Day three draftees worth watching

There are typically two types of prospects who get selected on day three of the draft. First, there are the highly gifted athletes who are still years away from producing but have the ceiling to mature into very good players at the next level. Then there are the productive college prospects who fell through the cracks for any number reasons – injuries, character, lack of size or speed. Today, the National Football Post looks at both groups and breaks down the potential short- and long-term gems who were uncovered on day three.

Prospects ready to step right in

OLB Cameron Sheffield, Kansas City Chiefs

From the first time I saw Sheffield on tape, I thought it was obvious he was a much better pass rusher compared to his more heralded teammate, Brandon Lang. His explosive first step and overall flexibility made him tough to block when flattening out around the edge. With him now being asked to stand up and rush from a two-point stance in a 3-4, I think it will only further maximize his burst and overall potential in the NFL. The Chiefs needed to add speed and some quick-twitch ability to their defense, especially in the form as a pass rusher. Sheffield is a guy who I think can come in right away and make a significant impact off the edge on obvious passing downs.

OLB Jammie Kirlew, Denver Broncos

I was high on Kirlew during the season, but he started to lose a lot of his buzz after his combine performance because he lacked ideal size and ran in the high 4.9 range. However, he’s a natural pass rusher who has the body control, balance and suddenness to consistently slip blocks off the edge. He lacks a great first step but does a nice job using his hands and plays with consistent leverage on contact. The Broncos already have some talent on their roster in the form of starting 3-4 outside linebackers, but there isn’t much depth behind them. That’s where I think Kirlew could make his mark as a rotational guy.

DL Arthur Jones, Baltimore Ravens

Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody are making all the headlines in the Ravens’ draft class, but one guy I can’t wait to see play is Jones, the former Syracuse defensive lineman. Jones entered the season as one of the nation’s top defensive tackle prospects and was unblockable at times as a junior. Here’s what I wrote last summer after watching Jones:

“He isn’t an elite defensive tackle prospect at this stage because of his inability to consistently use his hands well enough to shed blocks, but if he can improve in that area of his game this season, he could end up being a very good starting-caliber lineman in the NFL”

Because of injuries during the offseason and regular season, Jones was never able to improve on his junior year. But if he’s healthy, this guy has the power, base and athleticism to make plays vs. the run and pass game and could end up being the real steal of the 2010 draft.

Others worth noting:

Doug Worthington, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeff Owens, Philadelphia Eagles
Brandon Deaderick, New England Patriots
Al Woods, New Orleans Saints
Michael Hoomanawanui, St. Louis Rams

Upside prospects who are starting to scratch the surface

WR David Gettis, Carolina Panthers

Gettis possesses a rare first step for a receiver with his size and length, and when I first saw tape of him last summer, I thought, if this guy ever puts it all together, he could end up being a legit starting-caliber wideout in the NFL. I still feel the same way, but I’m still waiting for him to put it together. To Gettis’ credit, I think he’s improved as a route runner since his junior year, but he needs to work on his overall focus because he has a tendency to put the ball on the ground. However, the size/speed aspect is definitely there for him to separate on all levels of the field at the next level. He just needs time.

QB John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals

After the top three quarterbacks came off the board in the first two rounds, Skelton was the next signal caller I would have gone to bat for. Yes, even over Colt McCoy. Skelton is a big, strapping young man with the size and arm to make any throw needed at the next level with ease. Plus, for his size (6-5, 243 pounds), he’s also a pretty gifted athlete with the ability to get outside the pocket and throw on the move. Coming from a small school (Fordham), he’s the kind of guy I would want to sit back, learn the playbook and polish his overall game – especially his footwork. The skill set is definitely there for him to make a run at a starting job in two or three years.

CB Walter Thurmond III, Seattle Seahawks

Coming into the 2009 season, I believed wholeheartedly that Thurmond was the best senior cornerback in the nation. He lacked elite straight-line speed but was very fluid and balanced when asked to turn and run down the field and exhibited a sixth sense to locate the football once he got his head turned. However, because of a knee injury he suffered early in the year, Thurmond missed most of the season. But that goes to show you how impressive his tape was from 2008 considering he didn’t run in the postseason and still went in the fourth round. I think he has the ability to mature into a capable starting cornerback in the NFL. He just needs time to fully heal.

Others worth noting:

Jonathan Crompton, San Diego Chargers
Clifton Geathers, Cleveland Browns
Fendi Onobun, St. Louis Rams
Carlton Mitchell, Cleveland Browns
Jorrick Calvin, Arizona Cardinals

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