The NFL draft is where diamonds can be found in the rough of the latter rounds, and the 2014 NFL draft figures to be no exception.
With such a deep and talented class of NFL prospects, some of the best players in college football will find themselves selected after the top talents go off the board in Round 1. In fact, some top players won't be getting selected until Round 3 or later.
The future is bright for seemingly every prospect who has declared for the draft, but the can't-miss talents are almost always the guys that go early on. There's more risk involved as the draft carries on, but the potential for some of the sport's top performers to transition to the NFL is there.
Look for these three players to fall past Round 1.
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Heisman-finalist Tre Mason put up numbers this season that would normally make a player first-round-worthy. The junior averaged 5.7 yards per carry en route to 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also sprinkled in 11 receptions and 121 receiving yards for good measure.
The problem with Mason is that he is the product of an Auburn attack that sets their runners up to succeed. One NFC general manager told Albert Breer of NFL.com: "He's a solid runner, but my gut is the offense is really the engine that drives the production."
That same GM later went on to say that Mason "lacks size," but that he does have "good speed, balance, burst and vision."
His small frame (5'10", 205 pounds) and potentially skewed stats based off Auburn's scheme will scare teams from using their top selection on him. While the potential is there for big NFL production, there are too many question marks.
The Jacksonville Jaguars pick seventh in Round 2. As a team that might be losing their best running back in franchise history—Maurice Jones-Drew—taking Mason might not be a bad idea.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
While the list of teams in the second round that might be looking for a quarterback is a relatively short one compared to the first round, there are a couple of teams that might be interested in LSU's Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger's career at LSU ended with an ACL injury in the regular season's final game, preventing him from playing in the Outback Bowl against Iowa.
THIS JUST IN: LSU QB Zach Mettenberger has torn ACL; will not play in bowl game. (via @caplannfl)— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 4, 2013
He put up great numbers prior to the injury, though, amassing 3,082 yards with 22 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He also completed 64.9 percent of his passes.
The senior has the build to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. He stands 6'5" and weighs 230 pounds, with arm strength reflective of his size. That ACL injury will ultimately be what scares teams from using a late-Round 1 selection on him, though.
Players routinely come back from knee injuries in the NFL, but drafting a college player fresh of an injury is still a risk. Plus, with Mettenberger's draft stock falling a bit as a result, why should teams waste an earlier pick on him when they can potentially grab him later?
The St. Louis Rams (No. 12 in Round 2) and the Arizona Cardinals (No. 20 in Round 2) appear to be the best fits for him. Arizona will give him more time to sit behind Carson Palmer and learn NFL defenses, while St. Louis could give him an opportunity as soon as 2015.
Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Teams looking for an explosive receiver late in Round 2 will have the option of drafting Fresno State wideout Davante Adams. His season was phenomenal.
Adams tallied 131 receptions for 1,718 yards and 24 touchdowns. Sure, quarterback Derek Carr's ridiculous 5,000-yard/50-touchdown campaign sweetened Adams' numbers just a bit, but that doesn't mean the sophomore deep threat didn't earn his keep.
On all accounts, his only two seasons at Fresno State were unbelievable. USA Today broke down just a few of his accomplishments:
After sitting out his first year as a redshirt, Adams rewrote the Fresno State record book over the last two seasons. He caught 233 passes for 3,031 yards and 38 touchdowns and leaves Fresno State with 10 school records.
NFL teams might be hesitant to go after Adams early because of Carr's contributions to his numbers, and also because of Fresno State's less-than-stellar reputation when compared to top programs.
Look for Adams to go late in Round 2 as a result. Teams like the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers could use another wideout, and Adams has the potential to step in right away and make plays.