2014 NFL Draft: Projected Late-Rounders Who Will Be Studs at the Next Level

Will GroomsCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2014

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 16:  Connor Shaw #14 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drops back to pass against the Florida Gators during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For the 20 NFL teams that weren't fortunate enough to make the playoffs, the settling of dust between coach firings and personnel replacement will give way to the 2014 NFL draft.

Between marquee names like Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Terrell Davis, it's clear the potential to pick up All-Pros—even Hall of Famers—exists in all seven rounds of the draft. Yet most fans stop viewing or following the draft entirely after the first two rounds.

Here are five players, in no particular order, with whom NFL general managers have the potential to strike gold in the later rounds.


1. Ted Bolser

While not a household name unless you live within a 10-mile radius of Bloomington, Ind., this Hoosier tight end is a sight to behold on the field.

Standing at 6'6" and weighing in at 252 pounds, Bolser already has the body of a prototypical NFL tight end. Projected as a seventh-round pick by CBSsports.com, the four-year Indiana starter will have a profound impact on any team he lands with.

Aside from being an excellent run-blocker, Bolser is a good route-runner with good hands, and his athleticism is deceivingly above average, as shown by this hurdling of an Iowa defender. 

With 13 tight ends projected to go ahead of him, Bolser has the profound opportunity to silence his critics on Sundays in the years to come.


2. James White

The pedigree of Wisconsin running backs is undeniable. In the past 15 years alone, Wisconsin has had five running backs drafted, excluding John Clay, who was picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent.

In White's freshman year alone, he ran for 1,052 yards—exceeding the 996-yard rushing total recorded by backfield counterpart Montee Ball, the all-time FBS leader for total touchdowns and substantial contributor to the AFC West champion Denver Broncos.

Accounting for 4,685 total yards and 48 touchdowns during his time with the Badgers, White's premium is his speed, though he possesses above-average strength as well.

White is far more valuable than his sixth-round projection, via CBSsports.com, would have you believe.


3. Connor Shaw

Before you jump to conclusions that this is a biased Big Ten article, let's move to South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw.

In his Capital One Bowl career finale, Shaw completed 88 percent of his passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns against the nation's 15th-ranked pass defense. 

Shaw isn't the prototypical tall quarterback, but he's efficient, throwing just one interception during his senior season, and can make plays with his legs, rushing for 558 yards in his 2013 campaign. 

Shaw is projected to be selected in the sixth or seventh round, per CBSsports.com.


4. Glenn Carson

Known as "Linebacker U," Penn State rarely produces a poor linebacking prospect, and Glenn Carson is no exception.

A three-year starter, Carson led a defense that ranked 29th in the country for total defense. He's got the size, measuring at 6'3" and weighing 235 pounds.

He has great instincts and is tremendous in run support, recording double-digit tackles on five different occasions for the Nittany Lions. With Carson projected as a seventh-round pick, per CBSsports.com, teams should think twice before they pass on this underrated prospect.


5. James Gayle

BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Defensive end James Gayle #99 of the Virginia Tech Hokies stands on the field prior to the Hokies' game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Lane Stadium on September 3, 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

James Gayle's impact on games is undeniable. The emotional leader of the Virginia Tech defense, this defensive end recorded six sacks in his senior season alone.

Standing at 6'4" and weighing 252 pounds, Gayle is mobile for his size—clocking in at 4.60 in the 40-yard dash, via CollegiateTimes.com.

A fifth-round projection, per CBSsports.com, is awfully low for a three-year starter who led a defense that was 18th in the nation for yards allowed. 


Unless otherwise mentioned, all stats gathered via NCAA.com