Every year, the NFL Draft world is full of debate and reports on top prospects. This year, everyone knows who Aidan Hutchinson, Kyle Hamilton, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Ikem Ekownu are. They will go at the top of the draft in hopes of saving someone’s franchise upon their arrival. However, the majority of the great players in the NFL came beyond those first 32 to 64 picks in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and even 7th rounds of the Draft. But not everyone knows their names. This draft especially is one that can produce some big-time talents in the NFL who may be considered “Diamonds in the Rough”. These five players are my personal diamonds in the rough.
RB // Cincinnati
Running backs are not as valued as they once were. The third and fourth-round running backs have the biggest potential to boom on the NFL level and Jerome Ford is one of those guys this year. An Alabama transfer, Ford is certainly able to make a lot of things happen on the ground due to his electric open-field speed and contact balance. He also offers some value as a pass protector. He isn’t the top running back by any means but can come in and compete for a RB1 or RB2 spot in the NFL.
LB // Nebraska
We have seen an increased emphasis on the outside linebacker in the last few years with guys like Isaiah Simmons and Micah Parsons going in the top fifteen. JoJo Domann won’t go that high but is definitely going to be a good outside linebacker on the next level. An above-average athlete at the position, Domann is able to utilize his quickness and change of direction ability to his advantage, especially in zone coverage where he has to take the hook/curl zone underneath. He does a phenomenal job of being able to fill the alley as a run defender as well and has the instincts to make an impact.
TE // Ohio State
This tight end class is full of potential diamonds in the rough. But the guy that sticks out to me is Ohio State’s, Jeremy Ruckert. A solid athlete with the ability to be a major factor as a receiver, Ruckert, gets open very easily and when he is targeted, he is able to make some big plays with his hands as well as after the catch. He is still developing as a blocker but should be a suitable option to be an immediate contributor to an offense, especially in this age of passing the football. Look for him in the back of the third round.
S // Middle Tennessee
Another position group that has a ton of high-quality talent on day two is the safety group. The diamond in the rough here is by far Reed Blankenship. Not enough people talk about his ability to be a missile from the back end. He’s got insane burst and is a good processor who is able to read the play and react to it quickly. He can certainly be relied upon as a run supporter and tackler. While he is decent, he doesn’t do anything amazing in coverage but can function in the box as a strong safety. He is one of my favorite late third-round sleepers.
DL // Ohio State
Haskell Garrett has been hyped up for a while, but never found a way onto the field until his junior and senior years at Ohio State. Nonetheless, I think he is one of the more technically advanced defensive tackles in the draft. He is able to use hand technique to disengage from blocks. Garrett is also quick and has a strong motor. He could improve as a whole at being able to play more consistently and make more stops. However, he has lots of tools mid-round players do not which could set him up for success in the NFL.