It's time to put my hands together above my head, bounce off my tippy-toes, and dive deep. The Practice Squad Power Rankings haven't had a call up in a few weeks now -- a shame, trust me, I know -- so I'm going into the depths of practice squads around the league to highlight more players with potential to get onto these rankings, graduate onto a 53-man roster, and contribute for an NFL team in the regular season (or playoffs).
Outlined below are what I'm calling "The Sleeper Seven," a septet of practice squaders just on the outside looking in at my Practice Squad Power Rankings right now.
I'll start with Broncos QB Brett Rypien. Time to give him The Call, John (Elway). Joe Flacco has a bulging disc in his neck. Brandon Allen is set to start. And, yeah, that's it at the quarterback spot for the Broncos. Drew Lock's still on injured reserve. As a practice squad rookie, of course, Rypien hasn't thrown a pass in an NFL regular season game, but the dude is oozing with collegiate experience.
He threw 1,617 passes during a legit four-year tenure as Boise State's starter, averaged a meaty 8.7 yards per attempt, and threw 90 touchdowns to just 29 picks in his illustrious career. Rypien completed 67.3% of his throws as a senior. His arm is average at best, and it will take time to acclimate to the speed of the NFL from the Mountain West. But quarterbacking nuances? Rypien's got them. And after the formality of a call up, he'll be one snap away from being on the field.
(Update: After publication of this article, Rypien received The Call from Elway and will serve as the Broncos' backup quarterback in Week 9.)
Staying on offense, Seahawks WR Penny Hart is an enigmatic presence on Seattle's practice squad. He was a last-minute add to the Senior Bowl and left top cornerbacks in the dust during the week of practice in Mobile, which by the way, is the original home of Mardi Gras. After that, Hart flopped at his pro day and went undrafted. His career at Georgia State is also a bit strange, with 1,000-plus yard campaigns in his first and third years in college and a 669-yard output in his final season there. Hart is a twitichier-on-the-field-than-on-the-track slot wideout with serious YAC skills.
Colts LB Skai Moore was a super-productive coverage linebacker with 14 interceptions in four years at South Carolina, but ran 4.73 at 226 pounds at the combine and fell to the undrafted ranks. His smarts mitigate his lack of speed when sinking into zone.
Jaguars CB Jordan Brown, just signed to Jacksonville's practice squad, was a stud at South Dakota State -- 27 pass breakups and six picks in his final two years there. Then, he didn't squander his combine invite, measuring in at just under 6-1 and hitting the 200-pound threshold while running 4.51 and jumping 39.5 inches? HELLO.
While he probably left Auburn a year early, Chargers EDGE Jeff Holland's decision to enter the 2018 Draft came off a 9.5 sack, 12.5 tackle for loss year with the Tigers. He struck while the iron was red hot. His combine was, as you can probably guess, not great. Neither was his pro day. But Holland's a high-motor power rusher with decent handwork around the corner. He flashed with the Denver Broncos in the preseason the past two years and created some pressure in his lone exhibition outing with the Buffalo Bills this summer. Oh, and he's still 22.
In Miami, Dolphins LB Terrill Hanks epitomizes what it means to be a trust-the-tape prospect. At New Mexico State, he looked like Darius Leonard Lite, a sleek-framed linebacker with plus explosiveness and range destined to be a surprise early pick in the draft. Then he ran 4.98 -- yes 4.98 -- at 242 pounds in Indy. Yikes. But, he apparently injured his hamstring during the run. Anyway, Hanks flashed as a hard-hitting, quick-run-fit-filling linebacker. In college, he played a considerable role on the Aggies defense for four seasons with three-straight 100-plus tackle campaigns and eight total interceptions in his career. In the preseason, he looked the part with six tackles (without a miss) and a sack on 77 snaps.
Rounding out The Sleeper Seven is Vikings CB Mark Fields. He never emerged as a full-time player at Clemson, and I can't really figure that one out. Gotta ask Dabo. In last season's national title game, Field's was a monster with two pass breakups and wasn't overwhelmed at the Senior Bowl. Adding to his underrated profile is 4.37 speed. He can be a little overaggressive at times, but Fields' click-and-close ability and long speed are at the caliber of a full-time NFL player.
Now to the Practice Squad Power Rankings.
These rankings will be updated throughout the season, as more players move onto practice squads while some get The Call.
1. Robert Davis, WR, Eagles
Davis re-assumes the top spot after catching one pass for 11 yards in Week 4 for the Redskins before being cut, not getting re-signed to Washington's practice squad then getting added by the Eagles' savvy decision-makers. With DeSean Jackson still ailing, Nelson Agholor not producing at a high rate, and inconsistent play from Mack Hollins, Davis has a decent chance to eventually get the call-up in Philly.
