Well, the day is finally here. Today is the beginning of the 2013 NFL Draft. As a NFL nut, this is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only today with the first round, but I also enjoy the next two days. The later rounds in the draft are much more faster paced, there are many trades, and it is fun to see where my sleeper picks end up. These are the last of my sleepers for the 2013 NFL Draft: Johnathan Franklin from UCLA, Quanterus Smith of Western Kentucky, and Rogers Gaines of Tennessee State.
In today’s NFL, I am a big fan of not drafting the running back position early. While they are sometimes hard to predict, there are always backs taken in the middle to late rounds who turn out to produce for teams. I think that Franklin has a good chance to be one of those guys. He has good size for a back (5’10, 205 lbs.), has been a very productive runner at a high level in college, and has good speed (4.49 40 yard dash). Franklin has made many defenders miss, showing very good quickness in and out of his cuts. He also shows good vision, usually picking the right hole at the right time. He is certainly not afraid of contact either, sticking his nose in there over and over again, always fighting for the extra yard.
Even though his 40 time was pretty solid, the biggest weakness in Franklin’s game is his straight line speed. He is not slow by any means, but he does not posses that elite burst. Also, he struggles in pass protection, and that will have to be improved if he expects to be a starting running back in the league. If I was a team looking for a running back, Franklin is a guy that I would be targeting in the 2nd or 3rd round. Check out his highlight video below.
Quanterus Smith, DE/OLB WKU
Quanterus Smith is one of the best values in this draft, in my opinion. The 6’5, 250 pound pass rusher was very productive at Western Kentucky. He led the nation with 12.5 sacks through 10 games in 2012, but then tore his ACL, and missed the rest of the season. Smith is still rehabbing his knee, so he did not work out for teams at all throughout the draft process. Although he never played from a two-point stance in college, I think that Smith could be an outside rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense. His size probably fits that position well anyways. Smith has great length that NFL coaches covet. He uses his length very well to disrupt the passing lanes. He is very quick off the ball, regularly beating his man by pure speed. Smith could afford to add a few pounds, and you always have to wonder about him playing against weaker competition in the Sun Belt, but of course, the biggest question is his knee. If Smith rehabs well, and returns fully healthy, I think he will turn out to be the biggest steal in the draft, probably going very late, somewhere between round 5-7. The video below is tape of Smith in a game against Florida International.
Rogers Gaines, OT Tennessee State
It is usually tough for offensive lineman from smaller schools to succeed in the NFL. It does happen, but it is pretty rare. Guys who did not play in the FBS, tend to be sloppier with their technique. That technique is huge for an offensive lineman, but teams will take a risk for size and athleticism in later rounds of the draft. Gaines certainly has the size part of it down. This guy is a monster at 6’7 and 330 pounds. It is not often that you can select a Left Tackle prospect in the later rounds, but this guy has perfect size for the position. The always important combine measurement for offensive linemen is arm length, and Gaines checks out at 36 1/4″, which was second in the OL group. Gaines moves pretty well for a guy of his size, showing good foot quickness with reach blocks. Gaines dominated most players he faced at the FCS level, which was to be expected. It may take some time, but I think Gaines has a chance in the NFL, if a team is patient with him. He is an obvious project, but he has big time potential. In the 7th round, I think a team will take a chance on him, hoping to get a Left Tackle on the cheap.