long jump. He was a leader and a 100% effort guy will in college. He was quoted saying,

“The one aspect I will take away from being a student-athlete is my strive for greatness, perfection, and success in both the classroom and on the field. I have a very difficult time being involved in something if I can’t give it 100% of my effort and attention, so in the classroom I devote a lot of time to reading, studying, and preparing for class just as I devote a lot of my time to training, watching film, and taking care of my body on the football field. I also believe that in order to be truly successful, in any field, one needs to be able devote their time and effort wholeheartedly into their goal.”

Carrier isn't just a football player. Majoring and Health and Society, a pre-med major, he was on the Deans list every semester, was a Presidential Scholar and a team captain. He was a two time All-conference selection and a D3 All-American. At the D3 Classic he impressed the coaches with an amazing TD grab in the back of the endzone. I can say without a doubt that Carrier will be on a team some where. He has great athleticism, size, character and smarts. Carrier will probably be drafted in the seventh round and could either put on weight and be a TE or drop some weight and be a WR. I think the latter would suit him better in the long run. His coach has already admitted being in contact with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Seattle Seahawks prior to his performance in Madison Wisconsin.

Les Brown, Basketball Player Westminster-

At BYU Pro Day-

Measuring in at 6'4" 238lbs Brown wowed scouts with his athleticism. H ran a 4.44s forty yard dash, jumped 39" in the vertical and 10'3" in the broad jump. All modest numbers till you hear that he reportedly had a slight ankle sprain. Further reports say he looked raw but smooth in routes and appeared to have strong hands.

His Back Story-

Les Brown was a high school basketball player at Highland High. He then went on to play basketball for Westminster College. Westminster is a small college in Utah with roughly 2,500 undergraduate players and 800 graduate players. He lineup at the small forward position and was a NAIA Academic All-American. HE played out his four years at Westminster then went on to work in accounting at Huntsman Gay Global Capital for the last two years. During his years at Westminster he never player football.This isn't uncommon as the Chargers All-Pro TE Antonio Gates didn't play football in college and was invited into camp as an UDFA the rest is history.Jimmy Graham of the Saint had one year of football at Miami after four years of basketball. Brown's size and speed are very intriguing but there are some question marks. While I can't find an exact age he graduated high school in 2006 this means he should be roughly 25 years old. There are currently arguments that Brown should be considered a Free Agent and not be eligible for the draft. Thirteen teams were at the work out and he apparently has already drawn interest from the Patriots who apparently don't have enough TE talent on their roster. I wouldn't mind because of his size speed and reported ball skills if the Steelers looked into bring Brown in as a UDFA. I can assume the Steelers were at BYU Pro Day because of there interest in Herbon Fanugpo who also had a very good Pro Day.

Jeremy Lane, CB Northwestern State-

At His Pro Day-

The roughly 5'11 1/2" 183lbs corner ran a 4.48 forty yard dash, had a 41" vertical jump, and a 10' 10" broad jump. He also looked very fluid in position drills. He looks to have very long arms as well.

His Back Story-

Jeremey Lane is from Tyler, Texas and didn't break into the starting lineup at Northwestern State until this late 2010 season however he had scout buzzing about him after that. This season he has 41 tackles, 2 INTs and 4 pass break ups. However in one scouts recollection of 7 games he watched half of then rarely threw his way some did it less then three times. He really stood out against LSU. Lane lined up in press coverage about 65% of the time and is very comfortable with it. He has fluid hips and good movement skills. He looks good in zone but still plays to loose in off coverage. Lane is an aggressive player who doesn't mind tackling and looks like a guy a team could bring in for special teams first. He is seen as a seventh round prospect to undrafted prospect and might be worth a look.

Jose Gumbs, SS Monmouth University-

At his Pro Day-

The just above 5'10" safety ran a 4.44 and 4.46 forty yard dash which would have been the fastest time by a safety at the combine this year. He had a 41" vertical jump, benched 20 reps of 225lbs in the bench . He looked explosive in the position skill but also showed soem tightness int the hips. Here is a link to his Pro Day. Thanks to Lawrence Taylor the Real LT for bringing up his name.

