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Hidden Gems: 2020 NFL Draft Sleepers on the offensive side of the ball

Hidden Gems: 2020 NFL Draft Sleepers By Matt Anzio 

Red Diamond’s (Offense Skill Position) 

  • QB Riley Neal 
  • Vanderbilt 
  • Height : 6’ 5    
  • Weight : 218 lbs 
  • 2019 – Comp: 149 Att: 258   Yards: 1585 yds TD: 9 INT: 5   PR: 117.0
  • 2018 – Ball State- Comp : 194  Att : 335 1917 TD: 11 INT : 4 
  • PR : 114.4  Career Pass :  8,978 Yards, TD: 55   INT’s : 30 
  • Career Rush from Scrimmage : 1,436 yards 15 TD’s on the ground 
  • Twitter : Riley_Neal12 

The Red Diamond is the rarest of all diamonds that represents a symbol of flexibility, passion and power.   That being said, I wanted to feature both small school and FBS sleepers that can make some big plays on the offensive side of the ball.  

Neal can get it done with his cannon arm and dynamic legs. 

The 6 foot 5 Neal  has all the tools in the toolbox to become a starter at some professional  level, Whether NFL, CFL or XFL this is a player that will garner attention from scouts far and wide. 

He was not a combine invite to Indy , so it is key to get him some legit times, film  and in front of the right eyes. There is no doubt in my mind, when a seasoned scout glance’s  at Neal’s skillset, size versatile talent, they will roll out the red carpet to mini camp. 

His strength is his ability to drop back, get set rapidly, read the coverage and get the ball out fast. He can tuck the ball run on sneaks or draw plays pick up big chunks of yardage with his toughness and speed is undeniable. He can sense the pocket breaking down get the ball out or get out of harm’s way. 

Transfer from Ball State where he played  11 games as a freshman and sophomore, only played 3 as a junior. Came back as a fourth year Jr with 9 games finally  finishing as a fifth year senior transfer at Vandy playing in all 11 games. A picture of consistency playing at a high level his whole career thus far.   One of the best film from a Sleeper QB, i’ve watched this year and I watched my share. 

  • QB Connor Kaegi 
  • Ottawa  Kansas 
  •  Height : 6’ 7   
  • Weight : 225 lbs 
  • 4,595 yards 51 TD and  16 INT in 2 years at Ottawa
  • 855 rushing yard in the 2 years 
  • Twitter : @Connorkegs 

Kaegi  is a Big  Dual Threat QB From Ottawa Kansas 

A QB that has had an exception couple of years up in Ottawa 2018  was 2nd Team All Conference. 

In 2019 in 10 games had 2,639 pass yards, avg 263 ypg with 26 TD’s and only 7 INT’s.  Was the Offensive Player of the week two times 2018-2019. Player of The Game in the Inaugural NAIA Senior Classic in December.  In the NAIA game Kegs was down 14-0 , went on to score 31 straight points to win 31 -28. He was also invited and participated in the College Gridiron Showcase in Texas this past January. 

Not much Kaegi can’t do big arm, solid stance the ability to get out of trouble make a throw on the run or use his legs to gain a first down or more.   Great vision, to survey the field goes through his progressions quickly and can launch the ball, our throwing defenders. Has a knack to make the tough deep sideline throws, putting the ball where only his wideout can get it. Whether right side, left side or in the middle, shows he can bomb the ball no matter where on the field, over or in between defenders. Does not panic under pressure, gets the ball out before the defenders can get to him with quick release , high football IQ and patience. Looks good on short passes as well, putting a nice touch on it, again not panicking but avoiding pass rush dumping the ball off on the move placing the ball right between the numbers of his pass catchers.  Ball placement size arm power quick feet versatility and minimal mistakes are what stand out to me. 

Also a 1st Team All Conference Punter averaging 40 yard Punts with 66 yard punt being his longest.  Run pass, kick, other than playeing defensive end Kaegi can do it all on the Gridiron. 

  • RB James Hill
  • Wayne State 
  • Career : 275 carries for 1,447 yards and 23 TD’s 
  • Had 13 TD’s This past year as a Senior, had a TD in 9 of the 11 Games
  • Lead GLIAC In scoring and Rush Td’s 22nd In Nation in Rush TD’s 
  • Twitter: @Time2beGreat22 

Two Time Second Team All Conference Back , That Can Find The Smallest Opening and Get Biggest Yardage. A player that had 138 yards and 3 TD’s against Slippery Rock and 158 yds a score verse Quincy, 74 yds 2 TD’s vs Ashland in a OT win. 

Hard nose runner that bounces off defenders like a Pinball bouncing off the walls, nothing easy about taking Hill down. Makes himself small/ compact to find his way to daylight, then explodes in the open field.  Has enough speed to stretch plays out to the side, while having the power to go up the middle for the tough fought yards. 

Shows soft hands catching the ball out the backfield with the vision to get the most out of a small pass play.  What stands out to me, is his balance and toughness to break tackles, Hill will not be denied. That type of fortitude can come in handy running, blocking and on a special teams unit. 

When you combine his ability on the gridiron with the work ethic of a Labor Union worker and a can do attitude, you got Hill in a Nutshell.  Driven class act willing to do what it takes to make his dream a reality. Scouts, coaches GM’s watch out for Hill, he is a special Talent. 

