Everybody loves the sports underdog who plays his way into being the alpha dog. Sports lore is always filled with stories of Michael Jordan getting cut from his high school basketball team or Tom Brady being overlooked by nearly every team before he was eventually drafted in the NFL. There’s something special about the guys who are not college standouts, but unknowns who have to forge their path to success without preconceived notions of their talent. Lots of players in the 2019 NFL draft could be the next Tom Brady and enjoy a rags-to-riches story, and here are a few players who may fit the bill.
Hakeem Butler, WR, Arizona Cardinals
As the first pick of the fourth round by the Arizona Cardinals, wide receiver Hakeem Butler wasn’t even the first player chosen by his team at his position. Andy Isabella, who was picked in the second round, may be a good player himself, but Butler could be the steal of the draft.
At 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, Butler has an NFL body, and his numbers in college were truly spectacular. His size, talent, and drive to win the game are a positive sign for the Cardinals, who are looking to grow a young core next to Kyler Murray.
Sure, Butler plays receiver, not quarterback, and he went higher in the draft, but he has game-changing, Tom Brady-like potential.
Armon Watts, DL, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive tackle Armon Watts’ connection to the Minnesota Vikings goes back to his college days, as he got to know assistant defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez during the East-West Shrine Game. Rodriguez was one of the coaches of the team that Watts played for.
Watts’ relentless energy, non-stop effort, and sturdy build made him a no-brainer for the Vikings when they drafted him in the sixth round of the draft. The Vikings can use help on defense, and Watts will almost certainly provide it if he’s given an early shot.
Kendall Sheffield, CB, Atlanta Falcons
A fourth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, speed is Kendall Sheffield’s most obvious asset. He holds lots of speed records from his days at college, and he was an accomplished track and field athlete outside of the football season.
He may not be a superstar right away, but his athleticism and versatility that would make him an ideal dark horse to have breakout rookie season. His speed, talent, and drive to be the best that he can be could be a problem for opponents for many years to come, which sounds an awful lot like Tom Brady (minus the speed, of course).
Foster Moreau, TE, Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders have been making all sorts of headlines these last couple years for reasons both on and off the field. Because of that, people don’t really know what to make of their offseason so far, but a talented tight end such as Foster Moreau could help them prove doubters wrong. He also could help Derek Carr and the rest of the offense relive Gruden’s glory days as the Raiders try to get back to prominence on the football field. He proved to be a dominant force throughout his career at LSU, and as a late pick, he might have a chip on his shoulder and be even more motivated to prove doubters wrong.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Gardner Minshew may be the most outlandish name to appear on this list, but it doesn’t mean that his inclusion is unfounded. Minshew had to step up following the tragic death of the team’s expected quarterback, Tyler Hilinski, and he enjoyed a stellar senior season at Washington State after two years at East Carolina.
Minshew will most likely start the season on the bench barring something unforeseen. However, with Nick Foles’ injury history, it is not crazy to think that Minshew could get a lot of decent reps during the season. That’s the same route to NFL stardom Tom Brady took nearly two decades ago.