With the NFL Combine underway in Indianapolis, it’s time to start looking at some potential draft targets as well as some players that might be flying under the national radar. The big names and first-rounders will get plenty of exposure from now until Draft day, but as always there are some underrated gems who will have a chance to make an impact on a team. Some of these players are underrated for their position, while some are what would be considered “project” picks, but could still have the potential to be contributing starters on an NFL team. If the Chiefs were to take any of these guys there is a chance they could become year one starters or play significant time within their first two seasons.
Cameron Clark (Tackle) Charlotte University
Starting out we have a small school prospect with plenty of potential, as well as a physical play style. Cameron Clark is about as athletic as they come for an offensive line prospect and has the size and length to play multiple positions on an NFL roster. At 6ft5 308 pounds he has the size to play nearly any position across the line. The clip below shows why he has showed up on the radar of scouts across the league. Against the Clemson Tigers, he had an excellent game. He rips the defender from his spot, with a great first step and gets nasty for a big pancake block. The natural strength and violent hands are apparent.
Clark has also shown to be a high effort player. Here he does his job well, opening up a hole on the play side of this zone run. What’s really impressive is the way he finishes the play. He sticks with his man to the echo of the whistle, driving him into the turf. He plays with a big chip on his shoulder and seems to have fun running high-level competition into the ground.
He has a tremendous explosion on his first step, but his punch and lockout are what makes him an interesting prospect. Above he makes good contact on the RPO, and as the edge player is caught off balance he finishes the play by slamming his man into the ground.
If there is one thing he would need to improve on at the next level it is pass protection. Charlotte is a very run-heavy RPO team and doesn’t run a ton of conventional passing plays, meaning Clark hasn’t had much experience in a traditional pass protection scheme. Clark has been able to succeed in these RPO and quick pass sets by being more physical than the man across from him.
This is one of his few traditional pass set looks. What he lacked in technique he was able to make up for in athleticism. At the next level, he could end up being a project pick, maybe taking a year or so to learn the technique to play tackle in the pros and continuing to use his athletic, violent style of play to his advantage. There is a possibility a team like the Chiefs could take him middle to late rounds and want to move him to an interior position. He has the body type to play anywhere, and he appears to have the football IQ to even play center if need be. Coach Heck is one of the best developers of talent in the game and could do some real work with Clark. I would still label him a project but someone will give him a shot to prove himself.
J.R. Reed (Safety) Georgia
Projected as a mid to late-round pick J.R. Reed is an inbox strong safety who is not afraid of tackling. Not only can he tackle but he has an instinct for the game which allows him to make big plays like his interception vs Notre Dame below. He reads the QB’s eyes perfectly and closes well to make the awesome toe-tap interception. He’s a very instinctual player and brings a lot of juice with him.
Above he comes from depth and makes a clinic tape tackle right around the LOS. In three seasons as a starter, he had close to 200 total tackles with 109 solo. Not bad for a safety who also had five career interceptions.
Below he loses a step playing the run first but he takes an excellent angle of pursuit and is able to stop the ball carrier short of the line to gain. He can run all day and isn’t afraid to get his jersey dirty.
The above play is a great overall representation of what type of player he is. He reads the reverse right away from the high safety spot and runs on his angle to make the tackle for loss. His instincts and ability to tackle will earn him a roster spot somewhere. As for the Chiefs, safety is not a position of need, but with Kendall Fuller a free agent (after having stepped up playing safety reps in the absence of Juan Thornhill), Daniel Sorensen being a potential cap casualty, Juan Thornhill coming off of an ACL tear, and Steve Spagunoloa playing a lot of safety heavy sets, Reed could be a nice late-round addition to the roster. With his ability to tackle and play fast he would be a nice addition to a budding defense.
Yetur Gross-Matos (Defensive End) Penn State
The day one NFL starter that no one is talking about could slide his way into the late first round if not even the top 15. Yetur Gross-Matos has been overshadowed by some of the athletic freaks coming out in the Edge/DE position in this draft, but his play has spoken for itself. At 6ft5 and 266 pounds, he is a classic 4-3 defensive end.
A very powerful player above shows how easy he is able to rip back inside for a sack. He gets the tackle going upfield and then with one big rip comes back inside to get to the QB. His inside move is really one of his strongest moves but he sets it up on the run in the below clip due to his ability to quickly diagnose the play. He reads the QB draw and tears back inside to stop Justin Fields for no gain. He uses his long limbs to his advantage, getting plenty of separation from the OT to open up the inside.
