(This post originally appeared at NFLDraftMonsters.com. Be sure to check both sites for my latest posts)
As the college football season rapidly approaches, here’s a look at some of the more underrated offensive prospects in the country…
Ryan Aplin Arkansas State QB 6’1 205 – Aplin has been the starting quarterback for the Red Wolves since late in his freshman season. Last year he threw for 3588 yards, completed 63.9% of his throws, averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt, and tossed 19 touchdowns – though he was picked off 16 times. Aplin added 588 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground and even had a 23 yard receiving touchdown. Aplin lacks height but he gets good zip on the ball. He has a bit of a windup at times, but he can even get good velocity on his throws when changing arm angles or throwing off his back foot. Aplin does a pretty good job keeping his eyes downfield even when pressured, but he doesn’t have the quickest release and he sometimes throws the ball up for grabs. Still, he’s a good athlete with a decent arm, which should make him a good fit for new Head Coach Gus Malzahn’s offense.
Zac Dysert Miami (OH) QB 6’4 214 – Dysert has been starting for the Redhawks since early in his freshman year. Last season was easily his best statistically as he threw for 3513 yards, completed 65.8% of his passes and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt. Dysert also hit on 23 touchdown passes and threw only 11 interceptions. In fact, in his last eight games he threw 21 TDs, just six INTs, and surpassed 300 passing yards six times. Dysert is a big kid with a strong throwing arm, and he’s had success as a passer despite a lack of talent around him. He’s a solid mid round prospect with an opportunity to move up in the ranks.
Alex Carder Western Michigan QB 6’2 224 – Last year Carder passed for 3873 yards, completed 65.7% of his passes, averaged 7.7 yards per attempt, and threw 31 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Carder’s season included a couple of huge performances. Against Connecticut, he passed for 479 yards and five touchdowns, and against Toledo he threw for 548 yards and seven touchdowns. Carder has a good arm, but he lacks ideal height. He can get careless and float passes. He made a slew of poor decisions in the bowl game loss to Purdue, and finished the day with four interceptions. Carder was also picked three times in a win over Ball State. He doesn’t have good speed, but he moves well enough to buy time and avoid a lot of sacks. He’s probably viewed as a late round prospect at this point.
Zac Stacy Vanderbilt RB 5’9 210 – Stacy became a full time starter for the first time last year and set career highs with 1193 rushing yards, 5.9 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns. He had 169 yards on just 11 carries in a win over Ole Miss, 198 yards in a win over Army, and 184 in a blowout victory over Wake Forest. Stacy rushed for three touchdowns in a game three separate times. He is a short, compact runner who keeps his legs moving after contact. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and does a decent job picking up blitzes. Stacy isn’t a smooth runner or particularly shifty. He has to gather himself to make cuts and change direction and he lacks breakaway speed. Still his versatility and physical style should be enough to earn him a look late in the draft or as an undrafted free agent.
Orwin Smith Georgia Tech RB 6’0 202 – In 2010, as a sophomore in Georgia Tech’s big play offense, Smith averaged 9.7 yards per carry (516 yards on 53 attempts) and scored four total touchdowns. Last year’s results were even better. Smith rattled off a spectacular 10.1 yards per carry (615 yards on 61 attempts), ran for 11 TDs, and added 306 yards receiving and a touchdown on just 13 catches (23.5 yards per). Smith started hot last year, but he was always the second option behind David Sims. Right now, he doesn’t have the build to be an every down workhorse. He’s also tough to evaluate because of the Yellow Jackets’ option attack. But his knack for making big plays makes him worth watching throughout the coming season.
Willie Carter Tulsa FB 6’2 231 – Following in the footsteps of current Miami Dolphin, Charles Clay, Carter is a catch-first fullback whose role going forward is undefined. He often lines up as an H-back or in the slot where he creates mismatches in coverage. Carter made 61 catches last season, but not in typical running back fashion. He gets open down the field, as evidenced by his 14.2 yards per catch (15.8 in 2010), and totaled 12 receiving touchdowns over the past two years. Carter isn’t a great blocker, and he doesn’t have the size that NFL teams look for in a tight end. But then, people said some of the same things about Clay and the Dolphins seem excited by his potential. Carter is a unique weapon in that offense – they’ll even run him on an end around – and he has decent speed, so creative NFL teams will be intrigued by his potential.
Josh Jarboe Arkansas State WR 6’3 215 – Jarboe was a highly coveted recruit who started his college career at Oklahoma. He was promptly dismissed amid charges of bringing a gun onto the grounds of his high school and the release of a profanity-laced rap video on YouTube. Jarboe transferred to Troy where he caught 15 passes for 248 yards and a TD as a sophomore in 2009. But just prior to the 2010 season, Jarboe was kicked off his second team, after twice being cited for harassment and once for disorderly conduct during his stint with the Trojans. Despite his legal run-ins, Jarboe remains an intriguing talent. In his lone season with the Red Wolves he finally started living up to his potential. He finished the year with 54 catches for 730 yards and a pair of scores. He’s a strong runner with good moves in the open field. Jarboe can stop and start with ease, pick up yards after the catch, and adjust to the ball while it’s in the air to make a tough catch. His talent is not in question. Jarboe has an opportunity to shine this season with a senior quarterback and a new, offensive-minded Head Coach. If he can show that he’s matured and that his indiscretions have been left in the past, he could climb on draft boards all season long.
Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech WR 6’2 195 – It’s hard to imagine that a player could rack up 1202 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns and still be overlooked. But that appears to be the case with Patton. He began his career at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas before joining the Bulldogs prior to last season. Patton isn’t a burner but he’s a good open field runner who can make people miss and pick up big yards after the catch. In his lone season in the FBS ranks he averaged 15.2 yards per reception. He has excellent body control and can haul in a tough catch. Patton is still a little raw. He will occasionally let the ball get into his body rather than catching it out in front, which can lead to the occasional dropped pass. He will also face questions about the level of competition he faces. Still, his talent was evident in his first go around the conference and he’s likely to continue to build off his early success.
T.J. Moe Missouri WR 6’0 200 – Moe burst onto the scene as a sophomore, amassing 92 receptions for 1045 yards (11.4 yards per catch) and six touchdowns. He caught 13 passes his first game that season, 10 in his second, and 15 for 152 yards in the bowl game against Iowa. Last year, with a new quarterback at the helm, Moe’s numbers dropped to 54 catches for 649 yards (12.0 per catch) and four TDs. Still, Moe had solid showings against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas – three teams with the most NFL talent in the conference. Moe usually lines up in the slot and can work his way open down the middle of the field or back toward the sideline. He’s a target on a lot of bubble screens where he can operate in space and get yards after the catch. Moe isn’t the biggest guy, but he shows his strength when he can block down on a linebacker on run plays. He also has soft hands and excellent concentration. In this day of three receiver offenses, Moe will be a valuable slot receiver at the next level and will probably see his stock rise throughout the year.
Lamaar Thomas New Mexico WR 6’1 185 – Thomas left high school in Maryland as the state’s top overall recruit of 2008. He signed with Ohio State, and after two unremarkable seasons, he transferred to New Mexico, where injuries wrecked his 2011 season. At this point, Thomas has all of 14 receptions in his college career. But this year, the Lobos top receiver, Deon Long, has transferred to West Virginia, so Thomas should see ample opportunities to rebuild his stock. That is, if he can stay healthy.
Jack Doyle Western Kentucky TE 6’6 251 – Doyle has been a starter since day one with the Hilltopers – he caught 37 passes for 365 yards as a freshman. As a junior last season, Doyle led the team with 52 receptions and 614 receiving yards. Doyle is a huge target. He’s not a burner but he appears to have adequate speed. He gets open with regularity and even had a solid performance against LSU. Western Kentucky has a weak passing attack, and as a result, Doyle is sorely underused as a red zone threat. With star running back Bobby Rainey gone to the NFL, Doyle’s role should become more prominent. He has shown ability to gain yards after the catch and get both feet in bounds on tough boundary catches, and he’s an improving blocker. Doyle plays in a non-BCS conference, for a program in its FBS infancy. It’s likely that he’d be more highly regarded at this point if he played for a more high profile school.
Ivory Wade Baylor C 6’4 310 – A four star recruit out of high school, Wade’s best trait may be his versatility. As a freshman, he started seven games at left guard, and then started 26 games at right tackle over the next two seasons. This year he shifts over to center to replace the departed Philip Blake, and becomes the de facto leader of Baylor’s offensive line. If he can handle the switch well, Wade will likely follow in the footsteps of Blake and Danny Watkins, and be a riser in the draft process.
Travis Bond North Carolina G 6’7 340 – Overshadowed by his highly touted teammate Jonathan Cooper, Bond is a solid prospect in his own right. He’s got a massive frame that gives him power in the run game, but with his height some teams may take a look at him as a right tackle. Last season was Bond’s first as a full time starter, so he still has much to prove. But if he can click with his line mates, keep QB Bryn Renner clean, and spring holes for running back Gio Bernard, the Tarheel offense could be surprisingly good this season under new Head Coach Larry Fedora.
Matt Summers-Gavin OT 6’4 293 – Cal has been stocked with plenty NFL-caliber talent over the past couple of years. Last year’s team included Mitchell Schwartz, Mychal Kendricks and Marvin Jones, and this year’s squad returns star wide receiver Keenan Allen. All the while, Summers-Gavin has been quietly going about his business. Over the past two seasons, he’s made 25 starts, 13 at right tackle and 12 on the left side, and started more games than any other lineman on the team. Interestingly, in 2011 while Schwartz started at left tackle, Summers-Gavin was starting on the ride side serving as the blind side protector for left handed starting quarterback, Zach Maynard. He doesn’t have the size that Schwartz does, but with another strong season, the reliable Summers-Gavin could see a similar rise up draft boards.