When it comes to the next freshmen entering college who will be NFL fantasy assets, everyone gravitates their focus to the 5-star and 4-star prospects. The 3-star prospects are often miscast as not being good enough to earn a higher rating, which is not often the case. Many players who are graded out as a 3-star prospects simply do not have the socioeconomic means to receive the attention that would warrant a higher grade. This means if you know what too look for, you can find yourself an astounding value late in a Devy or Campus to Canton freshman draft.
The graph above illusrates how many 3-Star college players have landed as a Top-24 running back in PPR scoring since 2018. Some noteable names that have placed in the top-24 over the last three years: Aaron Jones, Josh Jacobs, Le’Veon Bell, David Montgomery, Chris Carson, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The fact of the matter is that it’s a fruitful venture to throughly examine each classes 3-star prospects in hopes of finding a gem.
Devin Neal was born and bred in Kansas and now has officially committed to be a Kansas Jayhawk, turning down offers from Nebraska and Iowa. On the field, Neal was explosive and proficient, off the field he is a near straight ‘A’ student. He has also been showered with praise for his high character and leadership qualities. Kansas head coach Les Miles has already took notice, stating “Devin Neal will be a leader on our team” during his press conference on National Signing Day.
High School Profile
As a player, Devin Neal made a lasting impression at his high school. In his junior year, he ran for 1,699 yards with 516 receiving yards and 32 total touchdowns, most coming on the ground. His senior season saw him rush for 1,327 yards and tack on another 200 through the air, with a total of 22 touchdowns. He is Rivals.com’s No. 1 running back ranked out of Kansas and the No. 24-ranked running back in the entire class. Per Noah Hills’ piece here, at Neal’s size of 5-11 and 205-pounds, he can be projected to enter the NFL close to 217-pounds, which would give him a projected BMI of 30.26.
Grinding The Film
Contact Balance, burst and recieving
Neal running a wheel route, turns his body around at near full speed to adjust for the pass. Making the catch while keeping his balance, he returns to near full speed in just a few steps. He makes three defenders miss while maintaining balance through contact and finds his way to the end zone. My favorite part about this clip is that he doesn’t let off the gas until he is in the end zone.
Agility, Vision, and Cutting
Neal read the defensive pentration to the right side of the line, making a one step cut and exploding into the second level. He beats out two defenders taking bad angles and once again runs hard through the end zone.
Devin Neal has two main concerns, the school he is playing for and that he will be a dual sport athlete.
Kansas may be in the Big 12, but when it comes to high profile schools, Kansas is not on that list. Looking into the 2021 season, the most noteable opponents will be Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas. This may not be a major concern since lots of productive running backs have come from smaller schools with less competition. The bigger issue is how much opportunity he will have on a team that will likely be playing from behind all year.
Dual sport athlete
Dual-sport athletes tend to find themselves buried on the ranking lists given the uncertainty of their future. It’s been mentioned that Neal has befriended a player who also dual athelete. This is the biggest challenge to navigate with him, and something each drafter will have to individually make a decision on.
When it comes to sifting through devy prospects, I look for a few things that will set them apart from their counterparts. I like to see work ethic, leadership qualities and a consistent reel of ‘wow’ type plays on film. Devin Neal has all of the traits I look for when identifying a 3-Star prospect. He is projecting to be a late round steal for any deep devy or Campus to Canton league.