Every year there are top prospects that take all the spotlight away from other majorly talented prospects. Guys like Todd Gurley, Leonard Williams and Amari Cooper get the entire buzz while guys like Ameer Adbullah get overlooked.
Fortunately, you can have all the talent in the world and it won’t matter if you don’t go to a great fit. Below I’ve compiled a list of five underrated rookies who went to great situations and will become impact players in 2015.
Let’s take a look:
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Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
Abdullah is as explosive a running back in this NFL draft. While he doesn’t possess the consistency or all-around skill set of Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon, he’s dynamically shifty and is always a threat to score.
Abdullah goes to an already explosive offense in Detroit where he’ll take on the Reggie Bush role. Expect him to be very active in the pass game (upwards of 45 receptions) and should get about 10-15 touches a game. I project Abdullah to have 1200 yards from scrimmage and about 8 combined touchdowns.
Chris Conley, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Let me start by saying I’ve watched every University of Georgia game over the last three seasons and one player, besides Gurley, who always stood out to me was Conley. Conley is explosive and always seemed to be making big plays in clutch situations against some of the best defenses in the entire country.
Conley is a burner with excellent size. In Kansas City he’ll be reunited with Aaron Murray, a player I believe will eventually become the starter at Arrowhead. Conley is in a great situation as the Chiefs are hurting for legitimate weapons on offense. Conley will get opportunities and has the ability to take the top off of defenses or make players in congestion.
My projection for Conley is somewhat comparable to a Devante Adams. I expect him to put up about 40 receptions for 700 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Jordan Phillips, DT, Miami Dolphins
If there was ever an example of the rich getting richer, this is it. The Dolphins just signed Suh and now they add a defensive tackle who can be just as dominant against the run.
Phillips projects as the Dolphins true 1- or 0- technique. He can command the gap and take on double teams, which would free up Suh to see some one-on-one battles. Phillips immediately gives the Dolphins one of the top defensive lines in all of football. He’ll be solid as a rookie, a Pro-Bowler as a second-year player.
Randy Gregory, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Take away the off-the-field issues and Randy Gregory is a top EDGE prospect that likely goes in the top-12 picks of the NFL draft. Sure, he’s lean and has a small frame but when it comes to hunting the quarterback, he’s one of the best I’ve seen a while.
Fast forward to today, pair Gregory with defensive line guru Rod Marinelli and watch both the player and team prosper. Gregory is surrounded with DeMarcus Lawrence, Greg Hardy and Tyrone Crawford on a defensive line that is suddenly outrageously dangerous. Gregory won’t have to worry about anything but rushing the passer—the one thing he’s elite at. Heck with his ability as a run defender, Gregory projects to have a 10-sack rookie season and, if he can stay out of trouble, a career that will help Cowboys fans get over the loss of DeMarcus Ware.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
No, Yeldon isn’t the most physically talented or elite at any one particular attribute, but he is likely the best all-around back aside from the top-2. Yeldon is patient runner with good vision, above-average burst, and some power. What seperates him from some of the game breakers is his ability to not only produce as a rusher, but also to be a viable pass-blocker.
Yeldon goes to a Jaguars team that will offer him plenty of opportunity. General Manager Dave Caldwell noted that it’s more likely that a bell-cow in these days gets 15-18 attempts and likely 4 or 5 touches in the pass game. Yeldon will walk into this situation as the immediate starter and will be running behind a revamped offensive line.
A good projection for Yeldon is somewhere around 1300 yards from scrimmage. Expect somewhere around 260 attempts on the ground and 40 receptions that will take him somewhere around 1000 yards rushing, 300 yards receiving and 10 total touchdowns.
Alright, fans. How’s the list? Who was missed?
Weigh in below with your thoughts!