FanPost

Longshot Vikings: Undrafted Rookie Spotlight, Week 2

Continuing the Longshot Vikings series, the next two undrafted rookies to spotlight are safety Darius Eubanks and wide receiver Erik Highsmith. Eubanks comes from Georgia Southern as a converted linebacker and big hitter ranked as the #35 free safety in the draft by CBS, and Highsmith comes from North Carolina as a 4-year starter and ranked as the #42 wide receiver in the draft by CBS. As I did in the first article of this series, you'll get a statistical breakdown, scouting report summary and video highlights on each player. Also, as I mentioned before, be sure to check out Arif's Undrafted Free Agent Summary, as that's a great place to start to learn more about these undrafted rookies. So, hopefully this will allow you to get to know these undrafted rookies just a little bit better!

1. Darius Eubanks, S Georgia Southern

Measurables

Height: 6'1"
Weight: 215
Age: 21
40-yard Dash: 4.51
Bench Press: 23
Vertical Jump: 35
Broad Jump: 10'05"
20-yard Shuttle: 2.53
3-cone Drill: 6.95
Grade: Free Agency
Contract: 3 years, $1,493,000

GS Stats

Tackles

Sacks

Ints

Passes Def.

Fumble Rec.

2012

77

0

1

7

1

2011

69

1

2

2

0

2010

56

0

0

2

1

2009

58

0

1

2

0

Here are what some scouting reports have said about Darius Eubanks:

Positives and Negatives

From Scout.com:

Active and aggressive defender who is around the ball a lot. Good face-up tackler. Packs a wallop. Very physical; drops opponents with force. Looks like an in-the-box safety, yet has the speed to run with receivers in coverage. Good student. Appears to have all the physical tools to make the jump to the NFL.

From Buffalo Bills Draft.com, film review of Georgia Southern vs Appalachian State:

-Great pursuit all over the field
-Did a good job sticking on Jamal Jackson despite the pitch fake on the option
-Blitzed extremely well
-Gets his hands up if he knows he's not going to get to the QB

From Sporting Sota.com:

Eubanks has position flexibility at safety. Eubanks was a special teams standout at Georgia Southern, so he could make the team if he transitions his special teams ability to the NFL.

Analysis

While there isn't much in the way of scouting reports available about Darius Eubanks, he appears to have made an impact at the college level. A senior coming out of Georgia Southern, he played the "will" outside linebacker spot for his first three years, before coaches transitioned him back to free safety (his high school position) for his senior year. The position change didn't seem to affect his stats all that much as you can see above, and if anything he seemed to do a little better at safety. As a safety, he retains the tackling and hard-hitting qualities of his linebacker position, and would be a natural fit on a special teams unit. As I mentioned in last week's article about Brandan Bishop, Eubanks will likely not overtake Smith, Sanford and Raymond, and even Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo are likely ahead of him, even on special teams. He will have to compete with Blanton, Sendejo and Brandan Bishop for a special teams role if he hopes to make the roster.

For more on Darius Eubanks, check out this article from Savannahnow.com, as it highlights his position change. Also, check out these youtube highlight videos:

Darius Eubanks 2012 Highlight Film (via Desmond Pennamon)

FB: Post-Pro Day Interview with Eagle S Darius Eubanks -- 3-15-2013 (via Georgia Southern Athletics)

One Fly Question: Darius Eubanks (via Vince Garrett)

2. Erik Highsmith, WR North Carolina

Measurables

Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190
Age: 22
Arm Length: 32.5"
Hand Size: 9.25"
40-yard Dash: 4.6
Bench Press: 14
Vertical Jump: 34.5"
Broad Jump: 10'4"
20-yard Shuttle:
3-cone Shuttle: 6.83
Grade: Mid-Round/Free Agent
Contract: 3 year/$1,492,500

N.C. Stats

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TDs

2012

54

587

10.9

5

2011

51

726

14.2

5

2010

25

348

13.9

3

2009

37

425

11.5

2

Here are what some of the scouting reports were saying about Erik Highsmith:

Positives

From Dane Brugler of CBS Sports:

Highsmith is a tall, long target and not easy to bring down after the catch, showing good toughness and balance to run through tackles and create. Highsmith is a natural hands-catcher with good focus and a much improved route runner.

