Diamonds in the Rough is a series, brought to you by Jonathan Cook, that mines for a hidden gem that will either climb the draft boards by May or work out as an undrafted rookie free agent, becoming the next diamond in the rough.
Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing Lindenwood University cornerback Pierre Desir three days before the draft. At the time, he had become a popular name among draftniks, but that wasn't always the case. Actually, he was unknown for the for most of his college football career. About halfway through hearing him talk about his rise from unknown and likely undrafted free agent to potential third rounder, it hit me - finding unknown guys can be a game changer.
Long-term success can’t be built on the first three rounds of the draft alone. GMs have to score on a flyer at some point to tip the scales. The proverbial Arian Foster, James Harrison, or Kurt Warner so to speak. Somebody's gotta do it, right? Scouting can be the difference maker. The difference between letting a guy fall through the cracks and noticing a diamond in the rough.
One thing I love about C3, and ultimately what spurred me to contribute, is that they don't want to do what everybody else is doing. Sure, lots of the discussion overlaps with Panther football news, but journalists strive to objectivity. They are not wanting the Panthers to win any more than they are wanting them to lose. My favorite Panthers writer isn't a fan of the team, which is probably the case with most journalists covering the team. That's the main differences about this website—it's fan-driven. We’re not here to simply report team news. C3 tries to sift through the news and figure it out—to take a position.
The main thing I want to contribute to this site is something different. There are thousands of articles about Kelvin Benjamin being a Panthers target, but how many articles were written about Benè Benwikere being the same? There's nothing wrong with being a writer who just focuses on the big names. In all honesty, I read a lot of those types of articles. I just hope to enlighten you about some guys who I really like that you're guaranteed to have never heard of. This series, Diamonds in the Rough, will be dedicated to doing just that—bringing quality takes on the unknown prospects that may just be the diamond in the rough that tips the scales for a team.
First up is a look at a little known wide receiver out of Washington State.
Vince Mayle, WR
If there is one thing that Dave Gettleman loves, it's size. And if there's one thing Vince Mayle (pronounced May-Lee, not Mail for those who care) has going for him, it is his size. He's quite the physical specimen with an athleticism/size combo that could rival any receiver in this draft. Standing tall at six-foot-three, he is a natural threat for any quarterback. What's impressive is his weight and speed. At 219 pounds, he runs a 4.55 second forty-yard dash. Now, that isn't super quick, especially for a wide receiver, but it does show that he moves well. He makes up for his size by his other physical tools and his story is quite an interesting one.
Kind of an odd backstory for a guy who is entering the NFL Draft process, Mayle hasn’t really played that much football. He didn’t start running routes until he entered a junior college, and that was after a couple of years on a community college basketball teaml. There actually are high schoolers who have more football experience than him, but that actually excites me. Here's why, if he does what he does now as an incredibly raw player, imagine what Ricky Proehl could do with him. We're finding new things in Kelvin Benjamin's game almost weekly and he isn't new to the game. He’s been playing football his whole life.
So with at least solid speed and great size, he could be groomed to be a huge steal with star potential. His, dare I say it, elite athleticism comes from his previous sport—basketball. As a forward at Shasta Community, he averaged eight points off the bench, suggesting that he didn't have a future in professional basketball. An elite athlete with great size, his coach suggested he revisit football. He took his slam-dunk contest trophy and went to Junior College to learn how to play wide receiver. After receiving offers from good-but-not-elite programs, such as West Virginia and Arizona State, he took a year to take care of his mother and then went off the Washington State University to go play in their high-octane offense. That decision paid off when he found himself progressing significantly over the last two years. After registering 106 catches for 1483 yards, he going to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile. The size, speed and athleticism as well as the potential to be a diamond in the rough should be enough to see him get drafted, hopefully by the Panthers.
Panther fans, I hope you enjoy my ongoing series exclusively here on C3 where I try to find those hard to find guys that can add value to the Panthers. Let me know your thoughts and feel free to leave a comment below. I'll try to answer them all.
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