News & Analysis

Prospects PFF was too high on in NFL drafts over the past five years

Tuesday, we looked at players that PFF was too low on in our five years of grading college football players and projecting to the NFL. While those obviously hurt looking back on, it’s the flip side of the coin that’s more impactful in practice. Passing on a good player isn’t too big of a sin if you drafted another good one in his place. It’s taking a bad player highly that can really cripple NFL franchises. These are the players that we were far too high on coming out in the draft.

LB Paul Dawson, TCU

Going back and watching Dawson at TCU is still a guilty pleasure of mine. The man was given carte blanche to make plays in the Horned Frogs’ defense, and make plays he did. Dawson racked up 94 stops, seven sacks and four picks in his final season. Character issues and limited athleticism, though, saw him play a grand total of 35 snaps in his NFL career.

WR Corey Coleman, Baylor

Coleman only ran a few routes in Baylor’s offense, but he ran them at such a high level that we couldn’t help but be enamored. What we ignored was a fairly serious drop problem (17 on 155 opportunities his final two seasons). With such a limited route tree, Coleman was always going to have to put in the work to be a nuanced route-runner that the NFL requires and so far that hasn’t happened.

LB Scooby Wright, Arizona

We flat out underrated athleticism at the linebacker position for the early years of PFF college to pro projections. Wright simply couldn’t overcome his 4.9s 40-yard dash along with similarly poor ancillary testing numbers. He racked up tackles against the run at Arizona and notched an absurd 14 sacks back in 2014, but coverage is king at the position in the NFL and Wright could never hack it in that regard.

WR Leonte Carroo, Rutgers

We only saw eight games from Carroo his final year at Rutgers, but after he racked up over 800 yards in those games, we liked what we saw. He was the 35th-ranked player on our 2016 draft board before being taken 86th overall by the Dolphins. Since then, he’s only managed to see the field on 307 snaps in three seasons.

CB Kalan Reed, Southern Miss

We had Reed as the 54th-ranked player on our draft board back in 2016 before he became Mr. Irrelevant for the Titans. He had outstanding athletic testing combined with an 88.7 coverage grade his final season at Southern Mississippi. He could never break into playing time for the Titans, though, and has seen all of 23 snaps in his career.

RB Paul Perkins, UCLA

Perkins could do absurd things from a balance perspective back at UCLA. He broke 73 tackles on 236 carries back in 2015. Unfortunately, if he didn’t make a defender completely miss, he wasn’t going to drag a pile. The highlight reel runs swayed us from the fact that he struggled mightily to take what was given on runs between the tackles. He’s averaged under 2.0 yards after contact per attempt for his NFL career.

DI Andrew Billings, Baylor

The grading for Billings was never outstanding, as he earned 80.2 overall grades as both a sophomore and junior at Baylor, but we thought the dominant reps he flashed could become a more regular occurrence at the next level. The 22nd-ranked player on our 2016 draft board fell all the way to the fourth round to the Bengals and never quite lived up to that potential after missing his entire rookie year with a torn meniscus. 

Edge Shane Ray, Missouri

Sub-par athletic testing numbers be damned, Ray dominated as a pass-rusher in our first season of college grading. His 90.8 pass-rushing grade was second among draft-eligible edge defenders in all of college football back in 2014. While we didn’t do a formal draft board that season, he was the eighth overall pick in a mock draft that mirrored what we would do. A wrist injury slowed his career, but he never earned a single season pass-rushing grade higher than 71.2. 

WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State

Strong is another great example of how difficult the receiver position can be to scout nowadays. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound wideout had a 4.44s 40 and 42” vertical pre-draft after racking up 1,168 yards his final season at Arizona State. In the NFL, he hasn’t even managed to see the field for a full season’s worth of snaps in his four years.

S Jeremy Cash, Duke

Cash was the Scooby Wright of the safety position. He notched 49 stops in 2014 then 47 stops in 2015 at Duke before going undrafted in 2016. Cash was the 53rd-ranked player on our 2016 before going undrafted. After three seasons in the NFL, he’s still yet to have played a single defensive snap.

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