  • RB Mckinley Habersham 
  • Albany State 
  • Height: 5’9    
  • Weight: 200 lbs 
  • 2018-  2019 – All Conference Running Back
  • 2019- 2020 Preseason All Conference 
  • Twitter: @mickeydees_ 

Shifty finds the holes instantly bursts through them making rapid short steps, spring  jump cuts. Has the ability in his feet, waist legs to zig zag through tight spaces untouched. Once he finds daylight, it’s just a cloud of dust with nice long speed to pick up some chunks of yardage. 

Has the speed to run sweeps to the outside while making it clear, he can get it done between the tackles.  Habersham has undeniable strength along with excellent balance center of gravity, which is vital for a NFL or any successful Pro back.  Bouncing off tackles like a weeble he might wobble but he doesn’t go down. Will not be denied in goal line situations going over , under or through defenders , he will find the pylon. 

Not used enough in the pass game  IMO, as he has shown he can make some unbelievable grabs to be a real threat in that department.  Compact quickness that doesn’t lose momentum on cuts goes from stop to go in a heartbeat. 

Best games of the year vs Tuskegee 22 carries for 140 yds, vs Lane had 10 carries 90 yards 2 TD’s and vs Benedict 28 carries for 150 yards 1 TD.  Big game back the more you feed him, the more yards and scores he devours. Excellent quick scat back with a ton of power for a smaller back. Should find his way onto some Pro organization. 

  • WR Jamari Hester
  • Jacksonville State 
  • Height: 6’ 7  
  • Weight: 210 lbs 
  • 2019 – 59 catches, 1,003 yards 5 TD’s 17.0 YPC 
  • 2018 – 59 catches , 864 yds 11 TD’s   14.3 YPC 
  • Twitter : @HesterJamari 

Big Physical Pass Catcher with Rare Athleticism For His Size. 

Flexible, long arms can high point the ball  go up beat out even the largest of defensive backs. Keeps working the tops of routes uses his frame to muscle his way to get open. Hester was a safety valve for the Jacksonville State Offense, a player they could dump it off too when under pressure. He just keeps working till he finds a crease, weakness or space. Monster across the middle or in traffic can plow over defenders like a semi truck with no brakes.  Strong relib;e hands, long extension knows how to use it, savage after the catch breaking tackles 

FBS player that is large with good production despite having a team that rushed the ball a lot he made the most of his opportunities.   Having an outstanding game in a high scoring 49 to 45 win over powerhouse Eastern Washington with 5 catches for 133 yds 1 touchdown. Then in a win over Eastern Illinois had 9 catches for 99 yards, followed up with a 5 catch 87 yd 1 TD nailbitter 24 – 21 loss to SEMO. After which the team lost their  final four contests. Despite that, Hester had 74 yds a TD in the loss to Murray St, 1 catch for 61 yards loss to TN – Martin 58 yds a TD vs Tenn Tech and in the grand finale against New Mexico State had 186 yards in a 29 – 23 loss to Eastern Kentucky. 

Improving his average in yards per catch by almost 3 yards a catch.  Hester has proven that he is not just a big body redzone weapon but also a big play wide out.  Not many massive framed pass catchers are being used in short bubble screen plays. 

Hard to understand how a player like Hester could not receive a combine invite, on a year when we need big pass catchers.  Hard to overlook a player of his magnitude but these things happen, sure it makes Hester hungry like a Grizzly waking from hibernation.  Type of chip on his shoulder that can be healthy helps propel him to his next chapter. Without a doubt in my mind Hester will be in a camp this spring most likely one with a NFL logo on the field. 

  • WR Kirk Merritt 
  • Arkansas State
  • Height: 6’0     
  • Weight: 216 lbs  
  • 2019 – 70 catches, 806 yds, 12 TD’s Avg 11.5ypc. 
  • 2018 – 83 catch, 1005 yds 7 TD’s Avg 12.1 ypc.
  • Twitter: @kirkmerritt33 

They Missed On Merritt When The Combine Invites Where Mailed. 

Now the dynamic explosive playmaker has an even bigger chip on his shoulder, would love to be the team that gets a fired up weapon like Kirk Merritt.  The film doesn’t lie, dependable, Powerful ,Elusive Shifty, quick wideout that makes big plays especially in the Red Zone. Can barrell over DB’s strong body frame that consists of mostly pure muscle. Plays angry while still being smart, making tough grabs on the sideline our jumping over defenders.  He is Like getting a wide out, running back and returner in one. 

He should test very well, believe with the right exposure good times, skys the limit for this explosive athlete. Might be from the FBS but that doesn’t mean he isn’t being slept on, snoozers will be in for a rude awakening when this underdog  is turning heads in camp. 

Merritt came up big for a Arkansas state team that had a 7-5 record , coming up big when it counted most. Against Louisiana Monroe In Nov,  with 6 catches for 68 yds, 1 TD, against Coastal Carolina with 7 grabs for 70 yds and 2 scores both wins. Then in a victory over Georgia Southern Merritt had 2 catches for 41 yds 1 TD and in a close loss against South Alabama he added another 9 catches for 121 yards. Finally Finishing his monumental season in the Camellia Bowl, where he helped lead his team to the win with 43 yds and yet another score.  Merritt is a big game and big time talent that should make a splash with a Pro team this spring. 

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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