[Remember to check the '2010 NFL Draft' section for all stories relating to the draft.]
Every year there are a few players who come to the NFL from tiny, mostly unheard of places you would never expect. Jared Veldheer of Division II Hillsdale College is one such player.
Veldheer is a 6-foot-7, 325-pound mountain of a man who was the best offensive tackle in DII this season, and could be one of the best tackles in the 2010 NFL Draft class.
He is also the subject of today's Daily NFL Draft Prospect Profile.
Despite Veldheer's lack of exposure to elite competition, scouts are wowed by his physical skills and his potential. Right now I have seen projections that have Veldheer being chosen anywhere from the second to the fifth round. He will be one of the most intriguing players to watch at the Scouting Combine, and one of the players who could help or hurt himself the most.
Let's take a closer look.
Jared Veldheer Scouting Reports
From the National Football Post.
Veldheer is a physical freak at the position who’s going to run extremely well at this year’s combine and has the athletic skill set to match even the top prospects in the draft. He does have a bit of a learning curve and struggled at times vs. the jump in competition at this year's Texas vs. the Nation game. Overall, however, he’s a gifted kid with long arms, good natural strength for his size and has the upside to play on the left side in the NFL.
From Consensus Draft Services.
Recognized as on the best linemen in Division II - named 1st Team AFCA All-American, 1st Team AP Little All-American and Gene Upshaw finalist. Great student (3.0 GPA Bio) and recognized team leader in the weight room and on the field - his efforts led to Hillsdale's first-ever play-off appearance and first play-off win in 2009. Declined Valero Cactus Bowl invitation to play in Texas vs. The Nation bowl game where he wowed scouts during the week and whom some called 'the best offensive lineman there.'
Some scouts have listed Veldheer as high as the top 3 tackles in the draft. If he performs at the combine as well as he did at his bowl game, he could very well go as high as the 3rd round.
A very athletic and massive left tackle with good feet but is raw and needs a lot of work. Right now is a mid-round projection but could move into the top 100 with a good combine showing due to upside and potential.
Why Veldheer fits with the Giants
We know the Giants need to begin re-constructing their offensive line. Last season's second-round pick, Will Beatty, is likely to end up starting at one of the two tackle positions in 2010. At this point, that leaves either David Diehl or Kareem McKenzie continuing to hold down a tackle slot, and I don't believe either one of those players is a long-term answer. The Giants could probably get one more year out of either of them, though, allowing a player like Veldheer to adjust to the competition. In 2011, he could be ready to step into the lineup.
Why the Giants should pass
Because Veldheer would be a project. Unless he adjusts to the speed and physicality of the pro game at lot faster than should be expected he is a guy who would be unlikely to contribute much, if anything, in 2010. Of course, the Giants have carried backup linemen Adam Koets and Guy Whimper for years, and neither of them has ever been useful. So, maybe that should not be a concern. But, it is something to think about.