Sports fans love a good underdog story.
Unfortunately in the NFL, those stories are not very frequent for players selected in the final rounds of the annual draft.
There have been exceptions over the years, of course: wide receiver Julian Edelman in 2009 to the New England Patriots, wide receiver Marques Colston in 2006 to the New Orleans Saints, running back Jamal Anderson in 1994 to the Atlanta Falcons, and tight end Shannon Sharpe in 1990 to the Denver Broncos quickly come to mind.
But for the most part, life in the NFL as a late pick on Day 3 of the draft is short and brutal.
Running back Demetric Felton might be one of those late-round exceptions.
The Cleveland Browns selected Felton with the 211th pick in the sixth round in last weekend’s draft. Felton had a productive and versatile collegiate career at UCLA as a three-year starter, first as a wide receiver before switching to running back in 2019, while also seeing time as a kick returner.
#Browns Rookie RB Demetric Felton is going to be a doozy for opposing defensive coordinators to game plan for— Marcus Harvey (@MarcusHarvey_) May 5, 2021
Stefanski and company are going to have him integrated in the game plan come midseason
Watch Out pic.twitter.com/eNRhqzIv8W
As a running back, Felton rushed for 1,101 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry while rushing for seven touchdowns. As a receiver, he had 99 receptions for 958 yards and eight touchdowns. As a kick returner, he averaged 23.5 yards per return and scored a touchdown.
Add it all up, and Felton finished his time with the Browns having amassed 2,670 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns.
That versatility, along with an explosiveness on the field, positions Felton to make an impression during training camp and the preseason as sort of a “Kareem Hunt light” in head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
The following are the fastest WRs from Tuesday’s Reese’s Senior Bowl practice (taken from 7-on-7’s, team drills, and WR/DB 1-on-1’s) per our partners at @SlantsAI.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) January 28, 2021
Demetric Felton - 19.78 mph
Kadarius Toney - 19.43 mph
Frank Darby - 18.49 mph#TheDraftStartsInMobile pic.twitter.com/QA3gK92nNP
While there is always the possibility that Felton is a player who does multiple things good but not one thing great, moving around the offense is not new to him and he is embracing the opportunity, according to a team-provided transcript of his media session last week:
“I take a lot of pride in making sure that I am good at multiple things. I feel like that I showed that in my college career. I am really excited to bring that to Cleveland.
“I do not really have a preference (of which position I play). I feel like I can play both positions at a very high level. The Browns told me that they wanted me to play running back. I am excited to be able to go there and learn from the guys above me and be able to provide for this team however they want me to.”
Felton is still raw, especially when it comes to his route running, but he could do far worse than to be in position meetings with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. (The same can be said of the running back group with Nick Chubb and Hunt.)
Roster spots are hard to come by for late-round draft picks, and that is even truer this year when it comes to the Browns offense.
But Felton combination of speed and versatility, along with Stefanski’s creativity, might make Felton one of those underdog stories that have a happy ending.