His Back Story-

Jose Gumbs was a leader at the Monmouth University football program. In 2009 as a sophomore he was named the NEC Defensive Player of the year and was All-NEC for 2009, 2010, and 2011. He led Hawks in tackles all four years he played amounting an amazing 308 in his career with 188 solo not bad for a safety. In 2011 he was named a Sports Network/Fathead.com Third Team All-American. He is no stranger to the technicalities of the game. Monmouths defense was very young this year and took on the teaching and leadership roll effortlessly. He has no problem tackling and does a nice job teaching and explain the loss art in the secondary,

"It’s all about alignment. A lot of people don’t know how to align themselves and set themselves up to make a tackle. A lot of people just go out and try to think that if you force feet at someone you’ll bring them down. It’s actually that you got to break down and take one side away and then take someone down. That’s the basics of tackling. Sometimes it’s just bad alignment where someone doesn’t force a play inside and they get a play outside."

When watching the highlight film of his game tape Jose looks very comfortable being the center field type safety or an in the box safety. He seems to recognize routes well and jumps them aggressively. If you can't see that in his film you can certainly see his efforts on special teams. He looks like a guy who gives 110% all the time and can easily contribute in the NFL. Only six teams were represented at his workout. The Jets, Broncos, Eagles, Colts, Saints, and Falcons. He has a workout scheduled with the Jets on April 13th. The Steelers maybe loosing some special teams player and I like this guy as someone who we could bring in as a UDFA and contribute there.

Here is a link to his highlight film.

Greg Zuerlein, K Missouri Western-

At his Pro Day-

Who cares he is a Kicker? Okay well at his Pro Day the 6' 186lbs Greg Zuerlein has impressed scout with his amazing leg strength. He warmed up with FG going as far as 52 yards. Then decided to show his control and strength with one step and no step kicks from about 40 yards deep. He concluded with kickoff attempts form the 35 sailing 12 of 16 attempts through the back of the endzone seems kind of low right? Well 3 of them went so high they got caught in the ceiling which was 70ft high.

His Back Story-

If you have been here on BTSC you know I have been pushing Zuerlein since the offseason started. Zuerlein originally played at the University of Nebraska Omaha but after a year UNO dropped there 99 year football program. This led Greg to Missouri Western State. In 2009 he hit 30 touchbacks, in 2010 he redshirted because of a hip labrum injury in the preseason. In 2011 he became a record holder. Zuerlein hit an amazing 23 of his 24 FG attempts. That includes 21 straight while nine of those 21 were from 50+ yards. He has amazing range and accuracy. In the East-West Shrine game he hit a 35 yarder that sailed over the up-rights. He did a nice job on an on-side kick and kick a kickoff that landed 8 yards deep. Not only did it land that deep but when it got to the return man it had so much air that the return team was already at the 25 yard line. From 2007-2011 he was 59 of 74 with a career FG% of 79.73%. He season longs were 43 in 2007, 48 in 2008, 53 in 2009 and 58 in 2011 which he did twice in the same game. Did I mention that in the game where he kicked 2 from 58 yards it was his first full week back from injury and he said he wasn't 100%. He said his range is about 65 yards. The Vikings special teams coach work him out and was clearly impressed. There are mixed ratings on Zuerlein. Mel Kiper has him as his best kicker in the draft, some have him as the second best kicker behind Blair Walsh. Others have him as the third or fourth best kicker because of his injury and level of competition. Though in my opinion that has nothing to do with kickers.

He has a monster leg here is a video link to under the up-rights when he kicked his 58 yarder,http://youtu.be/8WZWsyoGGic .

Conclusion:

As you can begin to tell these sleepers seem to be more skill players. This can be attributed to a couple of factors. The first is that the skill positions can put up the amazing numbers that will get reported on. While a 4.9 for an OL is impressive it is less likely to be reported then a 4.3 forty for a CB. The second is that smaller school linemen are not seen in the same light because they are going against far weaker competition both in the figurative and literal sense. It is hard to project if they can be successful against NFL size and strength as well as technique.

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