NFL Draft 2014: Late-Round Prospects Who Will Become Stars

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NFL Draft 2014: Late-Round Prospects Who Will Become Stars
GM Andrews/Associated Press

The 2014 NFL draft features some up-and-coming stars who'll still be on the board on Day 3 in May. 

NFL teams that consistently find starters in the latter rounds of the draft are usually playing for the championship in January.

While most casual fans only concern themselves with prospects projected to be selected in the first few rounds, the final four rounds offer the best chance for teams to build sustainable depth and land unheralded stars. 

Here's a look at a few who will still be on the board when Round 4 begins.

 

Dri Archer, RB, Kent State

Any time a player comes close to breaking the all-time combine record in the 40-yard dash, it's a big deal. Speed is something that can't be coached—you either have it or you don't—and it's a valuable commodity in the NFL.

Dri Archer has it, and he proved it by running a 4.26-second 40 at the combine, proving what we could all see on tape: He's a freak. 

He also had Chris Johnson nervously watching the results from home:

Speed isn't the only thing Archer brings to the table, either. He rushed for 2,342 yards and 24 touchdowns and caught 99 passes for 1,194 yards and 12 touchdowns in four years at Kent State. He also returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in his last two seasons.

G.M. Andrews/Associated Press

He's a slightly bigger, much faster version of Kansas City Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster, and he'll likely be utilized in similar fashion in the NFL—as a slot receiver and running back. 

It will take a creative offensive mind to get the most out of this young man, but Archer has the chance to make a huge impact in the NFL, given the right circumstances. 

 

Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon

Colt Lyerla would have likely been a first-round draft pick this year if not for a glaring red flag. As noted by Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports, his dismissal at Oregon stemmed from a cocaine-related arrest, of which Lyerla pled guilty.

It's not something the tight end wants to discuss, either.

"I'd rather not discuss that right now, but just everything from the time that those things that happened until now has been a complete change and I'm happy about it," he said, via Edholm. "I'm happy that I was able to get out of that situation." 

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Talent isn't an issue. 

He caught just seven passes in 2012, but five went for touchdowns. Then, he blossomed in 2012, catching 25 passes for 392 yards and six touchdowns, showing excellent speed, athleticism and the ability to block effectively on running plays, which is a big deal at the next level. 

Lyerla has the potential to become one of the league's premier players at his position, which is why Ryan Lownes of DraftBreakdown doesn't see him falling much further than Round 4:

Any time teams draft a player with character concerns—especially in an extreme case like this—there's a big risk involved. However, the team that risks drafting Lyerla will not be disappointed if his past problems are truly behind him. 

 

Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama

Heading into the 2013 college football season, Adrian Hubbard was being touted as a potential first-round pick after his breakout seven-sack sophomore season. After a disappointing junior campaign in which he only logged three sacks and saw all his numbers drop, Hubbard's stock took a dive. 

This negative trend only got worse for the linebacker after he struggled to stand out during practices at the 2014 Senior Bowl. As relayed by Bucky Brooks of NFL.com, "An AFC South scout called Hubbard a 'jack of all trades, but a master of none.'"

There was a good reason for the hype in the first place, though. He's a terrific athlete for his size (6'6" and 257 lbs), as pointed out by Dion Caputi of the National Football Post:

Hubbard was able to show off his athleticism at the combine, where he ran the 40 in 4.69 seconds and wowed scouts by leaping 38.5 inches in the vertical. 

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

One potential fit in the NFL could be with the Baltimore Ravens; they met with Hubbard at the combine, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. He projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker, which he's familiar with from his time at Alabama. 

Wherever he lands, Hubbard will soon become a regular part of the team's rotation on defense, and he has the potential to become a star if he gets the right opportunity. 

 

All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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