2012 NFL Draft: 5 Underrated Players to Watch at the Combine
With the first crop of players reporting to Indianapolis tomorrow to begin the NFL combine, it's worth thinking about a few players that are slightly off the radar and could be surprise players in their rookie campaigns.
Think about a guy like DE Jabaal Sheard now with the Cleveland Browns. Sheard watched his stock fall coming out of Pitt and went on to have a tremendous rookie season, and complimented the Browns' first-round pick, DT Phil Taylor nicely.
While Coples, Kalil and Griffin III are locks for top-10 selections, the 2012 draft has additional players that could make immediate impacts. It happens every year, and this draft will be no different.
The players on this list will be on draft boards across the league but will probably be considered after the first day. Teams that are lucky enough to snatch these "value picks" could be position for a strong overall draft.
DE Cam Johnson: University of Virginia
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Johnson is a tall and fast defensive end who has played in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Because of this versatility, he would be a valuable pick for a variety of teams in the NFL.
Johnson has reportedly run a 4.67 40-yard time and could impress with his athleticism at the combine. A player who uses his hands well, Johnson's game relies on shedding blockers and utilizing his leverage.
Reportedly weighing round 270, Johnson will need to demonstrate effective use of leverage in the position drills.
OT Mitchell Schwartz: University of California
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Overshadowed by Stanford's Jonathan Martin and USC's Matt Kalil in the Pac-12, Schwartz is a player who could be a godsend to teams with a dearth of offensive line talent but do not address that need in the first round.
Schwartz is gigantic at 6'5'', 317 pounds and has long arms. He stood out in Senior Bowl practices and moved well against talented pass-rushers in the game (including Cam Johnson).
Most likely suited as a right tackle in the NFL, Schwartz could be a nice fit for a team with an established left tackle.
OLB Lavonte David: University of Nebraska
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David is going to drop because of his size. At just 6'0'', 225 pounds, there are serious questions about where David can play at the next level.
However, at the Senior Bowl, David proved he can play. David was all over the field and is very instinctual. This means he will guess at times, but he has shown that he can be a presence against the run or the pass.
Because of his lack of elite size and his ability in pass coverage, it is possible that a team takes a chance on David as a strong safety.
Even if David is selected as a safety, it is unlikely he falls past the third round because of his production and athleticism.
DT Mike Martin: University of Michigan
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Martin is another player that took full advantage of his time at the Senior Bowl. While defensive tackles usually have the highest "bust" potential, taking Martin in the late second or early-mid third round could be a great value pick for team in need of help at nose tackle.
Martin is 6'1'', 307 pounds and could put on more weight. He is strong and eats up blockers. He is not going to provide the explosive plays someone like Devon Still is capable of, but unlike his Big 10 counterpart, Martin doesn't take plays off and has a motor.
After dominating Ohio State's Michael Brewster and Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler at the Senior Bowl, Martin demonstrated that his deceptively long arms make him very difficult to block. While he is not going to blow you away with his combine numbers, he could be a draft steal.
DT Kendall Reyes: University of Connecticut
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Reyes possesses a lot of the same qualities as Martin. After transforming from a 245-pound high school senior, Reyes has worked in the weight room to reach 300 pounds. He is strong and extremely athletic. If you have yet to see the video of Reyes perfectly executing a backhand spring, check it out. The guy is a physical freak.
Slightly taller than Martin, Reyes showed his versatility at the Senior Bowl by lining up in the 3-technique and even as a 5-technique defensive end. This is something you are not going to get with Martin.
Reyes will need to improve his consistency at the next level but he has the athleticism and potential to sneak into the second round.