Riordan’s 2019 Rookie Sleepers

2 months ago Mike Riordan Comments Off on Riordan’s 2019 Rookie Sleepers

When drafting late, or scouring through free agency after your draft it’s important to find players that can round out your dynasty roster. Every year players that are drafted late and even those undrafted become household names or at least productive enough to spot start or amass trade value. This list of players consists of offensive rookies coming into the league that have a chance to make the most of their opportunities. While some of these players could end up being rosterable in any league, many of them are currently only relevant for really deep leagues, and can be considered watchlist guys in more standard leagues.

Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew (Jacksonville)

Minshew was selected in the fifth round by the Jaguars. Minshew’s college career started at Troy as a walk on.  In a surprise move prior to the start of the 2015 season, he transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College where he won the starting job and played well. He then transferred to East Carolina where he caught the eye of coach, Mike Leach, who later recruited him to Washington State. At Washington State, Minshew won the starting job and finished fifth in the Heisman voting while playing in a shotgun air raid offense. He’s a little undersized at 6’0”, but he has a solid frame and huge hands. The Jags signed Nick Foles this year to be the starter, but if Minshew looks good in practice and Foles struggles in games, Minshew will be in a better spot to take over a well-rounded team than most any other long shot rookie quarterback.

Jake Dolegala (Cincinnati)

6’6” and 240 pound quarterback, Jacob Dolegala, did not hear his name called during the draft. He had season ending surgery in his senior year in high school and enrolled at postgraduate school, Milford Academy. From there, he would go to the only college to offer him a scholarship, Central Connecticut State, where he would set the record for career passing yards. Dolegala has a steep hill to climb behind Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel, and rookie fourth round pick Ryan Finley. On the last day of rookie minicamp Dolegala got his chance to show the new coaching staff that brought him in what he could do. He impressed while Finley struggled. By no means is Dolegala a guy to pick up except in the deepest of leagues, but monitor this situation because there might be something there.

Easton Stick (LA Chargers)

Stick took over for Carson Wentz at North Dakota State. He put up great numbers and won a lot of games. The Chargers took him in the fifth round. He’s behind Philip Rivers, so it could take a long time for him to get on the field, but he’s a good player.

Jake Browning (Minnesota)

Browning was well known in NFL scout circles after his sophomore year with the Washington Huskies. His production dipped in his final two seasons which led him to go undrafted. The Vikings took a small risk in signing him, and he is a long shot to be relevant in the NFL. 

Runningbacks

Qadree Ollison (Atlanta)

The Falcons selected 6’1”, 228 pound running back, Qadree Ollison, in the fifth round. Ollison is a bruising back who played at Pitt and ran a 4.58 forty at the combine. He has good vision for a big guy and should complement Devonta Freeman’s game well. He is a good blocker and I think he will be utilized in the game plan early in the season. The current backup, Ito Smith, has a skill set more comparable to Freeman’s. Therefore, I can envision Smith being used in specific packages and to spell Freeman, with Ollison more as the short yardage guy.

Bruce Anderson (Tampa Bay)

Undrafted rookie, Bruce Anderson, has prototypical NFL running back size as he measures in at 5’11” and 210 pounds. He ran a 4.58 forty and had 22 reps of 225 pounds at his North Dakota State pro day. He has a good combination of size and speed, but went to a small school and wasn’t expected to be drafted. Anderson goes into a situation with a new offensive minded head coach and only Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones II realistically in front of him. If he makes the team, and an opportunity presents itself, Anderson could potentially have a big rookie year.

Devine Ozigbo (New Orleans)

Ozigbo is an explosive power runner out of Nebraska that was expected to be drafted in the later rounds. Ozigbo went undrafted and a good camp will, at best, put him behind newly acquired Latavius Murray as a between the tackles runner to compliment Alvin Kamara. At 6’0” and 235 pounds, he ran an impressive 4.54 forty. Sean Payton has had success with undrafted running backs making Devine Ozigbo one of the more intriguing undrafted players to pay attention to.

Karan Higdon (Houston)

Higdon was the starting running back at Michigan and went undrafted mostly because he wasn’t great at anything. He is 5’10” and 202 pounds of pure hard work and consistency. He may not stand out in any one category, but he does everything well. I think there is a chance he can bring stability to the Texans backfield.

Josh Caldwell (Kansas City)

Caldwell, at 5’10” and 220 pounds, is truly a deep sleeper behind Damien Williams and sixth round pick, Darwin Thompson. He played division II ball at Northwestern Missouri State and has an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. He is a hometown guy that the Chiefs organization may have had their eye on since his productive high school days.

