Every year there are a handful of guys that aren’t taken in the first round who nevertheless go on to become NFL studs. Teams expect their first-round picks to be starters that contribute from day one, but it’s nice when a guy that is taken between round two and round seven steps up and contributes early in his career. A team that can snatch up a prospect that becomes a star in the later rounds gives a heartwarming feeling to an NFL general manager.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt – As of right now Matthews is my sixth-rated receiver in the 2014 Draft. He falls in behind Watkins, Evans, Lee, Benjamin, and Cooks. The only reason he is behind those prospects is because they possess some sort of unique measurable or skill in their game. Matthews doesn’t possess any one unique or elite talent, but he does have highly consistent play as a possession receiver. At 6’3” and 213 pounds Matthews is a force. At the Senior Bowl his build made him look like a tight end, but his fluidity is that of a NFL wide receiver. Elite measureables for receivers give the appearance of true number-one guys, but guys like Marvin Harrison have proven a possession guy can be an elite tool for an NFL team as well.
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida – If Easley didn’t tear his ACL he could be viewed in the same light as Aaron Donald. Easley is undersized for a defensive tackle at 6’2” and 288 pounds. He is a finesse rusher from the inside that can add a new dimension for a 4-3 team. I think he is best suited to play the rush end role in a 3-4. He struggles at times to support in the run game, but is a nightmare as a defensive tackle in the passing game. He is an extremely explosive defensive tackle with room to grow at the next level. If a team can get past his medical issues they could snatch up a future star. Easley just needs to stay healthy.
Terrance West, RB, Towson – West ran through, around, and over the FCS this past season. He even led all of college football with 2,519 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns. West has a beefy build at 5’9” and 225 pounds, which gives the appearance that he will be able to continue his workhorse role for someone in the NFL. West, like other non-first-round prospects, doesn’t have an elite skill set or even one elite trait. He does have the ability to carry the ball 20 times a game while racking up good yards per carry (6.1 in 2013). West could be that surprise back in this year’s class like Alfred Morris was in 2012.
Trent Murphy, OLB/DE, Stanford – What happened to Trent Murphy’s stock? He had a strong Senior Bowl and then just died off. Anyway, Murphy is a versatile defender that can play standing up on the edge or with his hand in the dirt. He best fits into a 3-4 as a strong-side linebacker, or in a 3-4 that will employ a stand-up front four with linebackers as ends. He has the size to play in a 4-3 as a defensive end, but it would be an unnatural fit and he would need time to acclimate to the new role. Regardless, Murphy has a good mix of run stopping, coverage, and pass-rushing abilities. He reminds me of Ryan Kerrigan and in the right situation he could have a similar rookie year.