Sometimes there are sleepers. College players that have decent careers, or even pretty good careers that play for crappy teams. Sometimes they play for division 1 AA teams. Then they come to the NFL and all of the sudden they blow up. People sometimes say why didn’t we draft that guy. The answer is different with every player, but the player your about to hear about is not a sleeper, he is in a coma.
Travis Long OLB/DE was a 4 year starter for one of the worst football teams in college football, the Washington State Cougars. He is everything that is good about football. He never missed a game, he started from his freshman year, he had a near 4.0 GPA. He was the lone defensive standout for multiple years on this team. He played not only every game, but almost every down. He took on double teams nearly every play during the past two years. The Cougars lost, and lost, and he continued to play hard never wavering.
Measurables-wise he is not going to blow anyone away. He’s 6’4 and around 250 pounds. I couldn’t tell you a 40 time, but he looks like a 4.8 type of player. He’s increased his sacks from 2 to 4 to 9.5 this past year. He’s increased his level of play and his technique every year. The things you have to watch are not his height/weight, or his speed, but the overall way he plays the game. He is relentless, and although he is often double teamed he works, until the whistle blows.
This is film of him against BYU. If you notice, every play that is not a quick slant he is double teamed. In this one game he has multiple plays where he splits the double team and makes his way to the QB. When he is facing a single block either in the run or the pass he is routinely able to shed the blocker with relative ease. One thing he does not have is a fast set of wheels. He played a lot of this season and last season I believe with an injury to his knee.
In this video you can see all the positions this guy lines up at. When he started his freshman year it was as a defensive end, and he gradually moved from a 43 end to a 34 outside linebacker. The versatility between switching schemes is a plus to teams that use multiple fronts like the Jets.
The best part about this player is that he was rated around a 4th round pick before his knee injury. Had he had the opportunity to participate in the combine, he might have climbed to the later part of round 3. However, since he was injured in his last game of his college career and is currently recovering, he is either rated as a 7th round pick or a fringe draftable player.
Because of his hustle, versatility, intelligence in picking up a playbook, non stop motor, blue collar play, and ability to shed blocks he is a steal to get either in the 6th or the 7th round as a guy that you want to have on your team.