NFL Draft 2013: Most Electric Talents to Eye in Late Rounds
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Never underestimate the electric talent residing in the late rounds of the NFL draft.
The 2012 draft provided a trio of running backs in Vick Ballard, Alfred Morris and Bryce Brown that impacted quite well last season.
This year, a varying pool of prospects offers a broader range of positions but are still capable of making noise in pro football. Michigan's Denard Robinson is the first example we preview ahead.
And if anything, versatility always helps a player bolster his marketability.
Denard Robinson: QB/WR, Michigan
Denard Robinson is quite similar to Brad Smith.
Each provided a strong arm as a quarterback in college, but the legs to give any defensive coordinator a migraine headache.
As for Robinson, expect him to contribute more as a receiver in the NFL courtesy of his acceleration, top speed and short-area quickness. Despite limited experience at the position, his athleticism will quickly transition for a spread offense.
In addition, Robinson can line up as a wildcat quarterback and utilize the read-option to expand the variety of a playbook. After all, he did rack up 4,144 rushing yards and score 37 times on the ground from 2010 through 2012.
Obviously, minimizing his passing options will be needed as he does lack dependable decision-making. But the luxury of his skill set will catch defenses off guard.
Knile Davis: RB, Arkansas
For one, Arkansas' Knile Davis was measured at 5'10", 227 pounds at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.
Secondly, he was clocked at 4.37 seconds on the 40-yard dash and pumped out 31 reps on the bench press.
Clearly, this guy possesses the size, speed and strength trifecta to punish defenses and outrun defensive backs. If there's any concern, it's simply his durability.
Davis accounted for 1,458 total yards in 2010 and scored 14 touchdowns.
So, the 2011 campaign was expected to be incredible. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2011 season because of an injury, according to the Razorbacks' official website:
University of Arkansas junior running back Knile Davis sustained an injury to his left ankle during practice Thursday evening and is expected to miss the 2011 season.
Returning to the gridiron in 2012, Davis collected 534 total yards but missed some time from a pesky hamstring, via Chris Breece of 5NewsOnline.com:
He saw little contact in practice last summer and was never fully healthy for the 2012 campaign. Davis battled a hamstring injury throughout the conference season, which limited his carries and yardage.
The tangibles exist for Davis to have success. It's a matter of remaining consistently healthy.
Ace Sanders: WR, South Carolina
Ace Sanders isn't a typical receiver, but he does provide the explosiveness to contribute offensively.
At the combine, he darted to 6.81 seconds on the three-cone drill and displayed excellent agility by quickly redirecting to 11.29 seconds on the 60-yard shuttle.
When on the field for South Carolina, Sanders was responsible for 1,230 receiving yards and 13 scores. It's also important to note that the Gamecocks never presented an elite quarterback—Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw.
Sanders was also overshadowed by Alshon Jeffery in the passing game and Marcus Lattimore on the ground. Therefore, his best opportunity to shine came as a return man, and Sanders did not disappoint.
Combined between 2011 and 2012, he amassed 578 punt-return yards and scored three times.
On offense, he's best suited to be a slot receiver or on the wing. But Sanders will impact more on special teams because his ball-carrier vision, patience and lateral quickness can immediately change the field position.
Greg Reid: CB, Florida State/Valdosta State
Cornerback Greg Reid was on an excellent path to becoming a strong mid-round gem selection in 2013 NFL draft.
For three impressive years at Florida State, he defended 32 passes and recorded seven picks.
In this same span, Reid also accumulated 2,670 total return yards by pulling double duty on kickoffs and punts. He was, however, dismissed from the team last August according to Ira Schoffel of the Tallahassee Democrat via the USA Today:
Just one day after he was named a second-team preseason All-American, Florida State senior Greg Reid was dismissed from the Seminoles' football program for a "violation of team rules."
Although the university declined to provide further details, Reid's dismissal apparently is the culmination of a handful of missteps, with the latest being his July arrest on charges of marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license.
Valdosta State head coach David Dean confirmed Wednesday morning on a local radio program that cornerback Greg Reid will miss the entire 2012 season with a torn Anterior Crucitate Ligament (ACL).
So, the combination of health and character issues are definitely concerning regarding Reid's potential in pro football. Provided he does get back to complete health, though, we'll then see Reid's field awareness and total athleticism make a strong impression.
Mike Edwards: CB, Hawaii
One of the more underrated cornerbacks to watch for is Hawaii's Mike Edwards.
During his time with the Warriors in 2011 and 2012, Edwards defended 29 passes and recorded 86 tackles.
Increasing his appeal to pro football was Edwards' 2,301 kickoff return yards in this same span. Plus he took three back for a touchdown last fall.
And shortly after the New Year, via Stephen Tsai of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Edwards declared for the NFL draft. He then was solid at the combine by hitting 14 reps on the bench press—good for cornerbacks—and 4.18 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle.
Another sad day in the saga of troubled but talented receiver Nu’Keese Richardson, who was kicked off the Tennessee football team Monday afternoon along with fellow freshman Mike Edwards for their role in an alleged armed robbery last week.
Since that incident, it appears Edwards has gotten back on the right track. His success for Hawaii is evidence of that, as well as the sound performance at this year's combine. Factor his dynamic ability on the field, and Edwards is a late-round gem.