2010 Shrine Game Future Studs and Sleepers
By Cecil Lammey
June 30th, 2010

Each year I travel to every major College All-Star Game during January to scout the incoming crop of rookies. This year I attended the Shrine Game in Orlando, and saw many players that could be starring on Sundays in the near future. Let's take a look at some potential future studs and sleeper prospects to keep an eye on in dynasty leagues.

John Skelton - Arizona Cardinals

6'5" 245 lbs. - Fordham - Fifth-round pick (155th overall)

College Stats
Att
Comps
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
441
284
3708
26
10
86
122
5

What he showed during practice

Skelton has the prototypical frame for a NFL quarterback, and has a rocket arm. He can make plays with his feet when the play breaks down, but would too often bail on plays rather than climb the ladder and keep his eyes downfield. He can throw deep passes with ease because of his arm strength, but needs to show better timing and touch on underneath routes.

Why the Cardinals drafted him

The Cardinals are looking for their QB of the future, and if Matt Leinart struggles they could turn to Skelton in 2011 if he develops properly. He's constantly compared to Ravens QB Joe Flacco because of his size, arm strength, and the fact he played at a small school - but he's not as pro ready as Flacco proved to be.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

John Skelton is a future stud if he reaches his full potential, and throwing to Larry Fitzgerald doesn't hurt either.

Mike Kafka - Philadelphia Eagles

6'3" 215 lbs. - Northwestern - Fourth-round draft pick (122nd overall)

College Stats
Att
Comps
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
492
319
3430
16
12
150
295
8

What he showed during practice

Kafka is a tough, gritty, quarterback and impressed scouts at the Shrine Game this year with his arm strength. He has a quick release and good accuracy on short and intermediate routes. Kafka surprised some with his willingness to throw down field and challenge the edges of the defense. He's not the most accurate deep passer, but does throw with good deep touch.

Why the Eagles drafted him

Philadelphia said goodbye to Donovan McNabb, and now are giving the keys to the offense to Kevin Kolb. He could be entrenched as the starter for years, and Kafka is merely seen as a developmental quarterback. He'll be third-string this year behind Kolb and Michael Vick, but could climb the depth chart if the Eagles choose to get rid of Vick after this season.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

Mike Kafka is a sleeper with decent upside. He needs to develop his game, but the Eagles drafted him earlier than some in the scouting community thought he would go. Because of the shortage of quality quarterbacks in the NFL the Eagles could decide to develop his skill set and then trade him in a few years.

Keith Toston - St. Louis Rams

6'0" 210 lbs. - Oklahoma State - Undrafted Free Agent

College Stats
Rush
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
227
1218
11
25
261
1

What he showed during practice

Toston runs with good aggression and is looking to make a big play every time he touches the ball - which is both a good and bad thing. He needs to play with more discipline as sometimes it's best to just lower your shoulder and take what the defense is giving you. He can change direction without losing much speed in the open field.

Why the Rams picked him up

The Rams don't have much talent in their RB corps behind All-Pro Steven Jackson. Toston is currently behind Chris Ogbonnaya and Kenneth Darby, but could make the team as a change of pace back.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

Toston is a sleeper with limited upside. He could have a few big games here and there during his pro career, but doesn't have the skill set to be a featured runner in the NFL.

Emmanuel Sanders - Pittsburgh Steelers

5'11" 180 lbs. - SMU - Third-round draft pick (82nd overall)

College Stats
Rush
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
1
6
0
98
1339
7

What he showed during practice

Speed, speed, and more speed. He played and put up huge numbers in June Jones pass-happy offense, but Sanders has enough game to stick around in the pros. Sanders is not the biggest receiver but doesn't shy away from contact and is not afraid to go over the middle. He needs to become a sharper route runner, and he sometimes needs to just take what the defense gives him after the catch.

Why the Steelers drafted him

The Steelers are looking for help in their wide receiving corps after getting rid of Santonio Holmes, and losing Limas Sweed for the season due to injury. If he can pick up the offense as quickly as Mike Wallace did last year, then Sanders could overtake veteran Antwaan Randle-El at the slot position.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

Sanders is a future stud if he fully develops on his potential. He's got crazy speed, sick quicks, and is very aggressive when the football is in his hands. The Steelers may look to Sanders to replace Hines Ward when the veteran decides to hang up his cleats.

Kerry Meier - Atlanta Falcons

6'3" 220 lbs. - Kansas - Fifth-round draft pick (165th overall)

College Stats
Rush
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
2
-2
0
102
985
8

What he showed during practice

Meier is very savvy and knows how to find the soft spot in a zone because he's a converted quarterback. He has a good size/strength combination and consistently comes back to the football. He showed good hands and concentration during practice, and has the skill set to become a red zone threat in the NFL.

