It happens every year.
There are roughly 250 picks in the NFL Draft, and every single one has a unique chance to contribute regardless of what round they were selected in. Oftentimes, NFL teams get it wrong, and a big-time player falls in the draft. It's just part of the process. The NFL Draft is, after all, an inexact science.
For the past three seasons, I have been putting together a team full of underrated prospects who I think have a chance to outperform their draft position. Some past players who made my all-underrated team were Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, Browns offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz, Rams running back Zac Stacy and Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Here's my underrated team for the 2014 NFL Draft. It wouldn't surprise me if a few of these names are more well-known in a few years than they are now.
The Chicago Bears found a perfect match for Marc Trestman in David Fales. Fales isn't all that big and doesn't have the strongest arm, but he is able to make all of the throws, and more importantly, he's willing to be aggressive with the football. Fales was dealing with a coaching change this season and also lost some of his playmakers due to injury. Still, he's more accurate and throws the ball with more anticipation than quarterbacks drafted higher than him. He could develop into a starter in Trestman's scheme.
If Storm Johnson could have held on to the football more often at UCF, he would have been drafted a lot higher. He's a slashing running back with good burst and power to his game. Johnson's best asset is probably his versatility. He has soft hands out of the backfield and can make people miss in the open field. The Jaguars just brought in Toby Gerhart, but Johnson could eat into his workload early on. It's about holding on to the football for Johnson, though.
Ted Thompson has a knack for finding value at the wide receiver position. He may have done it again with Jeff Janis of Saginaw Valley State. Physically, Janis is a beast. He showed how explosive he was at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it seems he got lost in a deep wide receiver class. Janis will have to adjust to the level of competition, but he dominated in his final year of college. He could be a steal for Green Bay.
Wyoming players were a bit of an afterthought for NFL teams on draft weekend. Robert Herron, a wide receiver who has the skill set to be drafted on Day 2, was still on the board for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they were picking in the sixth round. After Tampa Bay added size at wide receiver early in the draft, Herron should provide the team with some speed out of the slot. All of a sudden, Tampa's offense has the makings of a productive unit.
USC's offense didn't get the most out of Xavier Grimble, and it ended up costing him on draft weekend. Grimble is an athletic tight end with a big catch radius and reliable hands. The Giants were able to pick him up in free agency after the draft ended, and there's a chance he could contribute in that offense at some point soon.
The Steelers needed to get better up front, and they managed to find a versatile offensive lineman who could contribute at multiple spots. Wesley Johnson played tackle at Vanderbilt, but he will probably be best suited at guard in the NFL. Pittsburgh has had plenty of issues with depth, so this felt like a great pick.
Dakota Dozier was a player who seemed to be shooting up draft boards throughout the pre-draft process. He still ended up being available on the third day of the draft, and the Jets took advantage. For a team that needed a guard, finding a player of Dozier's caliber at that spot was outstanding value. Dozier is a smooth athlete who plays with sound technique. If he continues to get stronger, he will be an impact player on New York's offensive line.
Level of competition seemed to hurt a lot of players on draft weekend. Princeton defensive tackle Caraun Reid definitely fell victim to the perception that he wasn't ready to make the jump from FCS to the NFL. His skill set warranted a pick on Day 2, but the Lions grabbed him in the fifth round. It's a good situation for him to be in, though. Reid won't have to play right away and can push for playing time if Detroit moves on from either Ndamukong Suh or Nick Fairley.
Once upon a time, people were talking about USF defensive end Aaron Lynch as a first-round talent. He lost a bunch of weight after transferring from Notre Dame and didn't have the season many were hoping. There are also some off-the-field concerns present with Lynch. However, he's explosive and flexible off the edge. Plus, he has the ideal length to be a defensive end if he just fills out his frame.
Linebacker: Avery Williamson, Tennessee Titans (Kentucky, fifth round)
It's easy to forget about Avery Williamson. He played for a bad Kentucky team that gave up a lot of points in the SEC. However, he was a productive leader in the middle of that defense and the type of instinctual linebacker who could find success early in the NFL. He always seems to be anticipating where he needs to be and sheds blocks well when he gets there. It shouldn't be a surprise if he gets on the field early in Tennessee.
Linebacker: Telvin Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars (Florida State, fifth round)
The Jaguars needed to find a weakside linebacker in this draft, and few players in the class fit their scheme better than Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith. He's incredibly fast and plays the game with a violent edge. His athleticism will be an asset in the running game and the passing game. Expect Smith to be one of the more productive defensive rookies in the NFL.
Andre Hal was much higher in our rankings than he ultimately got drafted. Part of that is because he has some technical flaws in his game, but his length and physicality should come in handy at the next level. He's the type of cornerback teams are looking for, but he does need a bit of time to develop.
Terrance Mitchell is a long athlete with speed to cover any receiver all over the field. Aside from his physical makeup, it's his aggressive mentality in coverage that makes him a potential steal for the Cowboys in the seventh round. He locates the football well in the air and knows how to make plays at the catch point. Mitchell may get a chance to prove himself early in Dallas, too.
It's amazing that even with a record number of defensive backs coming off the board early in the 2014 NFL Draft, Dion Bailey didn't find a home until after the seventh round was complete. Lucky for him, he found a perfect fit for his skill set. Bailey is a linebacker who converted to safety. Seattle will be able to take advantage of his versatility in its defense, and Bailey could be productive in a few years if he sticks on the roster.