By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) The first night of the NFL Draft is all about star power. Teams want to find players who are going to be All-Pro players who become the cornerstones of the franchise.
Some first-round players – like Brian Urlacher – will fulfill all of their teams’ dreams and expectations. Many more will fail.
It’s been 12 years since the Bears selected Urlacher with their first-round pick and failures like David Terrell (2001), Michael Haynes (2003) and Cedric Benson (2005) have been more the rule than the exception.
Obviously, general manager Phil Emery wants to hit a home run with his first-round pick. Finding an impact pass rusher, standout offensive lineman or a wide receiver to complement Brandon Marshall would be solid moves.
It’s not just about the first round. Having success in the second and third rounds may not bring the bumper crop of superstars, but it can mean that a team will find starting players who make significant contributions. Second and third round picks are often the key to staying in contention for a playoff spot. These players are often overlooked during the draft because most observers like to focus on the superstars, but successful drafting in these rounds often provide teams with core players.
Here’s a look at five post-first-round players who could turn out to be solid starters and should not be overlooked.
DT Kendall Reyes, Connecticut (6-4, 297, 4.96) – Nobody thinks that Reyes has a superstar’s overall athletic ability. However, Reyes has shown throughout his career that he can make plays. He was a standout player during Senior Bowl week and showed he could disrupt the offense with his quickness off the line and his powerful lower body. You are not going to push Reyes backwards because he’s going to get low and keep playing through the whistle. Once he learns how to make better use of his hands, he has every chance to be a consistent, every down player. Early-or middle second round.
LB Lavonte David, Nebraska (6-1, 234, 4.66) – It’s all about productivity for David, who can make plays all over the field. He could prove to be a key selection for the Bears because Urlacher and Lance Briggs are starting to count down towards the end of their careers. David is a tackling machine who excels against the run, can cause havoc rushing the passer and can also cover receivers coming out of the backfield. David is a bit on the small side but he plays with so much urgency and electricity that you know he is going to make something happen on a regular basis. He has the instincts to play inside linebacker but his size will probably send him to an outside spot. Middle second round.
TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson (6-3, 255, 4.87) – There is quite a bit of debate about Allen’s ability as a blocker, but he is a solid pass catching prospect who has the hands, moves and run after the catch ability that all teams want out of the position. He is a good player who is not necessarily a game-breaker, but he has shown the ability to make pressure catches and rarely drops the ball. Seems to respond well after taking a big hit. Middle second round.
CB Trumaine Johnson, Montana (6-2, 202, 4.62) – Based on the increased demands that are placed on cornerbacks in today’s NFL, Johnson could turn out to be a prized selection. He has the size that scouts are looking for at the position and while he does not have elite stopwatch speed, Johnson is field fast. He has excellent instincts for the position, can go up and get the ball and loves the competition. When you play for a smaller school, there are always going to be questions about the competition, but Johnson has the talent to become a solid player if he finds a coach who can get the most out of him. Middle or late second round.
WR Marv Jones, California (6-2, 197, 4.45) – A true sleeper in this draft. Jones did not have the kind of production in college that many of the elite receivers had, but much of that was due to unimpressive quarterback play. In a position filled with players who have top-flight athletic ability, Jones stands out in that area. He is fast enough with good quickness and he is an outstanding leaper who can go over the top of defensive backs and make the catch. He can make the acrobatic catch that can change momentum in a game. He looks somewhat thin, but he is stronger than he looks. He has every chance to become a solid No. 2 receiver. Third-round.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.