The wait is almost over and the draft is on the horizon. Let’s take one last dive into some IDP rookie sleepers to watch for on draft day.
We’re mere days away from finding out where all these talented rookies will end up. For myself and other dynasty players, draft weekend is literally like a multi-day Christmas. While we count down the final days to the draft, I thought I’d dial up one more IDP rookie article to pass the time. Now, let’s dive in!
Talanoa Hufanga – S – USC
2020 Stats (6 games): 62 tackles (40 solos), 5.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 4 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Talanoa Hufanga made an impact right away for the Trojan defense as a freshman compiling 51 tackles (31 solos) and three and a half tackles for loss. His next season, as a sophomore, Hufanga really made his presence felt. Not only were his 90 tackles that year impressive, but he also made splash plays behind the line. Hufanga notched career highs in tackles for loss (7.5) and sacks (3.5) that season. While USC only played six games this year, Hufanga balled out in the shortened season. He averaged an impressive 10 tackles per game this season and led the team with four interceptions. Hufanga is a player that just isn’t getting talked about enough right now in my book.
If you’re looking for a tone-setting safety who packs a punch, then you came to the right place. Hufanga is a physical, aggressive safety who brings it as a tackler. He has a solid frame (6’ and 200 pounds) and excels at mixing it up in the box. Hufanga shows good instincts reading the offense against the run and pass, as he had four interceptions this year. He also brings some nice versatility to the table, as a player who can be utilized in different spots within defensive schemes.
— Steelers Depot 🧐 (@Steelersdepot) March 26, 2021
When it comes to speed, Hufanga doesn’t necessarily qualify as a burner — he ran a 4.64 second 40 at his pro day. However, his instincts and feel for the game make up for the lack of top-end wheels. As with any aggressive player, sometimes that aggression can cause said player to over pursue. This happens on occasion with Hufanga, but with his style of play, it’s kind of expected.
Monty Rice – LB – Georgia
2020 Stats (9 games): 49 tackles (30 solos), 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Monty Rice has been a steady presence in the middle of the Georgia defense over the past three seasons. As a sophomore, Rice played in nine games and made five starts while compiling 59 tackles (25 solos) along the way. Rice would follow that up with a stellar junior season where he started and played in all 14 games. He led the team in tackles that year with 89 (50 solos) and earned second-team All-SEC honors. This year, as a senior, Rice continued his fine play and went on to earn first-team All-SEC honors as well as second-team All-American status by The Athletic.
Athletically, Rice is a fluid mover with good range. He shows solid play speed on tape and recently ran a respectable 4.58 second 40 at his pro day. Against the run game, Rice is a solid tackler who closes well when in pursuit. In coverage, Rice shows a good feel dropping in zone and can hold his own in man coverages. It also doesn’t hurt that he has played against some tough competition in the brutal SEC.
— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) October 7, 2017
One area Rice could improve in is his block deconstruction. When opposing offensive lineman get into him, he struggles to break free. Working on shedding blocks more consistently will be key for Rice at the next level. Rice’s instincts can be a little inconsistent at times, as he will bite on misdirection. Although, I do think this is something he can clean up and improve.
Isaiah McDuffie – LB – Boston College
2020 Stats (11 games): 107 tackles (54 solos), 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery
After a quiet freshman season, McDuffie saw his role increase as a sophomore and made good on his opportunity. In his sophomore season, McDuffie saw action in all 12 games and made six starts. He went on to produce a solid stat line of 85 tackles (48 solos), five and a half tackles for loss, and three and a half sacks that year. Unfortunately, McDuffie suffered a leg injury before his junior season and was limited to just four games. This year, in his final season, McDuffie was back to full health and had a career year (see stat line above). He led the team in tackles and went on to earn second-team All-ACC honors.
Isaiah McDuffie is an absolutely relentless player whose motor never stops. To pair with his outstanding effort, McDuffie is a solid athlete who moves fluidly and has the adequate speed to run and chase down ball carriers. With his ability to hold up in coverage and be a disruptive blitzer, teams could utilize him in sub-packages as he develops. NFL teams will appreciate the effort McDuffie plays with and he could contribute right away on special teams.
Boston College has had 5 linebackers drafted in the past decade. He may not be receiving much hype in this class, but Isaiah McDuffie could add his name to that list in just over two weeks time
— Oliver Hodgkinson (@ojhodgkinson) April 13, 2021
At 6’1’’ and 227 pounds, McDuffie is on the lighter side for a linebacker. He can struggle to get off blocks and will get driven back out of the play at times. With his smaller size, finding the right fit will be key as McDuffie is built to play on the weak side. While McDuffie is an aggressive, confident reactor, he can end up out of position with his reads. Fine-tuning his feel will be something he can continue to work on and I think he will improve in that area.
As always, I appreciate everyone who took the time to tune in for some more IDP rookie talk. If you missed the first two articles of the series and are interested in reading more, you can view them here: Part 1 and Part 2. Keep an eye on all these IDP rookie sleepers as they find new homes. And one last time…….BRING ON THE DRAFT!