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2014 NFL Draft: 10 Mid-Round Prospects With Starter Potential

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10 Mid-Rounders Who Will Be Starters Someday

Jordan Zumwalt
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While the first and second rounds are where NFL teams find their stars, the middle rounds are where they find quality starters who can be the difference between just missing the playoffs and making a serious Super Bowl run. During the 2014 NFL Draft, the case will be no different as there will be plenty of intriguing mid-round talents to choose from.

Here’s a look at 10 mid-round prospects who should be starting before long.

Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

Tyler Gaffney
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

Tyler Gaffney
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

While Gaffney might not be one of the top running backs of the 2014 draft class, he’s certainly one worth keeping an eye on. Offering an outstanding combination of speed, strength and versatility, the Stanford product has all of the tools to be a big contributor at the next level. No matter where Gaffney lands, he’ll be given an opportunity to touch the football early and often.

Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana

Jordan Tripp
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Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana

Jordan Tripp
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One of the most intriguing small-school options available during the 2014 NFL Draft, Tripp has turned heads throughout the pre-draft process with his athleticism and intelligence. He reads offenses well and routinely puts himself into position to make plays with tenacious, determined play. Some are wary of his lack of size, but there’s no denying that he has the awareness and smarts to be a playmaker.

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin

Jared Abbrederis
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin

Jared Abbrederis
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s true that Abbrederis isn’t an elite athlete with blazing speed or shiftiness after the catch. What he does bring to the table, though, is smart route running and a keen ability to get open. On top of that, his hands are as reliable as they come. If an NFL team is looking for a wide receiver who can be a dependable piece of their offense, they need look no further than Abbrederis.

Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame

Prince Shembo
Getty Images

Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame

Prince Shembo
Getty Images

Despite his impressive film, Shembo continues to fly under the radar. However, when you put on the tape, No. 55 shows you an outstanding motor, a natural ability to rush the passer, and refined skills as a run defender. That versatility and well-roundedness should see Shembo find a contributor role early in his NFL career and a starting job before long.

Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan

Michael Schofield
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan

Michael Schofield
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The majority of attention surrounding the Michigan offensive line is directed towards Taylor Lewan, but Schofield still deserves his fair share of acknowledgement. The outstanding right tackle shows good balance and strength, and has proven during his three years as a starter that he can play anywhere along the line. That versatility will help him develop into a starter in the NFL.

Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon

Terrance Mitchell
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon

Terrance Mitchell
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

While I’m not a fan of his hesitation towards playing the run, there’s plenty to be intrigued by with Mitchell. The Oregon product is an athletic, instinctive cover man who excels at locking down whoever he’s lined up against. Mitchell didn’t give up a single touchdown last season, and should bring that same type of shutdown coverage to the NFL in the near future.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College

Andre Williams
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College

Andre Williams
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Williams is a plodder who isn’t going to break off big runs or make a ton of people miss in the NFL. That’s not what makes him so special, though. Instead, it’s his ability to find holes in the defense, burst through them with power, and pick up big chunks of yards after contact that make him an exciting prospect. Williams will be starting in the NFL at some point because he’s smart, talented and driven.

James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech

James Gayle
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech

James Gayle
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re looking for an underrated defensive end who can be a difference-maker on every down, look no further than Gayle. The former Hokie is a relentless athlete who uses strength, quickness and tenacity to disrupt opposing offenses. Whether he’s rushing the pass or shutting down the ground game, Gayle will certainly be the type of player an NFL team can’t leave on the bench.

Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming

Brett Smith
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming

Brett Smith
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

It’s clear that some quarterback-needy teams will be looking to the middle rounds for a passer instead of gambling on one of the early-round options. One gunslinger those aforementioned teams should consider is Smith. The small-school prospect is a sensational athlete with promising arm talent and the improvisational skills to be a playmaker at the next level. He’s a project, but the potential is there.

Jordan Zumwalt, ILB, UCLA

Jordan Zumwalt
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Zumwalt, ILB, UCLA

Jordan Zumwalt
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most overlooked prospects of the 2014 draft class, Zumwalt has all the makings of an NFL starter. Playing with intimidating physicality, a relentless motor and terrific read and react abilities, the former Bruin simply makes plays from sideline to sideline. Whether he plays inside or outside, Zumwalt will be in impact linebacker in the NFL who can likely be had for a third-round pick.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Director of Content for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.