Why the Falcons drafted him

The Falcons need more receivers that Matt Ryan can trust. Meier knows how to use his frame to shield defenders away from the football, and has great hand-eye coordination.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

Meier is a sleeper with good upside. Roddy White and Michael Jenkins are going to start for the Falcons this year, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Meier get on the field in three and four wide receiver sets. His only competition at the slot comes from veterans Harry Douglas, Brian Finneran, Eric Weems (PR/KR). Meier simply has more upside than any of those players, but will need an impressive training camp to climb the depth chart.

Freddie Barnes - Chicago Bears

6'0" 210 lbs. - Bowling Green - Undrafted Free Agent

College Stats
Rush
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
25
78
2
155
1770
19

What he showed during practice

Barnes has very strong hands and a knack for making big plays. He is another speed wide receiver that is somewhat raw as a route runner. He's very quick and has no trouble getting to the football once it's in the air.

Why the Bears picked him up

The Mike Martz offense calls for traditionally smaller wide receivers who rely on their quickness and run after the catch ability. Barnes is a perfect fit for this system, but he has a lot of competition in front of him on the depth chart. After the starting duo of Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, the Bears have veterans like Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett, Juaquin Iglesias, and Rashied Davis. If Barnes can impress in training camp then perhaps he'll end up on the practice squad during his rookie season.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

Barnes is a sleeper with limited upside, but he's in the perfect system for his skill set. His quickness and concentration will help him overcome his lack of elite measurables.

Seyi Ajirotutu - San Diego Chargers

6'3" 210 lbs. - Fresno State - Undrafted Free Agent

College Stats
Rush
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
0
0
0
49
677
7

What he showed during practice

At the Shrine Game he showed me that he is a quick learner because he was listening to WR coach Keenan McCardell closely and was constantly looking to improve his game. He can be a big play receiver downfield because of his speed, and is a factor in the red zone because of his size, vertical, and knack for correctly timing jump passes.

Why the Chargers picked him up

San Diego has a very thin WR corps after Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd. If Jackson is traded, the Ajirotutu will get even more opportunity to show what he can do in practice. One day the Chargers could feature Ajirotutu and Jeremy Williams as their starting duo at the wide receiver position.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

Ajirotutu is a sleeper with high upside. Although he was held back at Fresno State because of the run-heavy offense, he has the physical tools to be a featured receiver at the next level.

Blair White - Indianapolis Colts

6'2" 205 lbs. - Michigan State - Undrafted Free Agent

College Stats
Rush
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
0
0
0
70
990
9

What he showed during practice

He hates to drop passes! White was one of my favorite players to watch at the Shrine Game practices this year. He is very quick in and out of his breaks, and knows how to come back to the football and square up to his quarterback. White will do whatever it takes to secure a catch.

Why the Colts picked him up

If there's a GM who knows exactly what kind of talent he needs it's Bill Polian. Blair White may not fit in every system in the NFL, but he has the perfect skill set for the Colts. He can help out on special teams, and could develop into a fine slot receiver one day.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

White is a sleeper with high upside - especially in Indianapolis. Originally a walk on for the Spartans, White became one of the keys to their passing game. He may have to take a similar path in the NFL. Don't be surprised if White is cut after training camp, then put on the practice squad because of the logjam of talent ahead of him in Indy. He'll need time to develop, but could flourish with the Colts.

Dennis Pitta - Baltimore Ravens

6'4" 250 lbs. - BYU - Fourth-round draft pick (114th overall)

College Stats
Rush
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
2009 Season
0
0
0
62
829
8

What he showed during practice

Pitta will catch everything - and I mean everything - thrown his way. He has incredible hands, and the concentration to secure passes through traffic. He's a tough player that will hold onto the ball after a big hit. Pitta consistently finds the soft spots in zone coverage and does a good job of squaring up to the quarterback (to give him the biggest possible target) and coming back to the ball. He's not an elite athlete and fails to do much after the catch.

Why the Ravens drafted him

Todd Heap is no spring chicken, and has had trouble staying healthy during the course of his career. The Ravens selected both Pitta and Ed Dickson to be their starting duo in the near future.

Future Stud or Sleeper?

Pitta is a future stud because he should become one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets. He'll split targets with Ed Dickson, but Dickson is best used on deep routes while Pitta should move the chains on the underneath routes.

Please feel free to email me at lammey@footballguys.com with any questions or comments.