NFL Draft Day 2 Picks Who Will Become Stars by Season's End

Marcus Mosher@@Marcus_MosherFeatured Columnist IMay 1, 2019

NFL Draft Day 2 Picks Who Will Become Stars by Season's End

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    In every draft, there are a handful of players selected outside the first round who become NFL stars. The 2019 iteration will be no different, as there are several prospects who landed on teams that could maximize their talents. 

    We've taken a look at eight Day 2 picks who have a chance to become stars in their rookie year.


WR Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs were in a tough position during the draft as star receiver Tyreek Hill had his criminal case reopened following the release of a disturbing audio recording of him and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, discussing their son's broken arm.

    Considering the uncertainty of Hill's status for the 2019 season and beyond, the Chiefs took a possible replacement with their first selection. Kansas City traded up from the bottom of the second round to select wide receiver Mecole Hardman from Georgia.

    Hardman wasn't overly productive with the Bulldogs, catching just 60 career passes for 961 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, he has elite speed (4.33-second 40-yard dash) and is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He can also help on special teams, as he averaged 20.1 yards per punt return in 2018.

    Playing with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Hardman is a perfect fit in the Chiefs offense. He won't be asked to do everything at receiver. Instead, he'll make splash plays down the field and keep safeties away from the line of scrimmage. If Hill doesn't play in 2019, expect Hardman to produce at a high level right away.

RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

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    After trading Jordan Howard to the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, the Chicago Bears were looking for an every-down back to pair with Tarik Cohen. The team signed veteran Mike Davis from Seattle as a place holder until the draft, knowing he could be supplanted in a matter of weeks.

    That is precisely what happened, as they traded up in the third round to select running back David Montgomery from Iowa State. Montgomery was highly productive for the Cyclones, rushing for 2,925 yards in 28 career starts (37 total games).

    Montgomery's a perfect pick because of his toughness and ability to run through contact. According to Pro Football Focus, he's the only player since 2014 to break at least 100 tackles in a single season, and he's done it in each of the last two years.

    In head coach Matt Nagy's offense, Montgomery should see a lot of "light" boxes, as the Bears use a lot of three- and four-wide receiver sets. Most of the time, he will be running against five- and six-man boxes  and could put up monster numbers as a rookie. He could be the most productive back in the class.

RB Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Another running back who seems destined for stardom is the Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders. He had the tough task of replacing Saquon Barkley at Penn State, but the Nittany Lions didn't suffer much of a setback in 2018. He rushed for 1,274 yards and added another 139 in the receiving game.

    Outside of fumbles, there aren't many flaws in Sanders' game. He projects as a high-end NFL starter who can carry the ball 25 times or more. 

    Even though the team added Howard this offseason, the Eagles spent the No. 53 pick on Sanders to be their lead back. Howard doesn't do much as a receiver and is primarly just an inside runner. Sanders has the ability to do that and so much more. He is easily the most explosive at his position on the Eagles and can play on all three downs.

    Given that he landed on one of the league's best offenses, it wouldn't be a shock to see him tally well over 1,000 yards as a rookie.

WR Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    No team has a better track record of drafting receivers than the Pittsburgh Steelers. And it appears they may have struck gold once again after they took Diontae Johnson in the third round.

    When the Steelers traded Antonio Brown in March, they lacked a receiver who could create quick separation with route running. However, they filled that need with Johnson. He was highly productive at Toledo, totaling 2,039 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns over the last two seasons. He is also dynamic in the return game, averaging 20.2 yards per punt return in his career.

    The 5'10", 183-pound Johnson isn't overly big or athletic, but he was one of the draft's best route-runners. With his ability to play both on the outside and in the slot, Johnson could quickly rise up the depth chart. Don't be surprised if he's the Steelers' No. 2 receiver in 2019 and becomes another great wideout drafted by general manager Kevin Colbert.      

WR Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    It was somewhat surprising to see Ohio State's Parris Campbell selected at No. 59 over the likes of D.K. Metcalf (No. 64), Miles Boykin (No. 93), etc. However, Campbell couldn't have landed in a better offense for his skill set.

    He broke out in 2018, catching 90 passes for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. His game is predicated on speed and yards after the catch. However, one of the complaints about Campbell's game was that he was primarily an underneath receiver who benefited from others who could stretch the defense. With the Indianapolis Colts, Campbell will have that again in T.Y. Hilton.

    Andrew Luck's arm strength isn't as good as it once was, but he is still as accurate as they come. Putting Campbell on this offense to work the underneath routes could be just what the Colts need. His ability to make plays after the catch in the short to intermediate portion of the field makes him a perfect fit with Luck and Hilton.

    Expect him to quickly become the team's No. 2 receiver as a dynamic weapon.

TE Jace Sternberger, Green Bay Packers

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    Sean Rayford/Associated Press

    The draft was loaded with top-tier tight end talent. It wouldn't be surprising if T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant become elite players in just a few years. But part of what made this class so much fun is the position's depth. Several players can contribute right away, such as Dawson Knox, Drew Sample and Foster Moreau. 

    However, there is one player who couldn't have landed on a more beneficial team for his skill set: Jace Sternberger of the Green Bay Packers.

    The No. 75 pick is an ideal fit with Aaron Rodgers, as he does most of his work down the middle of the seam. At Texas A&M, he averaged an incredible 17.3 yards per reception and scored 10 touchdowns during his final collegiate season. As the Packers will likely become more of a vertical offense in 2019, Sternberger could be just the tight end the team needs to help Rodgers.

    Don't be surprised if he leads all rookie tight ends in receptions and yards in 2019.

DE Chase Winovich, New England Patriots

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Typically, it takes a few years for defensive players to become big names in the NFL. However, if a prospect ends up in the right defense on a contending team, he can quickly gain recognition. Look no further than Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts, as he became one of the league's top linebackers as a rookie in 2018.

    New England Patriots defensive end/linebacker Chase Winovich can do the same this season. Drafted in the third round, Winovich fell to pick No. 77 due to lack of size and length. At 6'3", 256 pounds, he's severely undersized as an edge-rusher. Throw in his 32¾-inch arms, and it's easy to see why many teams likely had him lower on their draft boards.

    However, all Winovich has done is produced on a big stage. In his final two seasons at Michigan, he tallied 34.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks. In Bill Belichick's defense, expect him to play all over the field and become a better, more athletic version of Rob Ninkovich.

    Don't be surprised when Winovich makes a few big plays during another Patriots playoff run.

TE Kahale Warring, Houston Texans

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Another tight end who could surprise right away is Houston Texans third-round pick Kahale Warring.

    Before college, Warring had never played a down of organized football. Instead, he was a standout water polo goalie. However, Warring eventually made his way onto the football field at San Diego State, where he caught just 51 career passes for 637 yards and eight touchdowns.

    Warring's incredible athleticism got him drafted high, as he ran a 4.67-second 40-yard dash at 252 pounds. While he'll need a ton of seasoning, playing in an offense with quarterback Deshaun Watson and receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V should help ease the transition.

    Considering his talent and athleticism, he could rise up the depth chart and become Watson's preferred option in the middle of the field. Warring has the chance to be a Jimmy Graham-type of player, and it won't be shocking to see him develop into that soon.