NFL Preseason: Top 10 Young Players No One Is Talking About
The fascinating thing about "The Brady 6" is not only the fact that scouts, GMs and coaches thought that six quarterbacks were better than Brady but that they thought that thought that 198 players were better than Tom Brady.
Now a lot of people consider Brady to be one of the league's top six players, one of the greatest quarterbacks ever and all of those players that were drafted ahead of Brady would probably kill for his life. That is why the NFL draft is one of the most interesting sporting events because scouts, GMs and coaches really have not figured out an exact science to evaluating players. It's why it is important to analyze the entire NFL draft and it is why I have handpicked the 10 best young players that no one is talking about.
Because you never know—one day we might be watching "The Mallett 6."
10. Marvin Austin
A lot of people can say that Marvin Austin has character flaws for trying to get benefits from an agent at North Carolina but a lot of people can also say that Austin's situation was just pointing out the glaring flaws in a very broken NCAA system.
No one can say that Marvin Austin does not have first-round talent though. Expect Austin's speed, athleticism and determination to help the Giants this upcoming season.
9. Casey Matthews
Casey Matthews may not be the natural talent that his brother Clay is, but he has the same determination and toughness that are trademarks of Clay's game. Casey was one of the few shining stars on a putrid Oregon defense last season so not only does he know how to be a solid football player, he essentially already knows how to carry a defense.
His knowledge and determination should allow him to be a solid backup linebacker for the Eagles.
8. Luke Stocker
Luke Stocker has the physical tools to be a star tight end in the National Football League. Stocker has great blocking ability, even better hands and decent speed for a tight end. The Buccaneers were able to get Stocker for a fourth-round pick which helps his value increase even more.
With Stocker, the Buccaneers should have one of the better two-tight-end sets in the entire league.
7. Kelvin Sheppard
Sheppard was the leader of a defense that almost single-handedly carried the Tigers to 10 wins in what is almost unanimously considered the best football conference in America. Even though there may be some concerns about Sheppard's speed and build, you can almost see him as a guy that would not allow himself to fail because of his hard work.
Sheppard may not break through this season but I would not be surprised to see him as a starting linebacker in the future.
6. Nate Irving
Not even an awful car wreck could stop Irving from being one of the most productive linebackers in college football last season. Even after his gruesome accident, Irving was able to come back and carry NC State to its best season since the Philip Rivers era.
Irving will eventually be one of the best tacklers and pass-rushers from the linebacking position in the NFL.
5. Ryan Mallett
The only reason Ryan Mallett was not the first selection in the 2011 draft was Ryan Mallett. Ryan Mallett's off-field issues were the reason he fell to the third round and the New England Patriots.
Once Mallett understands that he was the reason he fell to the third round though, he could end up being the best quarterback in this draft class. Mallett has a rocket arm, a huge frame and accuracy that simply cannot be taught at this high of a level of football. If Brady gets injured and Mallett humbles himself, the drop-off between the two quarterbacks might not be too much.
4. DeMarco Murray
If you watched Murray thrive in Oklahoma's pass-heavy spread offense last season then you probably thought that he should be a first-round pick and not an early third-round pick. Murray's breakaway speed, ability to break tackles, determination and strength should allow him to compete for a lot of carries right away in Dallas.
Dallas has always struggled to establish an identity running the football and with Murray, they might eventually finally find that identity.
3. Austin Pettis
Pettis benefits from the situation he was drafted into. Pettis is going to get a lot of touches from day one in St. Louis because the Rams simply do not have a lot of other weapons offensively and look to be moving towards a pass-heavy offense.
Pettis looks to be a sleeper fantasy pick for this reason and has enough natural talent and confidence to eventually develop into a star in St. Louis.
2. Randall Cobb
The problem with combines and workouts is that they measure everything about the man except the character and determination of the man. Cobb is the perfect example of someone who NFL scouts completely missed the boat on and to realize this, all you have to do is look at this Cobb's unbelievable career so far.
Cobb was Mr. Tennessee coming out of high school but was not recruited by Tennessee (he committed to Kentucky). Cobb was a wide receiver but willingly started at quarterback for Kentucky his freshman year. Cobb set receiving records his sophomore and junior seasons at UK. Cobb carried Kentucky to three bowl games, and Cobb is widely known as one of the greatest Kentucky football players of all time.
Throughout his career, Cobb has defied the odds and this is not going to stop in the National Football League. Cobb has the speed, competitiveness and determination of Steve Smith but he can throw the ball. Cobb is already working his way up the Packers depth chart and do not be surprised if one day he is on top of the NFC Pro Bowl depth chart.
1. Da'Quan Bowers
The dirty secret of the NFL draft was that the real No. 1 overall draft pick was actually hurt. The real No. 1 overall draft pick was Da'Quan Bowers.
Bowers, who has a skill set that makes him seem like he is a more motivated version of Julius Peppers, only had a gimpy knee between himself and the glory that is being the first player taken in the draft. Instead, Bowers fell 50 spots because of his knees to a franchise that is legendary for its development of defensive linemen in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If Bowers is healthy he is going to be a Pro Bowl defensive end and if he is hurt he can still be a productive starter in the National Football League. You get the feeling that even the worst-case scenario for Bowers is better than the best case for the 50 players that were not supposed to be drafted ahead of him.