The 5 Biggest 2016 Draft Steals

The 5 Biggest 2016 Draft Steals

The player who goes on to have the best career in an NFL draft class is very rarely the #1 overall pick. Oftentimes, future Pro Bowlers sneak under the radar, get drafted with little fanfare, and aren’t picked up until Day 2 or 3. So while talking heads debate Goff v. Wentz at the top, let’s take a deep dive into the later rounds and highlight some names to watch for.

Blake Martinez, ILB, Stanford
Projected Draft Round: 3-5

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If your team is looking for a leader in the middle of the defense, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the 6-2, 237 lb. Martinez. This Stanford alum has the size, speed, and smarts that teams crave at the inside linebacker position.

Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

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Howard has great height and athleticism for a corner. He also put up some impressive numbers during his 2015-16 senior season. But what makes the 22-year-old stand out the most might just be the level of talent he faced off against on a regular basis. He lined up across from fellow Baylor Bear and possible first-round WR Corey Coleman every day during practice.

Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia
Projected Draft Round: 6-Undrafted

Keith Marshall

No event impacts a player’s draft stock more than the NFL Scouting Combine, and no player took advantage of it this year more than Marshall. The Bulldog ran the fastest 40-yard dash of the weekend at 4.31 seconds, and he benched more than any other tailback. Because of injury issues in college, he may not be a household name, but it would be foolish for teams to ignore his serious skills.

Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois
Projected Draft Round: 5-6

Need a receiver out of the backfield? Ferguson’s your man. He may be only 5’9”, but he’s got the shiftiness, route-running prowess, and quickness to wreak havoc on screens and wheel routes. As offenses become more and more passing oriented, this back’s value will only continue to rise.

Temarrick Hemingway, TE, South Carolina State
Projected Draft Round: 5-6

NFL tight ends play a bigger role in the passing game nowadays than they ever have before. They need to play like super-sized receivers, and torch defenses down the middle of the field. Hemingway fits this modern era perfectly. He’s big, fast, and physical. Hailing from an MEAC school like S.C. State might make him a little raw, but he has the work ethic to catch on quickly.

But obviously these are just some of the names that stand out to us. There will be plenty of Day 2 and 3 selections that will become key playmakers throughout the league. So let us know in the comments, who do you think will be this year’s biggest draft steal?

Inside the Combine: Keith Marshall

Inside the Combine: Keith Marshall

Keith Marshall

During every NFL Combine, a prospect comes out from under the radar and blows everyone away with his insane athleticism. This year, the answer is obvious — Georgia RB Keith Marshall. And he proved it early and often.

On Thursday, Marshall showed he was the strongest tailback in this year’s class by doing the bench press 25 times. Things only got more incredible on Friday, when he posted a 4.31 40-yard dash, a full tenth of a second better than any other back.

To post these jaw-dropping times, he worked with Pete Bommarito of Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami, Fla.

“For my speed, we did a lot of technique runs,” he said. “That was the biggest thing, getting my technique down and working on our starts.”
But don’t mistake Marshall for one of those incredible athletes who can’t ever put it together on the field. He brings a lot to the table as a back, including skills at less glamorous job requirements like receiving and pass blocking.

“For catching, I did jug machines a lot,” he said. “It’s one of those things that you can definitely work on and get better at, but it’s kind of natural.”
As for protecting the QB, it’s not only something the 22-year-old is willing to do, but it’s something he relishes. “I am not one of those people who dreads pass blocking. I kind of enjoy it,” he said. “It’s all about technique, getting the right leverage, and understanding who to pick up.”

So, how in the world did such a complete and talented running back catch so many scouts and analysts by surprise?

Well, he suffered multiple knee injuries in college which limited his playing time. Most teams had no idea what type of athlete and player they would be getting.
Now, with his athleticism and attention at an all-time high, he credits his dad for helping him persevere through the tough times.

“My dad played in the league, so that always gave me a sense of what it takes,” he said. “He told me to keep working hard and do what got you here. Never relax because you always need to prove yourself.”

He’s off to a flying start.