What gets me excited every draft season - more than draft position, strategy, and top-end talent evaluation - are the stories of the underdogs. The players who weren't heavily recruited out of college, who didn't play for Alabama or Notre Dame, who Mel Kiper and Todd McShay aren't talking about on ESPN.
Winning franchises don't rebuild, they re-tool through underrated FA signings and the draft. Teams like the Patriots, Seahawks, Ravens, (and Giants?) don't hit on signings in the early rounds much more frequently in the earlier rounds than other NL teams - but in the later rounds they do. They find players like Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Tom Brady, Rob Ninkovich, Julian Edelman, and more all in the 5th round or later.
I'll do my best to highlight a few under the radar players for the upcoming draft who should all be 5th round or later draft picks if not UDFA's. Let me know what you all think!
Hometown: Croton-on-Hudson, NY
High School: Croton-Harmon High School
Injuries/Discipline: Nothing notable
Marist College all-time receptions leader
All PFL (Pioneer Football League) selection
Class: Redshirt Senior
Projected 40 Time: 4.5
Projected Max. Bench (225 lbs): 25 Reps
20 Yard Shuttle: 3.98
2015: 53 receptions, 746 yards, 14.1 yard average, 4 TD's
2014: 69 receptions, 626 yards, 9.1 yard average, 2 TD's
2013: 50 receptions, 533 yards, 10.7 yard average, 4 TD's
2012: 30 receptions, 335 yards, 11.2 yard average, 2 TD's
• Great strength for size and position if the 25 reps is true
• Fast in and out of breaks, can stop on a dime
• Plays physical
• Pulls down contested balls
• A great athlete, hard to tackle in the open field
• Not elite speed, but good enough
• A slightly shorter receiver at 5'10"
• Ran a limited route tree (from limited film available)
• Limited red-zone production
• Played against Division I-AA competition
Matt Tralli lined up most frequently in the slot at Marist and projects as a slot receiver and return specialist in the NFL. He reminds me a lot of Julian Edelman and I mean to a "T". They are the same height and weight, same 40 time, run the same routes out of the slot, everything. The only advantage Edelman has is a slightly better shuttle time (3.92), but where Tralli has a huge advantage is strength. If those 25 reps are true that would be top ten performance for WRs for the past 10 drafts. All in all, I have found almost no mention of Tralli on traditional draft sites and an interview he did on Draft Diamonds. He's most likely a UDFA whom I would love for the Jets to bring in, he appears to be a hard worker in the mold of Joe Anderson except 22 years old and with more upside.
Final thought: If you had a chance to take the next Julian Edelman for an UDFA contract - would you? (spoiler: of course!)
If you want to check his film for yourself, check out one highlight tape here.
Let me know what you guys think of him as well or if you have any other potential hidden gems.
Update: He is a Jets Fan ---> +10 bonus points
That would happen to the Patriots— Matt Tralli (@MpT4MvP) February 2, 2015