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Matt Conrath's length and knack for blocking kicks could make him a prime late round pick.
While hitting the jackpot on sixth and seventh rounders is ideal, all GMs know the likelihood of having to cut a late rounder is fairly high.
It's simply impossible to guarantee a roster spot, and some teams don't have the time to develop talented, yet unseasoned late rounders. Or, they find that in training camp that the player isn't a fit for their system, or comes to camp out of shape and under-performs.
Thompson seems to have a knack for finding late round guys and unsigned free agents. He also taps into the small schools for prospects that others might not feel comfortable taking a risk on.
This year could be no different. If Thompson fails to land a defensive linemen or two in early rounds, expect to see some training camp bodies from the late rounds.
The issue I see in this late-round value approach is, Thompson has tried this method with several defensive linemen with little to show for it.
He also drafted Lawrence Guy in the seventh round last year who essentially redshirted due to injuries in his rookie year, keeping him in the fold for the Packers. Perhaps these six late-round prospects listed below would break the trend:
Travian Robertson, South Carolina, 6'4" 305: Was impressive at East-West shrine game, though coaches considered his technique sloppy. Likely a seventh rounder who would be another project for Trgovac to work on.
Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, Baylor, 6'2" 315: Likely to project as just a plugger at NT but little scouting information is available on this guy who projects to be drafted in the seventh or as a UFA.
Mike Daniels, Iowa, 6'0" 280: Has an impressive 40 time for a big man, but may be a better fit in a 4-3 defensive system. Was invited to Senior Bowl, indicating he's no slouch for a late round pick.
Matt Conrath, Virginia, 6'7" 280: This would be a late round pick who Thompson could envision as a luxury on special teams, evidenced by his 3 blocked field goals in 2011. He would probably have to bulk up by adding muscle mass as a 3-4 DE. He has the same 40 time as Daniels at 4.84.
DeAngelo Tyson, Georgia, 6'2" 306: Flashed playmaking ability as a DT in the Bulldogs defense generating tackles for loss and a few sacks against talented SEC opponents. Hard to figure why he's projected as a seventh-UFA when he's generated impressive results in a top BCS defense, but I will keep researching this one.
Ryan Van Bergen, Michigan, 6'6" 288: This would be similar to playing the lottery on the premise that Van Bergen's production in college could translate to the NFL. Last year, Thompson used the same rationale with Elmore: would Van Bergen fit the Cinderella, size 18 men's slipper as an underdog success story? All fairy tale jokes aside, the Michigan linemen are impressive workers, motoring to make plays and playing with abandon.