With the fourth through seventh rounds upcoming, it's time to take a look at the best players left on the board for whatever reason. This is less a "value list" (which is why you see Adam Froman instead of Ricky Stanzi) and more a list of the guys whose tape I liked the most among the remaining players. Here are the top 10 players left in offense; we'll have a list of defenders presently.
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
The obvious comparison is Michael Vick, but Taylor reminds me more of Seneca Wallace at the draft prospect level — a potential option quarterback who's a bit more stubborn about the aspects of pure quarterback play. He's still learning the finer points of the position, but Taylor absolutely has an NFL arm and the capacity to throw all the way up the route tree — that's the most underrated aspect of his game. A potential NFL starter with a patient quarterback coach and in the right system.
Louisville QB Adam Froman
An unfinished gem, Froman was an un-recruited Wing-T quarterback in high school and got two years in at Lousville — one season in pro-style, and one in more of a spread offense. Hasn't played a full season set against major competition, but has good basic mechanics, a very solid arm, and absolutely startling speed as a runner.
Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
Hunter really hit my radar at the Senior Bowl, when I saw his determination to hit the hole hard and excel in the blocking drills. He doesn't have the energy after contact that Ray Rice does, but he reminds me of Rice in his patience and ability to read and blast through gaps. A very shifty runner in space who can catch out of the backfield, Hunter will make an NFL team happy in a running back rotation.
Eastern Washington RB Taiwan Jones
One of the biggest risers in recent weeks. A foot injury robbed Jones of a start in the FCS Championship game, all the postseason bowls, and the combine drills, but he just tore up his pro day with sub-4.3 speed and ridiculous cuit quickness on the bag drills. Injury and fumbling issues dog him, but you could be looking at the next Jamaal Charles here.
Abilene Christian WR Edmond Gates
Gates might not be quote as explosive against more elite competition, but he certainly displayed the skills to tear up the defenders he did face. An elite basketball player in high school, Gates took his athleticism to the football field a bit late (he'll be 25 years old in June), but those wondering if he can repeat the success of ex- Abilene Christian speedster Johnny Knox could very well be pleasantly surprised.
Hawaii WR Greg Salas
Another player who hit my radar at the Senior Bowl because of his ability to extend his body and make the tough catch in traffic. Salas isn't a quick-cut guy, and he played a lot in the slot in an offense that hasn't produced a lot of NFL talent, despite its overall dynamism. But any team looking to get a tough guy over the middle, who can adjust to option routes and make the splash play downfield, would do well to pick Salas up quickly on Day 3.
Arkansas TE D.J. Williams
A real surprise to be available in the late rounds. His Senior Bowl week had me going back to his game tape and marveling at his hands — Williams may have the best pure hands of any receiver regardless of position in this draft class. Lance Kendricks, who went to the Rams in the second round, proved that NFL teams aren't necessarily discounting the "move" tight end as an offensive weapon, so I'm at a loss to explain this one. Wiliams could have massive sleeper potential.
Louisville OT Byron Stingily
Like his old quarterback Adam Froman, Stingily came from junior college and is still learning the little things at his position. But he's got optimal size (6-foot-5, 313 pounds), has the athleticism to make the kick-step and proper arc in pass protection, and just needs the benefits of the right coaching program.
Virginia Union OT David Mims
Huge sleeper upside pick here. I watched three Virginia Union games with overhead angles, and was impressed by Mims' size, strength, and second-level speed. Played at 350 pounds at VU, and the competition he faced had no answer for him. Mims has trimmed down to about 330 pounds and has been working with Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz. He projects very well as a power right tackle in the Stephon Heyer mold.
Slippery Rock C Brandon Fusco
Fusco is an agile, practiced player with second-level quickness and solid inline strength. Though he didn't always dominate the Division II opponents he faced, his pre-draft excellence will have him on an NFL roster sooner than later.
- Tyrod Taylor