The NFL draft is two months away and draft experts are already publishing full predictions of the first and second rounds. Among the many predictions, some players are severely underrated because their respective team performed poorly during the season.
But the NFL draft is the one time where football players focus on themselves and not on the team, and a number of players deserve much more credit than they are currently given.
Khaled Holmes (USC)
Holmes was inactive against Stanford during the first half of the season and the Trojans suffered. Matt Barkley had very little protection in the pocket and was rushed for most of his passes. With Holmes' size and football IQ, he can be the centerpiece of any NFL offensive line.
His regular season was plagued with injuries and internal turmoil, but now that his time at USC is a thing of the past he should be a late first round pick or an early second round pick.
Holmes leadership skills and other intangibles should be enough to boost his draft stock. Furthermore, the way the whole team looked when he was on the field and when he wasn't should be enough to illustrate his influence on the field.
Just being an elite at a position is not enough to be a factor in the NFL, you must be able to influence others with your performance.
And Khaled Holmes definitely has that factor ingrained in him.
Travis Frederick (Wisconsin)
Frederick is projected to go 69th in the upcoming draft but he may go much earlier than that.
Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets desperately need a solid offensive line to protect their quarterback, and who better than Travis Frederick.
Frederick was coached under three different offensive coaches at Wisconsin, becoming exposed to completely different mindsets.
The flexibility and wealth of football IQ will be welcoming to any NFL team as it shows he's willing to adjust his game to a particular offense.
Patrick Lewis (Texas A&M)
Texas A&M has been the home to one name and one name only; Johnny Manziel. But behind every great quarterback is a center giving enough cushion and time to execute its plays.
Patrick Lewis is that center.
Lewis' physical stature allows him to be both agile and overwhelming, thus keeping defensive rushes at the scrimmage line.
With teams like the Redskins, 49ers and the Eagles, protecting their vulnerable quarterbacks will be a key piece to their franchise. Observing the way Johnny Manziel performed at will, it's clear that Lewis was a key factor in his success.