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It’s that time of year when I turn my focus to the college bowl games to gain insight. I will do my best to find some draft eligible players that could improve your dynasty teams. This article intends to start conversations and encourage continued thought throughout the entire draft process. These are my observations based on the bowl games, unless otherwise indicated. There will be much more in-depth, thought-provoking discussions later in the offseason. I am listing these players alphabetically.

RB-Leon Allen, Western Kentucky- This runner has very quick feet, gets low in the hole, and usually makes the first guy miss in the open field.  He uses an effective stiff-arm to keep defenders off his body, sees the entire field well, and can jump cut away from trouble. Allen sells his fake hand-offs well freezing the defense, gets small in the hole, and possesses a nice burst all while falling forward.  As a receiver, the back has soft hands and almost connected on  a wheel route for a touchdown had the throw been just a bit more accurate.  He did get knocked back when pass blocking, but stayed in front of his blitzer.  Allen did not break many tackles, instead he got caught up in the line of scrimmage trash.  If he didn’t get to the open field or had clear running lanes, the back didn’t have the power or leg drive to make more out of the play.  The young runner looks like more of a change of pace/third down back at the next level.

WR-Titus Davis, Central Michigan- His stat line is quite impressive: six catches for 142 yards and four touchdowns in this bowl game.  While Davis did have a fantastic statistical game, it doesn’t tell the entire story.  The young receiver got targeted over 15 times. Western Kentucky had a five touchdown lead beginning the fourth quarter and let CMU rally back within one point to end the game (he scored that touchdown on a multi-player lateral).  Davis catches the ball at its highest point, timing his jumps well.  He has excellent vision tracking the ball well in the air, reads blocks well and anticipating running lanes.  The receiver has good body control, contorting to the ball in the air, and makes difficult catches with defenders draped on him. Davis changes directions on a dime, has a lot of wiggle to avoid tacklers, shields the pigskin from his coverage, and keeps his legs driving making him difficult to tackle. His shoulder shake and foot speed make him difficult to tackle in the open field making him quite dangerous in the bubble screen game.

I have some concerns with his game though.  Davis forgot the snap count on a critical third and long, jumping the snap which led to a punt.  The receiver barely gets in front of defenders as a run blocker, and shows little effort when he doesn’t get targeted.  When a teammate catches the ball, he starts looking around for the next play to begin.

S-Dechane Durante, Northern Illinois- The young defensive back is more ideally suited to play a free safety role over the top in the center of the field.  I did not see a big physical presence from him, because he is so tall and lanky.  Durante tried to push ball carriers down or trying to tackle them off-balance, instead of using wrap-up tackling them.  He shadows receivers quite well, even from the slot when he gives ten to fifteen yards of cushion, but can play tight coverage near the goal line.  The defender breaks on the ball quickly and has good closing speed chasing down the ball carrier from the other side of the field.

S-Derron Smith, Fresno State-  Unlike Durante, Smith plays a lot smarter and a more physical safety role.  He can play over the top as a free safety in passing situations, but walks up towards the line of scrimmage in rushing situations.  The defender has a natural back pedal, it’s just smooth effortless movement.  Smith sees the entire field well, has quick closing speed while breaking on the ball immediately.  He is a great tackler, controlling the hips of the player while wrapping them up as he takes them to the ground. When asked, the defensive back can cover receivers out of the slot.  The defender knows his role and does not overreact to plays, leaving himself in position to breakup the pass, make the interception, or tackle the catch.  Smith got used a few times as a blitzer, and came close to sacking the quarterback.  He disengages from blockers almost as well a linebacker would.  His versatility also is in play as a punt returner.  Smith has quick feet and good lateral agility usually making his first man miss. Whomever drafts him will get a solid defender and special teams player.


One Comment

    • Robert Goodrich
    • Posted January 24, 2015 at 1:09 AM
    • Permalink

    Derron Smith is the real deal – a three time all conference first team player at both CB and safety at Fresno State. He
    was leading the country in interceptions until FS had a dismal season in 2014. Smart, never in trouble off the field and
    some team is going to get a very hard nosed defenseman that also can return kickoffs and punts too.

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