Evan Silva

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Draft 2011: Late-Round Steals

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

North Carolina Quarterback T.J. Yates

The Tar Heels' all-time passing leader, Yates is ideally built (6'4/221) for the position with one of the quickest releases in the draft. Though there are questions about Yates' arm strength, he's not that far off from TCU's Andy Dalton, a projected first- to early second-round pick. Yates started 44 games at UNC, completing 62.26 percent of his career passes with 58 TDs. An aggressive passer with plenty of upside, Yates could be just as good as Dalton and available several rounds later.

Nebraska Running Back Roy Helu

Some players with elite size-speed combinations are workout wonders with little production. Not Helu. Armed with 4.4 speed at 6'0/219, Helu averaged 6.62 yards per carry as a senior with 11 TDs and was voted second-team All-Big 12 by the conference's coaches, leaving Nebraska as the No. 5 rusher in school history. Helu also has big hands for a running back at 10 1/8 inches, which should help his ball security. He'll appeal to zone-blocking teams like the Redskins and Colts.

UCF Offensive Tackle Jah Reid

One of NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock's favorite sleepers, Reid was a 41-game starter at right tackle for the Golden Knights. While his value is limited because of his ability to play just one position on the line, the 6'7/325-pound man child has ideal NFL length (34" arms, 10" hands) and a decorated track record as a two-time first-team All-Conference USA selection. Any power-blocking team in need of a right tackle should have its eyes on Reid early on the draft's third day.

Marshall Inside Linebacker Mario Harvey

Harvey ranked fourth in the nation in tackles as a senior, manning the middle of Marshall's 4-3 defense. Nicknamed "Thumper" for his propensity to make big hits, Harvey's stock took off at the Thundering Pro Day. Built low to the ground at 5'11/257, Harvey ran an eye-opening 4.43 forty time with a 32" vertical and 4.19 short shuttle. He also showed a knack for rushing the passer in college (21 career sacks, 36.5 tackles for loss), and will appeal to 3-4 teams as an inside 'backer.

Miami cornerback Ryan Hill

Demarcus Van Dyke and Brandon Harris get more attention among corner prospects from The U, but Hill may have the most upside. The 5'11/205-pound former wideout picked off more passes as a senior than either of the 'Canes' big-name cornerbacks, and has drawn comparisons to Green Bay's Sam Shields for his college pedigree. Hill, in fact, started over Van Dyke last year. At the very least, the experienced special teamer will make an impact in kickoff coverage.

Southern Illinois Cornerback Korey Lindsey

Lindsey is built unimpressively from head to toe (5'10/181, 7 7/8" hands), but no one can doubt his playmaking ability. A two-time first-team FCS All American and three-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference pick, Lindsey picked off 14 career passes despite teams' refusal to throw in his direction as a senior. Also offering value in the punt return game, Lindsey projects as an NFL nickel back with ideal ball skills. He'll likely begin his pro career covering slot receivers.

North Carolina State Wide Receiver Owen Spencer

Spencer ran a relatively disappointing 4.54 forty at the Combine, but he plays much faster. The 6'2/195-pound deep threat set the ACC single-season record with a 25.5 yards-per-catch average as a junior, finishing his career with a 19.37 mark and 15 touchdowns. Spencer also has long arms (33 3/8") for a receiver and a big "catch radius." The 23-year-old needs to get stronger, but possesses dangerous vertical skills and could make an immediate impact in four-receiver sets.

Arkansas State Tackle Derek Newton

Newton was only a two-year starter at Arkansas State, but he's certainly got NFL-caliber athleticism. At 6'5/311, Newton posted a 5.01 forty time at the Combine to rank third out of the 49 offensive linemen who participated. He's clearly a top-notch athlete. Also a first-team All-Sun Belt selection as a senior, Newton will kick inside in the pros after protecting the blind side for the Indians. Teams that value guards who can pull and block downfield will be intrigued by Newton.

Stanford Outside Linebacker Tom Keiser

Keiser has flown well under the radar for a pass rusher who was highly productive in the Pac 10. A surprise early entrant into the draft, Keiser was snubbed for a Combine invite after racking up an impressive 19.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss in then-Cardinal defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's "multiple" defense. At 6'5/244, Keiser is built to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Old pals Fangio and Jim Harbaugh may give Keiser a long look in the later rounds Saturday.

Baldwin-Wallace Outside Linebacker Keith Darbut

An athletic freak with plenty of production, Darbut ran a 4.32 during a pre-draft private workout with the Colts, and proved his sub-4.4 speed wasn't a fluke with a 4.38 at the Akron Pro Day. Darbut isn't well known because he played at D-3 Baldwin Wallace, but he dominated that level enough to earn Ohio Athletic Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. At 6'4/230 with ridiculous wheels, Darbut could make an immediate impact running down kicks on special teams.

Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
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