The draft is two days away http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/vinny-curry-jersey , and by now you’re probably sick of hearing that Mitchell Trubisky is a hometown boy, Deshaun Watson is a winner, Christian McCaffrey is a jack of all trades and Myles Garrett likes dinosaurs.
But the draft extends well past the headliners; 253 players will be selected, and each has a story. Here are 50 lesser-known prospects you should know, whether because of their backstory or their skillset, heading into the weekend.
• PETER KING'S WEEKLY HOT READ: Want more insider information from Peter King? Check out The MMQB Hot Read.
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1. The Refugee: Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan
Born amid a civil war in Sierra Leone, Darboh became an orphan when he was 2-years-old and both his parents were killed. With a group of family members, Darboh traveled by foot to Gambia, then Senegal, where they found refuge. In 2001, he moved to Des Moines, Iowa where he was sponsored by a family who eventually adopted him. On the field, he played in Michigan’s pro style passing attack, and his length (6' 2″ with 32 5/8-inch arms) is a plus.
2. The Project QB: Jerod Evans http://www.newyorkjetsteamonline.com/chris-herndon-jersey , Virginia Tech
Evans believes he can be the “next Dak Prescott.” That might take time. NFL evaluators were universally surprised when Evans declared early, which doesn’t bode well. A junior college transfer, Evans started one year for the Hokies, posted a 10-4 record and impressive numbers (3,456 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, 846 rushing yards on 204 carries). However the one word most associated with 6' 3″, 232-pound Evans: raw.
•THE COLLEGE COLUMN ON THE QBS: Mitch Trubisky | Deshaun Watson | DeShone Kizer | Patrick Mahomes | Davis Webb | Nathan Peterman | Chad Kelly
3. The Man from the Headlines: Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International
Perhaps you remember this story from November: pregnant girlfriend pours boiling water on football player. That cut Smith’s season short, as he suffered severe burns on his head, neck, back, shoulder and arm. Things were never easy for Smith. His father was a tow truck operator in Philadelphia and was killed on the job in a freak accident when Smith was 4. FIU was his only scholarship offer. In 2014, he led all college tight ends with 61 catches, but in 2015 tore his ACL. Now healed from his burns http://www.denverbroncosteamonline.com/daesean-hamilton-jersey , Smith is a likely mid-round pick.
4. The Other Oklahoma Running Back: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Joe Mixon has garnered most of the attention, but Perine has a chance to create some buzz. Oklahoma’s all time leading rusher (he broke Billy Sims’ record, finishing with 4,122 career yards), Perine is strong (30 bench reps, best of all combine RBs), thick (5' 11″, 233 pounds), and could be a workhorse back in the NFL. He shouldn’t go lower than round 3; scouts adore him.
5. The Best Day 3 Pass Rusher: Samson Ebukam, LB/DE, Eastern Washington
Ebukam was born in Nigeria and moved to America when he was 9 years old. He wasn’t invited to the combine but produced impressive testing numbers at his pro day. At 6' 2″, 240 pounds, he has exceptionally long arms and has a knack for getting after the quarterback.
6. The Deepest Sleeper: Kenny Golladay, WR http://www.miamidolphinsteamonline.com/jason-sanders-jersey , Northern Illinois
Remember this name. At 6' 4″, 218 pounds with 32-inch arms, Golladay is the type of prospect that, as scouts say, “looks the part.” He has a nice catch radius and may need some refinement, but could be a starter before you know it.
7. The High Profile Recruit: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA
College football fans might remember this name from a strange and (at times) testy recruiting saga. A five-star recruit, Vanderdoes initially committed to Notre Dame. After he changed his allegiance to UCLA, citing a desire to be closer to his family, Irish coach Brian Kelly refused to release the defensive tackle from his national letter of intent. Vanderdoes eventually got his wish, and though he shined in his first two seasons, injury derailed a once-promising career. He’s still working his way back from ACL surgery in 2015; the team that drafts him will be banking that he will bounce back fully.
8. The Underdog of the First Round: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
The short story: Without a scholarship offer coming out of high school, Reddick walked on at Temple. His mother took out a loan to pay for his meal plan. At one point Giants Lorenzo Carter Jersey , coaches told Reddick he’d likely be cut. He persevered, earned a scholarship—while playing everything from defensive back to defensive end—and dominated at the Senior Bowl. His speed and athleticism will make him a fine NFL linebacker.
9. The One-Year Starter: Duke Riley, LB, LSU
A mainstay on special teams for three years in Baton Rouge, Riley shined when he finally got his shot to start at linebacker: 93 tackles (nine for loss), 1.5 sacks and an interception. He’s a bit undersized, but hey, that’s what scouts said about Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones.
10. The Nickelback in the Rough: Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
He’s a tad undersized at 5' 10″ and 185, which will relegate him to the nickel (he got pushed around by some bigger receivers at the Senior Bowl, like Josh Reynolds). But Kazee is quick and has excellent ball skills; he had 15 interceptions over the last two seasons. I like his scrappiness.
11. The High School Couch Potato: Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte
Ogunjobi was a 350-pound high school sophomore who loved video games. That concerned his parents; they hid his controllers and marched him to the football fiel.