First off, I want to wish everyone's mom a Happy Mother's Day. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have some of our favorite NFL players we love watching on Sundays. Also, to my mom, I love you.
Shifting gears, heading into this NFL Draft you likely saw a heavy dose of NFL Draft-related content. You know the usual “Why This Team Should Draft X-Player” or “Ranking the Top Draft Prospects” type stuff.
While most of the chatter will likely be around the bigger names such as DEs Dante Fowler Jr. and Sam “De” Williams, WRs James Washington and Jalen Tolbert, and Guard Tyler Smith–I wanted to highlight three under-the-radar players that could make some noise.
Without further ado, check out my piece below.
1. Fresno State CB DaRon Bland
Entering this draft, you could argue that a Cornerback wasn't a huge need on the Cowboys board. However, once the Kelvin Joseph legal situation materialized, people were debating whether they needed to shift their whole draft board to go after a Corner.
As the rounds went by, it wasn't until the fifth round when Dallas used one of their five fifth-round picks to add depth to their DB Room and selected Fresno State Cornerback DaRon Bland, who may not be a starter right away but is another young talented defensive back they have for the future.
Measuring in at six-foot, and with 35-inch arms, people were calling this a selection “A Dan Quinn Guy” all the way. As I mentioned that he may not be a starter right away (given they have all three starting CBs already penciled in), Bland will be a contributor likely on special teams at first–but don't sleep on him moving up the depth chart sometime in 2023.
He has the physical traits to succeed, but most people believe he just needs to be developed. And, if you're telling me we can coach up a guy into a starter who has 4.4 speed and isn't afraid to lay the wood, sign me up.
2. Boston College C Alec Lindstrom
Next, we have Boston College Center Alec Lindstrom, who's the brother of Atlanta Falcons Guard Chris Lindstrom. Entering this draft, the Center position was a need for the Boys and people pointed to the franchise to draft Iowa Center Tyler Linderbaum, who was ranked the top-rated Center in this year's class.
However, it wasn't until after the draft that they addressed the position, and boy they landed a good one. Rated as one of the top Cs in the class, many expected Lindstrom to go in around late Day 2/ Early Day 3, but the Cowboys lucked out at landing him as UDFA.
C Alec Lindstrom – Boston College
One of top center prospects in CFB – brother of Chris, now with Falcons. This kid is fun @MoveTheSticks
Despite being a little undersized for his position, Lindstrom tested well enough to get some NFL Draft Buzz around him, and he should be able to come in right away to challenge Matt Farinok for the backup Center spot.
Yes, I get that some fans will feel eerie about the word “undersized”, but Lindstrom brings enough IQ and technical skills to make up for his limited physical attributes. And before people think I'm advocating for him to start, I'm not.
Lindstrom should be a solid depth guy for the franchise, and given the huge amount of injuries the offensive line has every year, why not take the risk on a guy who finished as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which awards the nation's top Center.
Undrafted rookie center Alec Lindstrom (Cowboys) had the highest pass-blocking grade for a P-5 center since 2020 per PFF.
1. Alec Lindstrom 87.8
2. Tyler Linderbaum – 85.4 pic.twitter.com/WmLoEKEIOB
3. Harvard RB Aaron Shampklin
Lastly, we have Harvard Running Back Aaron Shampklin, who the Cowboys signed as one of their 20 undrafted free agents. Coming in at 5'9, 194 pounds, you may be thinking this guy is already too small to play in the league, but I wouldn't underestimate the guy too much.
Sheesh… Aaron Shampklin with another big-time TD run! The score puts us up on Georgetown, 30-9.
— Harvard Football (@HarvardFootball) September 18, 2021
A two-year starter at Harvard, Shampklin not only led his team in rushing and all-purpose yards, but he led the Ivy League in rushing with 93.6 YPG (Yards Per Game) and was 3rd in all-purpose yards (106.6 YPG).
Looking at a multitude of draft profiles over him, you find the common theme that this guy is going to be a pass-down type of back. And given that the Cowboys could lose both of their starting RBs next season–he may be needed quicker than we thought.
In a CBS article written by Josh Edwards, Chris Trapasso, and Ryan Wilson, the trio gave out NFL Draft 2022 superlatives to certain prospects who fit the bill for such an award. In their James Robinson Award (which is given to someone who's most likely going to be the next good undrafted running back), Trapasso chose Shampklin and said, “it's apparent he has a type of bounce with every handoff.”
Trapasso added Shampklin runs with great vision and can make defenders miss before taking off. (Sounds like that Tony Pollard guy, right?)
While it may not excite people to think about the franchise trotting out a smaller RB as a starter, I'm just pointing out that Shampklin has the talent to move up the RB Depth Chart quickly.
Furthermore, I understand these may not be the sexiest names to look out for in the camp, but they all have a good chance to become household names. So yes be excited about Smith, Tolbert, Fowler Jr, Williams, and Washington, but don't forget about these guys. Because if you think those are the only guys who will be turning heads, you're in for a huge surprise.