Day 3 of the NFL draft can be just as important as Days 1 and 2, and there are multiple teams that successfully scouted those players available in latter rounds and made great selections this year.
Most teams go into training camp expecting players from said latter rounds to play reserve roles. Oftentimes, these under-the-radar players end up making a difference on special teams or as injury replacements.
The following guys are a bit different. They won't be difference-makers because of injury or relegation to the special teams unit. These three guys have the potential to actually make a name for themselves during their rookie seasons.
Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Chicago Bears - 4th Round
Matt Forte is firmly entrenched as the Chicago Bears' feature back and go-to player on offense, but Chicago made a great pick in Round 4. Arizona product Ka'Deem Carey is a tough runner who knows how to pick up yardage.
He has the potential to become a feature back because of his ability to hit holes hard and pick up yards. He keeps his feet moving after first contact and doesn't back down from contact with bigger defenders. He's a bit small (5'10", 207 lbs), and that likely contributed to his fall out of Day 2.
The Bears got themselves a great back to play behind Forte. The incumbent is a force in both the passing game and the running game, but he gets a ton of touches. The Bears haven't had the luxury in recent years of having another quality back behind him. With Carey in the fold, Forte can get touches and rest—two things that are essential in keeping the best backs in the game at the top.
This is a great move for both the short and long term. In the short term, Carey serves as a super-reserve who can still get 15 touches per game. In the long term, Carey is potentially trade bait or the team's future starter if Forte regresses faster than expected.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers - 4th Round
Wide receiver coach Richard Mann already knows how Bryant will be used in the offense, via Steelers.com:
He is a big receiver that we were kind of hunting. We needed a guy different from what we have. We are delighted to get him. We think he has great length. He will be a great weapon in the red zone for us. One of the things he does very well is track the football.
Roethlisberger is a confident quarterback who isn't afraid of rifling the ball through a small window, and Bryant will certainly see plenty of red-zone targets as a result. Given his height, look for him to be the beneficiary of end-zone fades as well.
It was surprising to see a receiver of Bryant's caliber fall so far, and the Steelers jumped at the chance when he was still on the board. It's hard to predict rookie numbers, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he racked up eight touchdowns during his rookie campaign.
Pierre Desir, CB, Cleveland Browns - 4th Round
Chris Burke of SI.com was just as shocked as most people when he saw that cornerback Pierre Desir wasn't taken during Day 1 or 2:
Without question, one of the most surprising omissions from Rounds 1-3. Desir’s small-school pedigree may have hurt his cause, and he does not have blazing speed — he timed in the 4.6 range for the 40. He’s long and athletic at 6-1 and 198 pounds, right in the wheelhouse that NFL teams covet. The coverage skills are there to make him a solid pro.
Desir was the second defensive back taken by the Cleveland Browns. The team took Justin Gilbert at No. 8 overall to play next to Joe Haden, and that duo will be a lockdown tandem in the NFL in future seasons. Desir is no slouch, however, and he could easily become a part of the next great trio of corners in Cleveland.
Buster Skrine and Leon McFadden will likely see time ahead of Desir at first given his rookie status, but expect him to jump them on the depth chart quickly. Desir possesses natural ability and the size teams like to see from defensive backs.
His coverage skills are great, and even though he's not as talented as Gilbert, the two are both very strong defenders. Cleveland did a lot of good things in the draft, and this selection was one of them.