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The first round of the NFL Draft is this Thursday, April 25th, at 8 PM ET. Because of this, starting today I am going to post a NFL Draft sleeper piece every morning until the draft. There is very little chance that any of these guys are selected in the first round on Thursday, they will probably be picked somewhere in rounds 2-7, that take place Friday and Saturday. In this edition I am going to profile Robert Alford of Southeastern Louisiana, Vance McDonald of Rice, and Devin Taylor of South Carolina.
Robert Alford, CB SE Louisiana
Alford is a little smaller than you would like at corner in the NFL (5’10, 188 lbs.), but what he lacks in size, he surely makes up in athleticism. He ran a 4.39 40 yard dash, had a 40 inch vertical jump, and 132 inch broad jump. On tape, Alford plays very physical, shows very good press coverage skills, and was simply dominant during his senior season, although it was not against elite competition. He shows incredible ball skills and was a great returner in college. His tackling is a little inconsistent, he is definitely going to have to work on that at the next level. Alford will probably be taken somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd round. Check out Alford’s highlight tape below.
Vance McDonald, TE Rice
Vance McDonald is a big TE (6’4, 267 lbs.) that was used all over the field while he was at Rice. He has the athleticism to line up in the slot, which many teams like to do with their tight ends now. While McDonald is not incredibly fast, he is a nice fluid athlete, and is quick in and out of his cuts. He is very good in space, especially for a guy of his size. As a blocker, he does struggle against bigger players, but he does have good form and his 31 bench press reps show that he does have good natural strength. I think he has the potential to be a good blocker at the next level with the right coaching. He also struggles with drops at times, and obviously that is not something you like to see. I see McDonald going either in the late 2nd round, or in the 3rd. The video below is tape of McDonald vs. Louisiana Tech last season. His versatility is obvious which watching this.
Devin Taylor, DE South Carolina
Taylor is as raw as they come when it comes to NFL prospects, but the potential is most definitely there. At 6-foot-7 and weighing 275 pounds, with a massive wingspan of 87 inches, Taylor has elite size for the Defensive End position. He uses his height and wingspan very nicely to bat down passes. Taylor has good speed, and is overall a great athlete for a guy his size. So with all the size in the world and great athleticism, why is Devin Taylor flying under the radar? Well, he simply did not put up extremely impressive numbers while at South Carolina. He just seems to disappear at times. He plays way too high, which is certainly not a good thing, especially for a player of his height. Taylor obviously has all of the potential in the world, but he has yet to put it together, and some wonder if he ever will. If I was a NFL GM, that potential would be intriguing enough for me to draft him somewhere between rounds 4-6, which is where I think he will go. Here is Taylor’s highlight tape, which is very impressive.