Western’s Braverman draws notice despite small stature
If the Saints draft Western Michigan’s Daniel Braverman next week, they would have two of the most productive wide receivers in recent Mid-American Conference history.
But when he was told about possibly teaming up with former Ball State receiver Willie Snead, Braverman’s mind went elsewhere.
“The Saints picked Brandin Cooks in the first round, (20th) pick, and I see some similarities between me and him,” Braverman said.
Eye-popping college production?
Standing 5-foot-10? Check.
Speed? Well, not quite.
Cooks ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2014 combine. Braverman ran a 4.47 during his pro day.
So, Cooks might not be a perfect comparison, but Braverman still expects to hear his name called at some point in the seven rounds.
“If I’m not one of the top receivers, that’s just an added chip on my shoulder because I feel like I belong,” he said.
CBS Sports projects him to go in the fifth round, and though he didn’t receive an invitation to the combine, Braverman has generated interest, visiting eight teams — Saints, Texans, Bengals, Vikings, Dolphins, Ravens Seahawks and Raiders.
Braverman has the build of a slot receiver, but said some coaches have told him he can play outside because of his route running, a skill that helped him rank No. 2 in the FBS with 108 catches — 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns — last season.
“I think a lot of the coaches, they understood why I caught 108 passes,” he said. “They understood I was a smart football player. ... I think they really appreciate the intelligence behind the playmaking.”
Braverman has been preparing for this opportunity a long time.
In second grade, he told his father he wanted to run faster, which led to a speed coach.
In seventh grade, Braverman started working with a trainer who was briefly in the NFL — wide receiver Sly Johnson, who played with the Lions in 2001.
Growing up 20 miles north of Miami, Braverman played football and soccer, and ran track in high school, but knew football was his calling.
“It just wasn’t as fun scoring goals as it was scoring touchdowns,” he said.
“I think because in football I wasn’t supposed to be doing the stuff I was doing.”
In the football haven that is South Florida, Braverman knew he looked different than other football players.
He scored 11 all-purpose touchdowns as a junior, but the South Florida Sun Sentinel ranked him the No. 28 prospect in Broward County in 2012 and the No. 8 receiver.
Of the other seven, Michigan State’s Macgarrett Kings — Braverman’s teammate at University High — was the only one to make significant contributions in college.
“I think just growing up in South Florida, football being everything around here and being the small white kid, sometimes you get overlooked,” he said. “All the time, every time you step on a field, you know that you’re not supposed to be one of the best players.”
Braverman’s ability to be the best player in some of Western Michigan’s games should be something that stands out to NFL teams because teammate Corey Davis likely will be a top wide receiver prospect in next year’s draft — if he leaves after his junior season.
The 6-3 Davis led Western Michigan with at least 1,400 receiving yards each of the past two years, but Braverman led the team in receptions both seasons.
Although Braverman had offers from a couple of Atlantic Coast Conference schools, Duke and Wake Forest according to Rivals.com, he wanted to go to Western Michigan to play for a team that passed a lot.
Plus, Johnson, who played at Miami (Ohio), told Braverman he could go to a MAC school and get a shot in the NFL.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes Braverman will be a Day 3 pick, but said he reminds him of slot receivers like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, saying Braverman is quick after the catch, aggressive and tough.
“It’s good to have that (comparison), but I also feel like I bring my own thing to the table,” he said.
“I’ve just got to wait to prove that.”
Round projections for local prospects in next week’s the NFL draft:
Joe Bolden, LB, free agent
Graham Glasgow, C, Round 3-4
Willie Henry, DT, Round 3-4
Desmond Morgan, LB, free agent
Mario Ojemudia, DE/LB, free agent
Jake Rudock, QB, free agent
Aaron Burbridge, WR, Round 4-5
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Round 2
Donavon Clark, G, free agent
Connor Cook, QB, Round 1-2
Jack Conklin, OT, Round 1
Darien Harris, OLB, free agent
Joel Heath, DT, Round 7 / free agent
Lawrence Thomas, DL, Round 6-7
R.J. Williamson, S, free agent
Willie Beavers, OT, Round 3-4
Daniel Braverman, WR, Round 3-5
Ronald Zamort, CB, free agent
Kavon Frazier, S, Round 4-5
Darius Jackson, RB, Round 7 / free agent
Justin Zimmer, DT, Round 7 / free agent
Grand Valley State
Matt Judon, DE, Round 3-5