Four mid-range prospects to keep an eye on

Sometimes I’m asked about small school prospects and potential sleepers in the mid-late round range. I don’t have access to tape from smaller schools, but I’d recommend following Matthew Elder on twitter for some really solid input on those players.

I tend to use the combine to see who catches the eye. It’s not ideal because I’d never let a combine performance dictate an opinion over tape, yet that’s essentially what I have to do with small school prospects. It is good, however, to see how these guys mark up against the top prospects at each position.

Edmond Gates (WR, Abilene Christian) really stood out to me. He ran a blazing 4.37 forty yard dash (best amongst receivers) and was one of the few people to take anything out of the catching drills showing strong hands. His stock is on the up – so much so that Mel Kiper has even touted the possibility that Gates will go in round two. I think this is unlikely because he’ll be a 25-year-old rookie who hasn’t got elite size (6-1, 192lbs), but with his deep speed it’ll only take one team to fall in love and put him in that higher bracket.

You can watch Gates’ combine work out by clicking here.

It’s been confirmed that the Seahawks met with the Gates during the combine, as well as another small school prospect – Appalachian State corner Mark LeGree.

Edmond Gates video #1


Edmond Gates video #2

Fresno State aren’t necessarily a small school, but they do produce some big-time talent. Ryan Mathews went in the top-15 last year after San Diego made a big move up the board and while there’s nobody going to repeat that in 2011, I’m still a big fan of DE/OLB Chris Carter.

At 6-2 and 248lbs his future may lie as a pure 4-3 OLB project, but if he could add some weight and maintain his speed then he’s a possible LEO down the line. Carter had eleven sacks as a senior, he’s a relentless prospect with excellent edge speed and ran a 4.62 at the combine – only bettered among defensive lineman by Texas’ Sam Acho.

The big issue with Carter will be that lack of size and holding up against the run. He won’t be able to play the LEO on the line of scrimmage at 248lbs because he’ll be a liability on rushing downs. He could be used as a project linebacker and specialist pass rusher, but that limits his stock in terms of which round you’d be willing to take him.

You can watch Carter’s combine work out by clicking here.

The video below not only shows why Carter is a sleeper pick next April, it also shows the limitations of Wisconsin left tackle Gabe Carimi (#68) against the speed rush.

Chris Carter highlights

Buster Skrine (CB, Chattanooga) flashed some skills in Indianapolis and ran a 4.29 forty yard dash unofficially. He also had the best 20 & 60-yard shuttle and the most impressive three-cone. At 5-10 he’s on the cusp of what this team will look for in terms of height at corner but he could do with adding some weight (186lbs). Even so, you wouldn’t draft Skrine with the intention of starting him as a rookie.

You might give him some kick return duties as he’s shown real potential there particularly with that impressive straight line speed. He only has three career interceptions as a senior but he at least flashed some ball skills in the video below. With that speed and the potential to add some bulk, he could give some value to a team in the mid-late rounds.

You can watch Skrine’s combine work out by clicking here.

Buster Skrine highlights

One of my favorite prospects likely to go in the middle rounds is Connecticut running back Jordan Todman. He ran a 4.40 forty yard dash (third among RB’s) and was the Big East offensive player of the year with 16 touchdowns and 1695 yards. At 5-9 and 203lbs he doesn’t have the size to carry the load as much as he did for UConn, but he runs hard and at that speed he’s going to find a home in the NFL. The Seahawks may have bigger needs overall, but with the second pick in round four if you get the chance to draft a player who will probably stick like Todman, I think you make that move.

I could really see two things happening – either he’ll go earlier than expected (R2/3) or he will last until that fourth round range and in a few years we’ll wonder how that happened.

You can see Todman’s combine workout by clicking here.

Jordan Todman highlights


  1. 1sthill

    There a bunch of intriguing small school prospects, I was specifically watching S/CB Mark Legree during the combine because he had talked to the Seahawks. Legree I thought looked smooth in his back pedal for a 5-11 210 lbs DB, more so than a lot of smaller CB’s. Legree showed quick feet, a great burst/acceleration, and he showed he could quickly flip his hips. Legree had a solid 4.5 40-yard dash and he has the ball skills (22 career interceptions) that Coach Carroll covets in his DB’s. He would be a nice get with one of our late round picks.

