The 2014 NFL draft hype is centered on the first round and the prospects who are destined to become franchise players. The second round is often overlooked, as many mock drafts don't even make it that far into their predictions. However, teams should be on the lookout for potential starters in this round as well.
In 2013, the Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy went straight from the late second round to an NFL Pro Bowl appearance. In 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted linebacker Lavonte David at 58th overall and were rewarded with 139 total tackles.
The first-round picks are groomed to be future franchise players, but the second round is a breeding ground for talented players who may feel slighted after being passed on by the majority of NFL teams.
Yes, the depth chart comes first, which means some second-round players are at the mercy of those ahead of them. Not everyone will even have the chance to push for a starting job immediately.
Still, a few prospects who are projected for the second round by most experts can play right away in the NFL or will be ready to challenge for starting spots no matter where they go.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young University
Van Noy was impressive at BYU in 2012. He racked up 13 sacks to go with 22 tackles for loss and two defensive touchdowns. He was an absolute menace but has flown under the radar since he played just two games in 2013 due to injury.
He is the rare outside linebacker who would be comfortable in multiple fronts. His pass-rushing ability makes him an obvious choice for a 3-4, but Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com sees potential for him in a 4-3 as well:
Van Noy is an interesting LB prospect. Would play Sam or Will in a 4-3. Always around the football. Had 5 defensive TDs at BYU.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) April 24, 2014
This versatility will allow him to challenge for playing time with multiple teams.
The San Diego Chargers would be a great fit for Van Noy in the second round. They finished 23rd in the league with just 35 sacks in 2013. He would have ample opportunity to push the aging Dwight Freeney or the young Melvin Ingram for playing time and would almost certainly find himself in the rotation due to his size (6'3", 243 lbs) and athleticism.
Keith McGill, CB, Utah
McGill's size (6'3", 211 lbs) will allow him to push for a starting role right away. The league has had a chance to see what the Seattle Seahawks did with large corners like Richard Sherman, and many defensive coordinators will be tired of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall winning every jump ball.
Physically, McGill compares very favorably to Sherman.
McGill's experience at safety also gives him a chance to double up on his opportunities in the NFL. As a nickel corner, he would have the ability to play off a receiver or a tight end and help disguise coverage schemes.
There are still questions surrounding him—he tallied just one career interception at Utah—but his athletic ability should allow him to compete for a spot on the field right away. Even if he were to miss out on that, he would be a fearsome presence on special teams.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
Someone needs to go up against all those big cornerback prospects like McGill. Moncrief is a workout warrior with solid statistics to back up his play.
He measures in at 6'3", 226 pounds and was a monster at the NFL combine this year.
Donte Moncrief: Fastest 40 (4.40), longest broad jump (132) and tied for highest vertical (39.5) of any #SEC player at this years combine.— The SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo) February 26, 2014
Shane Hallam of DraftTV.com thinks Moncrief will be drafted in the second round but shouldn't have to wait that long:
Players who won’t go in the 1st but should: ASJ, Donte Moncrief, Kyle Van Noy, Scott Crichton. #AgainstConsensus— Shane P. Hallam (@ShanePHallam) May 3, 2014
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. can't even begin to list the number of teams that Moncrief would help:
Too many options to fit here. His 4.40 40 + 39 vert at 6-2, 220+ = impressive. @davidrwarner Most likely to pick up Donte Moncrief?— Mel Kiper Jr. (@MelKiperESPN) April 3, 2014
He also has the SEC pedigree to back up his solid receiving numbers out of college. He finished with 152 receptions for 2,371 yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons at Ole Miss. His 15.9 yards per reception demonstrated big-play capability.
Which of these three players is most likely to start as a rookie?
Moncrief is going to walk into an NFL locker room and immediately become one of the biggest skill players on the team. He compares favorably to Alshon Jeffery of the Chicago Bears, another large wide receiver prospect who didn't take long to establish himself in the league. Look for Moncrief to be utilized as a red-zone threat on the way to becoming a possible No. 2 receiver right away in the NFL.