Wide Receivers

Scott Miller (Tampa Bay)

The Buccaneers are pretty proud of themselves for finding Scotty Miller out of Bowling Green and drafting him in the sixth round. He is a true slot receiver at 5‘11” and 166 pounds. He ran a blazing 4.30 forty and had 2,867 yards with 215 receptions and 25 touchdowns in college. Miller is a smaller speed guy from a small school, but he looked good at rookie minicamp and the fact that he was drafted gives him a good chance of making the team.

Cody Thompson (Kansas City)

The news that Tyreek Hill will not be suspended makes the path for both undrafted rookies, Cody Thompson and Jamal Custis, a tougher hill (no pun intended) to climb. I like both players, but if I were to choose, which I am, Thompson is my guy. Thompson was a quarterback in high school and switched to wide receiver in college when he attended Toledo. Toledo, the same school that the Chiefs plucked Kareem Hunt from. Thompson was a beast at his new position with 181 receptions for 3,312 yards and 30 touchdowns in his college career. He is 6’1”, 205 pounds, ran a 4.57 forty with solid measurable all around at the combine. The reports say he caught everything that came his way during rookie minicamp and that he really stood out. There is a lot of talent in front of him, but if he can break through and get on the field, what an offense to do it in. Remember, we still don’t know what happens to Tyreek Hill in the long term.

Reggie White Jr. (New York Giants)

Odell is gone and Eli is not long for the NFL. Soon rookie Daniel Jones will get his shot to take over and he will be throwing to Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. The Giants drafted wide receiver Darius Slayton in the fifth round who could be on this list, but we are going deeper than that. His father played on the defensive line in the NFL, but wasn’t hall of famer Eagle and Packer Reggie White. White Jr is 6’3”, 210 pounds, ran a 4.50 forty and came out of Monmouth University, which produced wide receivers Miles Austin and Chris Hogan. He led the Big South in receiving yards, touchdowns, yards per game, and catches per game. White Jr is big, fast, and was very productive. He could be a guy that eventually makes it in New York.

Keelan Doss (Oakland)

Doss has an NFL frame, listed at 6’2” and 211 pounds. He posted 4.45 forty time at his pro day at small school UC Davis. He is an undrafted local guy in a crowded wide receiver group. Doss has the size, speed, and talent to make it in the NFL.

David Sills (Buffalo)

Sills had a very productive career at West Virginia, catching 125 passes for 1,966 yards and 33 touchdowns. He is 6’3”, 211 pounds and ran 4.57 forty. The Bills almost drafted him, but did not, and were then quick to make him one of the highest paid undrafted rookie free agents.

Tight Ends

Dax Raymond (Chicago)

Raymond is 6’5” and 255 pounds undrafted out of Utah State. He’s twenty four and didn’t have a ton of production in college, 72 catches for 873 yards and 3 touchdowns in three years. Even so, he was recognized enough to get an invite to the combine. Trey Burton (27) is the starting tight end in Chicago and third year guy Adam Shaheen is the backup right now. Shaheen has had a tough time staying healthy and Burton is coming off of sports hernia surgery. The Bears signed Raymond right after the draft and made him one of the highest paid undrafted rookie free agents. He is more of a receiving tight end that I feel can fit Matt Nagy’s offense well. Reports are he looked good in rookie minicamps.

Isaac Nauta (Detroit)

Nauta, 6’3” and 244 pounds, is a true tight end, meaning he can move, block, and catch. He played at Georgia and put together some nice film, but a poor performance at the combine really hurt his stock in the draft. Eventually he was drafted in the seventh round by the Lions, who had already drafted tight end T.J. Hockenson in the first round. Detroit is certainly not the best place for a tight end to be drafted, especially behind the top rated tight end coming out, but Nauta is athletic, a decent blocker, and he has soft hands. He should be able to get on the field.

Donald Parham (Washington)

Parham is a big guy at 6’8” and 240 pounds. He ran a 4.67 forty at his pro day and had 85 catches for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns last year for Stetson. He’s only been playing football for five years, he has a smaller frame, and he played at a small school where he towered over the competition. In other words, he’s a project, but Washington could be a good landing spot.

C.J. Conrad (New York Giants)

Conrad, 6’4”, 248 pounds, was a senior captain at Kentucky and had a good college career. He did not get drafted most likely because of an unexpected heart issue that sent him home from the combine. The Giants signed Conrad after the draft and reports from rookie camp said he looked really good. Injury questions and a solid depth chart at the position will not make Conrad’s pathway an easy one.

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