Possible 2007 NFL Draft Bargains
by Trevor Whenham - 02/22/2007
The closer we get to the NFL draft, the more there is to read about it. You could spend the next two months doing nothing but reading mock drafts, and you would never have to read the same draft twice if you didn't want to. Most of those drafts, though, and indeed most of everything else that is written too, is about the first and second rounds of the NFL Draft. Most analysts and fans spend very little time going beyond the glorious parts of the draft into the players that will go late on the first day or into the second. By failing to look beyond the surface, though, you are missing out on some of the high-impact players that will be shaping your handicapping decisions for years to come.
The list of notable late-round bargains is long and impressive. In recent years the most discussed is Tom Brady, who was snapped up in the sixth round after being ignored for almost two full days. Terrell Davis, who would have been a Hall of Famer if he had been just a bit more durable, was also a sixth rounder. Shannon Sharpe, one of the league's all-time great tight ends, was ignored until the seventh round. Hines Ward and Curtis Martin had to wait until the third round. Andre Reed went in the fourth. Zach Thomas, the brilliant linebacker, went in the sixth round. Marques Colston, the seventh round pick out of Hofstra last year, was perhaps the best rookie on the Saints, surpassing a guy with just a bit more hype out of USC. There are dozens more players that have been monumental and unbelievable bargains over the years. Who will it be this year? Here's a look at five players who could fit the bill:
Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State - Smith doesn't have a lot in common with the rest of the players on this list - he's a Heisman winner and very few people will have heard of the other four players. Just because Smith is famous, though, doesn't mean he isn't going to be a bargain. Scouts and fans can often be ridiculous, and they are being very ridiculous about Smith. Sure he ended his season with a couple of bad games, but so did a lot of other players - half of the teams out there lost their bowl games. Over the course of his career the guy put together a highlight reel that few can match. Scouts complain that he is too small and he isn't a prototypical size for a quarterback. That may be true, but then there isn't anything prototypical about him in any other way, either. Smith seems en route to going late in the second round or later. If he does then he could become a historical bargain.
Tim Mixon, CB, California - If Mixon had chosen to go pro after his junior season then he would been a well-chased prospect. Now he is largely being ignored. That's because he tore his ACL is August and missed the whole season. He was All-Pac 10 in 2005, though, and he was a very good kick returner as well. He seems to have healed well from his injury. He won't be healthy enough to work out at full steam for scouts, so he could fall further down the board. Guys have come back from ACL injuries before, though, and if Mixon does the same then he could be a brilliant bargain later on the second day for a team that takes a risk.
Michael Allan, TE, Whitworth College - Not a lot of people pay attention to what is going on in Division III football, but every so often a player comes along from those lowly ranks that can make an impact. Allan is a 6'4", 250-pound beast that is a ball magnet. He averaged a gaudy 20.8 yards per game, well beyond the scope of a typical tight end. He's received all of the recognition he could possibly get in his league, and now he is ready for a very big jump in class. He was the only Division III player invited to the Shrine Bowl, and he handled himself fairly well. Dan Reeves worked with him there, and he was impressed by his size and speed. In a league that is starved for good tight end talent, Allan could be a very solid bargain for a team with the patience to bring him along slowly.
John Wendling, S, Wyoming - Think about this - some draft services have Wendling ranked as high as the third best strong safety in the country. That's a remarkable achievement for a player playing somewhere as obscure as Wyoming. He certainly isn't getting any national attention there. Wendling has been working hard in Arizona to prepare for the Combine, and he has the physical tools to impress at that showcase. Safety is a fairly anonymous position and Wendling is a very anonymous player, but he has the look of someone who could have a long and productive pro career. That's a good deal for any team, since he almost certainly won't go sooner than the third round.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Lane College - If you could tell me what state Lane College is in than you are ahead of me up until a few weeks ago (it's in Tennessee). Jones has a chance to join a long and distinguished line of players to emerge from very obscure schools to make a big NFL impact (Steve McNair from Alcorn State comes to mind). The Division II star went to the Shrine Bowl, and he certainly didn't look out of place against Division I defensive backs. At 6'4" and 208 pounds he has NFL size, and his speed, at least 4.45 seconds for the 40, is certainly impressive. He's more than just those numbers, though. He put up some truly stunning stats in college, including 312 all-purpose yards in one game. He seems like a prototype receiver, and, provided he has a good Combine, he could be a big draft bargain.