Under the radar

Jarvis Jones, Geno Smith, Star Lotulelei. Yup, we know all about them but who are the guys nobody’s really talking about. Here’s five players (in no particular order) might make a splash in the coming months.

Bacarri Rambo (S) – Georgia

Remember how awful the 2012 Safety draft class was? Yup, 2013 isn’t much better. However, not only does he have a brilliant name but Rambo has the potential to be a rookie starter in the NFL. Along with teammate Shawn Williams, Rambo has dominated the SEC. He has the speed to play Corner and could easily fill in at Nickel but it’s his game-smarts and ability to read the field which make him such an interesting safety prospect. He reads the game spectacularly well and can be a clean open-field tackler. Rambo has had some off-filed issues which will stop him cracking the 1st round but he’s a fringe top-100 player at the moment but don’t be surprised if he’s a shuffling around the top-50 come April. Good fits: San Francisco, Oakland, New Orleans

Quinton Patton (WR) – Louisiana Tech

In the pass-heavy NFL, the premium on receivers is on the up. Last year, 33 were selected compared to 28 in 2011 and 27 in 2010. I expect to see as many as 10 selected in the first two rounds in 2013. If that happens, Quinton Patton will almost certainly hear his name called. He’s not the biggest guy, nor is he the quickest but his footwork and fluid hips make him a nightmare in man-coverage as he has an uncanny knack of making tacklers miss. He’s a short yardage guy and may be viewed as a reliable security blanket for a rookie/new/unconfident QB. About half the league will hate him, the other half will fall in love. Good fits: Kansas City, Indianapolis, Buffalo

Le’Veon Bell (RB) – Michigan State

Trent Richardson and Doug Martin have proven that Running Backs still have a place in the 1st round of the draft. However, compared to 2012, this year’s draft class lacks elite talent. At present, it would be hard to argue that anyone has established themselves as the number one. Bell is considered to be a solid 3rd round pick. However, he might have a much higher ceiling. Without Kirk Cousins, Michigan State have relied heavily on Bell, this has lead to him have a good (yet, unspectacular) year amassing 11 Touchdowns and over 1500 all-purpose yards. He’s strong as an ox making him a reliable blockers and for his size, has incredibly nimble footwork, he can also catch the ball although hasn’t seenthis year (due more to inconsistent QB play than anything else). Going forward, Bell’s problem will be his lack of speed. He’s explosive but his top gear just isn’t that fast. He’ll need to work on that in the offseason. If he registers a half-decent 40-yard dash (around 4.55 seconds would be ideal), Bell may well find his stock rising very quickly indeed. Good fits: Cincinnati, Green Bay, Detroit

Quanterus Smith (DE/OLB) – Western Kentucky

Now, I’ll confess that I’m rather limited in the amount of Sun Belt Conference football I get to see but from what I’ve pieced together, Smith looks like the kind of guy who is set for a Chandler Jones/Brooks Reed-style rise as the Draft process motors on. Earlier in 2013 he recorded 3 sacks on Alabama’s AJ McCarron and added a further 9.5 sacks throughout the season. His size is going to make him very popular with the 3-4 teams but he’ll need to work on his speed if he’s going to make a splash in the NFL.  His biggest problem going into the draft process will be his recent ACL injury. Only time will tell if he’s able to participate the Combine and convice scouts and front office staff  it’s worth taking the risk. Good fits: Arizona, New York Jets, Washington

Collin Klein (QB) – Kansas State

 Couldn’t have a list without a QB, could we? Klein makes this list because of history and statistics more than his ability. He’s not highly fancied by scouts (or draftniks) but he will – barring another shocker against Texas – win the Heisman this year. Since the AFL/NFL merger, only three Heisman reigning winners entering draft have been selected outside of the first three rounds: Troy Smith, Gino Torretta and Doug Flutie. Team’s should not consider the Wildcats’ signal caller before the afternoon of Day Three (if at all) but Klein will have enough tape for someone to make the case for a Day Two pick. Klein is an athlete, but doesn’t possess an elite arm. This isn’t helped by a really sloppy throwing motion. He does OK on short and intermediate throws and that might be enough for someone to consider him as a developmental prospect. As McShay always says, it only takes one team to pull the trigger. Good fits: Cincinnati, New England, Tennessee

Follow James on Twitter at @SNL_Football

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