Sleepers Part I: Quarterbacks
Everyone will have his or her own interpretation on what constitutes a sleeper. Per usual, we have no hard and fast rules, but we do follow some general guidelines. Players that made limited to no impact in 2007, starters that emerged this spring, names flying below the radar and of course true freshman can all be considered sleepers, and we'll now take a peek at some potential sleepers at the quarterback spot.
The underlying attribute that each and every sleeper has in common is the potential to vastly exceed our projections or place in the rankings. In short they have more upside than many of the others on our lists. At the same time, you guessed it, they also have the potential to do nothing more than take up space on your roster.
As mentioned in the keeper piece, taking some shots down field on draft day is a must. And let’s be honest, it’s a heck of a lot more fun than boldly shouting out the name of the "steady" junior signal caller that appears next on your list and will provide week after week of mediocre fantasy performances.
We start by looking at the quarterbacks, which are as deep as we’ve seen in years. So there is really little reason to reach in the early rounds for quarterback prospects this draft day. As we dig a little deeper, a few potential diamonds in the rough start to dot our rankings, and the shrewd drafter should remember these names.
Mid-Rounders to Late Rounders
If you’ve been following along this spring, we are high on the Ole Miss offense and Jevan Snead is the main reason. The Texas transfer has the tool set to vastly exceed our projections in 2008. Snead had a strong showing this spring, deftly displaying his arm and ability to move the football down the field. Snead also has some talent around him, so look for a few more CFFinsider sleeper picks coming out of the Running Rebel camp.
A few others that could be worth a stab on draft day are Daryll Clark of Penn State and Gary Rogers of Washington State.
The Clark story has an all-too-familiar feel to it: a senior, dual-threat quarterback that will finally get his chance to shine in Happy Valley. While he hasn’t officially secured the starting spot, the early indications of a shift back to the 2005 playbook, when multidimensional Michael Robinson was at the helm, has this writer who has killed one too many brain cells putting the pieces together.
Rogers gets special sleeper consideration, not because he checks in at 6’ 7” and has a mini Howitzer for an arm, but because new head man Paul Wulff favors an aggressive no-huddle spread offense, which has the potential to score some points. Rogers' immobility might become a problem if a steady run game fails to materialize, thus allowing defenses to double wide out Brandon Gibson and pin their ears back while attacking the tall oak tree. We long for the days of Mike Price pulling shockers in the Pac-10 with his high-powered offenses. Wulff might just be the guy to bring that magic back to Pullman.
It is rare that a true freshman quarterback makes an immediate impact and 2008 is no different. Most freshman prospects are long-term projects and covered in the keeper piece. A couple of names to watch however are Robert Griffin at Baylor, Justin Feagin at Michigan and Aramis Hillary at South Carolina.
Griffin is already enrolled and in the midst of a dogfight over at Baylor. If he beats out veterans like Blake Szymanski and Kirby Freeman, take notice, as this would be a sure sign the kid has talent and is worthy of his prep school ranking.
While it is highly unlikely that a true freshman can learn the Rich Rodriguez offense in such a short amount of time (one summer), stranger things have happened. Stephen Threet is not an ideal fit if R-Rod wants to continue to dig into the spread option playbook he crafted while at West Virginia. This puts “athlete” Justin Feagin firmly on our watch list, even as a true frosh.
Aramis Hillary is a bit raw, but with the off the field woes of beer guzzling super prospect Stephen Garcia and with Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley throwing a staggering eight interceptions combined in the spring game, I’m guessing the ole ball coach will try just about anything at this point.
While I highly advise against burning a draft pick on any of these true freshmen, they are ones that we’ll be watching as summer camp rolls around.
Early Waiver Wire Watch List
A trio of non-BCS’ers top our list of quarterbacks to keep on your short list after draft day.
JUCO transfer Arkelon Hall has all but locked up the starting gig at Memphis. The former Elite 11 prospect in high school was recruited by the likes of Washington State, LSU and Cal before taking a detour through the junior college ranks and ending up walking in Memphis. As we learned last year with Martin Hankins, a Memphis quarterback can provide some much needed depth during a long season. With the entire receiving core returning, Hall’s arm could make the Memphis quarterback one to consider.
Jamie Hampton has the daunting task of replacing fantasy stud Omar Haugabook. Hampton is equipped with a similar dual-threat skill set and had no problems leading the offense this spring. If he can get through LSU and Ohio State in one piece, Hampton should provide some meaningful minutes down the road.
Running back Damion Fletcher garners all the attention over at Southern Miss and rightfully so. However, one thing that seems to continually get glossed over is the arrival of new head coach Larry Fedora from Oklahoma State. Fedora will replace a conventional attack with a no-huddle spread variety that will run or pass as it sees fit. Yeah, they are still going to run it, but Southern Miss will air it out with greater frequency in 08. This change in philosophy opens the door for redshirt freshman Austin Davis to do his best Zac Robinson impersonation.
Position Battles to Watch
There are four major battles to watch this summer: Houston, Tulsa, Hawaii and Auburn. Yes, Auburn. With the arrival of new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, this won’t be your standard Auburn ground and pound. The Tigers are the latest to succumb to the spread offense and there is also some talent at the QB spot that has us intrigued.
Kodi Burns is an athletic dual-threat quarterback that has the potential to put up big numbers in wide open spaces, while JUCO transfer Chris Todd would bring a more conventional passing look to the four wide receiver set. Either way, big numbers are a possibility.
We’ve covered the others quite extensively on this site already so we won’t regurgitate the same old same old. So, to recap:
At Houston we are feeling Case Keenum in 2008, HOWEVER (and that’s a big however) Blake Joseph could really make us look bad.
At Tulsa we have Paul Johnson pegged as the starter due to seniority, but keep an eye on JUCO Jacob Bower.
At Hawaii we have Tyler Graunke loosely penciled in as the starter, still keep an eye on Inoke Funaki and Greg Alexander.
Complete quarterback sleeper list. Be sure to check our draft kit for updates.
|32||QB||Jevan Snead||MISS |
|43||QB||Gary Rogers||WAST |
|46||QB||Arkelon Hall||MEM |
|49||QB||Kodi Burns||AUB |
|61||QB||Jamie Hampton||TROY |
|64||QB||Daryll Clark||PSU |
|73||QB||Austin Davis||SMISS |
|80||QB||Chris Todd||AUB |
|97||QB||Blake Joseph||HOU |
|99||QB||Jacob Bower||TULSA |
|115||QB||Greg Alexander||HAW |
|116||QB||Inoke Funaki||HAW |
|117||QB||Robert Griffin||BAY |
|161||QB||Justin Feagin||MICH |
|164||QB||Aramis Hillary||SOCAR |
| || || || |
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