Five B1G players NFL teams should take late-round fliers on
Not everybody comes away from the combine with a first-round projection.
Some are still slotted in the Day 3 or undrafted range. Some weren’t even invited to the combine. That’s not to say their chances of getting drafted are out the window, but those chances do decrease.
Having said that, they can still be worth taking a late flier on.
Here are the B1G players I’d snatch up if they were still available in the seventh round or as undrafted free agents:
K.J. Maye, Minnesota WR — One of the combines top snubs, in my opinion, Maye has two things working against him. He’s 5-10, 200 pounds soaking wet and he played in a run-heavy offense for most of his career. But watching what he did after Tracy Claeys took over, I’m convinced Maye can play the slot in the NFL.
He always seems to be open and he can catch passes in contact. He can also stretch out a defense with end-arounds and screens. In today’s NFL where guys like Julian Edelman and Cole Beasley are becoming increasingly valuable, Maye has all of the tools necessary to work his way into a rotation.
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana QB — Ok, so he’s going to have to play under center at the next level. He’s also going to have to deal with pressure and get rid of the ball quicker than he did at Indiana. Well, when you have accuracy and a strong arm like Sudfeld, that helps mitigate those concerns. There’s a reason he was the most prolific passer in school history.
Underrated was the fact that he led the B1G in passing yards without any experienced receivers to throw to. I’m not saying he should be taken before Connor Cook, Christian Hackenberg or Cardale Jones but a contender would be wise to grab Sudfeld late, stick him on the bench behind a veteran for a couple years and see if he can become a viable future option.
Jordan Lomax, Iowa S — The tape was going to do Lomax more favors than the combine. He isn’t the fastest or the strongest, but you wouldn’t know it from watching his highlight reel. The converted cornerback got new life at safety, where he thrived in his final two seasons in Iowa City. He’s an exceptional tackler and he has the ability to break up passes.
The problem is that the 5-10 Lomax ran the third-slowest 40 time among defensive backs (4.75) and there’s concern that he’s not over a late-season lower body injury yet. Late-round fliers are often taken on athletic freaks with high upside. Lomax might not fit that build, but for a team looking to get a cheap, experienced player to add some depth in the secondary, he’s worth a draft pick.
Dean Lowry, Northwestern DE — If I’m picking late, I want a guy I know is going to run with an opportunity. That’s all Lowry did at Northwestern. Throw out the “high-motor” clichés if you must, but Lowry does play with a relentlessness that more top edge-rushers should. He’s been knocked for his short arms and lack of creativity when it comes to getting to the quarterback.
Still, he had as many tackles for loss as Joey Bosa. I can’t help but think Lowry will work to correct his predictable pass-rushing technique. Even if Lowry is never anything more than a rotational, he can still make an impact as a guy who isn’t afraid to push players in practice. Everybody could use a few more of those.
Andy Janovich, Nebraska FB — I’m assuming Janovich is going to go undrafted, but I’d scoop him up immediately. “Jano” is beloved in Nebraska because of his smash-mouth, do-whatever-it-takes attitude. It isn’t fair to peg him as some short-yardage fullback. What kind of fullback rushes for six yards per carry? Janovich also caught passes out of the backfield and just for good measure, he led the Huskers in special teams tackles.
At the combine, he had better vertical and broad jumps than Ezekiel Elliott. He also benched 30 reps, which tied him with Northwestern’s Dan Vitale for the lead among running backs. The former walk-on is a strong, physical player who is going to earn his way on to an NFL roster and surpass expectations like he did in Lincoln.