The buzz around the NFL draft is almost exclusively concentrated on the top prospects of the class. Fans salivate over top tier talent across the league, and it’s natural to focus a lot of attention on the most productive college players who possess traits that should translate well to the pro level.
However, much of the league is filled with players who aren’t drafted until the second or third days of the NFL draft. Pro Bowlers and productive starters are found after the biggest names come off of the board in the first, and these guys deserve some of the spotlight too.
These players could be potential superstars, or might simply contribute to their team’s success. Here are a few names to track on draft weekend:
Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers
Turay is a former basketball player that does not have a lot of experience on the gridiron. Despite this, he has shown his ability to use his athleticism to his advantage and flash as a potential game-changer at the next level.
He shows his speed on film, as he is quick off the snap and is able to convert that speed to power, such as on this play against Michigan State:
His raw athletic ability is really what will sell teams on draft weekend and he put it on display on several occasions:
Turay will enter the NFL with a need for attention from a professional coaching staff to help mold him into a complete football player. He will need to continue developing an understanding for the mental aspect of the game and transition to a full-time role defensive end for a 4-3 team.
The Scarlet Knights often used Turay as an off-ball linebacker, forcing him to drop back in coverage too often, though he did show a certain aptitude in this aspect of the game. He tackles well, has a non-stop motor and has the tools to become one of the better edge rushers from the 2018 class.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB, Oklahoma
While Okoronkwo was known as a pass-rusher at Oklahoma, he is too small to be a full-time defensive lineman in the NFL. It makes more sense for him to transition to a SAM backer role in a 4-3 defense, droppiong into a pass-rushing stance on 3rd downs.
His lack of awareness in coverage is the biggest concern for this transition, but his ability to get after the quarterback should put teams at ease.
Okoronkwo has an array of pass rush moves and is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback:
He lacks a defined position but his skills as an edge rusher should make him a sleeper prospect later in the upcoming draft.
Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
Working on the Stampede Blue NFL Draft Guide was a pleasure and it allowed me the opportunity to really dive deep into the 2018 cornerback class. A few under the radar prospects stood out to me. Amongst that group is Duke Dawson.
Dawson has trouble against bigger receivers due to his lack of size, but he more than makes up for it with his ability to mirror, impressive footwork and natural feel for the game.
He may be available in the later rounds and could still end up becoming one of the better starting cornerbacks in the league
Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford
A player who is mentioned near the bottom of the top group of prospects at cornerback is Quenton Meeks. This Stanford product is a vigilant, intelligent and polished player who has a high floor as an NFL prospect.
He may not have the upside potential of players like Jaire Alexander or Denzel Ward, but he is well-rounded and could be extremely valuable to defenses in need of help in the secondary.
Meeks is particularly adept in zone coverage as a big, athletic corner with impressive reaction time.
This kind of play would be ideal in a zone-heavy scheme, such as the one the Colts are reportedly implementing under new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Meeks is currently projected as a day 3 pick. Lance Zierlein projects him as a 4th to 5th rounder and Walter Football has him in the 5th to 7th round range.
These are harsh evaluations of a gifted player whose talents are worthy of a pick in the 2nd or 3rd round. If he does fall to day three, he could be an absolute steal.