    A little off topic, but as for RB’s I would not mind drafting Ohio St RB Brandon Saine or Auburn RB Mario Fannin, both guys have good size/speed and are very good pass catching RB’s. Both should be available in rounds 5-7.

  2. Jim Q.


    I know you didn’t outright ask for sleeper nominations, but here are seven players that I like that may be of interest to the Seahawks (I have several more).

    Terrell McClain, DT, 6-2, 310, So. Fla., Possesses a quick first step and the lateral agility to stunt and slant effectively. Uses quick active hands to shed and gain penetration. Has the range to make plays outside the tackle box. Tough kid with a relentless motor that fights through double teams. McClain has the experience to come off of the bench and *play right away*, which is not bad for a mid to late round pick. Forcast: Round 4-6 pick.

    Akeem Dent, ILB, 6-1, 242, Georga; 2010 – started all 13 games recording a team-best 126 tackles including 6.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks while also forcing and recovering two fumbles … Led or tied for the team lead in tackles nine times … Ranked second in the SEC in tackles per game with 9.7. Posted seven games with 10 or more tackles including a career-best 16 tackles vs. Ga. Tech, Forcast: Late round pick/FA.

    David Mims, ORT, 6-8, 348, Virginia Union; A *massive* right offensive tackle prospect who possesses a long, good-looking frame. Carries his weight well, isn’t fat by any stretch. Showcases impressive power at the point of attack in the run game and can absolutely dominate defenders at his level of competition. *Dripping with upside*. Is going to take some time, but is an ideal later-round developmental guy who could really catch fire with some time. Forcast: late round pick/FA.

    Byron Bell, OLT/ORT?, 6-5, 348, New Mexico; Recorded *over 100* knockdown blocks in his senior season. He graded out above 90 percent for the year and showed why he is one of the best left tackles in the country. Bell finished the year with 10 or more knockdowns in six games. Forcast: late round pick/FA.

    Via Taua, RB, 5-10, 222, Nevada, Three-year starter – An impressive prospect who combines power and quick feet. Runs low and finishes hard. Excellent vision to read blocks and pick the right hole, and can break the long run. Good acceleration and change of direction. Secures the ball extremely well, breaks some tackles and gets extra yards with defenders in tow. Career average over 6.0 yards per carry. Decent receiver out of the backfield. Gives effort as blocker. Extremely durable and productive back who projects well to the next level as a full feature back. Tough & hard working. Taua had nine 100-yard games in 2010 & has *26* in his career. All-WAC First Team, with 284 rushes for 1623 yards & 19 TD’s. + 5th on the team with 18 receptions for 226 yards, 12.6 YPC, 3 TDs in 2010.
    Forcast: Late round pick/FA.

    James Cleveland, WR, 6-2, 205, Houston – 104/1214/14td’s – 2009, 57/800/6td’s in 2010, good hands/routes, displays strong hands and does a nice job snatching the football away from his frame when contested. Has a savvy about his game when working the short crosser, has a good feel avoiding defenders and settling down to soft spots underneath. Forcast: late round pick/FA.

    Kris Adams, WR, 6-3, 195, UTEP, 4.48/40 – In 2010 had 47 receptions for 1050 yds.(20.8 ypc), A vertical route runner who does a nice job using some shiftiness off the line in order to slip the press and when he’s able to release to the outside he can cleanly slip the bump, drop his pad level to shrug off contact and get into his route. A long strider in every sense of the word. Forcast: late round pick/FA.

  3. FWBrodie

    Todman looks like a bigger, faster Justin Forsett, which is a good thing. He’s quick with a lot of burst, runs really sturdy, doesn’t blow you away with athleticism or agility but gets up field fast and is a tough tackle. I’m a fan. He’d be a great fit in a ZBS. I’d be happy to take him in round four and move Forsett. Justin’s a nice player, but he gets swallowed up in the backfield too easily and just flat out lacks breakaway speed.

  4. plyka

    This is off topic, but I am intrigued that the hawks went to newton s pro day. This is the second time they have shown interest. Was it the senior bowl or combine that news came out the hawks interviewed him? I have a suspicion that the hawks will go after newton if he falls to#9 or so. They could trade with the cowboys. They have shown a lot of interest.

    • Alex

      I think it’s just due diligence. Lombardi has said that teams will sometimes scout players just in case the player is drafted by a rival team.

      Also, don’t forget that Schneider went to Mallet’s pro day. So take all of these for what it’s worth.

