Guys like Shariff Floyd, Dee Milliner, Tavon Austin, and Geno Smith are getting most of the attention for the upcoming NFL draft. We’ve heard all the names of the players projected to go in the first round, and even some guys that are projected to go in the second round. But what about the guys who will get drafted later than that? What about the guys who will be drafted on the third day of the NFL draft and make a big impact in the NFL at some point. The underrated NFL draft prospects. These guys aren’t getting nearly enough attention. So I decided to profile five players who most likely won’t be drafted in the first two rounds, but will end up having very good NFL careers.
- Tyler Bray – Tennessee/QB
Bray is the 8th rated quarterback in this year’s class according to Todd McShay. However, he’s the top rated quarterback in my eyes. He is going to have to sit a few years before he’s ready, but when he is, this kid can be special. He has an NFL ready arm right now. He can make any and every throw needed. He has great velocity on his passes and has the arm strength to make the deep throws. His accuracy could improve, but that will come with more reps. Bray is a high risk-high reward project. There are concerns about his commitment to the game and his off the field preparation, but I think these issues can be solved pretty easily. He isn’t ready to step on the field and play right away, but give him two-three years to be groomed, and he’ll be fine. Find a coach who can motivate this guy, and he’ll turn into an absolute stud.
- Andre Ellington – Clemson/RB
If Ellington had been healthy during his tenure at Clemson, he’d be ranked much higher on a lot of draft boards. That’s the biggest knock on him. However, he was extremely productive in college, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in each of his final two seasons. Ellington isn’t the fastest guy out there, but he is ultra quick and is very elusive. Ellington also hits his full speed in about two or three steps, which is important for RBs. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Ellington may not be an every down back in the NFL, but could be a very good scat back/change of pace guy for a good team.
- Vance McDonald – Rice/TE
The NFL’s new trend is big, athletic tight ends. McDonald is another one that fits that mold. McDonald was Mr. Do-It-All for Rice last year. He is an above average blocker, has good size and speed, and was very productive in college. He struggled with injuries throughout his career, but tested out healthy at the combine. He isn’t Jimmy Graham fast, but he is fast enough to get behind the linebackers and attack the seams. In the right system, McDonald could be a very good weapon.
- David Amerson – NC State/CB
Coming into this year’s college football season, Mel Kiper had Amerson ranked as the third best prospect to on his big board. The NC State CB has fallen significantly since then, but still has the potential to be a ball hawk on the next level. Amerson has an elite package of size, strength, and speed. He was also one of the most productive cornerbacks in college history, recording 18 interceptions over his final two years (13 in 2011, 5 in 2012). There was no way Amerson would be able to repeat his 13-interception season, but still was a little disappointing this year. However, this guy makes plays. He forces turnovers. Is the greatest cover corner in the world? No. But he makes enough plays and has good enough ball skills to be a terror for opposing defenses. He can even play a little free safety. Amerson would be a great value to any team on day three of the draft.
- William Gholston – Michigan State/DE
Gholston isn’t a pass rushing specialist like some of the other defensive ends in this draft, but he is a well-rounded football player that is pretty good at a bunch of things. First off, Gholston is a colossal human being. He stands 6’6” tall and weighs 285 pounds with long arms and big hands. Gholston is best against the run. He is strong enough to take on blockers and still bring down the ball carrier. His pass rushing skills aren’t all there yet but has shown flashes during the past two seasons that make me believe he can be an effective pass rusher at some point during his career. He is also very versatile, and can play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 defensive scheme.