NFL Draft 2013: Steals and Dark Horses

Al Dannity | Updated Apr 25, 2013


Al Dannity watches a lot of Football, so much that his girlfriend is pleased when the season ends only to later find out he also watches a lot of Basketball. We’re not sure how she’s going to feel with him back on the NFL beat to make his selection of the best value picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

We’re going to work our way up from the bottom of the draft rankings in this year’s assessment of the top steals. First off it’s a wide receiver out of Missouri, T.J. Moe who is ranked all the way down at 297. That projects him to either go undrafted or in the final round, depending on team needs. Moe reminds me of Ricky Proehl, who was a long-tenured third-option receiver in the NFL. Unlike Ryan Swope, who is unfairly being compared to the likes of Proehl and Welker when he is a pure burner, Moe is built for the slot role and I see him developing nicely.

Quinton Dial is another one of several SEC players to make my list this year. In fact, the pool of bargains from there would make you think it was an FCS conference and not the home to the top talent in the College Football ranks. While not the star of the show for the Tide, he is an excellent defensive lineman with start quality for the league. Staying in the SEC, yup this is a pattern, Brad Wing is the best punter or kicker in this draft. The Australian was a revelation as a redshirt freshman and is only in the draft after his sophomore season due to off-field issues. Despite being ranked 259thby CBS, I’ll be stunned if someone doesn’t pull the trigger before the end of the 6th round.

Next up it’s a pair of running backs with injury issues from, yes you’ve guessed it, the SEC. Knile Davis and Marcus Lattimore are both tremendous athletes with exceptional quality at this position. Both lost a lot of time, Lattimore in particular, due to injuries. There comes a point where it’s worth taking a risk on a running back with this level of quality, for me Lattimore is worth a pick in the middle of the third round while Davis is worth risking a high fourth rounder on.

Finally the SEC dominance of this column is broken by Braxston Cave. The centre out of Notre Dame had a poor Senior Bowl but his play since 2010 should really remove doubt from savvy front offices. He’s projected for the fifth or sixth round, I’d take him in the fourth. Alex Okafor, who starred for a Texas team in a slump, is somehow considered behind the likes of the vastly over-rated Dion Jordan. Okafor is the real deal and it’s his lack of classic body size that is seeing him drop to the middle of the second round. This guy is a first round talent and should make an impact for years to come.

Right, let’s get back to all those under-rated SEC players. We’re near the top now and Florida’s Matt Elam was the star on a loaded defence in 2012. Despite being the best guy on one of the best units, he’s only projected to go in round two due to being a safety. Barrett Jones seems to be in an even worse state. Injury concerns have hurt the Alabama centre’s stock but Jones has enjoyed nothing but success at every position on the line. He can play guard, tackle, or centre at an elite level. Someone’s getting a big-time bargain.

My last SEC mention might come as a surprise. I’m calling Jarvis Jones under-rated. Mike Mayock has Jones dropping all the way to 17th in the first round. This is frankly ridiculous. The best defender in this draft, bar none, should be a top five pick.

Finally let’s take a quick look at the Canadian players eligible. Rice tight end Luke Wilson, ranked 24th among tight ends leads the crop followed by McMaster offensive lineman Matt Sewell. It’s a stretch to see either man getting picked but I expect both to be brought into training camps as free agents.