NFL Hot Press



Sources Identify Three Small-school Sleepers

Updated Aug. 21, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

The 2018 NFL Draft process is well underway around the NFL as scouts hit fall practices around the nation. Teams start out with watchlists, and WalterFootball.com has identified a lot of the top prospects with some small-school sleepers who made a favorable impression on team evaluators last spring while those watchlists were being put together. In speaking with team sources, they identified three more sleepers who have stood out to them from watching fall practice. Those players are Tulane defensive end Ade Aruna, Southern cornerback Danny Johnson and Southeast Louisiana linebacker Sione Teuhema.

The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Aruna is said to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.65-4.75-second range, which is very fast for a defensive end. Aruna is only in his fifth year of organized football and is considered to be supremely raw. However, sources say that he is a fast, explosive athlete who is still harnessing his talent and learning the game. In 2016 as a junior, he totaled 43 tackles with 10 for a loss, five sacks and one forced fumble for the Green Wave. Sources say that the senior has the frame to hold 280 pounds and could be a 4-3 open-edge defensive end. 

Johnson is said to be a 5-foot-9, 185-pounder who runs the 40 in the 4.35-4.45-second range, which is an extremely fast time. He isn't just a fast sprinter; he led the FCS in interceptions last year with seven. Johnson also missed three games, so he ended up recording an interception in all but one game he played in. Johnson also chipped in 57 tackles with nine passes broken up. Scouts have favorably compared Johnson to other small-school cornerbacks like the Falcons' Robert Alford and Jets' Buster Skrine. Sources say that Johnson is further along at this stage than both Alford and Skrine were. These sources think that Johnson is a tough defender and built to be an NFL nickelback. 

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Teuhema is the older brother of Maea Teuhema, who was a standout guard for LSU before leaving the program this year. Sources say that Sione Teuhema played last season with an ACL injury and still showed explosiveness and athleticism. They think he could be an effective rusher as a Sam (strongside) linebacker in the NFL. In eight games last year, he had four sacks. Scouts are excited to see how Teuhema plays with better health and more experience this season.  



Top Scout Sees Three Prospects Better Than Quarterbacks

Updated Aug. 8, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Entering the 2017 college football season, a lot has been made about the high level of talent and the abundance of quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Louisville's Lamar Jackson and UCLA's Josh Rosen have all been projected to be high picks next spring. While the demand for quarterback prospects is endless, one top scout who already has worked a lot on the 2018 NFL Drafyt prospects said, entering the season, he thinks there are three elite prospects who are currently better prospects than any of those quarterbacks. He sees that group comprised of LSU defensive end Arden Key, Washington offensive tackle Trey Adams and Florida State safety Derwin James. 

This source is a passionate believer in Key being a unique prospect, labelling him as the most-developed and diverse pass-rusher who the SEC has had over the past decade, including Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. The source sees Key as having transcendent ability for what he can do on the field. They think that Key may not be as explosive with raw power or raw speed but is way ahead and more advanced on pressuring the quarterback as a rusher.

When healthy, that evaluator sees James as also having transcendent ability for what he can do for his defense. In short, both players are ones a defense can be built around. Adams, meanwhile, has impressed with his athleticism and physicality. 

All that being said, this evaluator also said lot can happen on the field and off the field in the months to come. James barely played in 2016 because of a knee injury, so all eyes will be on if he returns to his pre-injury form. Key took some time away from the program during the spring for "personal reasons," plus underwent shoulder surgery that has his status for the beginning of the season in jeopardy. Adams had an excellent finish to the 2016 season, and he will be challenged in maintaining that high level of play. Of course, the demand for franchise quarterbacks could easily push signal-callers ahead of these three prospects, but heading into the season, some evaluators see Key, James and Adams being the top football players for the 2018 NFL Draft.  



Top Scout Sees Ohio State's Jerome Baker and Clemson's Kendall Joseph on Day 2

Updated Aug. 1, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

A year ago, I had a report that scouts were warning that Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware was being an overhyped prospect by the media heading into the season. This year, sources have pointed to Kendall Jospeh, another Tigers linebacker, as being overrated along with Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker Jr. One team scout who did advance work and grading of these prospects had them as late second-day or early third-day prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Baker (6-1, 225) is known for being a super-fast linebacker with rare speed for the position. That has caused some draft experts to project him high for the 2018 NFL Draft entering the 2017 season. Joseph was Clemson's best linebacker on its National Championship team last year, racking up over 100 tackles on the season. As far as translating for the NFL, Baker and Joseph have more to prove heading into this year. Here's is how one top scout broke them down:

    "They are true 4-3 Will linebackers with some value in today's game because of how offenses play nowadays. Versus the run, they run around more blocks than they take on, but have the speed to get away with that versus the average [offensive] lines they face. More of Day 2 [to] early Day 3 guys because they're good players, not complete guys. There are exceptions, but I didn't see anything exceptional in their play, just good, solid instinctive guys. In the right system, they'll play in the [NFL], but over time, they're a dime a dozen - all these oversized safeties running around as linebackers now. Baker looks like a decent athlete, nothing special. He's basically getting the old Miami, Florida State, or Penn State "Linebacker U" treatment, ... getting pushed into Round 1 conversation because of the tradition of some other recent guys and mold from the school."


There is a lot of football to play this fall, so Baker and Joseph could end up pushing their respective stocks higher. Heading into the season though, NFL teams aren't as high on these two as some in the media have projected.




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