Last week’s NFL draft had no shortage of surprises. A dizzying 8 trades were made in the first round alone, as teams scrambled to select the player that tickled their fancy. Only time will tell which players pan out and which were draft day mistakes, but as I look back on the late rounds, I can’t help but be stunned at some of the players who were looked over. Let’s examine my top five draft day snubs.
5. Chris Polk, RB Washington
It came as a shock to many that star Huskies running back Chris Polk was not selected in the draft. Polk had quite an illustrious career at the University of Washington, rushing for 4,049 career yards. Entering the draft there were questions about a possible nagging hip injury, but Polk was still scouted as a fourth round pick. He possesses many attributes that NFL coaches look for in a back in today’s pass-happy league; a hard runner with deceptive speed, good pass-blocking skills and sure hands. Polk recently signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
4. Jeff Fuller, WR Texas A&M
If Jeff Fuller had declared for the draft in 2011, he would have been a late-first to early-second round pick. At 6’4″, 220 pounds, Fuller certainly looks the part of an NFL wide receiver. Although he does not possess DeSean Jackson-type speed, he does a good job of creating separation and out-muscling the often smaller cornerbacks. Fuller’s problems in 2012 were nagging injuries and an excessive amount of dropped passes. Nevertheless, I am shocked that not a single team wanted to risk a late draft pick on Fuller. I predicted that the Cats would use a fourth round pick on him. I suppose I was wrong. Fuller has signed with the Miami Dolphins, rejoining forces with former A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Don’t be surprised if Fuller is a starting wideout this season for a subpar Dolphins receiving core.
3. Vontaze Burfict, ILB Arizona State
What an interesting character Vontaze Burfict has turned out to be. Early in the college football season, Burfict was slated as a no-doubt first round pick in the draft. A hard hitting, ball-hawking inside linebacker, Burfict was often a dominant force in the college ranks. Questions about his character became more and more evident as the college season went on, as he accumulated fifteen-yard penalties, fights with his teammates, and at one point refused to enter a game. The combine was Burfict’s greatest downfall. He showed up visibly out of shape, running a lineman-like 5.01 in the 40 yard dash. To make things substantially worse, he tested positive for marijuana in the combine drug test. The stupidity that someone must have to test positive for marijuana at the NFL combine is an issue that I won’t even touch on, but it goes without saying that NFL front offices were not impressed. Burfict transformed himself from a first round pick to an unrestricted free agent, and has now signed a contract with the Cincinnati Bungals.
2. Dwight Jones, WR UNC
This one is just flabbergasting to me. I’ve been trying to find some sort of reason why North Carolina receiver Dwight Jones went undrafted, but I can’t find one. Jones was an extremely reliable wideout for UNC, and had a wonderful senior season (85 receptions, 12 TDs). At 6’3″, Jones has the height that NFL squads are looking for, and possesses adequate speed to go along with great hands. He does an exceptional job of going over the middle and making the tough catch in traffic. I didn’t think there was any way that Jones would slip farther than the fifth round, but he somehow was passed on by every team. Look for Jones to be a surprisingly productive receiver for his newly appointed Houston Texans squad.
1. Kellen Moore, QB Boise St
Say what you will about Kellen Moore. He’s too small, his arm is too weak, he didn’t play against top competion, blah blah blah. The winningest quarterback in college football history deserves to be drafted. He is not the tallest guy and does not have a rocket arm, but he is deadly accurate and is always one step ahead of opposing defenses. A cerebral team leader with over 50 wins on his college resume, Moore knows how to lead a team to victory. The Detroit Lions recently signed this unrestricted free agent, and now have a very adequate backup to the injury prone Matt Stafford.
These are just five of the several NFL draft day snubs. Some of the players that didn’t make my list but deserve an honorable mention include: Case Keenum, QB Houston; Jarrett Boykin, WR Virginia Tech; Chase Minnifield, DB Virginia.