This year’s 2018 NFL Draft has a deep class, with a plethora of star talent at every position on the draft board. Here is a list of the Top 5 late-round slept on prospects with starter potential, ready to suit up Day 1 for any team with needs to fill an offensive or defensive role.
- Kameron Kelly, DB, San Diego State
From film, you can tell Kelly is a go-getter, standing at 6’2” 204 pounds, plucking deep routes from receivers’ hands and sweeping them off their feet with his aggressive tackles-great at locating and breaking up the pass. Kameron ran a 4.66 40 at the combine, with a vertical of 33 inches and his versatility to play the whole secondary matched with his size and length can be carried on to be used the next level no doubt.
- Richie James, WR, MTSU
At 5’9” 178 pounds Richie lacks big stature, but that didn’t halt his contested production or himself as an electrifying runner after the catch, with precise routes, always in his highest gear with 4.48 speed, and a 35.5 vertical to top it off and make his name as a competitor known. James shined in 2015, receiving first-team Freshman All-American and first-team All-Conference USA notice with 108 receptions- ranked 3rd nationally, and 1,346 yards with 8 touchdowns. He also had 146 yards on 12 carries adding to that with a rushing touchdown. His sophomore season he contributed even more for Middle Tennessee, covering 1,625 yards and scoring 12 times while again receiving first-team all-conference honors, with 339 yards on 38 carries and ran the rock in the end zone 4 times. Richie was also the Hawaii Bowl MVP despite the Blue Raiders’ loss because of his 201 yards of offense, including a 51-yard touchdown. His junior season came to an end early in October 2017, suffering a broken collarbone (31 receptions, 290 yards, three receiving touchdowns; 10 carries, 57 yards rushing, seven attempts and 37 yards on punt returns), but still managed to finish as the school’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns.
- John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
Declaring for the draft as a junior, John Kelly is a stocky power back that contributes almost more with the pass-catching facet of his game than exploding through defensive gaps. With 37 catches for 299 yards in the 2017 season, he had a break-out year for the Vols, rushing for 831 yards on 189 carries racking up 9 total touch downs. Also showing out at the Chick-fil-a kick off game tallying 4 TD’s with 128 rushing yards, stinging Georgia Tech.
- Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
The 6’2” 213-pound South Carolina native came up big for his hometown, with the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2016 with 124 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, three pass break-ups, and 4 forced fumbles. He put up 70 stops the previous year, 13.5 for loss, 5 sacks, and two interceptions to earn a first-team all-conference selection. Darius led SCSU in tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2014, accumulating 86, 14 for loss, two forced fumbles and five sacks with an of NFL comparison to Wesley Woodyard.
- Justin Watson, WR, Penn State
Another underrated prospect that chose to stay close to home, the Pennsylvania Native with quick feet and hips to help his productivity as one of the best in FCS history, and an NFL sized frame. He’s exceeded over 1,000 yards in each of the last 3 seasons, receiving first-team All-Ivy League selection in 2015, finishing with 74 catches for 1,082 yards, nine touchdowns receiving; 10 carries and 154 yards, with one rushing TD; a runner-up for the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award. Watson became noticed on a national level in 2016, as he was named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award as the FCS’s top player, setting school records and topped off his senior year in style, catching 81 passes for 1,083 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games.
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor