As a graduate of Montana State University, I always love finding reasons to watch film on Big Sky Conference prospects. Over the past few seasons, the conference has become an FCS factory of NFL talent, with a few players carving roles with NFL teams on a yearly basis. Last season, one of the most underrated prospects in the draft was a product of Eastern Washington University, wide receiver Cooper Kupp. This year, history will repeat itself with the rise of UC-Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss.
In 2017, Doss was a Walter Payton Award finalist, won Big Sky Conference Player of the Year, was named a Walter Camp All American, an American Football Coaches Association All American, a Hero Sports All American, a FCS Athletics Directors Association All American, a College Sports Madness All-American, and was named to the Stats All-American First Team, All-Big Sky Conference First Team Offense, the Big Sky Preseason All-Conference team, and was named Root Sports Offensive Player of the Week on September 4th, 2017. In the process, he recorded a breakout campaign over 11 games with 115 receptions, 1499 receiving yards, 136.3 receiving yards per game 7 touchdowns, and 9 100 + yard games. this follows a 2016 campaign where he recorded 66 receptions for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns (with 3 100+ yard games) over 11 games and a 2014 season where he recorded 22 receptions for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns. He redshirted in 2015. Following his redshirt 2015 season, Doss exploded onto the radar as an offensive weapon capable of making plays on an extremely consistent basis. Doss has the intangibles necessary to make it in the NFL and could emerge as a #1 receiver in the right offensive scheme.
Early in his football career, Doss was an undersized player overcoming injury concerns and looking to make an impact on the college game (he missed his junior season in high school due to a foot injury). He has become a reliable, healthy player who has grown into a 6-3 206 pound offensive weapon. His coaches at UC Davis have watched him grow into a complete player; he has grown into a solid route-runner who is a threat including out patterns, slants, sideline routes, and post corners (link here). He is an extremely intelligent player as well as a phenomenal student. Has big hands and consistently makes catches on balls thrown towards him. He is also the physical type of player who will make contested catches on a regular basis. Overcame adversity early in his career, both as the result of his high school injury and also losing everything in a house fire just before Thanksgiving during his senior year in high school. Doss is a young man who faced multiple struggles to get to where he is today as a prospect, and he has shined throughout the process. This says something both about his passion and drive as a player and about his character. Some young people might have turned bitter when faced with the struggles he endured in high school. Instead, Keelan Doss emerged as an outstanding student and perhaps an even better football player. It is also worth noting that he was already on the radar of CFL (and likely NFL) scouts last season. The focus on Doss as a prospect will only grow as he plays out his final season of collegiate football.
On tape, Keelan Doss looks like a complete NFL prospect. Would have likely caught on with an NFL team following the 2017 season, but chose to return to school. NFL Draft Scout has him ranked as the #19 receiver of the 2019 draft class, but this is likely at least partly a factor of his production as a player coming in the FCS rather than the FBS. Has the talent to be at least a day three draft pick (probably early day three) with the potential to be taken late on day two of the 2019 draft if he records a dominant 2018/9 collegiate season. Not quite the dominant player Cooper Kupp was throughout his collegiate career, but Doss' production last season puts him into the discussion with Kupp as a legitimate receiver prospect who will catch on and likely be productive early in his NFL career. Doss is a reliable, consistent player who makes crisp, clean catches and runs solid routes. His route tree has matured noticeably throughout his college career, and this shows that he has not yet reached his ceiling as a player; he is coachable and continues to grow and develop. Has outstanding hands for the position. Not every catch is followed by significant yards after the catch but this is at least partially based on Keelan Doss' situational talent. He will rack up yards after catch in the open field (as well as make the most of any opening given to him) but many of his passes are caught in tight coverage windows. He is the type of receiver that a quarterback can throw a ball up to while under pressure and come out with a gain, often a first down, to continue the drive. Extremely productive, averaged more than 10 catches a game last season. His value as a player is not inherently touchdown dependent; he will take scoring opportunities as they are available, but will produce regardless of field position. Will rack up consistent catches and yardage on a week-by-week basis rather than emerge as a touchdown-dependent speed demon. Doss is the type of receiver who will be productive week in and week out both in terms of receptions and in yardage, making him someone to be accounted for by defensive coordinators.
Ultimately, the biggest question is how Doss' talent will translate to the NFL. Given his rare combination of size, athleticism, and skillset as a pass catcher, I think that he has the potential to emerge as a valuable part of an NFL offense. He is consistent, he is reliable, and dominates quietly; Doss is the type of player who gets right back to work after making a big play, a trait that will endear him to NFL coaches. Teams will question his level of competition, but he recorded 116 receiving yards against Oregon and 104 receiving yards against Wyoming. His production in these games show that Doss can, in fact, compete against top tier collegiate talent. Some NFL team will take a chance on Keelan Doss in the 2019 NFL Draft, potentially early. Given his track record as a college player, as long as he stays healthy and continues to grow throughout the upcoming collegiate season, Doss could emerge as an under-drafted star in the NFL. One thing is certain; Keelan Doss is one of the most NFL-ready players in the FCS.--Mike B., Matt and Mike Sports. email@example.com
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