Chris Steuber Journal
Posted: April 3, 2012
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Arizona Athletics | Illustration by Chris Steuber
Foles isn't the most athletic quarterback in the draft, but he can spin the ball as well as anyone.
We’re less than a month away from the NFL Draft, and prospects are being shuffled on draft boards like a deck of cards. It’s all a part of the process, and there are many factors contributing to why a player is pushed up or down on a board.
Here are five offensive players that I feel are being undervalued at this point and time for various reasons - whether it’s because they didn’t test out well, don’t possess the desired attributes, slowed by injuries, etc.
Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
It’s apparent Foles isn’t a great athlete; he needs time to set up and deliver the ball, and he takes too many sacks due to his lack of mobility. I get it; it’s hard to ignore his deficiencies, which were extremely evident this offseason. However, every quarterback reacts differently in an All-Star environment; players are expected to learn the playbook immediately, adapt to new players and surroundings, and deal with all of the off-the-field demands during the week.
A lot of players shine during the draft process, others struggle, and it appeared Foles wasn’t ready for everything that was thrown at him this offseason. But, don’t write off the 6-foot-5, 243-pound signal caller. It feels as if many have and that’s a mistake, because he has the talent to be a starting quarterback at the next level.
Foles is a true pocket passer, and with time he goes through his progressions well and spins one of the best balls in the entire draft class. He can make all of the necessary throws and delivers an accurate, catchable pass to his receivers. He’s also an extremely hard worker, who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities and would be a great candidate for a team in need of a developmental quarterback.
Currently, Foles is rated 58th overall on my board, and I project him to be a late second, early third round draft pick. It’s possible that he falls beyond the third-round, and at that point he becomes one of the draft’s biggest steals.
Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
Rainey had an impressive offseason displaying his electric skills and versatility, but even with his solid showing at the Senior Bowl, Scouting Combine and Florida’s Pro Day, he’s still undervalued due to durability concerns, off-the-field issues and positional fit.
At 5-8, 180, Rainey doesn’t have the size to be an every down player, but he possesses the explosive skill set personnel executives desire and coaches covet to exploit the opposition. He’s not as thick and compact as Darren Sproles physically, but he’s as dynamic and offers as much, if not more, playmaking potential as some of the premier offensive prospects in the draft.
Where Rainey, who is currently rated 78th overall, ends up being drafted is anyone’s guess, because a team has to be comfortable with him on and off the field. If it were my decision, I wouldn’t hesitate taking Rainey late in the third round. With a late third round pick, Rainey would likely end up in a winning situation and possibly with a solid offense and coaching staff that would utilize his skills on offense and special teams to their full capacity.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada
This year’s draft is loaded at the wide receiver position, but a name that’s a relative unknown is Matthews. A former JUCO standout, Matthews emerged as Nevada’s go-to-guy the last two seasons and amassed 147 receptions for 2,243 yards and 13 touchdowns.
At 6-0, 217 pounds, Matthews lacks explosion and isn’t very creative in space, but he’s a tough player, who uses his frame and hands to his advantage. At the Scouting Combine, Matthews’ speed was as advertised when he ran a 4.62, but displayed his upper and lower body strength when he completed 20 reps on the bench press and generated a 36-inch vertical.
Matthews doesn’t appear on my Top 100, but on my off-line rankings he’s rated 118th overall and has a chance to be a mid-round gem for a team. He would be a solid fourth-round selection and a player who could emerge as a reliable slot receiver at the next level.
Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
When Egnew’s name is brought up, most will say, “He’s your typical Missouri tight end: a good pass catcher, but he can’t block.” It’s true; Egnew has a lot of work to do as an in-line blocker, but he’s coachable and still learning the nuances of the tight end position. With the proper coaching and strengthening program, he should develop into an average blocker, but where he will make his impact at the next level is as a receiving threat.
At 6-5, 252, Egnew lacks burst off the line and is more of a momentum runner, but has a feel for finding open spaces over the middle and possesses the size and catching radius quarterbacks feel comfortable throwing towards.
Egnew reminds me of a Aaron Hernandez type prospect, but offers a bigger frame than Hernandez does and could comfortably add more bulk. Currently, Egnew is rated 96th overall on my board and should be selected in the late third, early fourth round.
Philip Blake, C, Baylor
For the second consecutive season, Baylor has produced a 26-year old Canadian offensive linemen, but unlike Danny Watkins a year ago, who was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, Blake isn’t as highly touted and will likely fall to the third-round.
At 6-2, 311, Blake isn’t considered to be as versatile of a prospect as Watkins was, even though he began his career at Baylor as an offensive tackle. The last two seasons, Blake was the center for Robert Griffin III, and hiking the ball to a player that’s destined to be the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft it’s only right if he were to receive some acclaim.
Entering the offseason, Blake was considered a late-round prospect, but after a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and an impressive Combine workout, Blake has ascended on draft boards and could be the third center off the board later this month. He’s been high on my list for a while and is currently rated 77th overall on my board.
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Chris Steuber has covered the NFL and NFL Draft for multiple media outlets over the last decade, and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including: The Colin Cowherd Show, NFL Network's Path to the Draft and Daily News Live on Comcast SportsNet (Philadelphia)... full biography