      • Matt

        I agree with both of you. What I find interesting is the relatively affordable tender on Mebane. If we let him walk for a 3rd rounder, all of a sudden we just added a little more ammo. Honestly, I will not be surprised by anything on draft day. That said, I will be disappointed by trading down because we are in dire need of premium talent, not a load up of role players.

        Plyka – You get the feeling that there might be an aggressive trade up in this draft? And not necessarily for Newton or a QB, but a definitve building block at a premiere position. I wouldn’t rule out Newton or Gabbert falling because they are still “projects” and teams are so risk adverse. Not to mention, combine the fact that the defensive talent is so good up top and I wouldn’t be shocked by a slight fall, although I am totally not expecting that to happen.

        I think the obvious thing here, is that the Hawks are really lacking an game changers on offense. Not anybody who puts a scare into a defense with their ability to be a mismatch. Mike Williams is close to that, but his lack of speed or explosion simply makes him a possession receiver. Yes, we need to get better on the line, but a great LG doesn’t cover up for the fact that our QB play is poor and our weapons are more like nerf guns than actual fire arms.

        The intriguing thing about Newton, despite him being rough around the edges, is that his mobility, size, and arm strength have to keep a defense honest. Him taking on a LBer is no shoe in for a tackle at his size and speed and his big arm won’t allow defense to stack the box like they do now. With Tate and Butler, we need a QB who can drive the ball downfield to take advantage of their talents. In essence, Newton is so physically talented that he alone can make a defense not simply pin their ears back and stack 8 in the box. That said, you cannot force Newton to be a strict pocket passer. Not saying run the option, but you build to his strengths, not force him into a role that diminishes his talents.

        • plyka

          I don’t think that they would move up for any other position than QB. And at that position, i get a feeling if Newton falls enough, they may make a move to get him. Newton at #9 would be a fall in my book. Otherwise, they may go after Mallet at 25.

          Mike Williams does have speed, his combine speed was 4.56 or 4.59 i believe, as fast as Jake Locker. Give him time, he was the 10th overall pick after sitting out for an entire year. His maturation has been retarded, and more importantly, it is going to take longer than 1 year to come back. I’ve never deviated from believing that Williams is a true #1 WR and an elite talent at the position, it will however take more time than he has been given thus far. His speed is no different than Roddy White for instance.

          The difference? Williams has a noodle-armed over the hill QB throwing him the ball.

          • Matt

            Haha very true. Hence my longing for a big armed QB.

    • Dave

      Newton isn’t the only draftable Auburn prospect. For all we know they could have been there for Fairley

      • Matt

        They scheduled a personal work out with Newton. Only 1 of 9 teams in which 8 of them are in the top 10.

  5. FWBrodie

    I think their interest in Newton is genuine. Whether or not they value him enough to make a move up remains to be seen, but that’s why you do your homework. Choosing the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era QB is probably the most important decision they will have to make. It shouldn’t shock anyone that they are putting forth every effort to make sure they make the best decision possible. All the extra attention could just as easily be viewed as making sure they don’t like him enough to make a move.

    • Matt

      Completely agree. Well said. I have no problem with them being super aggressive if they have conviction in a player. No problems at all. Good to seeing them going above and beyond to evaluate players.

      • FWBrodie

        Yeah, nothing would make me happier than to see them go after a quarterback hard regardless of which one it is (unless it’s Palmer, Ponder) because it would demonstrate to us that they really feel confident in that guy and Schneider and Carroll both have quality resumes as talent evaluators. An endorsement from them would be enough for me to get behind that QB.

        Like I believe Rob recently mentioned, they paid this same diligence to Jimmy Clausen last season and in the end decided he wasn’t the player for them. This year there is obviously a little bit more urgency as well as a larger, more diverse crop of talented QB prospects to choose from so I’m hoping they can find one that they are willing to commit to.


    I love Chris Carter. I have said before on .net and am almost embarassed by it but I am a Fresno season ticket holder. That dude is for real. He is just a football player. I couild care less what he ran, jumped, it is meaningless. Some guys just play football and he is one of those guys. He is as disrutive as they come. Anyone who wants to point out that Fresno is in the WAC. Cool. They could beat UW but that is besides the point. Watch the Fresno vs. Wisc. game and how much trouble Carimi the highly touted LT out of Wisc had with this guy. It was about as bad as watching Solder trying to stop Aldon Smith.

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