2012 NFL Draft Projections: 5 Players Experts Foolishly Have Way Too Low

Jon SiddowayCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2012

IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 30- Wide receiver Marvin McNutt #7 of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes drives the ball into the end zone for a touch down during the second half of play against the Michigan State Spartans at Kinnick Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 37-6 over Michigan State. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
David Purdy/Getty Images

NFL Draft "experts" are about as reliable as the local weatherman.

Sure, a lot of their predictions come to fruition, but it doesn't take much to notice a big cloud approaching. Or that Andrew Luck will be a star, it's basically tattooed on his forehead for all to see. 

The surprises that slip through the cracks are what really keep us tuning in. Like falling asleep to a warm night and waking up in a morning blizzard. Like an underrated prospect becoming a top player in the league. 

It happens all the time, just ask Marques Colston, Jared Allen and Antonio Gates, among several others. Each were off the scouting radar, overlooked and fell much further than they should have in their drafts. And each blossomed into Pro Bowlers at their respective positions.

This year will be no different, so here are five NFL Draft prospects foolishly undervalued by the experts.    

RB Michael Smith, Utah State

Can't really blame the experts for this miss. Scouts rarely made the trip to snowy Logan and if they did, it was for WAC Offensive Player of the Year Robert Turbin.

Smith was the team's other running back, yet managed 114 attempts for 870 yards (7.6 average) and nine touchdowns during his senior season. He absolutely stole the show at his recent Pro Day by running a 4.35 forty-yard dash and registering a 40.5" vertical leap. 

However, the explosive Smith remains unnoticed by most. 

WR T.Y. Hilton, Florida International

Hilton reminds me of wide receiver Kendall Wright, minus all the first-round hype. He also didn't have Robert Griffin III as quarterback, but still collected 72 receptions for 1,038 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.

What he lacks in build (5'10", 185 lbs.), he more than makes up for with straight-line speed and agility in the open field. Hilton runs a 4.34 forty and looks just as fast in pads and a helmet. His contributions as a return man are a huge added bonus to his production as a slot receiver.

Strangely, though, his stock remains in the mid-rounds.

FB Shawn Asiata, Utah

Talk about going completely off the radar with this one. This guy not only creates lanes for his running back, he rolls out the red carpet for them. At 6'0" and 250 lbs., he's built like a lineman, yet runs like a halfback. He's the ideal fullback.

Asiata may not have received an invite to the combine, but that won't detour him from making a living on Sundays. Expect the bulldozing blocks and huge hits to never cease. 

No matter what the scouts say, or don't say about him.

CB Asa Jackson, Cal Poly

Small schools are known for their hidden gems and Jackson is a diamond. A rough one, nonetheless, he can have a bright future after further polishing.

Jackson has great speed, footwork and is a sure tackler. The main questions are related to the level of competition faced while playing for Cal Poly, but a solid week at the Senior Bowl has answered the majority of those.

Currently the 26th-ranked cornerback in this draft, I'd be hard-pressed to name 25 better than this guy. He's a steal in the later rounds.

WR Marvin McNutt, Iowa

McNutt has the prototypical blend of size (6'3", 215lbs.) and speed, excellent hands and was consistent throughout his collegiate career, yet finds himself rated by experts to be a mid-round prospect. The team that lands him is getting a dynamic playmaker and big red zone target.

McNutt, much like Colston, is a savvy route runner who uses his body to get separation from defenders and, like Colston, will be a reliable receiver in the NFL.