The 2018 NFL Draft already has a long list of prevalent names (such as Saquon Barkley and Derwin James). This has left a lot of talent unknown or unrecognized. Let’s change that. Here are some of the lesser-known players early in the draft process:
Myles Gaskin | RB | Washington
The success of the Washington Huskies offense in 2016 was often credited to Jake Browning and John Ross III. How about Myles Gaskin? At only 5’9″ and 195 lbs., Gaskin had a heavy workload, carrying the ball 237 times for 1,373 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Gaskin displays incredible shiftiness, balance, and vision, and even though he is undersized, he picks up a lot of yards after contact with powerful leg drive. He also is a very good pass protecter, an increasingly important trait for running backs recently. Look for him to tear it up again in 2017.
Jordan Jones | LB | Kentucky
Despite posting huge numbers in the SEC (109 tackles, 15.5 for loss, 4 sacks, 4 passes defensed, forced fumble), Jones’s name hasn’t been mentioned much. He is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker that swiftly diagnoses plays and shoots the gap with blazing speed. Jones is an outstanding blitzer as well and with an array of moves that many DEs don’t have and has proven many times he cannot be handled by one man on pas plays. Even simple linebacker fundamentals such as wrapping up, that players like Zach Cunningham struggled with, is exhibited by Jordan Jones. Jones needs to work on taking better angles and has some issues with overpursuing, but don’t be surprised if he becomes a hot commodity in scouting circles.
Dante Pettis | WR | Washington
If you liked John Ross III, you will absolutely love Dante Pettis. He wasn’t as much of a focal point as Ross or Gaskin, but Pettis was still a very key piece in the Washington offense. He was able to gain separation with his crisp route running and sudden movements to go along with top-notch athleticism (both on the field, and in testing). All that paired with strong hands and ability to go up for the football like he’s half a foot taller, Pettis is an ultimate deep threat. Unfortunately, like Ross, Pettis wasn’t able to put his long ball skills on full display having to adjust to Jake Browning’s misfires, particularly his underthrows on vertical routes. For now, Pettis is an under-the-radar receiver. However, with Pettis’s status as a track star and great athletic tester, blowing up the Combine is not only expected, but it will give him the serious first round consideration he deserves.