All eyes will be focused on top selections such as Jadeveon Clowney, Blake Bortles and Sammy Watkins as they attempt to develop into superstars at the NFL level; there will inevitably be mid- to late-round picks from the 2014 NFL draft who will strike it big as well.
Every player picked in the third round or later generally has some type of shortcoming that resulted in his drop. There are times when such issues prevent these players from becoming great NFL players, but some late picks are able to overcome them and beat the odds.
Here are three unheralded prospects who will significantly outperform their draft positions at the NFL level.
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Washington Redskins (No. 186)
Everything about Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk screams "star," but the 5'9" burner wasn't selected until the Washington Redskins nabbed him at No. 186. Running back isn't a huge position of need for the Skins since Alfred Morris and Roy Helu are already in place, but Seastrunk provided value that simply couldn't be overlooked.
Seastrunk was hugely productive in two seasons at Baylor; he topped 1,000 yards in each campaign and averaged 7.6 yards per carry for the Bears. Seastrunk also impressed at the NFL Scouting Combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and was among the best running backs in terms of vertical jump and broad jump.
As pointed out by Russell Lande of Big Ten Network, Seastrunk is as dynamic as they come:
@Redskins get great value with perhaps the most explosive RB in the draft with L. Seastrunk in the 6th Rd - Legit explosion & Home run speed— Russell Lande (@RUSSLANDE) May 10, 2014
Seastrunk was taken four rounds after the Tennessee Titans made Washington's Bishop Sankey the first running back off the board in the draft, but Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey views Seastrunk as the top back in the class.
Washington gets Lache Seastrunk, who was my No. 1 back…love his running style. Gets me outta my seat all the time.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) May 10, 2014
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III knows Seastrunk well from his time at Baylor, and he made it known to head coach Jay Gruden that he wanted Seastrunk on the team, according to Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post.
"Yeah, (Griffin) was texting during the draft," Gruden said. "I was trying to ignore my phone. He's a big fan of Lache, and they're obviously good friends and he has a lot of good things to say about him. So I know Robert's happy, and we're happy to have Lache."
Immediate playing time won't be easy for Seastrunk to come by, but his speedy, one-cut running style should be a great fit in Washington. His speed will complement RG3 well, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him work his way into the rotation.
If Seastrunk lives up to his full potential, then he most definitely has a chance to be a starter for the Redskins within a couple of years. That's great value for a sixth-round pick.
Scott Crichton, DE, Minnesota Vikings (No. 72)
The Minnesota Vikings came away from the first round of the 2014 NFL draft with an excellent haul in the form of pass-rusher Anthony Barr and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. It can be argued that their best pick came in the third round, though, when they scooped up Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton at least a full round after most anticipated his selection.
Crichton may not be the flashiest pass-rusher out there, but he was productive during his three seasons with the Beavers. Crichton racked up 22.5 sacks, 51 tackles for loss and 10 forced fumbles as Oregon State's go-to defensive end. Despite a lack of explosion, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports loved the pick from Minnesota's perspective.
Crichton is a good, tough player, who isn't a great speed guy but will fight every play for the Vikings. GRADE: B+ http://t.co/KPxAyHqyNs— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) May 10, 2014
The Vikings lost Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen to the Chicago Bears in free agency, and while Crichton won't be able to step in and fully replace him right away, Philadelphia Eagles personnel man Phil Savage views Crichton as an Allen-esque player, per SiriusXM NFL Radio:
Crichton does a little bit of everything at the defensive end position and should be a perfect complement to a pure pass-rusher like Barr. Opposing offenses will likely place much of their blocking emphasis on Barr, and that will inevitably allow Crichton to make an impact.
Since Crichton is already a polished, NFL-ready player, he has an opportunity to earn playing time right off the bat. Based upon the grit and determination that Crichton displayed so often at Oregon State, all signs point toward him succeeding in the NFL.
Cyril Richardson, OG, Buffalo Bills (No. 153)
Late-round offensive line selections don't often inspire celebrations, but it's difficult to ignore the value that the Buffalo Bills got in the fifth round when they snapped up Baylor guard Cyril Richardson. Despite his status as a late-round pick, Richardson should have every opportunity to battle for a starting position along Buffalo's offensive line immediately.
To call Richardson decorated would be an understatement. According to Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News, Richardson twice took home Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year honors:
Cyril Richardson is another big offensive lineman -- 6-foot-5, 329 pounds -- and the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year the past 2 seasons— Jay Skurski (@JaySkurski) May 10, 2014
Which 2014 NFL draft pick do you believe was the biggest steal?
That is no small accomplishment, but it didn't net Richardson a great deal of draft interest for whatever reason. Perhaps there is some concern over Richardson's stamina at 6'5" and 329 pounds, but that didn't seem to be much of an issue for him in Baylor's frenetic offense.
The Bills like to play an uptempo style as well, which is something that Richardson is already accustomed to. Add in a stable of running backs behind him, including C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown, and the potential is through the roof.
Richardson is a massive mauler who should fit in well as part of Buffalo's dangerous rushing attack. Richardson has been successful at every level, and there is no reason to believe that will change in the NFL.
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