In the NFL Draft, there are always players that are overlooked. Some of these players fell into later rounds of the draft. Some of these players weren't even drafted at all. Here's my look at the most underrated players in this incoming rookie class.
1. Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
(Selected 94th overall by Tampa Bay)
It’s understandable why Jamel Dean was drafted lower than his talent would suggest. Dean, like others on this list, is hampered by his injury history. He has the potential to be one of the best corners in the game when he’s on the field - but he’s never on the field. As a cornerback, he’s reminds me a lot of Jason Verrett. He possesses the talent and the athleticism to be a star corner. However, everything means nothing when he isn’t healthy. Jamel Dean will have a fresh start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - a team with a huge need at cornerback. With the possibility of starting this year, Dean has a great opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.
2. Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota
(Selected 157th overall by NYJ)
In my opinion, Blake Cashman is the 3rd best linebacker in this draft. Cashman is a great athlete that rarely takes a false step. Furthermore, he is capable against the run and in coverage. Despite being in a very lacking class of linebackers, Cashman somehow fell to the 5th round. Whether it was his size that caused his draft stock to fall, or just plain bad luck, Cashman will have the chance to become one of the larger steals of the draft. With the Jets, he’ll be learning under CJ Mosley and Avery Williamson. Don't be shocked if he’s a regular substitution to either of them.
3. Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple
(Selected 140th overall by Jacksonville)
Ryquell Armstead’s reputation in this year’s draft class suffered for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he played against a relatively lower level of competition at Temple. Secondly, Armstead has a history of injuries that have periodically sidelined him over the past two years. However, Armstead’s work ethic helps make up for these flaws. He is willing to do anything to help his team; having even played defensive end one week because of other teammates’ injuries. He is not the best pure player at his position. However, his diligence, combined with his physical ability, is enough for me to expect him to succeed.
4. Devine Ozigbo, RB, Nebraska
(Undrafted, signed with New Orleans)
Devine Ozigbo is a very good running back and I think he can be a solid starter straight out of the gate. He is a power back with some wiggle and can play in a zone or a power scheme. He may not be perfect for every team, but he’s a quality player whose draft stock tumbled due to not being invited to the combine. With the New Orleans Saints, he will have a chance to challenge Latavius Murray as Mark Ingram’s replacement.
5. Porter Gustin, EDGE, USC
(Undrafted, signed with New Orleans)
Porter Gustin is injury prone, which lowered his draft stock - a common theme amongst these players. However, his value to USC’s defense was clear. The Trojans' defense was pretty good when he was on the field and it was awful when he was off the field. He’s a talented rusher who should be able to carve out his place in the league relatively quickly as long as he stays uninjured. However, failing a drug test at the combine didn't do any favors to Gustin. And as an undrafted signee, Gustin has a tough road ahead of him. He’ll be joining Cameron Jordan and last year’s first rounder, Marcus Davenport, on the Saints - suggesting that Gustin will have a rotational role at best in his initial years with New Orleans.
6. Gardner Minshew, QB, WSU
(Selected 178th overall by Jacksonville)
Gardner Minshew is an investment. If you pair him with a great QB coach, Minshew has a lot of potential to develop. While his accuracy and quarterback IQ are that of a starter’s, his mechanics and arm strength are holding him back. Minshew won't be amazing right out of the gate, but he’s got a great attitude and won’t be discontent with a backup role. He’ll probably never be the best in the league, but he could carve out a Josh McCown-style role in the league.
7. Toa Lobendahn, OL, USC
(Undrafted, signed with NYJ)
Toa Lobendahn played center at USC and was a terrible fit. But is wasn't his blocking that was the problem. Rather, his snaps were frequently inaccurate. Move him to guard and you’ll have a quality player on your hands. He’s played everywhere along the line, which will be valued in the league. His versatility will add some extra appeal as he competes for a role with the Jets.
8. Andy Isabella, WR, UMASS
(Selected 62nd overall by Arizona)
One of my favorite receivers in this class, Isabella received some notoriety as a Biletnikoff award finalist. He may have played against lesser competition for most of his career, but his 219 yard performance against Georgia showed that he can thrive against talented defenses. He is athletic and a great route runner with serviceable hands. Isabella was taken 62nd overall by the Cardinals, making him the highest drafted player on this list. He should be a starter very early in his career and will be very effective in Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid offense.