Draft diamonds in the rough

RB Deji Karim (Southern Illinois photo)

Every year, certain draft prospects don't get a lot of predraft hype but get drafted in the early rounds by NFL teams. Here are five under-the-radar players at each position that could make an immediate impact in the NFL.

The ability to nail first-round picks is what most fans grade personnel departments on. But the truly great scouting staffs generate deep drafts and sift through the undrafted free-agent pool, unearthing a few "Diamonds in the Rough."

Below is a list of players who haven't received the attention their physical abilities warrant. Some played for smaller schools or ended their career injured. Others broke out as seniors after being forced to wait for playing time. Still others enjoyed a great deal of collegiate success, but are mischaracterized as lacking the prerequisite skills for the NFL. All are viewed as potential selections by NFL teams, though most are unknown to the average fan.

Quality prospects including Larry English (first round, San Diego), Louis Delmas (second round, Detroit), David Veikune (second round, Cleveland), Ramses Barden (third round, Giants), Christopher Owens (third round, Atlanta) and Glover Quin (fourth round, Houston) were among the players listed in my initial Diamonds in the Rough article for the 2009 draft – published in August 2008.

Colts wide receiver Austin Collie, who led all rookies in receptions (60) and receiving touchdowns (7); Bills free safety Jairus Byrd, who tied for the league lead with nine interceptions; and Raiders defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, who finished second at the position in tackles (29) and sacks (4) were among other "Diamonds in the Rough" leading up to last April's draft.

Over the past four years, 129 of the 160 players listed in my August edition were drafted into the NFL. The vast majority of the players not drafted were signed by NFL teams as priority free agents in the days following the draft.
This year's second-day picks at each position could prove to be steals down the road. Among each position is at least one player not invited to the Indianapolis scouting combine. (Denoted with an asterisk)

Players are listed alphabetically.

Quarterback:
1. Jarrett Brown, West Virginia: 6-3, 224, 4.54
2. Levi Brown, Troy: 6-4, 229, 4.99
3. *Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee: 6-3, 222, 4.88
4. Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State: 5-11, 187, 4.52
5. John Skelton, Fordham: 6-5, 243, 4.93

Running Back:
1. Toney Baker, NC State: 5-10, 229, 4.53
2. Joique Bell, Wayne State (MI): 5-11, 220, 4.73
3. *Deji Karim, Southern Illinois: 5-09, 209, 4.40
4. Lonyae Miller Fresno State: 5-11, 221, 4.50
5. Keiland Williams, LSU: 5-10, 233, 4.50

Wide Receiver:
1. Seyi Ajirotutu, Fresno State: 6-3, 204, 4.57
2. *Marc Mariani, Montana: 6-1, 189, 4.48
3. Taylor Price, Ohio: 6-0, 204, 4.42
4. Andre Roberts, The Citadel: 5-11, 195, 4.46
5. Blair White, Michigan State: 6-2, 209, 4.44

Tight End:
1. Jimmy Graham, Miami: 6-6, 260, 4.53
2. Clay Harbor, Missouri State: 6-3, 252, 4.70
3. Tony Moeaki, Iowa: 6-3, 245, 4.71
4. Andrew Quarles, Penn State: 6-4, 254, 4.71
5. *Mickey Shuler, Penn State: 6-4, 248, 4.86

Offensive Line:
1. *Kenny Alfred, Washington State: 6-2, 290, 5.06 (C)
2. Casey Knips, South Dakota State: 6-7, 308, 5.21 (OT)
3. Marshall Newhouse, TCU: 6-4, 319, 5.03 (OG)
4. Jared Veldheer, Hillsdale: 6-8, 312, 5.06 (OT)
5. Tony Washington, Abilene Christian: 6-6, 311, 5.32 (OT)

Defensive End:
1. Alex Carrington, Arkansas State: 6-5, 285, 4.92
2. Hall Davis, Louisiana-Lafayette: 6-4, 271, 4.84
3. Jeffrey Fitzgerald, Kansas State: 6-4, 270, 4.83
4. Austen Lane, Murray State: 6-6, 276, 4.84
5. *Mitch Unrein, Wyoming: 6-5, 270, 4.82

Defensive Tackle:
1. Brandon Deaderick, Alabama: 6-4, 314, 5.08
2. Earl Mitchell, Arizona: 6-2, 296, 4.75
3. Mike Neal, Purdue: 6-3, 294, 4.89
4. Torrell Troup, Central Florida: 6-3, 314, 5.18
5. *Ekom Udofia, Stanford, 6-1, 326, 5.18

Linebacker:
1. *Reggie Carter, UCLA: 6-0, 238, 4.73
2. AJ Edds, Iowa: 6-4, 246, 4.62
3. Travis Goethel, Arizona State: 6-3, 240, 4.81
4. Carl Ihenacho, San Jose State: 6-2, 255, 4.72
5. Simoni Lawrence, Minnesota: 6-1, 232, 4.59

Cornerback:
1. Joshua Moore, Kansas State: 5-11, 188, 4.50
2. Amari Spievey, Iowa: 5-11, 195, 4.52
3. *Patrick Stoudamire, Western Illinois: 5-10, 207, 4.49
4. Kevin Thomas, USC: 6-0, 192, 4.41
5. Jamar Wall, Texas Tech: 5-10, 204, 4.52

Safety:
1. Jonathan Amaya, Nevada: 6-1, 203, 4.51
2. Cody Grimm, Virginia Tech: 5-11, 203, 4.55
3. *Chris Maragos, Wisconsin: 5-11, 200, 4.49
4. *Mike Newton, Buffalo: 5-10, 197, 4.50
5. Darian Stewart, South Carolina: 5-11, 213, 4.53


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