10 Players Who Won’t Be 1st Rounders in 2014 NFL Draft But Will Turn Out To Be Studs
10 Non-1st Rounders in 2014 NFL Draft Who Will Turn Out To Be Studs
Everybody likes to focus on the first-round of the NFL Draft when making projections and trying to plot out how to make their favorite team better in the upcoming season. The truth is there are six other rounds in the selection festivities that will all be just as important as round one and yield far more impact players than the opening 32 picks when it’s all said and done.
Though the big money and the fame will likely be exclusive to the top picks initially, many players from the later rounds make up that gap quite quickly once they get established in the league. Just look at the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks for the most recent example of a team with solid starters plucked from every single round of the draft and homegrown to be some of the best at their respective positions. Their starting middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (second-round), starting quarterback Russell Wilson (third-round), self-proclaimed best cornerback in the league Richard Sherman (fifth-round) and hard-hitting safety Kam Chancellor (fifth-round) were all later round picks who have risen to prominence with the team.
And obviously that type of player development from the later rounds isn’t exclusive to the Seahawks. Everyone knows the story of Tom Brady as a former sixth-round pick, but 2013 All-Pro selections like running back Jamaal Charles (third-round), wideout Antonio Brown (sixth-round), linebacker Lavonte David (second-round) and defensive end Greg Hardy (sixth-round) all came from beyond the presumed cream of the crop.
Needless to say, odds are that 2014 will produce some similar stories to draft classes of the past where guys from beyond the first-round turn out to be some of the best at their positions in just a few years down the line. Here are 10 guys with that potential heading into the 2014 NFL Draft.
10. Ryan Shazier - LB - Ohio State
Some may want to question Ryan Shazier’s decision to forgo his senior season at Ohio State with a less than imposing 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame for a linebacker at the next level, but sometimes a little desire goes a long way. It’s clear watching film that Shazier often just wants to make the tackle more than anyone else on the field. He made a ridiculous 143 tackles with 22.5 tackles-for-loss on the year to rank in the top 10 nationally in both categories. Many will doubt this young man’s ability to make his skill-set work at the NFL level with average athleticism and speed, but it’s that innate football IQ that will make him a success.
9. Lamarcus Joyner - DB - Florida State
There’s no question size will be the issue for teams thinking about LaMarcus Joyner. At just 5-foot-8, 190-pounds he isn’t exactly the ideal profile as a cornerback at the next level. All scouts need to do is turn back their notebooks to 12 months ago when the Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu came out and compare the film of these two. The size comparison is obvious, but it’s the ability to defend the slot in that hybrid third safety or nickel corner role that will make Joyner an instant success. Don’t be surprised if Joyner really makes an impact early much like Mathieu wherever he lands in the NFL.
8. Brett Smith - QB - Wyoming
Brett Smith is the only guy on this list that I don’t expect to make an immediate impact at the next level, but that’s not because he isn’t capable. The only reason the 6-foot-2, 206-pound gunslinger from Wyoming won’t be running and throwing for touchdowns right away is due to how the NFL coddles its quarterbacks early in their careers. With impressive athleticism, more than adequate size and a fiery demeanor that will rally guys around him, Smith will develop into a real steal for some team in the late second or sometime in the third-round. Just because he played at a smaller profile school like Wyoming doesn’t mean Smith isn’t every bit as exciting as Johnny Manziel in the way he runs around and improvises on the fly.
7. Trent Murphy - DE - Stanford
Pass rushers generally translate the quickest from college to the next level, because the goal of getting after the quarterback really doesn’t have any language barriers. He may not have the eye-popping measurables that some athletic freaks will put up at the NFL Scouting Combine, but at 6-foot-6, 252-pounds with a litany of numbers to back up his production, there’s no question Trent Murphy will have a successful career in the league. It’s what Murphy has put on film that should get scouts excited when examining his potential as he’s a crafty player capable of finding multiple ways to get into the backfield and disrupt plays.
6. Jason Verrett - DB - TCU
Versatile defenders are very valuable in the NFL these days, and that’s exactly what TCU’s Jason Verrett will bring to whichever team decides to take a chance on him. He is probably the highest rated player on this list with the possibility of sneaking into the end of round one, but his less than ideal size (5-foot-10, 176-pounds) will likely peg him into an early round two slot. And that should be just fine with his next team because Verrett is fully capable of succeeding in either a man-to-man or zone scheme which should make him appealing to multiple suitors. If teams can get over the size stigma, the film will show that this young man is going to make an immediate impact at the next level.
5. Brandin Cooks - WR - Oregon State
Size is the only thing working against Brandin Cooks as he makes the transition to the next level. It’s really quite coincidental that the player he most resembles at the next level also slid to the second-round due to size concerns. DeSean Jackson (5-foot-11, 178-pounds) and Cooks (5-foot-10, 186-pounds) are near identical twins, and their skill-sets are equally impressive. He is extremely explosive with the potential to be a home run threat lining up on the outside, and the added bonus of being an impact player as a punt returner is certainly worth the investment.
4. Deone Bucannon - S - Washington State
Looking for a big hitter to deter guys from coming over the middle of the field against your defense? Look no further than Deone Bucannon and the absolutely thunderous shots he delivers from the safety position. The Washington State Cougar is considered by many to be the top strong safety prospect in this year’s class, but he’s still not thought of as a first-round talent. Plenty of teams will be second-guessing the decision to pass him up at least once whenever he is separating receivers from the pigskin on Sundays in the very near future.
3. Davante Adams - WR - Fresno State
As a redshirt sophomore entering the draft, expectations will certainly be high for Davante Adams at the next level. His insane production in 2013 – 131 receptions for 1,718 yards and 24 touchdowns – indicates that Adams is an elite prospect, but many are discounting those stats due to him playing in the Fresno State offense with Derek Carr dropping back to throw 50-plus times a game. That would be a mistake as Adams is a strong target at 6-foot-2, 216-pounds capable of fighting for jump balls and really out-muscling defenders to make the catch. Anquan Boldin 2.0, anyone?
2. Tre Mason - RB - Auburn
Go ahead and overlook Auburn’s Tre Mason all you want. After all, he is only 5-foot-9, 205-pounds so it would be easy to discount his chances at the next level. Scouts did the same thing when evaluating another diminutive back by the name of Ray Rice too whenever he came out at just 5-foot-9, 195-pounds, and look at what he’s done. Now that’s not to say Mason will rack up four consecutive seasons over 1,100 yards like Rice did, but there’s no reason he can’t do something similar. When a guy breaks one of Bo Jackson’s records while at Auburn, it’s really hard not to take him seriously.
1. Pierre Desir - CB - Lindenwood
You won’t have to search very hard to find information about this small school kid after he is in the league for a year or two. Pierre Desir stands 6-foot-1, 195-pounds and has an intriguing lanky build that will endear him to any club looking to copycat the Seattle Seahawks’ massive secondary. This young man really burst onto the scene at the Senior Bowl with an impressive display of fluid movement and a low backpedal for such a large corner. Though playing at a lower level school will make the transition to defending more complex pass routes against more skilled receivers a difficult task, Desir has all of the tools to become a starter very quickly in the NFL.