NFL Draft 2011: 10 Potential Late Round Steals
Has anyone not heard the story of Tom Brady by now?
How the Patriots got him in like the millionth round?
I mean, if we compared where the Colts drafted Peyton to where the Pats drafted Brady, I'd say the Pats got the steal.
But enough on that old story.
There were several great examples of late rounders making significant impacts in the 2010 season, such as Mike Williams, Cody Grimm, David Gettis, Aaron Hernandez and Jacoby Ford.
So we all know that there is a clear art to finding players in the later rounds that will make an immediate impact.
It's more hit than miss, but that doesn't stop anyone does it?
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
Let me be clear on this: I don't think that Taylor will make it as a QB on the next level.
He'll probably end up something similar to Pat White.
While I think he may have the tools, and he did run a pro-style offense at Tech, I don't see him being able to handle a complex NFL offense.
But what I can see him doing...well, let me just say two words:
Taylor is extremely athletic, and is sure to become a playmaker on the field, no matter where some team puts him.
He may end up being a QB, and I could be wrong.
But either way, I can see him making an impact in year one, and being a steal in the middle rounds.
Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
Several Big Ten pundits will love my selection here.
Actually, I've heard Stanzi's name thrown around, not by NFL experts, but by several readers here on B/R.
NFL teams have to like what they see in Stanzi.
He's a big kid with a good arm who played in a pro-style offense while in school.
He reminds me a lot of Brady in that he is really being overlooked, but clearly has what it takes to be an NFL QB.
So could he slip to round six, a la Brady?
Absolutely, but many teams may miss out on this possible gem.
Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky
In a deep class at running back, players like Locke will be easily overlooked.
Hopefully some team will have the smarts to take him.
Locke did a lot for Kentucky, despite not having much help at times.
The little dynamo could easily be a Darren Sproles-esque back, although he doesn't have quite the speed Sproles does.
But he's a great receiver, a tough runner and should find a home somewhere, or heck, maybe a starting gig somewhere.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
Remember a couple of seasons ago, when Devine was in the Heisman talk?
Well, that talk dried up quickly as West Virginia's team has been in decline recently.
I don't know if that should cause Devine to fall between the cracks as it were, as many considered him better than Steve Slaton, who saw some sustained action in 2009 with Houston.
The speed is still there, he's a great receiver out of the backfield and isn't afraid to pound the rock.
He may be going in the later rounds, but he could end up being one of the better running backs of the class.
If I owned an NFL team, I'd be willing to take the risk.
Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
If you asked me to place a bet on which of these 10 would have the best NFL career, it'd be Pettis.
He's not getting the attention that his teammate, receiver Titus Young, is getting. I'm wondering why.
Pettis reminds me a lot of Austin Collie. He's not the fastest guy on the field, and he may not look pretty most of the time, but aside from catching, he can do one thing really well: scoring.
That should interest some team in round four or five.
Jeremy Kurley, WR, TCU
The opposite of Pettis, who is a big and physical possession guy, Kurley is a playmaker.
He wasn't the focal point of the Frogs' offense, but when they needed a big play, they only looked one place: Kurley.
Kurley typifies what a slot receiver can be: quick, a good route runner and dangerous after the catch.
Not to mention the fact that he can return kicks, kind of like what Jacoby Ford could do coming into the draft last year.
Which means that the Raiders will draft him.
Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona
Elmore is one of those guys who knows how to do one thing: get to the quarterback.
At 6'5", 260, he may be a bit undersized, but Elmore seemed to have no trouble in the Pac-10 last season, racking up 11 sacks for the Wildcats.
And while his bookend, Brooks Reed, is getting a lot more attention, it was Elmore who made just as many big plays for Arizona last season.
He could be a perfect end for a 4-3 defense, or even possibly make a great 3-4 OLB.
Nate Irving, LB, N.C. State
In one word, the dude is a ballhawk.
And a playmaker.
Okay, so that's two words. Sue me.
Irving did a little bit of everything last season for the Pack, and having seen him a few times when others didn't (hey, I live with a State grad), I saw just how athletic he is.
And he's not getting a whole lot of love in the mocks.
Maybe there's a reason, but I have a feeling you're going to have a hard time keeping a motivated guy like Irving down.
Eric Hagg, CB, Nebraska
No, no. We aren't talking about Prince Amukamara right now.
We are talking about his partner in crime.
You know, it's funny. I started reading up about Hagg, because I was curious.
Surely, the guy across from an NFL first rounder on a top-five college defense would get some attention right?
Not only was Hagg a huge reason for the Blackshirts' success, but he was voted team MVP and made All-Big 12 First Team last season.
Maybe Prince is a bit more polished, but I wouldn't mind taking a gamble on a guy who knows how to play, and his teammates liked him.
Robert Sands, S, West Virginia
I'll admit it, I don't know a ton about Sands.
But I knew that West Virginia's defense was pretty decent this year, and with the list of safeties being somewhat so-so, I decided to look him up.
First thing I noticed?
Now there's a guy who shouldn't have trouble covering a tight end.
I've seen some mocks having him go in the third, and for good reason, as he has a lot of experience to boot (he started as a freshman).
He's also reportedly hard-hitting (good for a safety I suppose...I said to myself tongue in cheek), and can make big plays (five picks in '09).
Still, if I'm drafting a safety, I'd like to take a chance on a physical specimen like Sands.