Football fans are often familiar with the players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, and even some of the players taken in the next few rounds during the second day of the draft. But on the third day, rounds 4-7 take place, and many of these players are unknown to fans. But there are some players with whom you are probably familiar. We’ll share with you where some of these notable players ended up.
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford (Redskins, 4th round)
Bryce Love is familiar to many fans for his exploits at Stanford in college. He truly broke out as a junior in 2017, rushing for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns, while finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting that year. He surprisingly decided to return to school for his senior season even though many did not think his draft stock could get higher. He was far less productive in 2018 as he battled injuries. Then as a capper to some bad luck, he tore his ACL in Stanford’s final game, which gave NFL teams pause. Between Derrius Guice and Love, Washington will now have two running backs returning from a torn ACL.
The first two legs (rounds 1-3) of the 2019 NFL Draft are in the books and over 100 players have been selected. Even though many of the best players from the college ranks are already gone, that doesn’t mean there isn’t talent left entering Day 3. Teams will be picking during the 4th-7th rounds looking to hit a home run. Some of these guys could step in and start for their teams, and a few might even develop into Pro Bowlers or better.
The draft becomes a bit of a craps shoot at a certain point, but there are definitely sleepers littered throughout. We will do our best to identify them.
Here’s a look at 10 late-round sleepers.
10. Cameron Smith, LB, USC
Smith caught the attention of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick this offseason for his high football IQ and all-around smarts. That savvy nature has been what defined Smith for a long time and will go a long way for him at the next level. However, there are some question about his physical traits, and his film didn’t exactly blow the doors off of anyone. Still, having a keen eye and a quick mental process at the inside linebacker position is a luxury, and someone is going to look at Smith as a low-risk, high-reward sort of project.
There was once a time when Bryce Love was considered one of the most explosive players in college football, but injuries slowed the running back last season and he suffered a torn ACL in Stanford’s final regular season game. As you might expect, that has been a concern for NFL teams leading up to the draft.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported on Friday that Love’s surgically repaired knee “remains very stiff,” and teams are wondering how long it will take him to regain his old form — assuming he ever does.
Another medical issue in the draft: Stanford RB Bryce Love’s stiff knee have raised red flags for NFL teams about regaining his movement and explosiveness after ACL reconstruction. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/Iy0pSyXKW5
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 19, 2019
Pelissero notes that the condition Love is dealing with is one teams have seen before, and it is not out of the question that he will need to have another surgery.
Love had a breakout season as a junior at Stanford when he rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns, but he was held to just 739 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games last year while hobbled by an ankle injury for much of the season. Once considered a Heisman Trophy candidate, he is now projected to go somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft.
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Bryce Love skipped Stanford’s appearance in the Sun Bowl, which seemed somewhat odd for a player who loves to play as much as he does. Now we know why.
Yahoo’s Pete Thamel revealed on Friday that Love suffered a torn ACL during Stanford’s final regular season game, a win over rival Cal. Love underwent surgery on Dec. 18 by Dr. James Andrews in Alabama and is now rehabbing.
According to Thamel, Love is still planning to attend the NFL Combine and participate in a limited fashion despite his recovery from surgery. Love vows to come “back better than I’ve ever been.”
Love burst on the scene as a junior when he rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Cardinal. However, he dipped to just 739 yards and 6 touchdowns in 10 games during the 2018 season. He missed time with injuries and continued to battle ankle issues, which also plagued him as a junior.
Though Love will still get drafted, his surgery will impact his draft status and lead to him likely not being selected until the later rounds.
Bryce Love was a late scratch from Stanford’s game against Utah on Saturday night due to an ankle injury.
Stanford’s athletic communications director shared the news on Twitter:
Bryce Love will not play against Utah, per head coach David Shaw. pic.twitter.com/FCd7cWw6vm
— Alan George (@treeSIDjorge) October 7, 2018
Love missed Stanford’s game against UC Davis with an ankle injury that he re-aggravated against Notre Dame last weekend. He was questionable all week for the game against the Utes, so his late scratch does not come as a huge surprise.
A season after rushing for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns, Love is not putting up the same stats. He has 327 rushing yards and three touchdowns this season.
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- College Football
The 2019 NFL Draft is still eight long months away, but it’s never too early to start evaluating some of the potential prospects and how early they might go.
Through four weeks of the season, several players have stood out, unknowns have shined, and new faces have entered the discussion. Let’s take a look at 10 college players who are already boosting their NFL Draft stock.
10. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford (senior)
Bryce Love could have declared for the NFL Draft a year a go and would likely have been suiting up for a pro team on Sunday. Instead, Love returned to Stanford for his senior season to finish his degree in biology. It was an obvious risk, but one Love chose to make. And in his first game the of the season, Love was statistically sacked by San Diego State, who stacked the box and held the Cardinal running back to just 29 yards on 18 carries. But he has since rebounded with solid games against USC (136 yards, 1 TD) and Oregon (89 yards, 1 TD). Perhaps above all else, he’s showed scouts that his pass protection has improved, which was a red flag just 12 months ago.
Bryce Love sat out Stanford’s game against UC-Davis last week with an undisclosed injury, and he was not needed in an easy 30-10 win over the FCS opponent. Fortunately, he will be available in a much tougher matchup against Oregon on Saturday.
Stanford head coach David Shaw confirmed on Tuesday that Love will be ready to face the Ducks.
“Bryce is great,” Shaw said in a conference call with reporters, via ESPN’s Joel Anderson. “He’s ready to go and fired up for this weekend.”
Love originally left in the fourth quarter of Stanford’s 17-3 win over USC on Sept. 8 after taking a big hit, and there has been speculation that he may have suffered a concussion. However, Shaw said after that game that the star running back would have been able to return if he was needed.
It makes sense that Stanford decided to give Love rest against an easy opponent last week, but he must have been dealing with some sort of ailment. The dynamic tailback, who was one of our top 10 Heisman Trophy candidates coming into the season, has rushed for just 165 yards this year after piling up 2,118 yards on the ground and averaging an incredible 8.1 yards per carry a season ago.