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The biggest bargains in the 2008 draft
The most underrated players in the 2008 NFL Draft
When it comes to the NFL Draft, almost any idiot can pick a decent player in the first two rounds. I say "almost" because there have been many examples of picks that were disasters getting off the bus. However, the difference between a pretender for the playoffs and a team that seems to be there every year is ability to find quality players that contribute in the 5th though 7th rounds as well as undrafted rookie free agents. Teams that do that have a great advantage. It is far less expensive to raise your own starters rather than bid against the rest of the league for average free agents.
One team that has used the draft successfully is the Indianapolis Colts. Last year, the Colts started 3 players that were undrafted rookie free agents. All-Pro center Jeff Saturday, starting fullback Ben Utek, and defensive tackle Ed Johnson were all undrafted coming out of school.
It takes a minimum of 3 years to effectively evaluate a draft. So, check back after the 2010 season to see how I did.
Now for my top under-loved quality players.
QB Paul Smith Tulsa - 7th/FA
At 6-1 200 he is not the most imposing guy at the position. He is extremely athletic but has an average arm. He has great accuracy and more leadership qualities than you are looking for. All he does is make play after play.
Honorable mention Dennis Dixon Oregon (injured)
HB Tony Temple - Missouri - 7th/FA
Temple has excellent instincts, hits the hole quickly and can make an unblocked tackler miss. He is not a great athlete, but he is very good at everything. At 213 pounds, he is a tough kid can take a pounding and keep producing.
Honorable mention Cory Boyd from South Carolina, Justin Forsett California
FB Jacob Hester - LSU - 6th/7th
Hester is tough. At 230 lbs, he is quicker than he is fast and will get into a linebacker or blitzer and blow them up. He also is an excellent receiver. In a situation with 2 tight ends at the end of a game, put Hester in a one back set and jam the ball down the D's throat.
Honorable mention Jerome Felton from Furman
WR Kevin Robinson - Utah - FA
Robinson had a great Shrine game. He's not as consistent as you would like, but has shown the ability to catch against pressure coverage, get open and has enough speed to go to the house. Also adds PR capability and had a 70 yard TD punt return in the Shrine game.
WR Marcus Smith - New Mexico - 7th/FA
If you could get Smith to work harder on and off the field, he could be outstanding. He's a classic underachiever that needs a fire under his butt.
Honorable Mention: Patrick Carter - Louisville - 7th/FA - Carter is as green as astroturf but has very good speed and size at 6-3. He was not a starter but has all the tools to be a developmental project.
Honorable Mention: Ernie Wheelwright - Minnesota 7th/FA - Wheel is 6-5 with very good hands and concentration. Not a burner but is very dependable on 3rd and 6. Very strong after the catch and can get away from press coverage at the goal line.
TE Derek Fine - Kansas - FA
Fine is another player good at everything but not great at anything. Has very good hands and catches easily. He is smart and finds the open area in a zone. A willing blocker that can get to the second level. Just not enough speed to be an elite prospect, but will contribute right away on special teams.
T John Shaw - Penn State - FA
You won't find Shaw anywhere except on the field getting the job done. Until '07 he played DE. Very raw, but just plain mean and determined to get better. Could move to G.
T Pete Clifford - Michigan State - FA
Clifford is another monster at 6-7, 325. He is equally good at pass and run blocking. Played particularly well in the Champs Sports Bowl against Boston College and showed good awareness.
Honorable mention Barry Richardson Clemson, Josh Sitton UCF
G Drew Miller T/C - Florida - 7th/FA
Miller has played C, G, and LT. Huge at 6-7 320 and has decent feet. Probably will be a center in the NFL because of the need to stymie larger NT 1 on 1.
G Jason Britt - Alabama - FA
An excellent pass protector that needs work on run blocking. Struggles to get blocks at the second level.
Honorable mention Josh Tschirgi Oregon
C Adam Kraus - Michigan - 6th - FA
A consistent blocker that never gets noticed which is exactly what you want from the OL. Solid run blocker that can devastate at the 2nd level. Sometimes over helps G and misses delayed blitz.
DE Tommy Blake - TCU - 6th/7th
Going into the 2007 season Blake was a sure-fire top 10 choice. Bad year with nagging injuries took him down. Question is will you get the '06 Blake that dominated or the '07 Blake that sulked and was hurt?
DE Eric Foster - Rutgers - FA
Played DT in college but will move to DE at NFL level. Consistent pass rusher with multiple moves. At 260 depends on quickness and moves to get to QB. Holds up better than expected vs. run but has trouble shaking a tackle that gets hold of him.
Honorable mention DE Chase Ortiz- TCU - 7 th/FA - Developed well during the season. In 06 was over shadowed by Blake, but made a name for himself in 07. At 245 a 3rd down pass rusher. Shows consistent pass rush and high effort but can be overwhelmed vs run.
DT Brian Mattison - Iowa - FA
Played both DE and DT at Iowa but does not have the movement skills to play DE at the NFL level. Must get stronger; is only 285 now. Plays the run effectively and gives excellent effort. Shows quickness to slip between T & G to pressure the QB. Played well in Shrine Game.
DT Nick Hayden - Wisconsin - 5 th-6th
Originally projected to be late 3rd round choice has slipped in the eyes of many. Better vs. run than pass. Not that quick but a run stopper hat can play NG in a 3-4.
Honorable mention Lionel Dotson Arizona
OLB Robert Killibrew - Texas - 7th/FA
Killibrew is equally adept at rushing the passer and playing the run. At 230 he is a possible pass rush 3-4 outside backer but needs work on pass coverage. 4.6 speed and good instincts. Played inside at Texas but fits outside better in the NFL.
OLB Nathan Peterson - Oklahoma State - FA
Played DE at Oklahoma State but projects to OLB in the NFL. Has fair speed but good hands and football IQ. Has some experience at covering receivers in limited area. Solid against the run and can rush passer effectively. All-Conference but still off the radar.
Honorable mention Mark Dodge Texas A&M IF he can gain 15 lbs without losing speed.
ILB Brock Christopher - Missouri - FA
This guy is a run stuffer. Did a great job against Arkansas. Can get to the outside to stop the run around end. Doesn't have much experience in pass coverage and not used to blitz much but has the toughness to be taught how to do that. At least a 2 down ILB.
CB Marquis Carpenter - Texas A&M - FA
Because of the demand, most of the good CB's have been on the radar. Carpenter tackles well—something that few CB's do. Comes up to force the run, stays with WR deep, and had good ball skills.
CB Trae Williams - South Florida - 5th/6th
Williams was used to cover the deep threat of the opponent. Did well with good speed, instincts, and ball skills.
S Jamie Silve - Boston College - 5th - 7th
Not fast enough; Not athletic enough; BULL! Kid makes plays all over the field. Great instincts, technique, and motor. I'll take this kid on my team anytime. Reminds me a little of Bob Sanders when he was at Iowa.
S Justin Harrison - Illinois - FA
Best defensive player against USC in the Rose Bowl. A safety that can play man D and break up pass plays. Shows good effort even when the game out of reach. Has ability to cover deep and good ball skills.
Honorable mention William Moore Missouri & Dennis Keys UCLA
By Bill Smith
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