2020 NFL Draft – 5 Sleeper Picks to Watch

According to Bleacher Report, “Sleeper” is a euphemism for lesser-known prospects who are usually selected in the later rounds but have the potential to contribute. I think a draft sleeper is simply someone that will do way more than he’s expected to.

Draft season is almost upon us as April creeps up. There is a lot of talk about stars, busts, and surprise picks. I made a quick list of sleeper picks that I think will be productive NFL players, or even great ones.

  1. J.K. Dobbins – Ohio State – RB

Dobbins should be a consensus first round draft pick at this point. In 2019 alone, he rushed for 2,000 yards and 21 TD. To put that into perspective, Dobbins only rushed for a combined 17 TD’s in his freshman and sophomore years, respectively. Growth is the best word to describe Dobbins at this point in his career, and there is no signs that he won’t continue to get better. He’s as effective in the air as he is on the ground and I think a team will greatly benefit if he falls to the second round. The only downside of Dobbins game is his pass pro. He needs to do a much better job of protecting his QB, especially if he’s a potential third down back.

2. Javon Kinlaw – South Carolina – DT

By now, I’m sure even the casual football fan has heard of Kinlaw’s impressive Senior Bowl week. When I went back and watched his film, mostly from the SEC portion of SC’s schedule, I noticed that it’s been like that all season. Kinlaw measures at 6’5 and 324 LBS, which is a prototypical NFL DT, but the added bonus of height is something NFL GM’s can get excited over. Kinlaw’s strengths are his pure strength. He can get to the QB without using anything but a bull rush. The one downside to to Kinlaw’s game that needs improvement is his motor. He needs to be able to bring it on every down if he wants to be a starting DT in the NFL. I don’t think this kid makes it past day 2, and whoever drafts him is getting a raw athlete that can turn into a great DT.  This young man was once homeless, and in April his life will change forever. It’s extremely hard to not root for him.

3. Justin Herbert – Oregon – QB

I will probably get flack for putting a sure-fire first round pick on my sleeper board, but I don’t think Herbert is getting enough attention. When you talk rockets for an arm, you can look no further than Oregons gunslinger. Herbert can make any throw on the football field, and can do so with ease. He’s never thrown over 8 INT’s in a season, he’s thrown for over 3,000 yards twice, and his completion percentage was tremendous in the 2019 season, at 66.8%. Despite being known for his arm strength, Herbert is also extremely elusive in the pocket. He can avoid pass rushers with ease. I don’t think Herbert gets drafted anywhere except in the top 15, but if he does fall, I think he has the opportunity to be a great steal for a team with QB needs.

4. Denzel Mims – Oregon – WR

It’s hard to not love this kid’s game. Despite being limited to a small selection of routes to run at Baylor, Mims tore it up running every route at the combine. He also ran a 4.40 40 yard dash at the 2020 NFL combine, and it was even more impressive when you see his measurables. He stands at 6’3, 207 pounds, which makes him sound like a possession receiver, but he can run a go route like any receiver in college football. I want to compare him to Julio Jones, as he can be a little bit of everything a receiver needs to be. Rumors are circulating that Kyle Shanahan, the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, LOVES Mims and wants him at 31. Let the bidding war begin. In a world of Jeffersons, Jeudy’s, and Lamb’s, it’s time we start to talk about Mims.

5. Josh Uche – Michigan – DE

When you talk about impressive Senior Bowls, its tough to talk about anyone other than Uche. Josh Uche went the whole season making play after play, and his work was rewarded as he got lots of attention at the Senior Bowl. He’s as quick as any DE in the draft, besides maybe Chase Young, and he has the NFL measurables at 6’1, 245. Uche represents the very definition of sleeper, and I’m excited as hell to see him perform in the NFL. I expect him to be taken no later than Day 2 at the draft, as his tape and hype is sure to be noticed.

Super Bowl LIV Pick, Analysis

Super Bowl Sunday has arrived. The storyline’s are few, but the drama is certainly high. The 49ers and Chiefs get ready to kick off on Sunday night in Miami.

Pick: Chiefs ML

I’ve had high praises for the 49ers all season long. Their defense is lethal and constantly makes big plays, especially the front 7. But the Chiefs have just been so damn good offensively in the playoffs. Simply put, this Chiefs team is doing things offensively that will be talked about for years.

I don’t think the Chiefs defense getting enough love. Since their November 10th loss to the Titans, the defense hasn’t been talked about much at all, which is probably a good thing considering the only time we ever talked about Kansas City’s defense was when they were getting thrashed.

A few things to watch:

This is really interesting. I talked a little bit about the pre snap motion that San Francisco uses in my post last week. PSM can confuse defenses and offer something they possibly haven’t seen on film. Expect the 49ers to use a ton of PSM to confuse Kansas City on Sunday night.

The 49ers have got to run the ball well on first and second down. If they want to be run-oriented, it has to work more than 50% of the time if they want to win the Super Bowl. We haven’t seen Jimmy Garrappolo have to throw the ball while the 49ers are down and I’m interested to see what happens if the Chiefs get ahead early.

My post-game post will have much more analytical breakdowns and game film.

Film Study: How the San Francisco 49ers use a zone-run offense to dominate the NFL

The 49ers have had a dream season, and they will surely look to cap it off with a championship as they get ready for Super Bowl LIV.

Particularly, San Francisco does a really nice job on the zone-run. They were averaging 145.0 yards a game on the ground at one point in the 2019 season. They have a stout o-line that has a lot of athleticism and a TE named George Kittle who not only can block, but he was also the highest rated play in the NFL this season by Pro Football Focus.

Let’s start this film session with a play from the NFC Championship game. Mostert finds a hole and nearly takes it to the endzone.

This rep was won by the 49ers before the ball was even snapped. Kittle moves in motion to confuse the Defense. The 49ers run a lot of play action out of I-form (QB under center in front of fullback and running back for those who don’t know), so you can’t cheat. You have to be disciplined in the run game to have a shot at beating them.

Every offensive lineman defeats their man and gets to the second level. Kittle makes his block on the outside and Mostert can choose his lane.

One thing I love about the zone-scheme is the lanes it forms. On one-dimensional plays like the HB Dive, where the HB has a predetermined hole to run through, it makes for a lot of blown up and predictable plays. With the Zone-Run plays, however, two or three lanes can form and it allows elusive HB’s, like Mostert here, to find space.

Another play I’ve been studying is from the 49ers Week 14 thriller against the Saints.

This play was all thanks to incredible play design by HC Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the offensive staff. As soon as the ball was snapped, you could already see the lane the offensive line provided.

Naturally, LB’s fill gaps and read the QB as soon as he turns to hand the ball off. This time, the LB’s correctly flowed right, but left a huge zone on the other side of the field for Mostert to read. He just needs to wait a second for it to open and…

This scheme is predicated on staying on blocks and getting to the second level. How about #17 Emmanuel Sanders blocking downfield? That’s part of the culture that Kyle Shanahan has brought to the 49ers and it’s clearly paid off.

The zone-run scheme puts a lot of responsibility on every player on the offensive line. In order for it to work, every player must find their guy. The 49ers GM John Lynch has put together a formidable offensive line that can move in space and it allows Mostert and Coleman to choose their holes.