The upcoming 2019 NFL Draft has looked to this point like it’s going to be a draft full of receivers. With Mississippi’s D.K. Metcalf going down for the season with a neck injury, there may not be a top end, high first round draft pick at receiver. After that, though there’s a ton of receivers who will be drafted before the end of day two.
Mississippi’s receivers of A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, and DaMarkus Lodge generally sit atop college football’s best-receiving core rankings, but South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel, as well as Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb, put up a fight. All of these receivers will have a chance to be drafted before day three and all of them will be drafted. This sleeper though doesn’t go to Ole Miss or South Carolina or Oklahoma. He doesn’t go to a Power 5 school, or even an FBS school for that matter.
Keelan Doss goes to UC Davis, the thirteenth ranked team in FCS. Even if you aren’t planning on watching any FCS football, it’s definitely time to get this sleeper on your radar for the draft next April.
2019 NFL Draft Sleeper: Keelan Doss
According to ESPN, Doss was an unranked receiver coming out of high school. ESPN doesn’t show any other offers aside from UC Davis but regardless, it’s not how he ended up there, it’s what he’s done since getting there. He stayed close to home though with UC Davis being only an hour away from his hometown. He has one quote on his team biography page, and it is quite fitting to where he is in his football career. “You could be anything you want”, it reads. He wasn’t even a ranked prospect, but he is making his push to move on to the next level.
Doss was a do-it-all athlete for Alameda High School. He played football and basketball in his high school tenure, playing football as a sophomore through senior, and basketball as a sophomore and junior. Presumably, he saw a scholarship opportunity in football where he may not have for basketball. As a junior, he averaged 10.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG, which is solid numbers for a junior, but his football stats were far superior.
As a sophomore, he finished the season with 414 yards and three touchdowns in ten games. He also played on the defensive side of the ball in all ten games, finishing with one interception and two passes defended. As a senior, dependent on talent on competition, it’s surprising he didn’t get more attention from FBS schools.
Playing in only eight games, he finished with 577 yards and nine touchdowns off only 29 receptions. This nearly doubles his yards per game, setting it at 72.1. On the defensive side of the ball, he had an interception that he returned 90 yards, and he also had three passes defended.
Doss didn’t put up crazy numbers in high school, and comparative to some of the NFL stars, it is understandable that he didn’t get any offers from elite schools. Even Odell Beckham Jr., who was only a four-star prospect, finished his senior season with just under 1000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Development is sporadic though, and Keelan Doss, despite not being a high school star, is a college star who is gaining awareness through the grapevines.
In his first season with UC Davis, offensive linemen Julian Bertero and Doss shared the Mike Wise Award for the team’s best freshman. Hero Sports named Keelan Doss to the All-American Sophomore Team in his second season. He was also labeled as a Big Sky Second-Teamer in that same season. Doss was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award in 2017, which is handed out to the most outstanding player in all of FCS. Also in 2017, he was the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year, All-Big Sky First-Teamer and a consensus All-American. Doss is now one of three team captains in his senior season.
Doss has been virtually unstoppable in the FCS in his career. He broke out in his sophomore season, finishing with over 900 yards on 66 receptions, hauling in ten touchdowns. As a junior he did anything but take a step back, catching nearly 50 more passes for 1499 yards and seven touchdowns. So far this season in seven games, Doss has 61 receptions for 609 yards and four touchdowns. As a comparison, the most recent wide receiver drafted out of the FCS is Daurice Fountain. Fountain was selected in the fifth round. He never eclipsed 1000 yards, but he did have twelve touchdowns on the season as a senior last year. The toughest competition on his schedule was also Iowa State, where he only finished with three receptions for 30 yards.
One thing that will help Doss in the process of getting to the NFL is his schedule this season. In the third game of the season, UC Davis traveled to Stanford for a cross-state game. Stanford won big, but so did Doss. He finished the game with thirteen receptions for 106 yards. Any time a small school receiver catches thirteen passes against one of the elite Power 5 Programs, they’re bound to be put on the map. His best statistical game of the season came against Northern Colorado. He finished with eleven receptions for 161 yards and a score. Doss is a little sporadic, finishing with only 32 yards against Idaho and 41 yards against San Diego. When he comes to play though, good luck trying to stop him.
Keelan Doss stands at 6’3 and 206 pounds. This will undoubtedly help his draft stock by ultimately making his transition more seamless. He’s a very tough runner, breaking tackles and running over defenders whenever he has the ball in his hands. He’s tough to tackle on screen passes and slants and he generally picks up some extra yardage every touch.
His height also makes him so difficult to stop in the red zone. UC Davis gameplans his frame and ability perfectly, constantly running end zone corner fades and jump balls. He has great body control and extremely strong hands, allowing him to win these jump balls regularly. He’s also a very good route runner, breaking out of routes quickly and selling his fakes well. He makes subtle adjustments to get back to the ball when the ball is underthrown or when it misses wide.
The big wide receiver is athletic as well. He’s very good at high pointing the ball because of his high vertical. He doesn’t have blazing speed but he does gain separation off of his footwork and quickness, and his speed is good enough to beat cornerbacks downfield with good route running. His route running will become even more essential when he makes the jump to the NFL because his route running may not be able to create several yards of separation anymore.
FCS receivers are difficult to study because of their lack of strong competition but his game against Stanford, combined with his very good production should make it obvious that Doss is worthy of a shot in the NFL. Hopefully, UC Davis can make a run in the FCS Playoffs so that we can see him play against some of the best cornerbacks in the division. We saw Doss have extreme development in college, and he may not be a rookie contributor in the NFL as he adjusts to the talent level, but he is good enough with the right coaching, to make plays at the next level.
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