2011 NFL Draft: Colin Kaepernick Leads Ten Under The Radar Players To Watch For
The great teams in the NFL not only do a good job drafting in the early rounds, but also find those gems on day two of the draft.
We all know about the Cam Newtons, the AJ Greens, and the Patrick Petersons. But this draft is also full of talented players in the later rounds.
Here are ten under the radar players that can make an instant impact in the NFL.
1. Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick is still a project as a pocket passer, but he has athletic tools which only Cam Newton can match.
At 6'6", 225 pounds, yet still able to run a 4.5 forty, Kaepernick is that rare athlete at the QB position.
His mechanics still need work, and he needs to prove he can master a Pro-Style offense. But the ability is there.
In his four years as a starter, Kaepernick has raised his completion percentage every year, from 54 percent his freshman year to 65 percent this past year. He also eclipsed the 3000 yard passing mark his senior season for the first time in his career.
He has improved every year as a starter, and while there is still work to do, he could turn into a starting QB a couple of years down the road.
2. Indiana WR Tandon Doss
According to ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay, Doss is ranked as the number four WR prospect, so it's not as though he is not highly regarded.
But Doss has played mostly in obscurity for perennial Big Ten last place finishers IU.
However, his great route running, return abilities, and deceptive speed have him rising up many scout's draft boards.
He needs to show more consistency (he had one game with over 200 receiving yards his senior season, but two games with only one reception), but he looks the part of an NFL receiver.
Expect him to go in the second or third round.
3. West Virginia RB Noel Devine
Devine was a heavily recruited player out of high school, and did not disappoint at West Virginia, finishing fourth in school history in all-purpose yards.
He has the blazing speed typical of smaller backs, but his small frame (5'8", 180 lbs.) also has scouts worried about his durability.
While not a top-end RB prospect, he is probably the fastest player at his position.
As Al Davis famously said, "Speed kills." With Devine's speed, he will be able to make an impact in the NFL as a middle round draft pick.
4. San Diego State WR Vincent Brown
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Until this past season, San Diego State had not won a bowl game in 37 seasons. Vincent Brown was a big reason for the turnaround.
This past season, he amassed over 1300 receiving yards along with ten touchdowns.
Although only 6'1", Brown is great at making plays in traffic and has great hands.
His speed, however, is an area of concern, and is the reason he is not included in many analysts top WR lists.
But Brown is a one of those football players that just gets it. His hard work ethic should enable him to earn playing time quickly.
5. Pittsburgh DE Greg Romeus
Romeus only played two games in the 2010 season due to an ACL injury, so he must first prove he is healthy at the combine.
If he works out well, he could be a steal in the middle rounds. At only 270 pounds, Romeus is undersized, but the former co-defensive POY in the Big East will make noise in the NFL.
Romeus has great strength for a player his size, and is already an established pass rusher.
If he fully recovers from injury, he could be a fourth/fifth round selection with second round talent.
6. Texas DE Sam Acho
Acho is a smart, hard-working player who makes up for his lack of size and explosiveness with great instincts.
At only 257 pounds, it's unsure whether he will play DE at the next level or if he will have to make the switch to a hybrid OLB.
He's the type of player GM's love to draft, because of his work ethic and intelligence. Last season, he became the second Longhorn in school history to win the William V. Campbell trophy, given to the nation's top football student-athlete.
Acho is not the most physically talented player, but is a good kid who will likely be a key contributer in the NFL.
7. Boston College LB Mark Herzlich
Herzlich lost an entire season of football while fighting a rare form of bone cancer, but came back in 2010, putting together a great season.
Herzlich is a very balanced player who is good in pass coverage, a rarity for college linebackers. Over his last two playing seasons, he has ten interceptions.
His instincts and intelligence are also top notch. However, he misses some tackles in space, and obviously his durability is a concern.
If he does well in the combine, he could be a third round pick.
8. Oregon LB Casey Matthews
Casey is probably most famous for being the younger brother of Packers LB and sack specialist Clay Matthews, but he is a very good football player in his own right.
Matthews is similar to Herzlich in that he is an intelligent player who is very gifted in pass coverage. He is great at diagnosing plays and adjusting the coverage.
His size and strength are question marks however. He is rather small at only 240 pounds, and he can be pushed around and has trouble getting off blocks.
He could go anywhere from the third to fifth round, depending on how he performs at the combine.
9. Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling
Dowling is a first round talent with his 6'2" frame, but injuries forced him to play in only five games this past season.
He has the speed to run downfield with faster receivers, and his height and frame make him perfect for bump and run coverage. He is also a very instinctive player who is not afraid to jump routes.
His technique could be improved, but coaching at the next level should easily fix that. He would be a steal in the middle rounds.
10. Auburn OT Lee Ziemba
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Ziemba was old reliable on the Tigers offensive line, making 38 straight starts dating back to the 2007 season.
At 6'8" and 320 pounds, he also has the perfect body for an NFL left tackle. He is a gifted run blocker that helped the Tigers finish with the fifth best rushing attack in college this past season.
His technique could improve, but Ziemba has as much upside as any player in the draft.
Expect him to be a second or third round draft choice.