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SNS 2024 3rd Annual Deep Dive - Deep Sleepers Who Could Be Stars



This is the third consecutive season that SNS has conducted a Deep Dive on the upcoming draft class. Two years ago, SNS was amongst the first to inform the world about the pass rushing skill that was later displayed by Detroit Lions rookie EDGE James Houston, who recorded eight sacks in the final six games of the 2022 season. Who are some potential prospects ranked as sixth, seventh round, or UDFA talents that could surprise and become consistent NFL contributors or even stars like Houston did in Detroit?


Read on as SNS presents our Annual Deep Dive - 2024 NFL Draft Edition.

 

Josh Newton / CB / TCU (SNS Ranking - #161)

When top CBs are discussed in the 2024 NFL Draft, the names most often discussed, Cooper DeJean (Iowa), Quinyon Mitchell (Toledo), Nate Wiggins (Clemson), or Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama), never includes the veteran Horned Frogs CB. Newton is experienced and reliable with the versatility to play outside or cover the slot. He is a sneaky good athlete who lacks some desired agility, lateral quickness, and long speed but is physical, tough, and competitive with good jumping ability and closing burst. Newton was arguably the best DB on the 2022 National Championship runner-up and looks like a great special teamer and a quality depth piece as a rookie in 2024.

 

Jalen Calhoun / WR / Duke (SNS Ranking - #168)

In a draft with so much marquee talent at the top, it is easy to overlook a player like the Blue Devils senior. Calhoun lacks the desired size and length that NFL teams look for in an outside receiver and is not nearly as explosive as some of the top slot receivers in this class. But he is a crafty route runner with very reliable hands. He leverages routes well and uncovers easily against both man and zone coverage. Calhoun has plenty of experience and he is an NFL-caliber punt returner. Calhoun should get drafted late but if he goes undrafted, he’ll be a high priority UDFA who is a candidate to make an NFL team, or at least a practice squad, for the 2024 season.

 

Ron Stone / EDGE / Washington State (SNS Ranking - #170)

Stone, whose father Ron was a long time NFL IOL for four different NFL teams in the 90’s (Dallas, NY Giants, San Francisco, Oakland), is a speed rusher who lacks substantial power and strength and can be overpowered in the run game. But he is both quick and fast with an explosive burst on the QB and the loose hips and ankle flexion to bend and flatten on the QB. Stone may be limited to situational pass rushing duties and may not be athletic enough to play off the ball LB. But damn, he has moments where he is nearly unblockable in the passing game. Expect Stone to be a 6th or 7th round pick in Detroit this month.

 

Kenny Logan / S / Kansas (SNS Ranking - #199)

Logan was not invited to either the Senior Bowl or the NFL Scouting Combine and it may be because his foot speed and athleticism, on first glance, seem lacking. But watch his game film and where you find the ball, you are likely to find him, usually securing the tackle. Logan has good range due to his finely tuned instincts and knowledge of the opposing offense. He is experienced, durable, and has the perfect makeup for special team duties. Logan may not get drafted but will be difficult to cut by whichever NFL team signs him after the draft.

 

Kimani Vidal / RB / Troy (SNS Ranking - #212)

Vidal led FBS in rushing in 2023 and has a compact build reminiscent of former Dallas Cowboy RB Robert Newhouse – modest height, a thick, powerful build, and huge thighs that look like they belong on a 320-pound defensive tackle. Vidal bounces off tackle attempts like an oversized pinball and makes it difficult to land a solid shot on him. He’s tough and physical with a mean running style where he brings his pads on every carry. He needs work in pass protection and he has minimal production in the passing game, but he is a dominating inside runner who should at least carve out a role in an NFL backfield at some point next year.

 

Tre’Mon Morris-Brash / EDGE / UCF (SNS Ranking - #222)

TMB is being overlooked by the majority of draft analysts but he offers physical attributes that meet NFL standards (6023 / 256 / 32.3” Arms / 80.4” Wingspan) and he possesses an intriguing skill set that could fit either an even or odd front. TMB drops fluidly and covers a zone well where his wingspan clogs passing lanes and he breaks down well to secure the open field tackle. But what he does best is pressure the QB through a combination of power and speed with good bend to turn the corner. He should be a solid contributor on special teams early in his career where his length could be a boon as a kick and punt blocker.

