5’10” 214 lbs
Since 2014 the amount of NFL draft picks from Power 5 schools has increased from 87% to 92% in 2019. 2020 is no different, and this year's draft class is loaded at playmakers from Power 5 schools. However, this season was the year for the Group of 5 teams. Schools like Coastal Carolina, BYU, Liberty, and many more were getting more national recognition than ever before. Sometimes the media does not want to report on G5 players, so I am here to enlighten you all on some under the radar G5 prospects.
As a proud graduate of a G5 school, my first article and first prospect had to be from my alma mater. Marshall's Tavante Beckett could very well be the most underrated/unknown NFL prospect this season. He is undersized for his position, but does he make up for it with his pure talent. The Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year was an absolute stud that helped Marshall reach #16 in the AP Poll. Remember this name come April during the draft.
I Can Prove Anything by Statistics Except the Truth
When it comes to certain NFL prospects, I feel that stats do not tell the full story of a player. However, I know some people love numbers, so let's look at the numbers. In 2019, Beckett had 121 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 fumbles, and 1 interception. In 2020, he had 90 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 4 fumble recoveries (#1 in college football.) He is a 2x Conference-USA First Team selection, and the 2020 Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year. His numbers are not out of this world amazing, but for a small program, he was able to make an impact for his team and in the conference. Beckett was the lockdown leader of the number 1 scoring defense in college football this season.
Film Does Not Lie
His numbers do not tell the whole story, but film does not lie. Beckett is extremely quick and is able to accelerate very easy. Beckett really excels in his ability to get to the ball and make the play. He is very quick coming off the edge or straight up the middle, that neither the blocker nor the QB have a chance to try and avoid him. His ability to get to the play, no matter where he is on the field is excellent. In this play against App State, Beckett waits to see where the QB is going to go, hits on the jets, and the offense does not even see him coming.
His awareness is some of the best in college football. He led the country with 4 fumble recoveries in 2020. I have seen so many times, the ball is free, and no one makes a play on it. They make the hit on the player and forget about the ball Beckett is fantastic at knowing exactly where the ball is, and once the ball is loose making a play on the ball. In this play, he keeps a good eye on the ball, and takes it home without being touched. If you notice, he is the first person to notice that the ball is on the ground (including the QB and RB.) Before anyone else notices he has possession of the ball and he is off for six!
When you combine his awareness, speed, and acceleration you have a very well rounded football player. His ability to see the opening in the play, and to make a big play is as good as anyone in this draft. He is not strong at dropping back into coverage, but his ability to rush the QB and make sure the QB does not have a chance to throw is where he excels the most. Take a look at this play against Appalachian State.
Now I am not saying that Beckett is the next Ray Lewis or Junior Seau, but he is very capable of having a very long and solid pro career. He is very undersized for his position, so teams are overlooking him. However, his play has proven that his size does not matter. “Experts” have him as a 6th round option. I feel if a team can pick him in the 6th round, they will get a steal. I spent my fair share of time at Marshall games this season, and without a doubt Beckett was Marshall’s best overall player. As a Marshall alumni, I want him to have a long and great career. As a football fan, I feel this could be the guy that in 10 years when ESPN does a redraft of the 2021 NFL Draft, this is a guy that gets taken much higher.
We are Marshall!