The performance of Alfred Morris in 2012 showed once again that there is plenty of talent to be found in the lower rounds of the NFL draft.
This year is no exception.
It may not be a class with the same caliber of quarterback we saw emerge this year, but it is stacked with players who can make a difference to NFL teams next year.
Below are three examples of players who could represent huge value for teams willing to take a chance on them.
Marcus Davis, WR, Virginia Tech
Logan Thomas really hurt his draft stock this year, but that had nothing to do with Davis. If it wasn’t for Davis, Thomas would have actually looked even worse, with the receiver hauling in passes that were both underthrown and overthrown, ensuring that the drive continued.
With many teams in the market for a quarterback, a receiver with the ability to catch most things thrown at him—regardless of quality—is a huge asset.
Arizona, Jacksonville and the New York Jets all currently have quarterbacks with accuracy issues. Even it they draft a replacement this year, there’s no sure thing in this quarterback class.
Davis doesn’t have blinding speed, an unerring ability to get open or standout route-running. However, he has the hands to make a crucial catch on third down and keep the play alive.
Over the course of a season, this can prove to be an incredibly important skill.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
When a receiver has run a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, his big-play capabilities are obvious.
The problem that Goodwin has is that he’s 5’9” and 180 pounds, which will automatically call into question his ability to succeed on an NFL team.
The Washington Redskins/Brandon Banks debacle has proved that speed doesn’t automatically bring success, but Goodwin has the ability to change that.
Goodwin’s 36-yard reception in the final three minutes of the Alamo Bowl was enough to win the game for Texas, but his NFL responsibilities will lie as a slot receiver and return man.
If he can make the first defender miss, Goodwin will take one to the house very quickly. This potential to change a game is of value to any team, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a team like New Orleans pull the trigger on him.
Who will be the most influential late-round draft pick?
Montori Hughes, DT, Tennessee-Martin
The very definition of a risk vs. reward pick, Hughes was dismissed from the Volunteers’ program and has a past that will bring up all types of flags for NFL teams regarding character and all-round effort.
However, he has been impressive for Tennessee-Martin, and at 6’4” and 327 pounds, he has the size and power to make teams call his name on draft day.
At nose tackle, Hughes could make a real impact for teams looking to shore up the inside of their defensive line. At Tennessee-Martin he showed the ability to take on double teams and still emerge the victor, which will serve him well in the NFL.
If he can convince coaches that his days of minimal effort are behind him, that is.