From NFL.com:

Owns the requisite height and length to line up outside. Keeps a step on his man once his strides kick downfield, but also shows the quick feet to free himself inside. Comes off the stem well on outs to separate, also using his frame to shield cornerbacks, while also freezing defenders with jerk routes to find himself in a wide open area. Tough runner after the catch who lowers his pads to fight through tackles, can also make the first man miss with a quick sidestep. His hands are strong enough to grab throws before they reach his body and reach up for high passes, even in tight quarters. Coaches set him in motion, as if running a reverse, several times in some games to create confusion in the defense.

From Draft Insider.net:

Consistent pass catcher with ordinary next-level skills. Quickly releases off the line of scrimmage, extends his hands, and offers the quarterback a target. Adjusts to errant throws, uses his frame to shield away defenders, and looks the ball into his hands. Comes back to the pass out of breaks and makes the tough catch in a crowd. Easily makes over-the-shoulder receptions downfield. Keeps the play in bounds after the catch.

From National Football Post:

Erik is a big strong receiver and shows a nice ability to fight off jams and get into his routes. He shows a nature ability to run crisp routes and make himself a nice target for the QB and shield defenders from the ball. He shows good toughness and a willingness to go across the middle. When the ball is thrown his way he is very sure handed and shows the natural instinct to come back to the ball and make tough catches. He is a solid blocker that helps spring his running backs for big time gains.

Negatives

From Dane Brugler of CBS Sports:

He needs to do a better job taking care of the football and creating separation in tight coverage, but should be one of the ACC's top receivers this season.

From NFL.com:

Build-up speed and average agility might prevent Highsmith from being among the elite prospects in the class; he takes a few steps to get to his top striding gear and won't out-run or elude NFL cornerbacks on a regular basis. Shows potential as a blocker with his size and strength, but needs to attack his man and move his feet while engaged to sustain.

From Draft Insider.net:

Lacks a burst and more of a one-speed athlete. Not a big-framed receiver for a possession wideout.

From National Football Post:

Highsmith's ability to run good routes is the only way for him to create any meaningful separation. He lacks the explosiveness or quickness and to run away from defenders. His top end speed makes sure he will not be a downfield threat. He also does not show great leaping ability and allows the ball to get into his body which allows defenders to knock it away and recover. He is not a fluid athlete which also makes him easier to cover for less athletic defensive backs.

Analysis

During his first two years, Highsmith was the #3 option, catching passes from now Texans backup T.J. Yates. His stats improved as he moved into more of an every down starter in his last two years with Bryn Brenner as his QB. His scouting reports hint at a skilled player, but who lacks elite athleticism. To me, this screams dark horse candidate. If he can show that he has the technique to run excellent routes, and display good timing with QBs and level of trust with good hands, he very well could succeed in a west coast based offense like ours.

According to Draft Insider:

Highsmith was consistent for North Carolina yet shows no outstanding physical trait in his game. He'll offer possibilities in a West Coast offense running underneath routes.

And according to the National Football Post:

Erik Highsmith has been a contributor and part time starter since getting to Chapel Hill. When starting as a senior it was in the three wide receiver sets and does his best work between the numbers. His big body allows him to knock DBs around and make tough catches all over the field. His inability to create separation is a big concern for any team at the next level. He is at his best in the red zone where he was most effective during his time in college. His limitations as an athlete also keep him from being of any use on special teams as a return most due to being a straight line guy. The lack of explosiveness could knock him out of the draft all together, but his consistent ability to make catches and hold on the ball should give him a chance to be drafted late. Overall Erik Highsmith is a limited player that would be a decent pick up at the end of the draft. For him to have any chance to make a roster he is going to have to show value on the coverage squads of special teams. At best he is a practice squad player for the first few years.

In my opinion, he will have a hard time making the roster with Jennings, Wright, Patterson and Simpson almost guaranteed roster spots. But it will be interesting to see how he competes with the wide receivers we already have: Chris Summers, Joe Webb, Stephen Burton, and a recovering Greg Childs, not to mention the other undrafted rookies. There should be a very good chance for him to make the practice squad. Erik Highsmith does not come without some off-the-field issues though, as he was caught plagiarizing 11-year-olds while at UNC. So, there is that.

For more on Erik Highsmith, check out this pre-draft interview, where he describes his style of play as "Freakish." There wasn't much video available of Highsmith, but check out these:

XO Fan: WR Erik Highsmith Talks Post Miami Win (via FootballHotBed)

UNC Bryn Renner to Erik Highsmith for the 1st Down! Gio Bernard with the Carry, UNC vs. ECU, 27-6 (via NCSportsGenius1)

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a <em>community</em>, that view is no less important.

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