NFL Draft 2011: Scott Lutrus and Round 6 Sleepers
(This is the continuation of a series that I wanted to do this year, where the usual exclusivity of the draft coverage was shaken up. Instead of focusing on only round one, why not look at perspective sleepers in rounds two through seven? I've already looked over rounds two, three, four and five. Stay tuned tomorrow for a look at round seven.)
Round six of the draft will always be famous as long as Tom Brady is in the league. Without question, he's the shining example of what can happen if everything clicks for a second rounder.
Yet he's also a great example of why so many sixth rounders don't work out. The circumstances that allowed Brady to become successful (great coach, great defense) were coupled with the fact that he fell into a starting role (due to the Bledsoe injury) at a time when he had been able to improve following his rookie season.
Had any of those factors not occurred in exactly that way, it's very likely Tom Brady, talented or not, wouldn't have panned out the way he has.
So in the sixth round of this year's draft, watch out for guys who have one thing that they do really well, or small school players that "nobody knows about"...
Shiloh Keo, S, Idaho
As the ESPN report card says about Keo, he "doesn't look the part."
That they even say something like that is ridiculous. How many montages of Antoine Bethea (a former sixth rounder himself) or Nick Collins do these people have to watch before they realize THERE IS NO LOOKING THE PART?
The question should be "are you good at football or not?"
And in that category, Shiloh Keo has done well for himself. Named team captain the last two years, he has consistently made plays since first becoming a starter as a freshman.
He might add a special teams dimension, but he can certainly contribute.
Cecil Shorts III, WR, Mount Union
I know, I know. He'll probably get picked before the sixth round! But I had to add him in somewhere. His resume is a classic later round NFL success story (hope I don't jinx it too badly).
Yet because of his small school and middle of the road 40 time, he clearly wasn't going to be taken highly. His production in college was, frankly, scary.
In 55 games for Mount Union, he had 63 touchdown receptions! Plus, he rushed for 12 touchdowns and added two punt return td's and a kickoff that he took to the house. The guy knows how to play football.
He's no Jerry Rice from Mississippi Valley State, but he could be a solid NFL receiver.
Derek Newton, OT, Arkansas State
Another player who might have gone higher if he wasn't coming off knee surgery following last season. A solid player who is quicker rather than bigger.
More than anything else, he's tough. Newton played with a torn meniscus and a bone bruise last season and kept going until football ended. That's a serious pain threshold.
When he is healthy, though, he can be a force. He won his team's award for best lineman in 2009 and has shown to be a crafty player, tricking opposing lineman with false calls. He also seems to have a good football I.Q.
Scott Lutrus, OLB, Connecticut
Lutrus has flown under the radar pretty consistently despite quietly possessing a decent body of work. He put in good times at the coveted combine, scoring close to some of the best marks by any linebacker invited.
He's was a two year captain on a burgeoning Connecticut football program that's on the heels of a BCS Bowl Game for the first time in its history.
And he's also a former Big East All-Academic team. That's not too bad as far as sixth round picks go. At the very least, he would add leadership and athleticism to a backup role or special teams unit.