The legendary basketball coach John Wooden liked to say that "Success is never final, and failure is never fatal." Those players left on the board for Day 3 of the NFL draft would do well to remember that. Just because your journey to the NFL takes you through the later rounds doesn't mean that you can't be a special player in the pros -- and if you are, chances are pretty good that you'll beat out someone who was selected with a higher pick than you were in the grand scheme of things. Draft boards move in strange ways.
Of last year's All-Pro players in skill positions (non-special teamers), nine were either selected in the fourth round of their drafts or lower, or were undrafted entirely. So, you kids out there wondering what's happening to your lives, go ask Alfred Morris, Vonta Leach, Jerome Felton, Jahri Evans, Cameron Wake, Geno Atkins, London Fletcher, Richard Sherman, and Dashon Goldson how it can be done even if the NFL seems to have overlooked you.
Based on our evaluations of their college careers, here's our list of the best players still available for Day 3 of the NFL draft.
Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama: Former rugby and basketball player from Australia who's still developing as a football player, but brings incredible strength and leverage, and a dynamite playing personality, to the field. Workout warrior with evolving potential. Can play nose tackle straight over center or shaded to the side, but is quick enough to move around gaps. Could possibly make a Haloti Ngata-type impact in the right system.
Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse: As with all the quarterbacks left on the board, Nassib is a limited-ceiling player with some intriguing attributes. Effectively mobile, smart, tough player who can run an offense at the NFL level, but tends to play over his head at times. Inconsistent deep-ball thrower, but could develop into a spot starter in the NFL over time. He's a bit like Mark Sanchez before the Jets ruined him.
Alex Okafor, DE, Texas: Kind of a John Abraham-type pass-rusher; may have dropped because he's kind of a tweener. Underrated burst off the edge and can move inside to tackle on passing downs. Doesn't have a bull-rush of note, and he may not be laterally agile enough to move outside as a 3-4 endbacker, but teams playing four-man fronts could do a lot worse. Frankly, I'm surprised to see Damontre Moore go ahead of Okafor.
Jonathan Franklin, RB, UCLA: The best remaining running back, and potentially a lot more productive than a few of the five guys selected in Day 2. A fast player with outstanding escapability in tight spaces and some breakaway speed. At 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds, he's more of a situational guy than an every-down player, but the NFL tends to see most backs that way at this point.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC: The low ceiling was always there, and not we know it for sure. Barkley understands the game, can read protections, and can run an NFL offense right away. He's very effective in the short-to-intermediate game, but there are severe questions about his ability to make deeper plays into tight windows. May not fit the current league at all, as pro personnel guys tend to look more for height/weight/speed templates at the position, but could be an Alex Smith game-manager type. That's just not the starting role it used to be.
Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech: Big (6-foot-3, 217), strong, fast guy who can upend coverage with his attributes. Physical player who does not fear traffic and could excel in some advanced slot packages. Washed out at Tennessee due to violations of team rules and will have to be watched off the field, which is why he's still available.
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: Perhaps my favorite quarterback left on the board. Underrated team leader who took his offense through and past the Bobby Petrino debacle. Tough, resilient player with a plus arm and a lot of potential in a vertical offense. Has some mechanical issues, especially with his arm angle and overall delivery. Footwork is a concern, and he needs to eliminate a "kamikaze" element to his game that sees him make some really questionable throws.
Phillip Thomas, FS, Fresno State: Could really excel in a zone scheme that requires its safeties to come down and hit in the box. Lacks top-end speed, but has displayed an impressive overall skill set. Doesn't jump off the tape, but seems to be that kind of multi-year starter that would be a great third-day bargain.
Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers: Fits the NFL's recent trends favoring quicker, lighter linebackers who can move in space and roll in coverage. Better open-field tackler than some linebackers already taken off the board, and has some potential as a blitzer. Has probably topped out physically at 6-foot-1 and 241-pounds, and the lack of height may have teams wondering.
Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: Reliable receiver with good route awareness, excellent feet, and an understanding of the little things. However, Patton is limited not only by his lack of breakaway speed downfield, but also his inability to get up to full acceleration off the line in a hurry. May struggle against better coverage athletes in the NFL, but looked great at the Senior Bowl and would look good as a component player on underneath stuff.
Barrett Jones, C, Alabama: Injuries dropped his stock, but Jones is a reliable, versatile player who could probably kick outside to guard in an emergency. Obviously understands how to run things in an advanced power offense. Limited physical upside, but works his butt off and gets the game.
Other players to watch:
Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
Bacarri Rambo, FS, Georgia
Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
Kyle Juszczyk, FB, Harvard
Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon
Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado
David Quessenberry, OT, San Jose State
Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky
Montori Hughes, DT, Tennessee-Martin
Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State
Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M
B.W. Webb, CB, William & Mary