Every season, after thousands and tens-of-thousands of mock drafts and months of expert analysis, several teams surprise us at the NFL draft with names that were off our radar or, at least, much lower on our projected list.
That doesn’t keep us from trying to predict their choices, though. Here are five prospects who could see their value jump with a decent season and a little luck.
Max Sharping, OL- Northern Illinois
If Max Sharping played for a major university or against a stronger schedule, his name would already be bantered about as a top-ten draft pick. At 6-foot, 6-inches and 320 pounds, he has NFL size. Throw in a pair of quick feet and experience at both guard and tackle, and his name could be near the top of draft boards by next April.
Stanley Morgan, Jr, WR- Nebraska
He doesn’t exactly have an unrecognizable name, but Morgan Stanley, Jr has a little work to do if he is to move up the draft board. He comes equipped with deceptive speed, strong hands, and an ability to go get the ball. At 6-feet even and about 200 pounds, he projects as an NFL slot receiver. If he can bump up his yards-after-catch numbers, he’ll see serious attention from teams looking for someone who can line up anywhere on the field.
Easton Stick, QB- North Dakota State
Easton Stick has decent size, good arm strength, and athleticism. He owns a career 34-3 record and a league title. But the biggest thing he has going for him is Carson Wentz’s success. Wentz also came out of North Dakota State and one of his biggest assets was coming out of the NDSU system. Not only do they run a pro-style offense, but the quarterbacks call their own plays. Stick is not as big as Wentz, but questions about his ability to handle the NFL playbook should help him move to the front of the main pack before the draft.
Larry Allen, OL- Harvard
Larry Allen was an all-Ivy League offensive lineman in his first two seasons before he took a year off from football for personal reasons. He returns in 2018. He possesses great balance, leverage, and strength, as well as the smarts that got him into Harvard. Allen also has a pedigree. His dad was an excellent NFL lineman in his day. The only knock on Allen is his relatively small size at under 300 pounds. But it is hard to believe a pro team won’t take a chance on his talent.
Brett Rypien, QB- Boise State
Brett Rypien is the son of former Washington Redskins quarterback, Mark Rypien. The younger Rypien heads into his senior season at Boise State sporting a career 63% completion rate with a yards-per-attempt rate of 8.4 yards. He boasts a 60:22 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He is regarded as a steady and smart leader on the field. His draft status would be boosted considerably if he can lead his Boise teammates into another bowl this season.
Others to watch:
Keelan Doss, wide receiver from UC-Davis, and running back Devin Singletary from Florida International are not just dominating the competition at their level, they are annihilating it. If they get through 2021 without issues while maintaining their previous games, both could be mid-round picks come April.
Of course, April is a long time from now. Lots will happen, including a whole season of NCAA football begging for someone to step up and make us take notice. Time will tell if the players on our list end up among the lucky few in the NFL.