As the college football season comes to a close and the All-Star circuit begins to ramp up, The 33rd Team will be bringing NFL draft content to the table based on film study and statistical analysis. Here we take a look at 5 Senior Bowl Sleepers who pass both the numbers test and the eye test.
Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Bernhard Raimann is one of the most high upside players in this entire draft class. The Austrian exchange student is a former wrestling star and track standout who was initially a wide receiver when he started at Central Michigan before slowly transitioning over to tight end. A season later, Rainmann put on weight and was moved to offensive line, where in his first season playing the position he had a 78.0 pass blocking grade across 477 snaps. Raimann was able to put it all together this past year where had a 94.6 pff grade in run blocking, 88.7 in pass blocking, and was the second highest graded tackle in the country.
Raimann is an intriguing prospect because of his unique football background. His background as a wide receiver and in track should mean that Raimann will test particularly well. This also gives him an advantage when playing because he still plays with an abundance of that athleticism despite being over 300 pounds. Raimann has loose hips, flashes easy movements, and can reach any level of the field, which is why he’s so effective in the run game. Another thing you’ll notice when watching Raimann is the physicality he plays with. Even at 307 pounds, he’s knocking defenders over in the run game and shoving EDGE rushers off in passing situations.
Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
The highest graded cornerback in college football over the past two seasons is Houston standout Marcus Jones. Over those 972 snaps, Jones has posted an 89.9 PFF grade in run defense and a coverage grade of 91.4 which is the second highest of any corner over the past two years. Moreover, Jones only committed 4 penalties over those two years, which is fewer than top corners Roger McCreary and Sauce Gardner.
In addition to the upside he has as a coverage corner, Marcus Jones is as good a return man as college football has seen. His ability in the return game rivals that of Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. In Jones’ freshman year he returned 30 kicks for 879 yards and 29.3 yards per return with 3 scores. In Brown’s freshman year he had 40 returns for over 1000 yards, but averaged over 3 fewer yards a return and only had 1 score. Over his 4 year career at Troy and Houston, Jones accumulated 2,075 kick return yards with 28.4 yards per return and 6 total scores. He’s also briefly spent time taking handoffs and has even played slot receiver, where had 51 receiving yards in a game against Rice. Jones is a loose athlete who can change direction at any speed that also has the acceleration to get away from defenders on his returns. Having a player who has the potential to be an NFL cornerback and elite returner makes Jones an intriguing talent with high potential.
Rachaad White, RB, Arizona State
The smoothest runner amongst all the backs in the class is Arizona State’s Rachaad White. The JUCO transfer is one of the more underrated RB prospects heading into the draft despite strong production the last few seasons. In his first season at ASU, White posted 10 yards per carry, 420 yards, and had 151 receiving yards in 4 games. This past year, in a full season, White ran for exactly 1,000 yards averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and amassed 43 catches for 456 receiving yards. White averaged an impressive 2.13 yards per route run, which is second highest amongst running backs in this year’s draft class and would’ve been ahead of Najee Harris, Michael Carter, and Javonte Williams had he declared last year.
What makes White’s profile unique is that he’s got one of the highest rushing grades in the country at 90.5, but he’s also got the 2nd best receiving grade of all backs at 89.9. A profile very reminiscent of Alvin Kamara who went in the late rounds despite having a 85.9 rushing grade and 92.0 receiving grade in limited work at Tennessee. When watching White, you’ll notice the vision and patience he runs with that allows him to be such an effective runner. He’s as smooth as a wide receiver when catching passes and incredibly effective at picking up yards after catch. White is a player who simply just needs the ball in his hands to be effective whether that be through a manufactured touch or a handoff.
Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
Arguably the most versatile defensive lineman in the class is San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas. He finished the year with the third most tackles for loss in the country behind Will Anderson and Devin Lloyd at 20.5. Thomas posted a 90.1 overall PFF grade which was 4th highest in the FBS and had a 88.6 pass rushing grade and 86.8 grade in run defense. He had the 3rd most pressures of any edge in the country and a strong pass rush win rate of 21.1%.
Thomas has shown the ability to line up anywhere on the defensive line and dominate with his quick hands, fluidity, and array of pass rush moves. He can win inside, outside, and is also one of the best run defenders in the class. When lining up inside he can be very effective at eating up blocks in the run game, but he can also power through and win on passing downs. When watching Cameron Thomas what stands out is his ability to be consistently disruptive. You never go through long stretches of time when watching the Aztecs where Thomas isn’t making an impact of some sorts.
D’Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State
After finishing the season with an eye-popping 119 tackles and 20 tackles for loss, D’Marco Jackson is a player to look out for at the Senior Bowl. He was the ninth highest graded linebacker in the FBS at 83.5 and his performance in run defense is the best aspect of his game. Jackson can violently plug holes and has more than enough explosiveness to chase down running backs when needed. In coverage, Jackson could stand to get better as he had just a 73.5 coverage grade and allowed 72% of passes to be completed on him. He is the type of interior thumper who can improve his stock in the man coverage drills at the Senior Bowl.