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2015 Matriculator Six

                After the 3rd round, the average NFL team "hits" on about one player out of 8-10 draftees.  In other words, in the average round, say 35 picks including compensatory picks, there are 3-4 players who are contributing starters.  Just as an example we looked at the 5th round in 2011 and 2012 for a baseline, and there were six players in those two years who have been good NFL players:  Buster Skrine, Pernell McPhee, Malik Jackson, Brandon Marshall (LB), Josh Norman, and the biggie, Richard Sherman.  In our Matriuclator Six we choose 16 players drafted after the 3rd round who we think could become good NFL players.  If we maintain the NFL average we would hit on about 1.5 players out of our 16 each year.  Listed below are the players we hit on, by year.  As you can see, we were slightly above the league average in 2011 and 2012, but have blown every team out of the water in 2013 and 2014. An interesting sidenote is that although we include undrafted free agents on our list every year, we've never hit on one.

2011:  Buster Skrine and Julius Thomas.  Denarius Moore was a hit after his first two years but is fading fast and Roy Helu, Jr. has been a solid third down back.

2012:  Brandon Boykin and Bobby Massie.  Jarius Wright has been increasing his yardage totals every year and can move into the "hit" category with a good 2014.

2013:  Gerald Hodges, Earl Wolff, Jelani Jenkins, Zac Stacy, John Simon and probably Brian Schwenke because he still starts, though he hasn't been particularly good.

2014:  Martavis Bryant, E.J. Gaines, Bene Benwikere, Justin Ellis, and Devonta Freeman.

 

A few players didn't make the list this year because of injury uncertainty including Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and T.J. Clemmings.

 

16.  Jamison Crowder- WR, Washington Redskins (5th)

Crowder is one of the most accomplished college receivers ever.  He's small and quick and projects as a high volume, low YPC type in the Wes Welker mold.  We aren't wild about his situation in Washington with questions at tosser, but Crowder could assume the #3 as early as 2015.

15.  Bryce Petty- QB, New York Jets (4th)

We have a caveat when we rank players in the passing game.  If they go to the Jets all bets are off.  It was a passing wasteland during the Rex Ryan years.  We don't know if things will be different with a new regime, but we know that Petty has the ability to make all of the throws in the NFL.  He was a great college player who will have to make the transition to reading defenses, but we think he has starter ability if given the chance. 

14.  Mike Hull- LB, Dolphins (UDFA)

Hull reminds us of Zach Thomas a bit.  He's undersized with short arms, but as a senior at Penn State he won Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and was 6th in the nation in tackles. 

13.  Justin Hardy- WR, Atlanta Falcons (4th)

Hardy is a polished receiver who we expect to assume the #3 wideout role as a rookie. He posted three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons at East Carolina.

12.  Cody Prewitt- S, Tennessee Titans (UDFA)

Prewitt was an All-American and was twice selected as First Team All-SEC.  He has good size (6'2", 208) and speed (4.60) and showed great ball skills at Ole Miss amassing 12 interceptions.  Why he wasn't drafted in the top half of the draft is a great mystery.

11.  Adrian Amos- S, Chicago Bears (5th)

Amos leaves a little to be desired as a run stopper/tackler, but he's big (227) and athletic (4.39 at his pro day) and could be sucessful as either a pure free safety or a press corner.

10.  Josh Shaw- CB, Cincinnati Bengals (4th)

Shaw is the second best athlete among defensive backs in this class, and he was a great player at USC where he amassed 67 tackles and 4 interceptions as a junior.  Off the filed concerns dropped him after his boy who cried wolf incident when he jumped out of a window and injured himself avoiding the police.

9.  Damian Swann- CB, New Orleans Saints (5th)

Never bet against Georgia players, particularly ones who were highly productive.  Swann has the size NFL teams covet, he's above average athletically and he produced 180 tackles, 8 interceptions and 6 forced fumbles in his career. 

8.  Daryl Williams- OT, Carolina Panthers (4th)

Williams was a great college player who probably slid in the draft because he is viewed only as a right tackle.  We expect him to win the job as a rookie and be one of those solid, play-for-a-decade types.

7. Doran Grant- CB, Pittsburgh Steelers (4th)

Another player whose resume far exceeds his draft position, Grant started 30 games for Ohio State and captained their National Championship team.  He's a physical corner at 200 pounds, but he also a good athlete, posting a 4.44 forty at the Combine.  He finished his career with 9 interceptions.

6.  Jay Ajayi- RB, Miami Dolphins (5th)

Ajayi fell in the draft because of an old knee injury.  He reportedly has no cartilage left, but that didn't slow him down at Boise State where he posted 1,600 combined yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior and 2,300 combined yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior.  Even if the Dolphins only get a few years from him, that might be enough.

5.  Grady Jarrett- DT, Atlanta Falcons (5th)

Jarrett is on the small side (6'1", 300) but he held up well agaisnt the run at Clemson and also showed some explosion, netting double figures in tackles for loss two years running.  He could develop into a poor man's, broke man's Geno Atkins, as a 3-technique.

4.  Michael Bennett- DT, Jacksonville Jaguars (6th)

Over the second half of the 2014 season Bennett was as good as any defensive tackle in college football.  Where he was before that is anybody's guess, and therein lies the reason he slipped to the sixth round.  If motivated he could be very good, otherwise he will be out of the league in a few years.

3.  Davis Tull- DE, New Orleans Saints (5th)

Were it not for an injury discovered late in the draft process, Tull would be #1 on our list.  He's a little undersized at 6'2", 245, but he's a physical freak who dominated the Southern Conference and was selected Defensive Player of the Year 3 times.  If he overcomes the injury, watch out.

2.  Darren Waller- WR, Baltimore Ravens (6th)

He's a physical specimen in the Dorial Green-Beckham mold who ran a sub-4.5 forty at 6'6", 235 pounds.  In the minimal tape on him coming out of Georgia Tech he showed soft hands and the ability to track deep balls, but he was sometimes inconsistent on the shorter passes.  He is a great blocker, and we see a Jimmy Graham type hybrid receiver/tight end in his future.

1.  Max Garcia- C/G, Broncos (4th)

He's a versatile player who has started at guard, left tackle and center, and played well at all positions.  We think he will earn the starting center job and never look back.

2014 Matriculator Six