After watching Twitter and the internet since returning from Mobile, there is already a consensus of people’s opinions on the so-called best NFL Draft and fantasy prospects. Much of their talents get debated over and over. I want to take a few articles to discuss the “lesser known” for the lack of a better term. These are the players that have talent, but maybe play in smaller schools or are just less publicized than a Teddy Bridgewater, Carlos Hyde, Sammy Watkins, etc. Here are a few more of those players that might be valuable come rookie draft time:
Kapri Bibbs, RB COL ST
The young running back looks smaller than his listed 5′ 11″ 203 lbs. The traits that jump out of the screen are his explosive burst, his good lateral agility that helps him make people miss, and his downfield vision. He reads his blocks well and takes what is there. Bibbs always keeps his feet moving and has good balance.
On the other hand, it seems that Bibbs is very offensive line dependent as he needs a crease to exploit otherwise the back gets caught up in the trash at the line of scrimmage. There were several occasions that he got bottled up with no room to move. I have concerns that Bibbs runs a bit too upright and doesn’t get his hips behind him to generate power. Along with that, the back is a better outside runner who might be only be a third down back in the NFL and not a starter. The problem with that is he is not an accomplished pass blocker, but Bibbs can pluck the ball well out of the air. Perhaps a team can use him as a returner to take advantage of his quicks, vision, and balance. I have a hard time believing that he will evolve into a starter, but he might be valuable in deeper leagues.
Bruce Ellington. WR SO CARO
Yes, his cousin Andre Ellington is the second year Arizona Cardinals running back, and Bruce is a former college basketball player that got influenced by Andre to play college football. The wide out is built closer to a running back than a receiver at 5′ 9″ and 196 lbs while playing more like a running back in the open field too. While he spent most of the time lined out in the slot, Ellington can also be on the line of scrimmage as he has the quicks and strength to fight the jam. Despite his statute, the young receiver can climb the ladder getting to the highest point to make receptions and difficult catches in traffic. He is a willing blocker in both the running and passing games.
Ellington is very explosive, has quick feet, and can get behind his coverage with deep speed. The receiver tracks the ball well in the air, makes adjustments mid-stream contorting his body to the ball, all while catching the ball with his hands and not his body. He maintains his balance well and keeps moving forward despite initial contact. Unlike most young receivers, the wide out has a good sense of concentration which he not only uses to secure the catch, but also to maintain his feet to make sure they tap before going out-of-bounds. Ellington is also full of tricks as he can throw an accurate pass as he tossed a touchdown against Wisconsin this season. The draft buzz on Ellington is very low right now, so keep an eye out for him during the entire process. I think this wide out could be a huge steal in the last or second to last rounds of your rookie drafts.
Josh Huff, WR Oregon
Huff was one of the wide receiver standouts at the Senior Bowl, who is definitely worthy of tape review. The wide out is quite versatile as he lines up in the shotgun beside the quarterback, in the slot, and split out wide. I recently reviewed his 2013 games against Texas, Tennessee, and Oregon State. Huff does a great job catching the ball in stride out in front of him and at times looked a bit Percy Harvin-ish. He is dangerous out in open spaces and was explosive on bubble screens as he can break arm tackles in a hurry and dart down the sidelines. The wide receiver adjusts to the ball midair, skies high to get to the pigskin, shows good balance, and has the speed to get behind the defense.
The wide out grabs the ball at its highest point, always using his hands to make the catch, not his body. He can start and stop quickly with his quick feet making over aggressive defensive backs miss. While he is only 5′ 10″ 201 lbs., Huff is an athletic, muscular guy who can hurdle people, knock defenders off his body if they try to tackle too high, and catches well in traffic.. The receiver works his way back to his quarterback when under pressure and finds a spot in the zone, who then sits down waiting for the ball.
Huff is also helpful in the running game as he can carry the ball in short yardage situations, although he did not look that comfortable doing so. The wide out blocks well downfield, but would occasionally get too aggressive. If you watch any film of him, I would watch the fourth quarter of the Oregon State game. Huff made a crucial fourth and eleven play in the red zone for a touchdown to grab the lead and made a leaping touchdown grab with a defender draped all over him in the end zone with less than a minute left to seal the game. The talented junior wide outs will push his value down the board, but do not forget about Huff.
Jordan Tripp, OLB MON
I was so impressed with his burst, high motor, and athleticism in Mobile that more film study was needed. The aggressive linebacker flows well to the ball with his good vision and instincts. He did over pursue occasionally, possesses exceptional lateral agility that can make up for it. Tripp is explosive off the snap on designed pass rushes and can speed past blockers or dip his shoulder to swim around them.
The outside backer covers running backs and tight ends for short distances and is good at “tackling the catch”. That is a Dick Lebeau term that means the defender might not stop the reception, but the ball carrier does not gain additional yardage once the catch is made. Tripp should be an excellent outside pass rusher who you can get much later in your rookie drafts as most people will be obsessing about Auburn’s Dee Ford. I would not suggest putting him on your radar until the fourth round in most rookie drafts as there will be plenty of offensive talent lying around for a while in those.
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