2. Kyle Sloter, QB, Cardinals
In the preseason, the 6-foot-5, 217-pound former undrafted free agent quarterback from Northern Colorado completed 76.5% of his throws at a hefty 8.7 yards per attempt with four touchdowns and one interception. He flashed plenty of velocity of his throws -- especially at the intermediate levels -- good pocket patience, and impressive throw-on-the-run ability in the Vikings' play-action, bootleg heavy attack.
3. Adrian Colbert, S, Seahawks
Colbert grad transferred to Miami for his redshirt senior year and tallied three pass breakups and a pick in seven games. His officially unofficial time at the Miami Pro Day was 4.38, and some scouts in attendance clocked him as fast as 4.25. Colbert's blistering time was likely a big reason he was picked by the 49ers in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Because of his explosiveness and production as a rookie, Colbert debuts at No. 2 in the Week 3 rankings. As a rookie in 2017, Colbert received a "high-quality" grade of 73.1 from Pro Football Focus on 530 defensive snaps for the 49ers. He broke up five passes and had one interception while making 32 tackles.
4. Vincent Taylor, DT, Bills
He was a sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2017 out of Oklahoma State, and in his final two years with the Cowboys, he had 12 sacks and 23 tackles for loss. At the combine, the 6-3, 304-pound interior defensive lineman tested solidly across the board with a 40-yard dash, broad jump, and three-cone drill all above the 56th percentile at the position.
5. Jason Cabinda, LB, Lions
Cabinda averaged 89 tackles, 5.6 tackles for loss, 3.6 pass breakups and 2.3 sacks over his final three seasons at Penn State. While he didn't run the 40 during the pre-draft process, he didn't appear to be a super-fast linebacker but was always around the football due to quick processing skills and an always humming motor. He displayed refined block-defeating skills with the Nittany Lions and was not a liability in coverage. After going undrafted last year, my No. 120 overall prospect in 2018 class signed with the Raiders and saw the field late in the season. He didn't dazzle but fared well on the inside, finishing with 21 total tackles and a "high quality" PFF grade of 73.6 on his 164 defensive snaps.
6. Deontay Burnett, WR, 49ers
With the Trojans, during his Age 18/19 season in 2016, he accounted for an adequate 17.3% of the receiving yards and scored 21.2% of the team's receiving touchdowns -- on a squad with JuJu Smith-Schuster. After that, in 2017, when Darnold was incredibly hyped in draft circles, Burnett upped his market-share figure to 26.6% -- not amazing, but not absolutely brutal -- and scored 34.6% of the receiving touchdowns. He can get open.
7. Anthony Johnson, WR, Chargers
Johnson was my No. 61 overall prospect and No. 10 wide receiver in the 2019 class. I loved the completeness of his game at nearly 6-2 and 208 pounds while at Buffalo. He won in traditional chain-mover type ways: shielding with his body, strong hands in tight coverage. He was impressive tracking the football down the field and excelled after the catch in a deceptive way. He accounted for a whopping 39.7% of the Bulls' receiving yards as a junior and 32% in an injury-riddled senior campaign.
8. Obi Melifonwu, S, Patriots
Melifonwu played five regular-season snaps for New England a season ago and registered a tackle and allowed one catch for 5 yards. There's plenty of mystery surrounding him, as he barely saw the field with the Raiders after they made him the No. 56 overall selection in the 2017 Draft. It wouldn't shock me in the least if Belichick got the most out of him if and when he sees the field.
9. Kerrith Whyte, RB, Bears
You know how I feel about preseason statistics. For Practice Squad Power Rankings, they're awesome. Whyte did accumulate just 55 yards on 18 carries (3.1 yards per) in four exhibition showings, however, per Pro Football Focus, the rookie forced six missed tackles on those rushes, giving him in a forced missed tackle rate of 33.3%.
10. Dillon Mitchell, WR, Vikings
Mitchell was the unquestioned top target for Justin Herbert in 2018. He accounted for a very encouraging 36.7% of Oregon's receiving yards and scored 10 touchdowns. His game is predicated on slippery movements at the line and especially after the catch. Also, Mitchell is fast down the field. He ran 4.46 at the combine and tracks the football well on those long balls.
ANTOINE WESLEY, WR, RAVENS: Wesley was a clear redshirt candidate, simply because of his spindly frame. At the combine, he measured in at just over 6-4 and 206 pounds. At Texas Tech, Wesley was as natural of a hands-catcher as I scouted in this past year's draft class. I'm serious. And with incredibly long 34-inch arms, mitts just under 10 inches, and a 37-inch vertical, Wesley boasts a mammoth catch radius.
ELIJAH HOLYFIELD, RB, PANTHERS: Holyfield is a natural runner who sees blocks before they're made, and he has a nice blend of quickness and functional power to be a contributing No. 3 running back in the NFL, although he won't run away from anyone in the open field.