As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Who are a few day three sleepers on the defensive side of the ball from Division I Subdivision and Division II schools?
Playmakers and key contributors can be found in every round of the draft from every level of collegiate competition. While there is no Khalil Mack in this year’s draft out of Buffalo, there are still prospects on the defensive side of the ball that don’t hail from top-notch Division I programs. Here are some of those prospects that fit into that category:
OLB Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan:
He was an absolute force for the Eagles in the Mid-American Conference of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. In three years, he racked up 20 sacks and 41 tackles for loss, which included 17.5 in the last two. He can get to the quarterback and make plays on the ball as well as ball carriers in a multitude of ways.
Crosby shows a great burst off the ball, uses speed to beat offensive tackles before they can get in their pass sets, possesses good bend to dip underneath blockers and has a good inside swim move to cross the face of offensive linemen to shoot through the B gaps between tackles and guards. He has a relentless motor and tremendous backside pursuit. He is strong and stout at the point of his attack and uses violent hands to shed blockers and set the edge in the run game.
CB Jimmy Moreland, Madison:
Even though he’s considered undersized at 5-11 and weighing under 200 pounds, that didn’t stop him from dominating for the Dukes in the Colonial Athletic Association of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision. He was the definition of a ballhawk in college hauling 18 interceptions in four years which included a career-high eight as a junior. His nose for the ball and sticky hands didn’t just lead to turnover, he returned six of his nearly 20 picks for touchdowns, three of which came in his senior year.
Moreland’s keen ability to read and jump both in-breaking and out-breaking routes coupled with his ability to track, compete and haul in the ball down the field makes him a threat to come up with the ball anytime it is thrown in his direction or general vicinity. With his skill set, he’d be able to hold up on the outside but taking his stature into account, he’d likely be best suited lined up inside as the slot corner where he can also use his speed to be a heat-seeking missile on nickel blitzes.
DE John Cominsky, Charleston:
He was a solid edge defender for the Golden Eagles in the Mountain East Conference at the NCAA Division II level. He totaled 15.5 sacks in four years which included a career-high 6.5 as a junior. Cominsky is a little stiff in the hips and doesn’t have great speed or bend around the edge but what he does possess is active hands, strength, and power at the point of attack that he uses to shed blockers and make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage. He also possesses the versatility and size to line up inside to rush the passer in sub-packages or on stunts. He would be an ideal fit as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense.
OLB Kahzin Daniels, Charleston:
He is one of the most interesting and inspiring stories of this entire draft because of the fact that he lost all sight in his right eye in a horrific childhood accident but overcame his disability and starred in every sport he played growing up and in college. Daniels lined up on the opposite side of the line from Cominsky and was actually the more productive pass rushers by a wide margin. He more than doubled the total sack production of his fellow Golden Eagle during their four years with 34.5. His style and ability don’t mirror his teammates at all since his weight and leaner frame would make him better suited to play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 or hybrid defense.
Daniels uses a lightning-quick get off, blazing speed and good bend to get around the edge and wrap up the quarterback before he can get into his full drop back. He also uses lateral quickness to set the edge against the run and is able to utilize a couple of inside moves knife into the backfield. Despite his production and talent, his disability will likely force him to the seventh round or make him a highly sought-after commodity once undrafted free agency begins at the conclusion of day three of the draft.
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