We all know the stories; Tom Brady, a compensatory 199th overall draft pick ends up being the greatest quarterback of all time. Richard Sherman, picked 154th overall by Seattle is a household name, and players like this leave us all wondering, who’s the next all time great who somehow slipped into day 3 of the NFL Draft?
The truth is, it’s not all too common of an occurrence, in most cases a sixth round pick ends up playing as well as a sixth round is expected to play, due to the fact that NFL scouts are pretty good at determining which players are good, and which players are great. However, there is no algorithm to tell us what players drafted will play well, or even who the next Tom Brady is. There’s no special formula, some players break out, and prove all of the doubters wrong. Here’s five players who could potentially do just that.
Number Five: Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF. Selected 141 Overall By The Seahawks
With no true position and a lack of impressive pass rush moves, Shaquem could easily be left off of this list and succumb to the sea of mediocrity that most players in the mid rounds do. However, there’s just something about his story, the heart of that Seattle defense, and the fact that he’s gonna play with his brother that makes me believe that of all people, a 141st pick with one hand could be an all time great. With a chip on his shoulder, he flew through the NFL Combine, running the fastest 40 yard dash time by any lineb acker ever. Seriously. He showed teams that despite his up and down college performance, he had first round talent and an all-star mentality. Seattle grabbed him because they knew he was going to bring the drive to win ball games for any team he went to, especially if he got to share that energy with his brother Shaquill.
Number Four: Jamil Demby, Offensive Lineman, Maine, Selected 192 Overall by Rams
Being the 192nd pick in the draft, he’s in good company, seeing as how late round standout Shannon Sharpe was selected 192nd overall back in 1990. All of Demby’s main draft report issues are coachable concerns, none concerning character or stature. He comes from a system that would transition well into the Rams style of offense, his determination and size require him only to know which step to take, and when to take it, and Rams offensive line coach Aaron Kramer keeps it fairly simple for the big guys up front. We know he has the talent to handle the trenches, as he was a starting left tackle as a true freshman, and while he only put up 17 reps at the combine, hitting the weights is always a viable option. He likely won’t play this year, but the Rams have a few lineman who are 30 and over and soon enough, the tragedy of the salary cap, injury, or retirement will put Demby on the line, and could prove to be a dream scenario for Gurley and Goff.
Number Three: Marcell Ateman, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State, Selected 228 Overall by Oakland
Marcell Ateman is a sneakily good player. Consistently improving and stepping his game up year by year, he put up by far his best stats in his senior year for Oklahoma. Averaging about 16.9 yards per catch, he’s obviously a high yield target, and with the absence of Michael Crabtree, that’s just what Derek Carr needs. Jordy Nelson will benefit from Edgar Bennett (his former position coach and offensive coordinator in Green Bay) coaching in Oakland, and Ateman can learn from Jordy as well as a coach responsible for at least some of his high level of play. I see Ateman having the same success that Crabtree had in Oakland, we will see heavy focus on Nelson and Cooper and that may leave some room for Martavis Bryant or Marcell Ateman to claim that WR3 spot when a game is on the line, and I feel like this rookie can make it happen.
Number Two: Da’shawn Hand, Defensive Lineman, Alabama, Selected 114 Overall by Detroit
The nation’s number one high school recruit in 2014, over guys like Deshaun Watson and Myles Garrett, fell into a mess of defensive line depth during the midst of Alabama’s historic dynasty. A player who’s combine indicated day 2 talent at the very least, he was plagued by injury, and was drowned out by a roster full of great players. In reality, had he been on a team with less talent, he would have been a much more standout player and may have even put up better stats than some of his starting teammates over at Alabama. With nowhere to go but up, being a day 3 pick, I believe he will make an immediate impact on Detroit’s coaching staff, whether that just be on the practice field for now is open to interpretation. Lions GM Bob Quinn had high praise of Hand, saying, “He brings a rare combination of size, length, athleticism. He’s a really, thickly-built guy. Once you guys see him in person, he’s really thick, good body. The position versatility, the playing strength, the technique, all of those things that we look for really stood out.”
Number One: Equanimeous St. Brown, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame, Selected 207 Overall
Geronimo Allison, J’mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, there is no shortage of weird names in the Packers receiver room, but the most unique name of all may belong to the most unique player of all of their current young receivers. Equanimeous St. Brown has speed, (4.48 40 yard dash) a big frame, (6’4”, 214 lbs) and some great hands, and was undoubtedly my number one player going into draft day 3. While Da’shawn Hand was a close number two on this list I believe the perfect storm is brewing for St. Brown. Being the second fastest receiver on the Packers (ranked by combine 40 yard dash times) next to only Randall Cobb, who is likely staying in the slot, St. Brown can use his speed and size to immediately replace the Jordy Nelson factor on the field, especially if Davante Adams gets some recognition as the great player he is and eats up some coverage. The deciding factors to put St. Brown this high on the list are as follows: he is a player who can fit right in to Green Bay’s system given he shows out in OTAs and camp, and the best quarterback in the NFL will be throwing him the ball. Teaming up with ex-teammate from Notre Dame Deshone Kizer at practice may also help him build confidence and show off some skill with a quarterback he already has chemistry with, before the learning curve of catching a missile from Aaron Rodgers, something that most other rookies can’t ease into in the same way. St. Brown has all the makings of an all time great and can have massive success very quickly in the NFL if he can take advantage of his favorable situation.