Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
This will be the first in a series highlighting each position's best prospects who aren't being talked about, but should be.
New Orleans Saints fans are used to Mickey Loomis and the front office taking a guy in the draft that makes them go, "Hmm...", so I figured that I'd help Who Dat Nation and pick out some of those hidden gems that could be unearthed by the Black & Gold.
These are guys that I have watched and studied on film who I think, despite some of their shortcomings, could be steals where they will be drafted or picked up in free agency after the selection process.
The first position I'm taking a look at is the outside linebacker or "rush 'backer" position in New Orleans' new 3-4 scheme. The depth at OLB in this draft is very deep. So deep, in fact, that you shouldn't be surprised if the Saints bypass one in the first round and go for unknowns, like they usually do, later in the draft.
Let's make those unknowns known to Who Dat Nation:
David Bass, Missouri Western
Bass is in the same mold as Aldon Smith. Similar type of frame and speed that is used very well in space as well as rushing the passer. In his last two years at Missouri Western, Bass has 36 TFL's, 26 sacks, 11 pass breakups and two interceptions.
Even against lesser competition, that is still impressive. One of the most important things that you look for in smaller-school guys is if they dominate at that level, and, if they don't they better have the natural talent to warrant their lack of stats being overlooked, and Bass has both of those things going for him.
Right now, he is slotted with a fifth round grade. Somehow, I see him being picked before that.
Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky
I know, I know, if you are an avid reader of my posts then Smith won't be a sleeper to you, but the fact that his late-season injury has slowed his pre-draft process has him still a major unknown, unless you're a 'Bama fan. (Check his 3.5 sacks versus the Crimson Tide's talented tackles.)
Smith had 12.5 sacks in only 10 games this past year. He tore his ACL in November, but should be ready for training camp and can avoid being "redshirted" this coming year if he learns the playbook pretty quickly. That shouldn't be hard considering the simplistic stylings of Rob Ryan's defenses. He reminds me a lot of Anthony Spencer when the Cowboy was coming out of Purdue.
Tourek Williams, Florida International
Williams is another one of those 'tweeners, just like Smith, that I see being a very talented, pass-rushing OLB at the next level. His real deficiency is in coverage, but why wouldn't it be for someone who has spent the majority of his time in college with his hand in the dirt.
That pales in comparison to his initial burst off the snap and ability to work rather quickly down the line of scrimmage. Williams didn't have the production you would like at a lower level, but he is a guy to keep an eye on in the mid-to-late rounds.
Ty Powell, Harding
This is the poor man's version of Chase Thomas, the OLB from Stanford.
Like Thomas, Powell isn't going to wow anyone with his measurables at the Combine or anywhere else, but, if you put the film on of him, you see a football player making plays, as cliche' as that sounds. It's true.
Powell was always around the ball and, often, in the opponents backfield. He also had four blocked kicks his last year at Harding. Should be the first Harding player selected in the draft in 30 years.
Larry Webster, Bloomburg and Caleb Schreibeis, Montana St.
Webster is probably my most intriguing prospect, regardless of position, in this draft. He was a four-year starter at Bloomsburg... in basketball. He got an exemption to play football one year and blew the top off of everybody. He played defensive end, but his 6' 7", 240 lb. frame and the fact that he never really played with his hand in the dirt suggests that he would be fine in a rush 'backer role.
He had 13.5 sacks in his first year of football in five years , add in some interceptions and forced fumbles, and you get a freak of a playmaker who is just scratching the surface of greatness. He will need to be coached up, a lot, but he is exactly a project the Saints could go after in the seventh round or in free agency after the draft.
Schreibeis, on the other hand, has played football with regularity and played it well. In his senior year, he had 12.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, seven quarterback hurries and four pass breakups. Those stats were enough to make him the recipient of the Buck Buchanan Award that is given to the best defensive player at the FCS level.
Like Webster, he is going to need a little seasoning to his game, but these are a couple guys that have the natural talent, already. They just need to be refined by a great coaching staff at the next level, and the Saints front office definitely has thr strong structure in place to help them succeed.