In my quest to produce at least 300 scouting reports, I am getting deeper into my film study for the 2019 NFL Draft class. While there are hundreds of prospects to discuss, there are some I have come across that aren't garnering the hype they are deserving of.
With the Scouting Combine set to commence next week, it's still fairly early in the process but these guys caught my eye and the draft community ought to be discussing them more than I'm currently seeing.
Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
The toast of this year's tight end class are the dudes from Iowa, TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant, and rightfully so. They are uniquely gifted players with star potential. Then there is Irv Smith from Alabama, but let's not forget about Sternberger as a potential early Day Two target.
After two seasons in Kansas where he inexplicably caught a total of one pass for five yards, Sternberger turned to the JUCO ranks before landing with the Aggies where he put together a sensational season.
Sternberger has immense upside as a receiver in the NFL. His route running skills, ability to create after the catch, athleticism and ball skills afford him the ability to attack all three levels of the field with potent playmaking upside. He is dominant when attacking the seam and has an uncanny ability to win on out breaking routes.
He is a highly versatile receiving threat that should be a productive NFL starter that presents considerable matchup problems for opponents. The 2019 tight end class is extremely deep and talented, but Sternberger should be discussed among the top prospects at the position.
Joe Giles-Harris, LB, Duke
I am not crazy about the 2019 crop of linebackers but Giles-Harris is being slept on. Among the most productive defensive playmakers in the ACC, Giles-Harris racked up 313 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks across his final three seasons in Durham.
Giles-Harris is arguably the best processor in the class at linebacker. He quickly and accurately diagnoses plays while taking excellent angles to the football. He is also a standout finisher who does well to square up, wrap up and bring his feet through contact. I love how he flows to the football, mirroring the running back but also not getting sucked in too far and guarding against cutback lanes. He is extremely gap-savvy.
He doesn't feature elite range and athletic ability, but his mental processing and tackling skills are tremendous. He is a superb shallow zone defender that sharply reads the backfield and works into throwing lanes while taking good angles to cut off running backs slipping out of the backfield.
A team in need of a MIKE linebacker should snatch him up on Day Two and prosper.
Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
If there is one thing we've learned in recent years, it's that the NFL is going to draft defensive backs high. It's time to talk about Layne as a prospect the NFL is going to love.
Layne was a highly regarded wide receiver recruit that transitioned to cornerback during the 2016 seasons and has developed into one of the top cover guys in the Big Ten. His length, play strength, ball skills, route recognition skills and press technique all pop when studying his film.
I love how physical he is. Layne is highly disruptive in the contact window, at the catch point, at the top of routes, when playing off contact and tackling. He's the guy with the physical upside to matchup with the "alpha" receivers in the NFL.
Layne is listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds and was a track star in high school. His physical skill set is really exciting as is the way Layne has evolved into a shutdown corner for Michigan State. I expect him to be a "riser" as more evaluators get familiar with his tape and see his athletic ability at the Combine.