One thing we rarely, if ever, do in this space is spotlight ‘rising’ or ‘falling’ players, or really talk about draft prospects at all. The main reason for this is because I don’t have time to do it, and most of the people I know who genuinely put in the time evaluating and learning about players — people whose opinions I trust — are people I respect, and I don’t want them to give me something free.
Today, however, we’re stepping out of our normal comfort zone to offer up two late-season sleepers. Of course, this isn’t my opinion, but the opinion of Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting. While the number of ‘Internet scouts’ could fill several stadiums, only a handful of them have proven their ability enough to have (a) stood the test of time and (b) actually created a market for themselves. Eric has done both, having evaluated players for several years and creating quite an audience for himself, and also by evaluating for pay, whether his customers are NFL agents; CFL and indoor football teams; or any of a number of all-star games whose rosters he’s built over the years. Eric is currently working with a couple of games, the first-year HBCU Spirit of America Bowl and the Dream Bowl, which will be played over Martin Luther King Weekend. Due in no small part to Eric, the Dream Bowl has gone from a game mostly ignored by scouts to one that welcomed representatives from six teams last year and that’s expected to host 20 teams this year.
Here are two players Eric feels could surprise next year in the NFL:
Darrell Daniels, TE, Washington (6032, 235, 4.46v, 35 2/8 arm, 10 2/8 hands): While it’s a strong tight end class (one of the best in recent history) and he hasn’t been an overly productive member of the Washington passing attack (13 catches on the year), Daniels has high-level athleticism, seam-stretching speed and flashes of natural finishing ability away from his frame. A bit of a ‘tweener, he looks the part of a less physical, less NFL-ready blocking version of Falcons TE Austin Hooper (3/81, Stanford, 2016), except with potential sub-4.5 speed. Offers an ideal body type all around.
Josh Thornton, CB, Southern Utah (5106, 178, 4.35v, 30 5/8, 9 4/8 hands): The holdover from the three-draft pick Southern Utah class a year ago, Thornton is arguably a better prospect than Titans DC LeShaun Sims (5/157, 2016) was a year ago, playing with better hip turn and lateral range against underneath and in-breaking routes. He struggles a bit at the catch-point against bigger receivers, and can be over-powered for more reasons than just his size. But he should test really well, and meets the arm/hand thresholds.
If you’re just a fan that follows the draft as well as the business of the game, make sure you’re checking out Eric on Twitter
. On the other hand, if you’re an agent trying to make sure you don’t spend $10,000-plus training a player that doesn’t have NFL chops, I’d advise you to reach out to Eric (firstname.lastname@example.org). For pennies on the dollar, you’ll have a much better handle on where you should be spending your money. I highly recommend him.