As the NFL Draft approaches, analysts and fans are closely examining the potential of college football players who may be headed to the pros and running wild with crazy takes.
Among the slept on, under the radar players that could make the Bills insanely good: Justin Marshall, Andrei Iosivas, Ochaun Mathis, and James Patterson.
Justin Marshall, WR, University at Buffalo
Key Stats: Marshall had a solid college career, recording 91 receptions for 1,282 yards and 12 touchdowns during his time at the University at Buffalo.
Mesaurables: 6’3″, 205 lbs. RAS: 7.69
I was late to the Justin Marshall film, but I am so glad I watched it. This kid is an absolute beast. Overall, Marshall has the potential to be a reliable possession receiver at the next level, he could be a mid-to-late-round pick in the draft but should definitely be getting looks from any NFL team. Reportedly has had private workouts with Buffalo and Atlanta.
Size and physicality: As mentioned, Marshall has good size and a solid frame for a receiver. He uses his size well to create separation from defenders and win contested catches. He is also physical after the catch, using his strength to break tackles and gain extra yards. The man plays like he is angry that you dare try to tackle him and I love it.
Route running: Marshall is a polished route runner with good footwork and a feel for finding open spaces in the defense. He can run a full route tree and shows the ability to make subtle adjustments to his routes to get open. He’s not Diggs, but he is Diggs-esque when I watch his routes.
Hands: Marshall has strong, reliable hands and can make catches in traffic. He tracks the ball well and can make catches outside of his frame.
Speed: While Marshall has good size, he lacks high-end speed and may have issues getting separation from fast, physical DBs.
Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton University
Key Stats: Iosivas was a standout receiver at Princeton, where he recorded 90 receptions for 1,214 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 17 games over two seasons.
Measurables: 6’4″, 220 lbs. RAS: 9.92
While Iosivas played at the FCS level, his strong performance in college suggests he could succeed in the NFL. He has the potential to be a red-zone threat and a reliable target for quarterbacks, and his size and speed could make him difficult to defend. He’s been my draft day crush since I saw his game versus Harvard.
Size and physicality: Iosivas has good size and a solid frame for a receiver. He uses his size well to create separation from defenders and win contested catches. He is also physical after the catch, using his strength to break tackles and gain extra yards.
Hands: Iosivas has strong, reliable hands and can make catches in traffic. He tracks the ball well and can make catches outside of his frame.
Route running: Iosivas is a polished route runner with good footwork and a feel for finding open spaces in the defense. He can run a full route tree and shows the ability to make subtle adjustments to his routes to get open.
Competition: While Iosivas was a productive receiver at Princeton, he didn’t face the same level of competition as players from Power Five conferences. I’m not a believer in competition being an overwhelming factor but scouts and fans will hold this against him to their detriment.
Overall, Andrei Iosivas has the size, hands, and route running ability to be a productive receiver at the next level. Learning from Diggs will only benefit him and he could be a true heir to Diggs or Gabe, if given time (if the Bills don’t extend him, which they should if the price is right).
Ochaun Mathis, EDGE, Nebraska
Key Stats: Mathis had a productive career at Nebraska, where he recorded 15.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss in 34 games.
Mesaurables: 6’5″, 245 lbs. RAS: 6.57
While Mathis may not have the ideal size and strength to be an every-down defensive end in the NFL, he could be a valuable pass-rushing specialist. Freak athlete with traits, will make you pay on the field but help an old person across the street… and a ceiling for days type of guy.
Size and length: Mathis has good height and length for a defensive end, which allows him to get his hands up and disrupt passing lanes. He also has a good wingspan, which helps him to tackle ball carriers and bring down quarterbacks.
Burst and athleticism: Mathis has good burst off the line of scrimmage and is quick to close on ball carriers. He also has the agility to change direction quickly and pursue plays in space. His spin move is other worldly and insanely good.
Motor: Mathis plays with a high motor and is relentless in his pursuit of the ball carrier. He doesn’t give up on plays and is always looking to make an impact.
Technique: Mathis can be inconsistent with his hand usage and footwork, which can lead to him getting out of position.
Overall, Ochaun Mathis has the size, athleticism, and versatility to be a productive edge rusher in the NFL. His spin move is Pro ready, now give him a Ghost move taught and coached up by Von Miller and he’ll be an absolute wrecking ball.
James Patterson, LB, University at Buffalo
Key Stats: Patterson was a standout linebacker at the University at Buffalo, where he recorded 267 tackles, 10 sacks, and 32 tackles for loss in 44 games.
Measurables: 6’2″, 230 lbs. RAS: unknown as of publishing
While Patterson may lack agility, his physicality and toughness make him special and a potential asset as a run-stopping linebacker and special teamer. I love his fire on the field, the man plays like Sonic the Hedgehog with his hair on fire.
Physicality: Patterson is a physical linebacker who is not afraid to lay big hits on ball carriers. He uses his size and strength to shed blocks and make plays in the backfield. He is the definition of a dawg when to comes to sticking it to ball carriers.
Instincts: Patterson has good instincts and is able to diagnose plays quickly. He has a good feel for where the ball is going and is rarely out of position.
Versatility: Patterson has experience playing both inside and outside linebacker, which makes him a valuable asset for NFL teams looking for players who can play multiple roles.
Coverage: Patterson has limited experience in and may struggle in pass coverage at the next level.
Overall, James Patterson has the physicality, instincts, and versatility to be a solid NFL linebacker. However, he has the athleticism, fire and leadership to be mid-to-late round pick that can contribute as a linebacker and special teams given the opportunity. Give this man a chance and we will be talking about him for years to come.
Well, that’s it for my under the radar prospects. These guys all have the potential to succeed in the NFL, albeit in different roles and to varying degrees. While some may be more highly coveted than others, each of these players has shown the ability to make an impact on the football field and I would 100% want any one of them on the Buffalo Bills roster.
*RAS courtesy of Kent Lee Platte @MathBomb.
Editor’s babble: Nice list, especially pleasing for this UB alum to see some players from the alma mater making the list. Thanks to Christopher Sampson for his contributions to our blog!