The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson.
For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft quarterback rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 5.
Senior | 6’3″ and 212 Pounds | Born January 19, 1995 (Age: 23) | Projection: Rounds 5-7
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.98 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.96 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.4 sec | vertical: 29 in | broad: 110 in
Context is always important, but with Ferguson it’s really important. He profiles as a Day 3 prospect, but he might have the potential to develop into a long-term starter if selected by a stable team and groomed on the sideline for a few seasons. At a quick glance, Ferguson is rather unimpressive: He’s somewhat old for a prospect, especially next to the top-tier underclassmen who have declared early. Additionally, he has just two years of starting experience at Memphis, which is a decent program but isn’t known as a quarterback factory: The last Tiger quarterback to enter the NFL was the disappointing Paxton Lynch. Ferguson, though, is more than just a two-year starter from a Group of Five school.
An All-American four-star recruit in high school, Ferguson committed to Tennessee in 2012 when Derek Dooley was coach, but when he arrived as a freshman in 2013 Dooley had been replaced by Butch Jones. Although Ferguson was given a chance to compete for the starting job right away, he never warmed to Jones and his staff, and a leg injury in practice forced him to take a medical redshirt his first year. He again competed for the starting job in the 2014 spring practices, but after Ferguson’s academic year was over he left Tennessee and sat out the season, instead working for a car dealership and custom fence company. Wanting to get back into football, he in 2015 enrolled at Coffeyville Community College — a popular school for players who take the junior college route to the NFL — and he played like a star, completing 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,942 yards and 35 touchdowns (to six interceptions) in nine games. A popular JC recruit, Ferguson enrolled at Memphis in January of 2016 and immediately earned the starting job. In his two years as a Tiger, Ferguson completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 7,955 yards and 70 touchdowns, good for a smoking 9.3 adjusted yards per attempt.
Ferguson’s production will be dismissed by some scouts because he played in the American Athletic Conference, and he has limited mobility as evidenced by his career mark of 0.4 yards per carry (including sacks), but in his four games against Power Five schools he still produced, passing for 1,216 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 63.1 percent completion rate and rushing for two touchdowns. He’s on the skinny side, but he has the frame to add mature weight, and he might have been an 18-year-old true freshman starter in the Southeastern Conference if circumstances had been just a little different. He wasn’t particularly impressive at East-West Shrine Game practices or the combine, but he still seems likely to be taken in the draft. Last year Ferguson led a Memphis passing attack that was ninth in success rate at 48.1 percent: He has NFL potential.
Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.
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