Every year, come draft time, "first round" talents fall in the draft because of character, position value, or team's just not seeing the prospect as an impact playmaker at the next level. But what does it mean to be a "first round talent"?
Generally, first round draft picks are thought of as not only long term starters, but key cogs for a franchise to build around. Second and third round guys are viewed as your starters or key role players on your teams.
Fourth and fifth rounders are your developmental or rotational guys, and sixth, seventh, and undrafted players are special teams fillers, potential back-ups, or long term developmental projects.
These players are guys that have the first round talent, but because of size, character, or position issues, probably won't end up in the Top 32 picks come draft day.
Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina - Character, Didn't Play Senior Year
-If Austin declared for the draft after his junior season (and before his season-long suspension) he probably could have been a solid middle-to-late first round pick in the 2010 draft, and at times showed just as much potential as Gerald McCoy on film. But, thanks to his motor question marks, character issues in the locker room, and not playing all last year, teams may overlook that elite skill set and let him fall past pick 32.
Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU - Position, Lack of Elite Athletic
-Sheppard doesn't have the Patrick Willis-like athletic ability to be a high first round pick. Still, Sheppard was a well-known team leader in college and in the short Senior Bowl week, and that leadership, outstanding size for an inside linebacker, power, and instinctiveness could make him an elite 3-4 inside linebacker in his own right.
Drake Nevis, DT, LSU - Depth at Position, Lack of Great Size
-If team's thought last year's defensive line crop was great, then this year's could be among the best all-time when it comes to top three round defensive tackles and ends. With as many as 10-12 defensive linemen slotted to go in the first round, great talents like Nevis, who could play nose or 3-technique in a 4-3 defense depending on the system, could be steals at the early or middle part of round two.
Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh - Character
-When Greg Romeus went down with multiple injuries this year for Pittsburgh, the defensive pass rush barely missed a beat, with Sheard showcasing an outstanding motor, hand usage, inside-out rush moves, and speed off the edge to be one of the most heavily blocked defensive linemen in the country last year. He has a serious assault arrest last off-season that likely will push 1st round teams away, but he could be a dominate 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 power rusher in the NFL.
Jerrell Jernigan, WR, Troy - Injury, Position
-One of my favorite prospects in this draft (and probably the featured player in a future blog post), Jerrell Jernigan can help a team in so many ways: backside receiver, slot receiver, kick returner, punt returner, wildcat back, and more. He isn't built like an every down receiver, though, and has some lingering injury woes, but he has the potential to be a mix of Josh Cribbs and Steve Smith in the NFL, and that sounds to be like a first round prospect.