The 2011 NFL Draft has come and gone, and now the fun really begins.
The reason why I say this is, simply, because we get to see not only the top tier prospects perform at the pro level, but more importantly, we get to see some of those other players who were labeled underrated try and rise above and claim there spot.
I thought I would take a very quick look at some of the more underrated player who came out of the draft, so let's dive right in.
Initially, you might not favor Murray to be an underrated running back in this year’s draft, but the fact of the matter is his history of bumps and bruises are enough to have him fall under that stigma.
Pro teams are often reluctant in drafting players with a mounted injury history, and rightfully so. But it also prevents them from attaining that “diamond in the rough” they frequently seek.
Murray is a three-tier back who should instantly make an impact in the pro stage.
If there is any guy in this draft who will supersede his initial draft rank, it’s gotta be Ricky Stanzi.
Stanzi has more than enough experience with all of the little things that I believe afford a college quarterback the ability to eventually excel in the pros.
Game management, forward progress in drives, the ability to manipulate corners and safeties, great football smarts and wonderful mobility are just a few of his consistent attributes.
Mark my word, Stanzi will be one of the most underrated QBs of this draft in a couple of years.
There is a growing need for tight ends in the pros who are bona-certified pass catchers, and Housler fits that bill to a “T.”
Housler is not the fastest on the field and is consistently knocked for his inability as a blocking tight end, but the days of drafting a dual threat TE like that are coming to a close.
Housler couldn’t have been in a better draft year than right now and is sure to excel at the net level.
Some will say he has enough speed and body control to be one of the elite out of the WR class of the 2011 NFL draft.
Others will say that he lacks development in his route running and blocking ability, which is a bit more accurate. Due to this aforementioned, and his 2010 suspension, his stock fell but he still remains an underrated WR for sure.
Caleb is best known for his role in the 45-0 romp of Tulsa; a game in which Oklahoma needed someone to step up and be that “second man.”
Caleb became that man, catching five passes for 104 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown catch that required two stellar stiff-arms of Tulsa DB Kenny D. Sims.
Caleb is a WR that is viewed as undersized, but also viewed as someone who is underutilized which is more accurate.
He has sure hands, nice down speed and great off-the-line acceleration that could be developed into a huge pro threat.
Devine is one of the more underrated, undersized backs in the game right now. His is elusive, crafty and an excellent return man who should bring immediate value at the pro level.
That size factor I mentioned has prevented him from being a top tier pick in the draft, but by now, many people understand it’s not where you get taken in the draft, but rather, what you bring to the team who drafted you.
The game is changing at the pro level; let’s admit it.
One of those changes has been the utilization of the slot position. We first saw a glimpse of its value in Mike Martz’s offensive attack when he was in St. Louis and since then, the slot receiver has gained extreme notoriety in its value.
Pettis is not going to be the fastest guy on the field, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the pros.
What does hold meaning is his uncanny ability to drop over the middle for the more complex catches in a drive, his sure handedness and immediate value as a plug and play guy.
At 6’8”, 325 pounds, Reid is a force to be reckoned with, and his above-average athleticism and health is a great developmental facet.
Reid is the type of player who can be tailored for a few years and then unleashed as a full-time starter with his ability to be a three-down lineman.
His only knock is his supposed lack of a mean streak, but the NFL should fix that right up.
It’s amazing that this guy was so low in the line backer rankings in lieu of his raw talent and incredible ability, but such is the way of the draft.
Thomas has great closing speed, is a sure handed tackler and he can cover the field laterally and vertically with little issue.
I am pretty sure that Thomas will wind up making a name for himself very early in his pro career given what he brings to the table.
Nevis is probably one of the more interesting characters of this bunch.
Talent wise, he has everything as team looks for: great initial speed off the line, great defender, quality three-technique prospect and an excellent pass rusher.
But his lack of starts were a huge concern and some felt he only really stepped up when he absolutely had too.
Only time will tell, but if Nevis can realize just how good he is then his career in the pros will be very memorable.
Despite being a rare true freshman starter, the Trojans found great faith in O’Dowd’s raw ability and with good reason.
He was able to handle just about any assignment given, was a sure handed blocker and knew his way around the trenches.
His lack of high draft status was largely due to his health and he has undergone surgeries to his knee and shoulder thus far, but his true ability more than makes up for the spooky stuff associated with him.
White looked like a running back who was as experienced as they come last year, despite it being his red-shirt senior season, and only his second year in the backfield.
After posting 399 rushing yards on 95 carries in eight starts in 2007, White bounced around between receiver, running back and cornerback as a sophomore and a junior before returning to the backfield in 2010.
