NFL Draft Top 10: Low-profile New England college prospects
|04.24.12 at 7:41 pm ET|
Spoiler alert for you area football fans: Boston College’s Luke Kuechly and UConn’s Kendall Reyes are going to get drafted — early. Fortunately for New Englanders, there’s more than just those two prospects in this year’s draft class. Aside from Kuechly and Reyes, here’s a look at some of the other players from New England schools who could get their names called during this week’s NFL draft.
1. Emil Igwenagu, TE/FB, UMass – The two-time captain lined up all over the field for the Minutemen, showing off a wide array of skills on the field, but he did not really come off the charts at any one spot. Igwenagu worked out as a tight end when he attended the combine, attempting to show off enough athleticism to play the far-more-utilized position at the NFL level. Scouts look at him as a powerful, intriguing prospect who may struggle against more athletic NFL defenders. If NFL teams have plans for him, Igwenagu could come off the board at the beginning of Day 3 of the draft.
2. Donnie Fletcher, CB, Boston College – Overshadowed by Kuechly as an NFL prospect, Fletcher projects well as a long cornerback who would fit into a zone-heavy coverage scheme. At a little above 6-foot and 199 pounds, he has great size and an ability to be physical with receivers and aggressive in coverage. Fletcher ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the combine (0.01 seconds slower than top cornerback prospect Morris Claiborne) and could find a spot as a gunner on special teams. Look for him to come off the board at some point on Day 3.
3. Shawn Loiseau, LB, Merrimack – As a physical specimen, Loiseau is somewhat lacking. While he has decent size for a linebacker, his combine numbers, fluidity and Division 2 pedigree are behind the pack. However, Loiseau’s stock is based on his reputation as a disruptive, tenacious defender with great instincts rather than his natural talents. Loiseau has gained a reputation as a player who constantly plays with a chip on his shoulder and shows solid pursuit and tackling skills into addition to a raw ability to fight off blocks. An intriguing prospect, Loiseau will likely get a look on Day 3 due to his on-the-field intensity and value as a special teamer.
4. Jeron McMillian, SS, Maine – McMillian brings average size, but terrific speed and athleticism to the safety spot and comes into the draft with exceptional upside for a team willing to groom him as a player. McMillian disappointed at the combine with a 4.56-second 40-yard dash, but he blew scouts away at Maine’s pro day with a 4.35 40 time. Meanwhile, his 36.5-inch vertical leap ranked third at the combine. McMillian had a productive career for the Black Bears, showing great range and ability to come up and play the run, although his ball skills and ability to line up and man coverage need work. McMillian is a fringe prospect who could hear his name called in the last couple of rounds but certainly will end up on a team at some point.
5. Kashif Moore, WR, UConn – The 5-foot-9 Moore is a compact but electric receiver who could have a lot of success at the slot receiver position. The two-time captain for the Huskies ran a 4.42-second 40 time at the combine, but is more effective in getting separation underneath than vertically. With his small frame, Moore is at a disadvantage when matched up against press coverage at the line of scrimmage. Look for him to line up inside, off the ball, where he can use his skills to his advantage. Moore is unlikely to get drafted but could hear his name called if a team like the Raiders or Eagles take a flier on a speedster slot receiver.
6. Dave Teggart, K, UConn – After a solid career at UConn, Teggart may have trouble transitioning to the NFL level. A clutch prospect with solid accuracy from 20-40 yards, Teggart has also shown a decent leg with an ability to hit 50-plus-yarders at a solid rate. However, scouts have picked apart his ability from 40-49 yards, a distance today’s NFL kickers are expected to make consistently. Also, Teggart has limited experience with kickoff duties and does not have elite leg strength, something that NFL teams are looking for with the new kickoff rules making touchbacks a bigger factor. Teggart probably won’t get drafted unless a team falls in love with his accuracy and use him in the right role, but he’ll land in a team’s camp at some point.
7. Julian Talley, WR, UMass – Talley was a four-year contributor for the Minutemen, but he really didn’t emerge as a top target until his junior season, when he displayed separation skills and an ability to stretch the field. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Talley has solid size and runs with power, combining it with surprising quickness. Talley also served as UMass’ kick returner as a sophomore and punt returner during his last two seasons. His balls skills, along with his route-running, leave room for improvement and proved to be streaky at times for the Minutemen. While he won’t likely hear his name during the draft, Talley will get some attention as an undrafted free agent.
8. Patrick Witt, QB, Yale – The former Nebraska transfer and Rhodes Scholarship candidate has a below-average arm but makes up for it with size, a quick release and an ability to work exceptionally well with short-yardage throws. Witt could develop into a Chad Pennington-type passer, who’s more accurate than powerful in his throws, as long as he maintains an ability to go through his progressions and make correct reads. When he does make the throw, Witt does have a record of having weak spirals and throws that get away from him, especially deep. Witt could perform well if put in the right system, such as a West Coast offense, but has a long way to go in terms of becoming an NFL passer and will probably be working his way up as an undrafted free agent.
9. Brian McNally, DE, New Hampshire – A spectacular pass rusher at the FCS level, McNally has a long way to go to translate that skill set to the NFL level. At just under 6-foot-3 and 258 pounds, McNally lacks prototypical size for an NFL defensive lineman and does not have the top-end strength to make up for it. The UNH captain broke the school’s single-season sack record with 13.5 as a junior and made his mark as a disruptive, relentless defender, but he has not created enough buzz to warrant a draft pick.
10. Max Holloway, DE/OLB, Boston College – Holloway’s decision to leave school early left some scratching their heads. The junior has already earned his degree and was one of the Eagles’ top defenders last season, but he had hardly made a blip on any scouts’ radars in terms of NFL potential. After not receiving an invite to the scouting combine, Holloway only had one real shot to impress scouts at BC’s pro day, but he didn’t create much buzz. Holloway could get a camp invite, but from there it’s going to be an uphill battle for him.
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