It’s that time of year again, and the NFL Supplemental Draft has rolled around once again. While this year lacks sure-fire pick, or one that offers the same promise that former Browns pick Josh Gordon had in 2012, there a few minor college stars that have been declared eligible. While the official list of entrees has yet to be released, here are the three entrees most likely to be drafted.
Darius Lipford – North Carolina – SLB
Had Lipford not been academically ineligible for a portion of the 2014 season, he likely would have been a fringe pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. However, due to academic injury issues, Lipford’s college career has been abbreviated and affected his draft stock. Lipford has also bounced around positionally, having played strong-side linebacker and bandit linebacker, and was seeing time as a middle linebacker in the spring.
For a 6’3 245 lb. linebacker, Lipford is a fairly impressive athlete. He is a flexible and fluid athlete who moves around very well for a man his size, especially playing his hand in the ground mostly as a junior. Despite his athletic ability, Lipford was not a highly productive player, which is due to his lack of power taking on and shedding blocks. He is also not the best of tacklers, coming in out of control and failing to break down properly.
Lipford’s football instincts are marginal and as a result he is frequently out of position or moving in the wrong direction. While his workout numbers might very well be impressive, his play on the field is nowhere near indicative of how good an athlete he is. Unfortunately, Lipford’s poor instincts negate his athleticism and severely limits his effectiveness. However, Lipford’s movement skills allow him to be a successful blitzer at the college level, with some NFL potential in that area.
I would like to have seen Lipford play another year of college in order to see how well he played in his second year back from an ACL tear in the 2011 bowl game. Without seeing how well he has recovered and advanced, it’s tough to see Lipford earning a selection from an NFL team this Thursday.
Lakendrick Ross – Virginia-Lynchburg – DT
Of all the prospects who are eligible for this year’s supplemental draft, Ross is the best. Given that that’s not saying much, he shows a surprising amount of athleticism on his feet for a defensive tackle who weighs in well over 300 lbs. If Ross is drafted, it won’t be based on what he did on the field for Virginia-Lynchburg, which is a member of the NSCAA (for those of you unfamiliar with the association, it is roughly below the NAIA in terms of collegiate talent).
While Ross did flash on tape, he was basically going up against “Division 4” or JUCO talent, and I would have expected more from a player who is getting serious NFL consideration. Ross is powerful and athletic, but he appears to be carrying a fair amount of extra weight. He often lined up with at least one knee on the ground and looked unprepared for the snap on at least one play I observed.
There is a fair amount of mystery surrounding Ross. During my research, I never came across the reason why he was filing for the Supplemental Draft. Virginia-Lynchburg’s athletic website offers no information on their 2013 football season and incomplete info on their 2012 season, where Ross was a freshman. There are also conflicting spellings of his name (it’s spelled as “LeKendrick” on Virginia-Lynchburg’s site), and his listed weight is also unclear (it ranges from 325 to 360 lbs.).
Overall, I believe Ross will be given a chance as a developmental prospect, if his public workout was enough to impress teams beyond his underwhelming game tape. I seriously doubt he will be drafted on Thursday, and am even more doubtful that he will ever make a 53-man roster.
Traylon Shead – Southern Methodist – RB
A former four-star recruit out of Cayuga, Texas, Shead is the draft-eligible name that most college fans would be familiar with this year. After signing with Texas out of high school, Shead failed to earn a single carry in his one season with the program before finding himself at SMU last season. However, leg injuries held him to just 57 touches. More disturbing, however, is the fact that he fumbled more often (5 times), than he managed to find the end zone (just 3 times).
Shead is far taller than most NFL backs at 6’2, and while he weighs in at 230 lbs, he lacks the type of power to get away with his larger frame. He lacks much in the way of outside running ability, and is strictly a downhill runner, without the bulldozing power. Shead has also had his struggles as a pass protector, getting absolutely trucked in the Rutgers game last season.
Overall, there’s not much Shead offers in the way of NFL tools, as he has failed to live up to the gaudy numbers he was able to post coming out of a small town high school in Texas. I’d be shocked if he is drafted on Thursday.
Chase Clayton – New Mexico – WR
A player who has been somewhat of a journeyman among positions, Clayton’s best asset is his ability to return kicks. Listed at 6’3 202 lbs. and as a wide receiver, Clayton has taken the majority of his offensive snaps in the backfield, rushing for 209 yards on 32 carries in his career, with only 6 receptions spread across three seasons. Clayton is far too tall contribute in an NFL backfield, and lacks the experience as a pass catcher to be drafted as a wide receiver.
Instead, Clayton’s two kicks returned for touchdowns in 2012 are his calling cards. Clayton was destined for even bigger things in 2013, but suffered a seemingly minor knee injury that ended his season in the opener. With the NFL’s rule changes regarding kickoffs, Clayton’s already limited value is virtually zero, especially considering the fact that he never returned a punt in college. Clayton may get a look as a free agent, but don’t expect to hear his name on Sundays.
Inside next week’s War Room: 2014 Pre-Season AAC Draft Preview
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