With the draft quickly approaching, here is a short run-down of some exciting players who have been overlooked. Although none of the following prospects are considered stars, they all have the potential to be very solid players. Finding value in the later rounds is what makes or breaks most drafts.
Marquel Blackwell (South Florida) – Doesn't have great size or speed, but is a heady player who gets the job done. His arm strength is average and he will have to improve his accuracy. Despite all this, Blackwell has shown the determination to be a leader and finds a way to win. Could be a very solid third quarterback.
Sultan McCullough (USC) – Lightning quick. Doesn't have very impressive size and has durability concerns. However, the former sprinter is a big play threat and could be excellent on 3rd down or as a situational back.
Santonio Beard (Alabama) – Beard split time in a crowded Crimson Tide backfield during his career, but carved himself a niche by being a physical and effective runner. Somewhat of a poor man's Shaun Alexander, Beard shows the ability to slide through the hole and power through defenders. He lacks explosion and can be impatient, but could be a valuable steal in the mid to late rounds.
R.J. Luke (Western Illinois) – Luke is a small-school product who has decent measurables for the position. The Panthers have shown some possible interest in drafting Luke and many teams consider him one of the prime "sleepers" of the 2003 draft.
Doug Gabriel (Central Florida) – Gabriel has very good size (6-2, 215) and decent speed. He excels at catching the deep pass and can win most jump-balls. He has the strength to shed smaller cornerbacks and is a very capable open-field runner. Needs to work on his fundamentals and technique. Must concentrate harder at the next level.
Paul Arnold (Washington) – Arnold is a former running back who has spent the past two seasons at wide receiver. He has nice size and is improving as a pass-catcher. Arnold obviously lacks the polish of many other receivers, but he has steadily improved and could be a very capable 3rd wide receiver. Shows his best skills running after the catch.
Tully Banta-Cain (Cal) – Banta-Cain is a very quick player who can pressure the quarterback. He lacks the size to be an every-down defensive end. Banta-Cain really improved his stock during the East-West Shrine game and Senior Bowl.
Eddie Strong (Ole Miss) – After battling through injuries for most of his college eligibility, Strong still could be a very adequate player. He is very athletic and flies to the ball. If he can put his past durability problems behind him, Strong has a chance to make an impact somewhere next fall.
Cie Grant (Ohio State) – Grant is a really intriguing player. He has played cornerback, linebacker and safety throughout his college career. Showed his coverage speed (4.50) at the combine and could play some safety in the NFL. A very active player, Grant has shown incredible versatility and should be able to contribute early on as a positional sub.
SecondaryTerrance Holt (NC State) – Holt has been a star in the ACC the past few seasons. While he has some physical limitations from a size and speed standpoint, Holt is a very intelligent player who works hard. Is a phenomenal special-teams player, and uses his amazing vertical leap to block kicks.