The buzz leading up to draft day is always about the first-round prospects, but there will be some underrated rookies that get selected during the middle portion of the 2013 NFL draft.
We learned this exact lesson in 2012 with Russell Wilson, as he led the Seattle Seahawks to within inches of the NFC title game. Although Wilson definitely raised the bar for mid-round quarterbacks, there's still plenty of talent elsewhere with just as much potential impact.
Consider these to aspects of the draft as well: 1. There isn't much depth at the quarterback position, and 2. There is incredible depth along the offensive line and defensive front seven.
As a result, the following talents will slip back a bit and turn out to be gem picks after Rounds 1 and 2.
Shamarko Thomas: Safety, Syracuse
There's a beast of a safety in the middle rounds. Shamarko Thomas of Syracuse only measured at 5'9", but he weighs 213 pounds and plays with incredible ferocity.
More so as a roll-down safety to play near the box or fill a zone for a blitzing linebacker, Thomas will bring the pain. He's also well-versed against the pass and is capable of reacting well in Cover 1 or 3. He has even proven the talent to contribute at cornerback when needed.
During his tenure for the Orange he racked up 16.5 tackles for loss and 263 tackles. In 2012 he developed a better all-around game with two picks and three forced fumbles.
Although he needs to find more consistent body control when tackling, Thomas' combine performance of 40.5 inches on the vertical leap and 4.42 seconds for the 40-yard dash displays his explosiveness. And that physical nature will come in handy in pro football.
Projection: Round 3, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona needs a hard-hitting safety capable of playing near the line of scrimmage. Thomas' impact will let the Cardinals blitz more up front and keep the coverage solid. At the same time, he'll help the run defense to put Arizona in a more favorable spot on third down.
Malliciah Goodman: DE, Clemson
It's easy for a prospect such as Clemson's Malliciah Goodman to get overlooked in this draft. Because there's so much talent to be had along the defensive line, there will be athletes that drop since not every team has the same needs.
As for Goodman, his production for the Tigers will earn him a look. Between 2010 and 2012, he amassed 17 tackles for loss, had 10 sacks and forced eight fumbles. Despite not possessing the electric athleticism to constantly wreck the backfield, Goodman's discipline is what makes him a strong acquisition.
He has a good feel for the developing play and utilizes impressive balance to move swiftly along the line. Certainly he must develop a quicker and more consistent reaction at the snap, but Goodman's strength and fluid hand techniques are an advantage versus one-on-one situations.
His size is also marketable, as Goodman measured 6'4", 276 pounds at the combine. There, he bounded to 114 inches on the broad jump and pumped out 26 bench press reps. This, along with a solid knack for controlling his assignments, allow Goodman to contribute as a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive end.
Projection: Round 4, Miami Dolphins
Miami recorded 42 sacks last season, but getting an even stronger pass rush is required for a playoff run. Also, Cameron Wake will be 32 years old at season's end and Randy Starks will be 30. Adding Goodman to the rotation now simply helps him develop and prepare for becoming the No. 1 rusher down the road.
Kerwynn Williams: RB, Utah State
The running back position does not present any top-heavy talent compared to the 2012 class.
And with that, a non-BCS back in Utah State's Kerwynn Williams will slide down the board as the 2013 draft unfolds.
He has only produced one standout season at the position, but last year Williams compiled 2,209 total offensive yards (1,512 rushing, 697 receiving) and scored 20 touchdowns. To put his campaign in perspective, Williams collected more receiving yards in 2012 than he rushed for in 2010 (451) or 2011 (542).
Enhancing his appeal, though, was having served on special teams throughout 2009 and 2010. For these two seasons, he amassed 2,575 kickoff return yards and scored once and averaged 26.1 per attempt.
Even though he's a bit undersized (5'8", 195 lbs), Williams clocked 4.48 seconds on the 40 at the combine and 4.15 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle.
Projection: Round 5, Green Bay Packers
Green Bay doesn't need to take a running back early in the draft because the pass-oriented offense needs to strongly consider revamping the offensive line. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times a year ago. Additionally, the Packers defense must improve against the run to remain Super Bowl contenders.
This could leave Green Bay to take Williams in Round 5. His potential as a dual-threat back suits Green Bay's future quite well, and waiting until Day 3 significantly reduces the risk of investment.
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