With the NFL draft now well behind us and the football season in sight, it’s time to take a look at how some of the draftees project this season and beyond. Often times, fan bases find themselves salivating over the thought of their first round picks and the promise they bring. However, superstars are frequently also made after the first round (Michael Thomas in the second round, Kareem Hunt in the third round, Dak Prescott in the fourth round, Richard Sherman in round five, Antonio Brown and Tom Brady in round six, etc..). So, with that being said, let’s take a look into some of the non-first round 2019 NFL draft prospects most likely to be destined for stardom. After all, this draft did have some very promising sleepers who could end up as diamonds in the rough.
Nasir Adderly, Safety (LA Chargers)
By far my favorite player in this draft, Nasir Adderly has superstar written all over him. First and foremost, the 60th overall pick is magnificent in open space while in coverage, flipping his hips and changing direction at the drop of a hat. Adderly plays with loose and fluid movement, opening his hips up smoothly when covering ground deep downfield. Furthermore, he’s able to change direction and shoot out of his backpedal and deep coverage seamlessly, allowing Adderly to break on underneath balls and adjust to the quarterbacks throws. This allows Adderly to react accordingly to the ball as soon as it enters the air and make a jump on it with magnificent acceleration.
Adderly’s 40 yard dash time at his pro day also may be quite deceiving as he ran just above a 4.5 40 time but plays with blazing speed. Time and time again on his film from Delaware, Adderly was able to break on thrown balls or running backs with phenomenal closing speed. Also, there were quite a few times when watching the play, Adderly came from completely off the screen in order to close in for an interception or tackle from behind. All this can be seen in the video clips via the hyperlink on Adderly’s name to begin the second paragraph. When this blur of a play speed is combined with Adderly’s impressive frame standing exactly 6′ tall and weighing 205 pounds, Adderly brings the protypical safety prospect scouts drool over.
Lastly, Adderly has ball skills unseen in a college prospect for quite a while. Adderly had nine interceptions in his final two college seasons with a cornucopia of diving and one handed snags in coverage. Honestly, sometimes when watching the film, Adderly was able to make catches that some NFL wideouts wouldn’t be able to haul in consistently. When Nasir Adderly’s fluidity, agility, play speed, frame, and ball skills are all taken into account, he looks like a foolproof candidate to be the next great second round prospect. In a defense where he’ll be paired alongside young phenom strong safety Derwin James as well as a tenacious pass rush, not to mention lockdown cornerback Casey Hayward, Adderly is in the perfect situation to be a generational talent at the safety position.
Juan Thornhill, Safety (Kansas City Chiefs)
Doubling up at safety, another second round prospect that may just be destined for stardom is Juan Thornhill, the 63rd pick out of UVA. Thornhill lit up the NFL combine a few months back when he posted a magnificent 11’9″ broad jump, jumped out the building with a 44″ vertical, and ran a very impressive 4.42 40 time. Additionally, Thornhill combines his absurd athleticism with a prototypical 6′, 205 pound frame. All this essentially amounts to an absurd physical specimen and tool on the bend of a secondary.
However, physical traits and imposing athleticism aren’t all Thornhill brings to the table. Once again a great ball hawk prospect at safety in round two, Thornhill had thirteen interceptions in his final three collegiate season, a very impressive number indeed. Juan Thornhill is just about as consistent as it gets at taking the ball away in the passing game, but he also brings value against the run as well, notching 99 tackles in his final college season.
Furthermore, Thornhill has the athleticism to react and recover when behind in his reads, but here’s the scary part is: he almost never is. Route recognition is a huge strength of Thornhill’s as he often is able to diagnose route patterns to get a head start on the ball. This is just one of the many displays of the great instincts found in Thornhill’s coverage. With extraordinary athletic ability, a solid frame, plus ball skills and production, as well as elite route recognition, Thornhill projects as a high ceiling safety prospect in the NFL going forward. If Thornhill is able to tame his aggression a bit as it sometimes can get him in trouble on fakes such as play action and double moves, he just may be an All-Pro in the making.
Miles Sanders, Running back (Eagles)
Switching to the opposite side of the ball, we have the newly drafted running back in Philadelphia. Miles Sanders, the 53rd overall pick out of Penn State is a running back prospect who was easy to fall in love with during the pre-draft process. The running style of Miles Sanders when watching film is scarily parallel to that of who he replaced in previous Penn State running back, Saquon Barkley.
Perhaps the biggest strength that Sanders has in the run game is his ability to make defenders miss. Repeatedly, when watching film, Sanders would make defenders tackle air of bounce off him as he spins, jukes, and speeds his way into highlight reels. Sanders has lightning quick lateral speed, allowing him to jump cut and juke defenders in the blink of an eye. Additionally, Sanders has good downfield, straight line speed and has shown that ability while splitting safeties for huge gains in the past. Breakaway speed may not quite be a trait that Sanders possesses, sometimes allowing defenders to catch him just short of the goal line on large runs, but his speed is sufficient enough to create big plays.
Furthermore, Miles Sanders has an innate ability to create yardage and plays out of thin air. This trait is one that once again resembles that of his prior teammate Saquon Barkley, as Sanders possesses great vision and the ability to make defenders miss, often creating plays when seemingly swallowed up early in the play. Philly’s new backfield gadget should have more than enough skill and ability to make the most out of whatever is in front of him on a play-by-play basis. Lastly, Sanders also has adequate power at the running back position, giving him the ability to consistently absorb contact.
In conclusion, Sanders has a magnificent skillset to translate as a quality workhorse in the NFL for a very long time. The fact that Philly has one of the NFL’s premier offensive lines should certainly help him thrive in the NFL. Philadelphia’s trade for Jordan Howard may diminish the workload for Sanders early on, but that may be beneficial, allowing a smooth transition to the next level.