Alfonzo Dennard would very much like a do-over right now. (Getty Images)
Each year, there are players who fall in the draft for a number of reasons. We all remember the sight of Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn waiting far beyond expectations for their names to be called, and the divergent paths their careers have taken give us one more reason to say that the draft is, in the end, pretty much a total crapshoot. Here are this year's latecomers, with Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard as the all-time cautionary tale regarding taking it easy the week before the draft.
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Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama (35th overall pick, Baltimore Ravens) -- Upshaw, a dynamic pass rusher who was expected by most pundits to go in the mid-to-late first round, apparently started to drop when he showed up to his Pro Day weighing 279 pounds. The Ravens let the draft come to them and selected a great value pick who could really shine opposite Terrell Suggs.
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford (42nd overall pick, Miami Dolphins) -- Expected to be a sure first-rounder at one point, Martin's game tape bugged enough teams to have them looking in different directions. A good player without a strong anchor point who was protected in college by a conservative heavy-blocking offense.
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Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall (59th overall pick, Philadelphia Eagles) -- This one is hard to explain, because Curry flashed a great deal of potential as a pure pass-rusher or LEO end even when he was facing stout competition. Might be small-school bias, because there are no obvious red flags. Down the road (and very much like Upshaw), Curry may be much happier in an ideal situation despite the lower pick -- he's a perfect fit for the Eagles' aggressive defense.
Rueben Randle, WR, LSU (63rd overall pick, New York Giants) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up to get Justin Blackmon, so the alleged bias against one-speed receivers with outstanding overall characteristics doesn't seem to apply. Could be that Randle was dinged because he played in an offense that was anything but friendly to receivers, but the Giants put a first-round grade on him, and Tom Coughlin had a cake-eating grin on his face when explaining the pick on TV.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State (102nd overall pick, Washington Redskins) -- Could have been a second-round guy but for his tendency to lose his mechanics under pressure. People question the Redskins picking him in the same draft as RGIII, but Cousins is the ideal Shanahan project quarterback, and could be a very reliable backup and spot starter over time.
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Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi (112th overall pick, Arizona Cardinals) -- Concerns about conditioning, toughness and schematic fits (not a zone blocker at all) pushed Massie down, but the Cardinals picked up an excellent run-mashing right tackle with the ability to protect the quarterback from the right side.
Jared Crick, DL, Nebraska (126th overall pick, Houston Texans) -- Steal of the draft, and the best mix of player and scheme on this list. Crick is a second-round prospect based on his tape, but he lost most of the 2011 season to injuries and fell under the radar. Really impressed me in 2010 when he kept his production up even after Ndamukong Suh left for the NFL and he became the primary focus of every offensive line he faced. In Wade Phillips' multiple schemes, Crick can be a 3-4 one-gap end, provide pass rush in big fronts, and even slip inside as a nose shade if Wade's feeling particularly creative.
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Jonathan Massaquoi, DE/OLB, Troy (164th overall pick, Atlanta Falcons) -- Massaquoi saw his production fall off in 2011 after be bulked up a bit, and his awareness in space when he drops back is nothing to write home about, but his pure speed off the edge -- and ability to rush the passer as an end or linebacker -- had me thinking he'd go in the third round at the very least. Might have been seen as a second-level tweener in a draft full of them. Worst-case scenario, he becomes a situational blitzer for a Falcons franchise that has been trying to draft that guy for years.
George Iloka, S, Boise State (167th overall pick, Cincinnati Bengals) -- The top-ranked free safety on many boards, Iloka has second- to third-round tape (in my opinion) most of the time. He's an overgrown puppy on the field at times (gangly; awareness issues), but the Bengals added him at a value position to augment a draft everybody's raving about. Far better actual football player than USC's Taylor Mays, who was taken in the second round by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010, and whom Iloka will likely beat out in Cincy for playing time. Could be a great box safety at the next level; similar to Seattle's Kam Chancellor.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska (224th overall pick, New England Patriots) -- Second-round prospect to some, but this one doesn't take any applied thought -- it's never a good idea to assault a police officer, but to do it five days before the draft? Shoulda stayed in your apartment and played Madden all week, dude.
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Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (UDFA, Detroit Lions) -- By all accounts, Moore is as good as any draft prospect from the neck up -- holds the all-time record for NCAA quarterback wins (as much as you may or may not believe in that stat), great game manager, and practically a coach on the field. From the neck down, however ... his slight frame, popgun arm, and inconsistent ability to move away from speed pressure made him undraftable. You root for this guy, and in the right offense, Chad Pennington could be his ultimate upside.
Chris Polk, RB, Washington (UDFA, Philadelphia Eagles) -- Medical concerns about his shoulder pushed Polk out of the draft class, though his tape shows a second-day player through and through. Because he's not a pure burner and runs with a very physical style, his options might be limited. Great pass-catcher, though, which makes him valuable in Philly's offense.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State (UDFA, Cincinnati Bengals) -- Despite his off-field problems, North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins was still taken in the second round because his tape showed a first-round talent. Burfict has red flags all over the place off the field, and they follow him when he suits up -- he loves kill shots but doesn't tackle consistently, he's a personal foul waiting to happen, and he had the worst combine since Maurice Clarett. I have the utmost respect for Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, and if he can pull this one off, he should be knighted.
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