The best part of his game is his ability to play the run. He uses great power and leverage to stand up the OT in the whole and then comes off to tackle the RB. His power and length are a rare combination that makes him tough to stop in the run game.
YTG also utilizes his hands as a strong part of his game. Here he swipes away the OT and shoots the inside gap to make the TFL. In almost any other draft class he would be a top ten talent.
Gross-Matos isn’t as highly rated as other edge rushers because he doesn’t have that elite speed rush off the edge and does not bend the arc as well as lot of the other players in this draft can. He is a very versatile player who can line up in multiple positions and works well in defenses that utilize movement such as the line stunt above. He would fit in the Chiefs defense perfectly. He is the kind of end that Steve Spagnuolo looks for, physical, flexible, and violent. Alex Okafor will be coming off a pec injury and is 29 years old, while Emmanuel Ogbah and Tanho Kpassagnon are both set for free agency. If Gross-Matos were to fall to 32, the Chiefs could lock up a very solid end to go along with Frank Clark for the foreseeable future.
Colin Johnson (Wide Reciever) Texas
This is a guy who could shoot up draft boards depending on how his combine and pro day go. Colin Johnson is a physical specimen, at 6ft6 with a 78-inch wingspan he will be a very interesting player to watch in this draft.
One of his best traits is his ability to catch with his hands. In an era with too many body catching big WRs and TEs, it is refreshing to see a big man extend his long arms out to make catches and keep the ball away from smaller DBs. He has a good break on his route here, makes a solid catch, and breaks a tackle. Doesn’t get much easier than this.
The athleticism is on full display here, with a leap like that smaller players will always have a hard time stopping him. He catches this ball like a basketball player going up for a dunk. The long strides he takes on the route can be deceptively quick.
QBs will not have to worry about overthrowing this guy. He will give them a nice window to keep the ball away from corners and safeties. He will be a mismatch nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.
Johnson was only able to tally three TDs in 2019 but was often doubled around the goal line and red zone. Here the defenders are in a soft zone and his dig route splits them for the easy score. Inconsistent QB play also limited how good he could be, though oftentimes he did struggle to beat press man coverage or was he has doubled right away after having a stand out 2018 where he tallied 68 receptions, seven touchdowns, and nearly 1,000 yards receiving.
Johnson is an athletic freak and has some big workouts ahead of him. I could very easily see him becoming a DK Metcalf type prospect and use these workouts to raise his stock. He makes a good outside release above and makes a sharp cut on this dig route. He could go anywhere from mid-second round till the end of the draft but he will be on a roster come training camp. For the Chiefs, he could make an offense that lives off of mismatches even more deadly and give a certain quarterback a big new target to throw touchdowns to. This pick could become even more possible with Sammy Watkins up in the air and Demarcus Robinson likely departing in free agency.
John Simpson (Guard) Clemson
This prospect had the biggest hands at the draft, measuring them at 11 and a quarter inches, and impressive 82-inch wingspan, 34-inch arms, and was listed at 6ft4 320 pounds. He is also one of the strongest and most pro-ready prospects in this entire draft class. John Simpson has all the intangibles as well as the style to play guard in the NFL for a long time. Below he shows off his strong base in pass protection by fighting off the push-pull move and using his long arms to put the DL into the dirt.
This guy is not easily bull-rushed. Here he gets his hands underneath the DT’s pads and sits his powerful feet into the ground, lowering his hips and stonewalling the pass rush. His fundamentals are superb, and he plays very technically sound football.
His run blocking is also very fundamentally sound and seems to be pro-ready. He steps inside to block the DT but as the DT shoots back outside he moves his feet well, extends, punches, locks on, and drives him out of the hole giving Trevor Lawrence a chance to gash Ohio State.
More of that outstanding protection in pass pro, this time the defense tries to create a mismatch by putting a quicker longer defender on him. Simpson quickly locks on and while not giving up an inch moves his feet and mirrors the rusher. It is hard to find pro-ready pass protectors straight out of college but the way this draft is shaping up Simpson could be an early to mid-round pick. An excellent run blocker and instinctual pass blocker, he will have the chance to start right away for a team. Depending on how the Chiefs decide to handle free agency they could have an opening at one of their guard positions with Andrew Wiley and Stephen Wisnewski being free agents. Simpson could be a plug and play pick, and being around talented veterans like Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher could give him a chance to learn from the best and play next to established players to help get through any learning curves. Having played 50 career games in a winning program, the Chiefs would be an excellent fit for him.