IRONMAN a.k.a. Tony Stark
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Re: Prospecting for Draft Day "Sleepers"
Looking for this draft's Marques Colston
(April 5, 2007) -- Last year, the New Orleans Saints hit it big late in the seventh round of the draft when they took a chance on a wide receiver from Hofstra named Marques Colston.
Colston was at the Scouting Combine but didn't distinguish himself. His Division I-AA college film made him look like a free-agent prospect. One scout said he played at the outside receiver spot in a run-and-shoot-type offense and wasn't much of a playmaker. Another scout read back his report to me the other day and it said "inconsistent hands." A third personnel man said Colston was the 29th wide receiver on his team's board. Heck, the Saints themselves took wide receiver Mike Hass in the sixth round and he was supposed to be the rookie wide receiver while Colston filled out the camp roster and hopefully got a practice-squad spot in September.
Marques Colston's Combine performance didn't indicate how good a pro he'd be.
For the record, at the Combine, Colston ran a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash and a very pedestrian 4.43 short shuttle, but he did have a 37-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-3 broad jump and a 6.94 three-cone drill at 6-4?, 224 pounds. He had enough to work with but had to hear 251 names before his was called. He finished his rookie season with more Rookie of the Year votes than his teammate, Reggie Bush, the draft's No. 2 overall pick. Teams around the league are hoping they find this year's Marques Colston -- a sleeper, if you will!
A true sleeper is a player that is probably from a Division I-AA school or smaller and will fall to the seventh round because no one is convinced he can do it on the NFL level. No one thought Jim Finn from the University of Pennsylvania could play in the NFL. The Bears took him with the last pick in the 1999 draft, cut him during camp, and eight seasons later he's still starting in the NFL. The scout who finds the next Marques Colston could also find his career take off a year or two later.
Here are some sleeper candidates with a chance to be the 2007 Colston award-winner:
Jacoby Jones, WR, Lane College: Jones is 6-2, 210 pounds with 4.5 speed in the 40. He had 200 receptions and 21 touchdowns.
Kevin Boss, TE, Western Oregon: Boss is 6-6?, 253 pounds with 4.7 speed. He had 134 receptions and 19 touchdowns.
Michael Allen, TE, Whitworth: Allen is 6-6, 255 pounds with 4.7 speed. He had 118 receptions and 29 touchdowns.
Daren Stone, S, Maine: Stone is 6-3, 218 pounds with great leaping ability. He also had an 11-foot broad jump and a 39-inch vertical jump.
Justin Durant, LB, Hampton: Durant is 6-0, 230 pounds with 4.6 speed. He had 353 tackles, including 47 for a loss and 12 sacks.
David Ball, WR, New Hampshire: Ball is no secret with 299 receptions and 62 touchdowns.
Corey Graham, CB, New Hampshire: Graham is a returner who had a broken leg this year but was a tackling machine.
Laurent Robinson, WR, Illinois State: Robinson is 6-2, 199 pounds with 4.38 speed. His 6.55 in the three-cone drill was one of the best this year.
Finally, what makes the NFL great and a place where nothing should surprise you is that last year when I did a piece on sleepers, I didn't have Colston on the list. So, is this year's sleeper still deeply embedded in the draft class?