In February I wrote an article about mid to late round players that Jeff Ireland might have his eye on in this month's draft. I listed Ace Sanders, Chris Harper, Bennie Logan, Gerald Hodges, George Winn, Omoregie Uzzi, and A.J. Klein as players to watch closely as the draft approaches. Every year there are those players that get drafted in the mid-late rounds that make an impact in the NFL. Some make it straight away, while others take time to become quality starters or rotational players. Some never make it at all. Lets continue to look at some of those prospects that nobody are talking about.
D.J. Swearinger, FS, South Carolina, 5-11, 208 Ibs
Draft Prediction: Rounds 3-4
D.J. Swearinger is my favourite safety in this year's draft class. Miami re-signed Chris Clemons to a one-year deal, and so my guess is that Ireland drafts a player to compete for one of the starting safety spots on the roster. Swearinger is a hugely physical presence in the secondary. Players want to know where he is on the field because his hits are huge. Very versatile player, lining up as both a free safety and a strong safety, something that Kevin Coyle covets. In man coverage he can jam slot receivers and tight ends, while in zone coverage he takes good angles and will come off his man to attack the ball. He's also good in run support, taking the appropriate angles in order to make the big hit. Swearinger is also a vocal leader on defense, and a four-year starter at multiple positions. The young safety has the work ethic, character, and talent that Miami need to look for when drafting their safeties.
Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford, 5-9, 214 Ibs
Draft Prediction: Rounds 3-4
Stepfan Taylor is a durable player with a solid-all round game. While he doesn't possess any elite traits that some teams look for, he's a powerful running back that displays above-average burst to clear the hole before it collapses. While his skill-set suits a one-cut running system, he does have some agility to make defenders miss in space. Very good in pass protection, showing good physicality to protect his quarterback. He also caught his fair share of passes from the backfield, and that's something that might fit well in Mike Sherman's offensive system. The only downside is that he's not a classic burner and doesn't have that second gear to get away from defenders. Despite this, he'd be a good complimentary running back to Lamar Miller next season.
Will Davis, CB, Utah State, 5-11, 186 Ibs
Draft Prediction: Round 4
Players in rounds four to seven often have major deficiencies. What scouts should look for in these players is something to show them that they can overcome or mask those deficiencies by focusing on their strengths. Davis's deficiencies are that he has only average physicality as a tackler, and has some scouts questioning his level of competition, playing in Division-II. Having said that, the young corner's strengths may eventually help him to become a quality starter at the next level. Davis has the natural athleticism that scouts look for in their cornerbacks, with loose hips, long arms, good agility, and adequate straight line speed to line up in press coverage. But Davis also has the ability to play in zone coverage, where he shows good leaping ability to compete for jump balls and break up passes at the last minute. Will Davis will interest those teams with his natural athleticism, football instincts, and work ethic. He may only need greater physicality in order to become a starter in the NFL.
Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State, 6-8, 308 Ibs
Draft Prediction: Round 5
There is no question that Miami needs a new starting offensive tackle. While Fragel will not be able to start straight away, he does possess some intriguing traits that could lead him to become a starter down the road. Joe Philbin has a quality track record of converting tight ends into quality offensive tackles. Should Miami draft Fragel, he could become the latest tight end-turned offensive tackle to play in the NFL. The downside to the young tackle's game is that he is very inexperienced at the position, starting at tackle only last season. This is apparent on tape as he displays messy footwork and needs a lot of work on his technique. However, the good news is that Fragel looks the part of a zone blocking right tackle. He has good height and length to go with his huge frame. He also is a very athletic player with good quickness to reach the next level in order to block in space. A former tight end that needs a lot of work to make it in the NFL, but could turn out to be a quality starter down the road.
David Bass, DE/OLB, Missouri Western State, 6-4, 262 Ibs
Draft Prediction: Rounds 5-6
David Bass dominated Division-II football last year. He had 56 tackles for loss and 39.5 sacks over his career. Bass has a good first step and natural burst off the snap. In many ways, he reminds me of Cameron Wake in that regard. The young pass rusher also has strong hands to defeat blocks and make the sack. Very competitive player, and a great locker room presence. While there is room to refine his pass rushing moves and hand technique, he could become one of Jeff Ireland ‘s latest ‘acorns' to fall off the tree.
What do you think? Do you think any of these players will make it in the NFL? Lets hear your thoughts.