One name keeps popping up among those who have been covering the Jaguars OTAs, 6th round selection from Southern Illinois, RB Deji Karim. Karim has provided many "Wow" moments during the annual underwear bash. He hasn't failed to impress during OTAs. However, this certainly isn't the first time the Jaguars have seen late round or UDFA players become the talk of OTAs and training camp. Names like John Broussard, Chad Owens, and Charles Sharon will have Jaguars fans leary of having too high of expectations.
Taking a look at the three players I previously mentioned, there is something of a common thread among all three. These were all players who while speedy and had good hands, but were considered to be too small for the position. In the Underwear League, it's much easier for those guys to shine, since contact is genuinely avoided and QBs should have nearly all day to throw.
However, once the pads go on, it usually turns into another story. Once contact is allowed, it's generally meant the end of highlight moments for many players.
So, should jaded Jaguar fans simply chalk Deji up as yet another flash in the pan that will ultimately fail to do anything or can he ultimately become a consistent contributor for the Jaguars as a rookie.
Let's look at some of the players I mentioned previously, and see why they ultimately failed in the NFL. Broussard and Sharon were basicly the same player. They both had blazing speed, but were simply built too lightly to do anything in the NFL. Neither could get any separation and could get jammed at the line with ease. Add in concerns about being snapped like a twig taking a hit that most WRs take a few times a game, and it's easy to see why they never did anything in the regular season.
Chad Owens problems were much more, shall we say, public. We all remember how great he looked in training camp, and how he was going to be the Jaguars jail break special teams player. Then the drops vs Indianapolis came, and Chad never managed to get out of the dog house afterwards.
Looking at Deji, he seems like he can excel where other players have fallen before.
As Adam said in his initial write up after Karim was selected by the Jaguars
At 5'9, 208 pounds and 4.4 speed, Karim has the prototypical size of an NFL running back and provides a high ceiling for the Jaguars. You may say that he's short for an NFL runningback, but he is stout enough to withstand the NFL physicality. As a junior college transfer and a player with only one true year of experience at the FCS level, his growth has been clear and it is clear that he hasn't reached his ceiling.
Simply put, Karim isn't the stick figure that many other OTA MVPs have been in the past. In addition, it's clear he has a role on the team beyond simply being a special teams ace/returner.
The Jaguars went to the I-AA well often in the 2010 draft, taking a total of 4 players from college football's 2nd tier. Deji Karim could be the kind of hidden gem the Jaguars have made a living of finding.