Looking deep in draft telescope

While everyone examines the first round of the NFL Draft with a microscopic lens, there are always players who fall through the cracks who wind up being late round gems. The poster boy for this is the guy everyone said was too skinny to survive in the NFL, Tom Brady.

The Baltimore Ravens are particularly adept at finding these overlooked players either during the later part of the Draft or even players undrafted all together. We all know this list by now, but I will remind you of a few anyway:

sixth round pick Adalius Thomas, undrafted free agent Bart Scott and undrafted free agent Mike Flynn. With the Draft just a few days, who will be the next diamond in the rough?

I am here to predict some players I think will be Day Two selections who, in a few years, people will be asking the proverbial question: "how did that guy wind up falling so far?"

The first player on my list is California running back Justin Forsett. Forsett is small at 5'8 and his timed speed is nothing less than unspectacular, but he is compact at close to 200 pounds and he is not afraid of contact.

This past year, Forsett finally stepped out of the shadow of last year's number 12 pick Marshawn Lynch and the results were spectacular: 1546 yards and 15 touchdowns as well as 22 receptions.

"I'll do whatever it takes; if that's my role, that's my role" said Forsett at the NFL Combine about the possibility of being a kick or punt returner. Forsett has been fighting the fact that he is small since coming out of high school when he was not offered a single scholarship in his home state of Texas.

"[California] came out in the last second," said Forsett. "That was an opportunity out of nowhere. No one in Texas offered me [a scholarship]…I would have played anywhere. TCU didn't call - I went to their camp. We called every team, Rice all of them, I was too small."

However, Forsett says he's used to it now and wouldn't have it any other way.

"I like the way I am," said Forsett. "I can do everything else a bigger back or a two inch taller back can do. I'm fine. I really don't play for [vindication], but knowing I can be successful at the college [level] like I knew I could be when those teams didn't think I could [do] it did feel good. To be successful when other peopledidn't think I could."

Forsett reminds me of Brian Westbrook or Maurice Jones-Drew, somewhere in between them and, yes, I know that is high praise, but they too were passed over by all 32 teams. With a similar chip on his shoulder, I do not doubt for a second that Forsett will surprise people.

My second selection for a player who will surely be snubbed on Draft day is Michigan State tight end Kellen Davis. Davis is somewhat of a physical specimen and his size and speed should attract most teams, but like all late-round selections, there are flaws. Davis underachieved for most of his career and he also has character concerns. However, I think the light turned on during his senior year which will make for a very productive NFL player.

Davis also played defensive end sparingly in college and is willing to try anything at the next level.

"I wouldn't let my position define me," said Davis at the Combine. "I think I have a good chance of playing both. For me, it doesn't mater. As long as I'm playing on Sunday, it doesn't mater to me."

Because of his physical prowess, he reminds me of a poor-man's Vernon Davis.

My final Day Two stud is Texas defensive tackle Frank Okam. Okam is massive at close to 6'5 and 350 pounds and appears to be a classic run-stopper, but he can also collapse the pocket (he had a stunning five sacks this past year). I know I definitely wouldn't want my quarterback being hit by a 350-pound mammoth and he has top intangibles.

Education was first and foremost for Okam and that is extremely hard to find these days with athletes, especially with all of the prima-donnas in the NFL.

"[Education] was very important," said Okam at the Combine. "It was something my mom always tried to instill in me - the value of education. So being able to leave in 3½ years with a degree is pretty good."

Okam also brings versatility to the table because he can be a 3-4 nose guard or can play in a 4-3 defense.

"I think you can't limit yourself as a player," said Okam. "As a player, I want to be talented in everything I do. So it's not something where I want to say I'm a run-stopping guy. I try to do everything."

Okam seems like a virtual clone of fellow Texas-alum Casey Hampton and will be a terror for opposing running games.

The Draft is right around the corner and, as those ESPN commercials that you have by now seen a thousand times say, "The NFL Draft matters – go deep."

Hank Nathan is a guest columnist for Ravens Insider and a student at Washington & Lee.


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