In every NFL Draft there are players drafted in later rounds who become truly great.
Michael Strahan is an example, drafted in the second round, and the Chiefs’ Justin Houston, third round, is following the path.
Yes, they can be tough to project, but they are in almost all drafts. Here are some names who could very well get there:
Quarterback: Brett Hundley, UCLA
More Athlete than anything, Hundley will need some time to mature before he is able to succeed at the NFL level. But he has the physical part down.
Running back: Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Abdullah doesn’t have prefered NFL size, but the greats rarely do. He’s the full package, so long as he can secure the football better.
Wide Receiver: Ty Montgomery, Stanford
A number of NFL scouts were on hand to witness Montgomery’s 4.28 second 40-yard-dash at Stanford’s pro day. He does nothing exceptionally well, but has rare tools to make it so.
Tight End: Nick O’Leary, Florida St.
O’Leary is smaller than the position usually warrants, but has versatility. This draft class is weak at tight end. O’Leary is second tier, though he may be the most productive in the class.
Offensive tackle: Ty Sambrailo, Colorado St.
An interesting prospect, Sambrailo was selected All First Team Mountain West, and has rare athleticism for the position. Will need to improve his lower body drive power to excel in run blocking.
Offensive guard: Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Tomlinson is a power-blocking guard who lacks athleticism but can knock a defensive tackle on their butt without any problem. Could become a premier run blocker.
Defensive Tackle: Mario Edwards Jr., Florida St.
Edwards Jr. has some serious upside. But that is limited by what teams feel is a lack of desire. If he puts it together, he’s a big time playmaker.
Defensive end: Nate Orchard, Utah
Utah has quietly produced some really good prospects over the years. Orchard is no different. With some good coaching and development, Orchard can become a premier edge rusher at the next level.
Inside Linebacker: Denzel Perryman, Miami
This guy is a hitter. My goodness, is he ever a hitter. Perryman might only be an early down linebacker, but with the increased receiver usage in the modern NFL, there’s no need for more.
Outside Linebacker: Kyle Emmanuel, North Dakota St.
Emmanuel posted 19.5 sacks in his senior season. He’s a small school guy, so the numbers only carry so much water. But he shows up on tape, and could have led most conferences in sacks.
Cornerback: Alex Carter, Stanford
Carter showed some flash in 2014, but struggled in man coverage. He seems like an ideal candidate to transition to safety, but teams will likely want him to mature as a corner in a zone defense first.
Safety: Gerod Holliman, Louisville
Holliman was awarded the Thorpe award, which is given to the nations top DB. But despite his incredible ball skills, Holliman is not an advanced tackler, which has hurt his draft stock.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.