White is a quality lateral runner who runs low to the ground and is hard to bring down. But it is his patience that I believe will wind up working for him despite many believing he lacks true elite size.
TCU fans will tell you that this guy is by far one of the most underrated wide receivers in the draft, and with good reason.
Kerley is not only a fluid receiver who can easily move in an out of the various coverage packages he faced, but he is also a true “ace” return man which adds to his value as a draft prospect.
His knock in the draft was his smallish size and small hands—when compared to other, more sizable receivers.
Kind of reminds me of a younger Torry Holt in the making.
I don’t know what else more I can say about this guy, but he is by far one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the draft—in my opinion, anyway.
Dalton can manage the game by moving the sticks and utilizing the short passing game while paralyzing the opposition with his ability to go deep at the drop of a hat.
In addition to all of this his huge frame curiously has enough size to afford him a great view point for the pass, and enough speed and movement to be a threat outside the pocket.
At 6'4", 285 pounds, McPhee has a ton of size and speed that every team is in need of.
A quality prospect in a 4-3 or a 3-4, McPhee is a tough, strong player who plays with a mean streak in both the run game and the pass game.
McPhee is the type of utility player who is an every down back that will make a name for himself because of his raw talent, and shear underrated ability in the trenches.
Looking for intangibles such as leadership, accountability, maturity and toughness? Well, look no further than Curtis Marsh.
The 6'2", 240 lb linebacker played for three and a half years and was the leading Pac-10 in tackler twice.
He’s a superb athlete who as multi-faceted as they come at OLB, including a quality special-teams player but his “lack of athleticism made a few over look him.
A costly mistake for those who passed on him.
Despite his inexperience, Curtis Marsh was still a second-team All-WAC in 2010 and was invited to the Senior Bowl as one of the top prospects at his position. At 6'1", 195 pounds, Marsh is a bit undersized, but has nothing but upside with his quickness and raw coverage skills.
He’s a bit unrefined, but sometimes that works well for the drafting team.
Jarrett was a first-team All-MAC—four year starter—for the Temple Owls. But aside from that accolade, he was one of the more brutalizing hitters in the game and was a constant presence on the field in any given play.
He has all the aggressiveness, skill sets and qualities teams look for in a safety, and he is a highly experienced special teams player to boot.
Havili has great size and speed combination for any fullback in the league, but many feel that’s precisely where he lacks even at 6’1” 228 pounds.
But despite what the analysts say, Havili is a back that can plunge the hole and maintain his blocks at the point of impact which comes in real handy in the pros.
At first glance, many will say there isn’t much value in a guy who has played the same position his entire career at draft time.
They are usually the ones who pass up on the diamonds in the rough, like Hicks.
Hicks has great consistency, good hands and feet movement, and knows his position well which holds more value than a hot name with a nice draft tag early.
Not the guy you’ll hear in the same conversation as Lance Kendricks or Kyle Rudolph, but has just as much size, speed and talent as the above mentioned.
Anderson has been considered one of the best player—collegiality—at his position and with good reason.
A solid pass catcher, fundamental blocker and great football smarts.
How’s this for a glancing eye look: A three-time first-team All-Big 12 pick by the AP and the conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior by the Dallas Morning News after leading the Big 12 with 18 tackles for loss and pacing the Sooners with 8.5 sacks.
Beal is what is considered a “true assignment player” which bodes extremely well in the pros.
Despite Beal not being the guy who will “wow” you in the early goings, he is a guy who is a strong tackler, an above average cover man and a player who should turn quite a bit of heads as a pro.
Temple had quite a few players who were highly considered “pro ready,” but one of those players who was sort of overlooked was OLB AdriAN Robinson.
A backer who plays with a high motor, Robinson was a shear playmaker who always found himself near or around the ball in any given game—just ask any Owls’ fan.
The knock on Robinson is that he can’t seem to deal with anything head on (blockers, rushers, runners etc…) but in the same vein, pundits are saying he is a true “rush” style backer.
Aside from playing on an incredibly good West Virginia team, Sands was one of the more recognizable leaders on this team and he comes full with a set of skills that are pro ready.
He’s an aggressive free safety who, despite his tall and lanky frame, can defend against the run or pass scheme in ways that many overlooked in their analysis.
His only knock is the fact that he is too aggressive. But that aspect should itself to be a blessing in the pros, not a hindrance.
How about this: Cobb has been listed as an “All-SEC all purpose performer," and has experience as a quarterback.
Brad Smith anyone?
Cobb is the type of receiver that can come into the pros and serve as a multi-facet type of player, which makes him a viable offensive threat.
He should have an interesting career in the pros.