NFL Draft is All About the Stars
For the time being, much of the draft talk in the NFL is being strictly focused on the top prospects, especially prospects such as South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, and Clemson’s Sammy Watkins.
However, when all is said and done, some of those top prospects will turn out being busts, while some of the unexpected go on to have Hall of Fame careers.
This year will be no different. Sure the teams in the top 10 will be looking to take the elite prospects, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a player just as good, if not better, later on in the draft.
Take last season for example. The Rams traded up from the 16th spot up to number eight to grab, what many expected to be, the draft’s best receiver in Tavon Austin. That however, did not end up being the case as Austin didn’t even end up in the top ten in receiving yards(418) or receptions(40) among all rookies.
Then compare Austin to Terrance Williams, a wide receiver that the Dallas Cowboys found in the third round and had the 5th most receptions (44) and third most receiving yards(736) among rookie receivers. That’s a good value.
The NFL draft is all about hitting on the guys you draft in the early rounds, and then finding that diamond in the rough, as some say, in the later rounds. Surprisingly, the Cowboys did just that when they drafted Williams.
Finding the NFL Diamond in the Rough is the Fun Part
Looking ahead to the 2014 draft, there could definitely be some potential for some big steals as this is said to be one of the deepest drafts in years. Here are three players to keep an eye on.
1. Marquise Lee
How is this a steal? Steals are just as big in the first round as they are in the later rounds. Teams at the bottom of the first round always wait for that talented player to slip down the draft board.
Lee had 57 receptions, 791 yards, and four touchdowns last season at USC, which for him was disappointing to say the least. The year before in 2012 Lee had 118 receptions for 1,721 yards, and fourteen touchdowns.
Marquise Lee very well could be that potential first round steal in this year’s draft. Two year’s ago, Lee was expected to be the best wide receiver in this year’s class of receivers, that was until he had a disappointing season and Clemson’s Sammy Watkins showed up. Nonetheless, Lee is still one of the draft’s best options.
Lee has great hands, great big play ability after the catch, and is great separating himself from defenders. He could also be one of the more pro-ready receivers in the draft.
He has however suffered injuries to his shoulder and knee, which could affect his draft stock, not to mention he didn’t have a great combine performance.
If Lee drops to a team like the Eagles at 22, Chiefs at 23, or even the Panthers at 26, one of those teams would be getting quite a bargain, as well as a solid receiver.
2. Aaron Murray
All the quarterback talk has surrounded the top guys like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, and Manziel, but many experts have said that they don’t see a franchise quarterback in any of those players.
Where a team might find a franchise quarterback is in the mid-late rounds with Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, or Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garropolo.
However, one of those quarterbacks that could be a late round steal is Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Murray tore his ACL last season and because of that and his size, his draft stock took quite a hit.
What Murray lacks in size however, he makes up for it in leadership, work ethic, and intelligence, all the intangibles you would like in a franchise quarterback.
The 6’1, 208-lbs quarterback out of Georgia threw for 3,075 yards, 26 touchdowns, and nine interceptions last season with a 64.8% completion percentage, and that’s in the elite SEC conference in college football.
Murray set single-season school records in passing yards with 3,893 and TDs with 36. He also holds the Georgia record for most attempts with 1,478, completions with 921, passing yards with 13,166, and touchdowns with 121.
According to Brian Baldinger of NFL.com, Murray could be the best quarterback of the class,
“I think he’s the best quarterback right now, but the question was, who is going to have the best career,” Baldinger said. “I just think a guy like Aaron is probably going to go to a team where they may not need a quarterback (immediately). Where he goes, there may be no pressure.”
As mentioned earlier, Murray is smaller, which leads to some batted balls at the line of scrimmage. He also seems to get rattled by pressure, however he does have underrated mobility to escape that pressure.
If a team like the Cardinals, Broncos, or Bears, who have quarterbacks already in place, but could be out in a year or two, drafted Murray, it would be a great fit.
Murray could rehab is knee while learning the game, instead of being thrown in the fire right away. For all we know, Murray could be that next Tom Brady drafted in the later rounds that goes on to have a great career. Only time will tell.
3. Aaron Colvin
Like Aaron Murray, Aaron Colvin, the defensive back out of Oklahoma, recently tore his ACL. The thing about ACL injuries is that, despite the talent, teams usually pass on players who suffer them, and for good reason.
However, those kinds of stories, usually make the perfect draft steals, and Colvin is just that.
Colvin is a two-time All-Big 12 selection, and did nothing but make plays at Oklahoma. Colvin only had one interception last season and three passes defended, but in 2012 he had four interceptions and ten passes defended.
As you can see Colvin’s stats aren’t great, but he does have all the intangibles to become a solid NFL player. He’s smart, he’s hard-working, he has great instincts, and not to mention he was a captain on the Sooners defense.
Colvin also has good size as he is 5’11 177-lbs and also has good length, however, his speed isn’t great and he has a history of injuries.
Taking Colvin later in the draft in the fifth round would be perfect for a team, especially one that missed out on Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard in the first round.
This draft is deep at the cornerback position, and although Colvin may not be able to start right away due to his ACL injury, that doesn’t mean that at some point he wont be a solid starter.
It only takes one team to fall in love and give Colvin a chance, and that’s all he needs, a chance.
When it comes to trying to decide who could be the next diamond in the rough, it isn’t an easy thing to do, it’s like trying to pick all the correct upsets in the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. These three players have the skill, they have the intangibles, and they are hard working players, all of which are perfect ingredients for a draft steal.