 

Blake Watson / RB / Memphis (SNS Ranking - #255)

Watson, a transfer from Old Dominion, is the latest in the line of quite the impressive list of outstanding skill position players to be generated by the southern school the last few years - Tony Pollard (Tennessee), Antonio Gibson (New England), Calvin Austin (Pittsburgh), and Kenneth Gainwell (Philadelphia) have all been productive NFL contributors. Watson is somewhat similar to Gainwell in body type and playing style. Watson has a great burst through the hole and has great contact balance. He’s sudden and shifty and difficult to handle in space. He lacks power and does not break many tackles but is a nightmare in the open field. Watson may slide in this draft but proved at the East-West Shrine Game that he can run inside and be productive enough to play on Sundays this fall.

 

Frank Harris / QB / UTSA (SNS Ranking - #268)

Harris is a 7th year college football player with a substantial injury history who regressed noticeably over his senior season but was one of the best and most consistent signal callers in college football in 2021 and 2022. Harris has adequate size, very good arm strength, a clean delivery, and is highly accurate and displays nice touch on his intermediate passes. He has good field vision and very good open field running ability with natural leadership skills. He tends to play “hero” ball and forces passes he shouldn’t but he has the arm and athleticism of an NFL QB. Harris is likely to go undrafted in Detroit this weekend but he has upside worth developing.

 

Drake Stoops / WR / Oklahoma (SNS Ranking - #280)

Stoops, son of former Sooner coach Bob Stoops, is an undersized slot receiver who lacks some desired speed and has a significant injury history in college. And unfortunately for Stoops, this draft has great depth in quantity and quality of slot receivers and Stoops suffers by comparison. But Stoops is quick and tough and willing to work the middle of the field, make the catch, take the hit, and hold on to the ball. He has reliable hands and is a very effective blocker out of the slot, an underrated component of a slot receiver’s responsibilities. Stoops may not get drafted but he has enough athleticism and a high football IQ to make a team or practice squad next fall.

 

Nick Jackson / LB / Iowa (SNS Ranking - #283)

Jackson has more than three years of productivity in Power 5 football (two years at Virginia and last season at Iowa) and is an absolute tackling machine with outstanding instincts, especially in the run game. Surprisingly, Jackson did not garner an invitation to any all-star game or the combine despite all of his production, a warning sign that the NFL does not value his game. Jackson lacks some desired size and speed and has limited range due to tightness in his hips. But he is a baller who loves the game, is physical and intense, and projects as an outstanding special teams player, if given the opportunity to play in the NFL.

 

William Barnes / OT / North Carolina (SNS Ranking - #291)

In a draft that has so many starting caliber offensive lineman, both OT and IOL, some players are likely to fall through the cracks and go undrafted. Barnes, a multi-year starter at OLT for the Tar Heels, may not be able to stay on the outside in the NFL but has desired attributes to slide inside and contribute as a versatile depth piece all along the line. Barnes has good size and length and plays with a wide base. He has difficulty handling stunts and games and has balance issues and is on the ground too much. But Barnes is strong, tough, and physical. He has an excellent chance to make a practice squad this fall.

 

Kalen DeLoach / LB / Florida State (SNS Ranking - #294)

DeLoach has a very good chance to get drafted this weekend due to his outstanding speed, agility, and range. He lacks size and length and may not have the attributes to play safety at the NFL level.  DeLoach has a tendency to try to run around blocks and can be neutralized when ran at due to lacking some strength and ability to shed blocks. But he is an excellent blitzer with the athleticism to handle TEs and RBs in space in pass coverage. DeLoach looks like an outstanding special teams player, which may make him a late draftable prospect this weekend in Detroit.


 

SNS will be posting new articles every day through the NFL Draft with SNS Final Top 300 Prospect Rankings, a complete set of Final 2024 Position Rankings, SNS’ Annual Deep Dive look at some deep sleepers in the 2024 class, an analysis of Michigan’s 18 invitees to the NFL Scouting Combine, a positional in-depth analysis of the QBs, WRs, and IDL available in the draft, and a complete 7 Round Mock Draft! 


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