15 Most Underrated Prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft
Most Underrated 2014 NFL Draft Prospects
It happens every season -- talented NFL Draft prospects fall through cracks and end up being taken later than they should. A lot of times it is because of one fault in their game that gets overrated or an off-the-field issue. Whether it is a guy with first-round talent who slips to the second or a middle-round prospect who falls to the end of the draft, teams can find undervalued talent at all points of the draft.
A perfect example if this is Kiko Alonso, linebacker of the Buffalo Bills. Alonso was a very talented and productive college football player at Oregon, but because of off-the-field issues and concerns about his size, Alonso fell to the second round of the 2013 draft. The Bills ended up finding a huge value in Alonso as he totaled 159 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions in his rookie season. He finished second in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, narrowly losing out to first-round pick Sheldon Richardson.
Players get undervalued every single season and come into the league with a chip on their shoulder. A talented player with something to prove is a recipe for success in the NFL. It is important for teams to pinpoint undervalued players in the middle to late rounds of the draft who have the desire to be the best.
If a team can land valuable players later in the draft, it sets the entire roster up perfectly. Take the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks as an example. They landed Russell Wilson in the third round, Richard Sherman in the 5th round and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith in the 7th round, all within the last few drafts. There are many other examples of Seattle landing impact talent later in the draft as they have done an incredible job of pinpointing undervalued players, and it won them a Lombardi Trophy.
I guarantee there will be players in this upcoming draft class who will go later than they should and will make a serious impact in the league. NFL organizations must be able to find these undervalued players if they expect to keep up. Here are the 15 most underrated prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft.
15. George Atkinson, RB, Notre Dame
George Atkinson is an incredibly fast and athletic player. He probably does not have the size to become an every down back in the NFL, but his athleticism and receiving skills make me think that he can become a great part-time passing back. Atkinson also has great kick returning skills that certainly help add to his value.
14. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
Isaiah Crowell may have more pure talent than any other RB in this draft. He has great speed and athleticism along with more power than you would think by looking at his slender frame. Crowell also seems to have great vision, which is obviously key for a RB. He has a past with serious off-field issues, so he is certainly a risky prospect. If a team is willing to bet on Crowell as a changed man and take him later in the draft, he has the pure athleticism to become a huge draft day steal.
13. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Out of Division-II Lindenwood, Pierre Desir has the size and athleticism that scouts crave in a NFL corner. After the success that the Seahawks have had with big players at the CB position, every NFL team is looking for corners with size. At 6-foot-1, 195-pounds, Desir has the size that scouts are looking for and the skills to go with it. He proved himself against elite competition at the Senior Bowl, and I believe he has the skills to become a shutdown CB at the next level.
12. Austin Wentworth, OL, Fresno State
He has the versatility to play all across the offensive line, but I believe that Austin Wentworth will be a solid left-tackle in the NFL. He has incredible strength that makes him a great run blocker and impressive athleticism that allows him to protect the passer. Wentworth has the skills to be a big steal in the middle rounds of this draft.
11. Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
After a very productive career at Oregon, WR Josh Huff now looks to prove doubters wrong at the NFL level. Huff is not very big (5-foot-10, 206-pounds), but he has great speed and quickness on the inside. His size probably makes him a slot receiver in the NFL, but that is okay, because his skills translate to the slot anyways. Huff is not afraid to go across the middle and can take one to the house at any time. He sounds like a guy who is worth taking in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft.
10. Morgan Moses, OL, Virginia
He is a bit raw, but Morgan Moses has huge upside as an offensive tackle in the NFL. He has experience playing both tackle positions in college. Obviously, whoever drafts Moses hopes that he can play LT, but worst case scenario he is a mauling run blocker at RT. Moses is a massive man at 6-foot-6, 314-pounds, but he has shown the athleticism that makes me think he can play the left side. Right now, Moses probably does not have the necessary pass blocking skills to protect the blindside of a QB, but the potential is certainly there.
9. Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
Tom Savage is a very interesting QB prospect in this class. He has ideal size (6-foot-4, 228 pounds), an incredibly strong arm and adequate passing accuracy. Savage is a traditional pocket passer, but he does have a little athleticism that allows him to occasionally escape a pass rush. There is no denying the talent in his arm. Savage has a legitimate NFL arm, and he can make all of the throws. He is not on every team's radar because he simply has not played much in college due to multiple transfers. While that is not ideal, if he cleans up his game a little bit, Savage has a chance to become a starting NFL QB.
8. A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
Off-the-field issues have some teams shying away from A.C. Leonard, but there is no denying his on field skills. On Saturday, when the tight ends worked out at the Combine, Leonard was the most athletic player on the field. The pure athleticism is there for him to become a great receiving TE at the next level. He is a raw prospect,so patience will be key with him and off-the-field stuff is certainly concerning, but Leonard has big-time potential to be a draft day steal.
7. Shaquelle Evans, WR, UCLA
Shaquelle Evans seems to be getting overlooked in a very deep WR class. He has good size and speed, but it does not jump off of the chart like other WR prospects. That being said, Evans is an incredible route-runner who rarely makes any mistakes. His game is NFL ready, and I think that is being overlooked. He plays very fast on the field and has the speed to outrun defenders to the end zone. Evans may not have the huge upside of some of these other players, but he is a solid prospect who will almost surely become a long-time NFL starter.
6. Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State
Carl Bradford does not have ideal versatility, but he does a great job of getting pressure on the QB. Bradford does not have the size to play defensive end in the NFL, so he is likely to only be drafted by a team that runs a 3-4 defense. That will certainly push his name down draft boards, but whoever ends up with Bradford will be very happy with his ability to rush the passer.
5. Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Sammy Watkins is the Clemson WR getting the most buzz in the draft process so far, and for good reason. Watkins is the best WR in this draft and should be a top ten pick in May. That being said, his teammate Martavis Bryant is also an incredible talent who could very easily make an impact in the NFL.
At the Scouting Combine over the weekend, Bryant jumped on everybody's radar as he measured at 6-foot-4 and weighed 211-pounds. He ran an official 40-yard dash of 4.42 and had a vertical leap of 39 inches. Bryant is one of the best deep threats in the draft and has all of the size and skills for scouts to drool over. He is still a raw prospect, so he will be a risky pick, but the upside is absolutely enormous.
4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Jimmy Garoppolo has been gaining steam as a QB prospect ever since the season ended. He has great accuracy on his passes, especially in the short to intermediate passing game. Garoppolo does not have a huge arm, but I believe his arm strength is adequate. He is not the most athletic quarterback in the world, but he does have some mobility in the pocket. Garoppolo is a very sound decision maker who rarely puts the ball in the wrong spot. His lack of raw physical tools makes him a long-shot as a first round prospect, but I believe he can be a legitimate starting QB in the NFL and that makes him a steal in the middle rounds.
3. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Jace Amaro is considered by most to be a late first round pick in the 2014 draft. I still think that makes him underrated. Amaro has the best skill-set for a TE that we have seen in a while. He has legitimate size at 6-foot-5, 265-pounds and great athleticism for the position. Amaro was basically a WR in college where he proved that his receiving skills are for real, but he also shows the raw ability to be a great blocker for when he has to play in-line in the NFL. Whoever takes Amaro in the draft will be getting a difference maker with big-time playmaking ability from day one.
2. Terrance West, RB, Towson
Terrance West just might be the best kept secret in this draft. West is known as a power back, but he ran a very respectable 4.54 in the 40-yard dash. He does a great job of creating something out of nothing and gaining yardage after first contact. West is a very patient runner that has great quickness and acceleration that allows him to hit his holes quickly along with the speed to outrun defenders when he gets that chance. He is one of the best running backs in this draft, but he will go much later than he should because he came from a small school. I think West has a great chance to be a starting RB in his rookie season in the NFL.
1. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Kyle Van Noy is currently considered a late first round or early second round pick, but I personally believe that he is a top ten player in this draft. Van Noy is an incredibly versatile player who can fit any system. He is outstanding in coverage, a great pass rusher on the outside and solid against the run. Van Noy is a very athletic linebacker who literally never gives up on a play. He is an aggressive player and would be an incredible addition to each and every NFL defense. I think Van Noy is a starting LB in the NFL from day one no matter where he lands and will be a serious candidate to be Defensive Rookie of the Year.