With this year's draft being one of the deepest in recent memory, there should be little trouble finding players who can make an instant contributions to NFL teams. This also shines quite a bit of light onto the higher-caliber players, leaving a handful of talented, but underrated prospects.
Today we're going to look at which of these underrated players would be perfect fits for the Packers.
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
It may not be fair to call Easley an "underrated" player, but it sure feels like he isn't talked about as much as he should be. This is likely due to the fact that he tore an ACL for the second time this past season.
In fact, it's Easley's knees that NFL teams will be most concerned about when deciding whether they should draft him or not. While Easley worked out for a number of teams recently, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports let us know what teams would be looking for:
Dominique Easley's workout today is crucial to his draft projection. NFL Scouts want to see if he can still plant, redirect and be explosive— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 17, 2014
If that all checks out, Easley has the talent to become one of the best players from this year's draft. Bleacher Report's Michael Felder pointed out just how good Easley was before he got injured:
Dominique Easley is one I'm hoping gets picked as early as possible. Pre-injury in 2013 kid was playing some of the best ball in the nation.— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) April 17, 2014
The reason that Easley is such a good fit for the Packers is because they don't currently have an athletic, pass-rushing defensive tackle on the roster. With B.J. Raji signed for only one year this offseason, the Packers also have the chance to be patient, to bring in a player like Easley and give him some time to fully heal.
As long as Easley can stay healthy, he could have a long career in Green Bay.
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
With the loss of wide receiver James Jones this offseason, the Packers could look for some help at that position in the draft. It's unlikely they'll spend a first-round pick on a receiver, but we could see them add one earlier than many fans think.
At only 6'0" and 175 pounds, Richardson certainly isn't the bulkiest of wide receivers. However, there is no denying his elite speed or productivity in his final year at Colorado. Richardson finished his junior year with a school-record 83 receptions and 1,343 yards. He also added 10 touchdowns just for good measure.
What ultimately makes Richardson such a perfect fit for the Packers is his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah had this to say about Richardson in the open field:
Paul Richardson destroys pursuit angles when he gets in the open field. He has an extra gear.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 10, 2014
That type of speed and ability is always a dangerous combination. Are there concerns about his size and ability to hold up in the NFL? Sure, but all the positives of his game easily outweigh any concerns.
By adding Richardson, the Packers would be getting an extremely explosive player who would make their offense even more dangerous than it already is.
Telvin Smith, OLB/S, Florida State
Not totally sure how and where Telvin Smith fits in the NFL... but damn, he's fun to watch.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) April 14, 2014
At only 6'3" and 218 pounds, Smith doesn't have the size of a traditional linebacker. This has caused him to fall into that ever-dangerous area of being labeled a "tweener." However, his size shouldn't really be a concern, and it could actually be considered a strength.
Just look at what former NFL player and Bleacher Report writer Ryan Riddle had to say about Smith's size:
At 218 pounds LB Telvin Smith from Florida State plays bigger than Chris Borland who is nearly 250.— Ryan Riddle (@Ryan_Riddle) March 13, 2014
What ultimately makes Smith such a perfect fit for the Packers is that he could literally start at three different defensive positions. Not only could he play outside linebacker, but there's a definite possibility that he could switch positions to either safety or inside linebacker due to his instincts and athleticism.
Those three positions are all positions of need for the Packers. Now Smith can't play all three at once, but that type of versatility could be extremely handy for a team in desperate need of playmakers.
While Smith might not have a perfect fit for a position, he's certainly a perfect fit in Green Bay where he'd add an extra boost to the defense.