There’s a reason Day 1 and Day 2 of the NFL Draft are held in prime time. Players drafted in the first three rounds garner the majority of the spotlight. Still, there will be players taken on Day 3 who can make big contributions next year and for the foreseeable future. There are always prospects that fly well under the radar who end up becoming some of the best players in a draft class. Here is a list of 10 players to monitor moving forward who could hear their names called on Saturday:
Jonathan Adams Jr., WR, Arkansas State
2020 Stats: 7 games, 52 REC, 737 YDS, 14.2 Y/R, 8 TDS
Jonathan Adams is a big-bodied receiver who uses his size to his advantage against smaller defensive backs. He has incredible hands and is a physical force when he’s on the field. Adams is a great contested-ball receiver as he can wall off defensive backs with his big frame. He is not afraid to do the dirty work either on offense as he is more than willing to throw a block. He is flying under the radar due to his route running ability and injury history on top of playing in the Sun Belt Conference, but he should be able to contribute right away if his 2020 film is any indication.
Matt Bushman, TE, BYU
2019 Stats: 13 games, 47 REC, 688 YDS, 14.6 Y/R, 4 TDS
If it wasn’t for an injury, Matt Bushman could have been a Day 2 pick. He was Zach Wilson’s security blanket during the 2019 season as he led the team in receiving with 688 yards. Bushman is a thickly built tight end with a solid frame, which does not hinder his athletic ability whatsoever. He is great at breaking weak tackles while also being able to show great balance and flexibility on top of his impressive run after the catch ability at the tight end position. He is not just a receiver, as he is also a capable blocker in the run game. The 33rd Team player comparison for Bushman was Travis Kelce, which is certainly very high praise. If Bushman turns out to be even an ounce of Kelce at the next level, then he could be one of the biggest steals in this class.
Pooka Williams Jr., RB, Kansas
2020 Stats: 4 games, 51 CAR, 196 YDS, 3.8 Y/C, 2 TDS, 6 REC, 31 YDS, 0 TDS
Pooka Williams Jr. is an intriguing prospect. He has some off-the-field issues that have him sliding down draft boards along with his small size and frame on top of his inability to run effectively in between the tackles. However, Williams does have exceptional ability to create on his own, and he is extremely elusive in the open field. Furthermore, he is a very good weapon in the passing game, and he showed off this skillset constantly when he was at Kansas. If he can bulk up a little bit, teams will be able to find a role for him at the next level since he is that dynamic of a player, especially in today’s NFL where it is a necessity to get the ball out quickly. Players like James White and Boston Scott have been vital to teams thanks to their receiving prowess. Williams could be next in line to carve out a role like those players in the NFL.
Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami-Ohio
Career: 31 games played, 30 games started
This is a player who has been picking up more and more steam during the pre-draft process thanks to his impressive size (6-7, 318 pounds). Doyle has the physical upside to eventually be a starter in the NFL while also boasting impressive strength at the offensive tackle position. He projects best as an initial backup RT with starter potential in a run-heavy gap scheme in the NFL, where he can use his power to establish a new line of scrimmage; however, Doyle flies well under the radar due to his rawness as a prospect while also not being a great pass blocker. If he can refine his skill set and develop for a couple of seasons, he could be a vital piece to a winning offensive line in the future. He has the tools and physical attributes, but he just needs to develop more as a pass blocker.
Shane Buechele, QB, SMU
2020 Stats: 10 games, 3,095 YDS, 65% CMP %, 23 TDS, 6 INTS
Shane Buechele brought SMU into the national spotlight the past two seasons after transferring from Texas. In fact, with Buechele under center, SMU experienced the most success it has ever had since the ‘80s, when the Mustangs were running the Pony Express with Eric Dickerson and Craig James in the backfield. Buechele is a gunslinger who is not afraid to make throws into tight areas. He is a resilient player who has gotten much better at protecting the ball as his career has gone on. Buechele may not be receiving the same love as some of the other QBs in this draft since he doesn’t have the strongest arm, and he may have been a product of the air raid system Sonny Dykes is running at SMU. Those negatives aside, Buechele is a tough player who could see some action at the next level due to his increasing improvement throughout his career.
Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pittsburgh
2020 Stats: 9 games, 35 total tackles, 19 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 PDS, 3 FFS, 1 FR
Rashad Weaver is an intriguing option. Weaver was quietly productive while playing in the shadow of teammate Patrick Jones, who garnered a lot of the attention for Pitt, especially in the pre-draft process. This makes Weaver the perfect candidate for an under-the-radar player who could contribute at the next level. He is being overlooked due to his subpar athleticism on top of his small size for an edge rusher along with a lack of lower body power; however, Weaver is a natural block-shedder with a good pass rush repertoire who should get teams excited if he can add on some weight to make him a better defender against the run.
Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
2020 Stats: 2 games, 13 total tackles, 5 solo tackles, 1.5 TFLS, 1 INT
Hamsah Nasirildeen could be one of the biggest wildcards in this draft. He is incredibly productive when he healthy, but he has suffered numerous injuries to different parts of his legs that could lead to him falling much farther than he should. Outside of injuries, Nasirildeen is also a wildcard since he doesn’t project as a natural safety at the next level. This uncertainty could have some teams scared to take a risk on him with an earlier pick, especially with all the injuries he has had; however, when Nasirildeen can stay healthy, he is a special player. His versatility and his size (6-7) could be highly coveted by teams. He has great physical tools that include great length, great play strength, and explosiveness. The former Seminole is a unique player that should be able to carve out a role for himself at the next level.
Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
2020 Stats: 5 games, 26 total tackles, 14 solo tackles, 2.0 TFLS, .5 sacks,
Cameron McGrone’s 2020 season did not do him a lot of justice. The 2019 season is a much better indication of what McGrone could be capable of at the next level. Many teams may slide him down on their draft boards due to this discrepancy. Moreover, he is very raw and lacks the experience that other top-tier linebackers have in this class. He doesn’t use his length very well, and he struggles greatly when dropping back into coverage. These negative traits may make him more of a project at the next level. He will be a great special teams player right away, which could make him a valuable addition to a team on Day 3. McGrone does flash great play strength in his ability to knock down blockers while also displaying flashes of great athleticism in pursuit. If McGrone can continue to develop, he could be a very valuable asset to a defense for years to come.
Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State
2020 Stats: 12 games, 37 total tackles, 24 solo tackles, 1.0 TFLS, 1 INT, 17 PDS, 1 FF
Shemar Jean-Charles is a leader who could help a locker room right away at the next level. He was a team captain at Appalachian State during his final season with the Mountaineers, and he was the anchor on one of the best defenses in the Sun Belt Conference. Jean-Charles is technically refined with great straight-line speed, burst, and ball skills to succeed out the numbers. The reasons he may be flying under the radar despite being a first-team All-American according to several outlets in 2020 is because he gambles too much, doesn’t defend well against the run and has a very skinny frame. If you give this player enough time to develop, however, he could very well be worth the wait.
Darius Stills, IDL, West Virginia
2020 Stats: 10 games, 25 total tackles, 12 solo tackles, 7.5 TFLS, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PD
Darius Stills’ production took a major hit during the bizarre 2020 season. From a stats perspective, Stills was not nearly as productive as he was in 2019, which could be part of the reasonhe is falling down draft boards. From more of a scouting perspective, Stills can be overly aggressive when trying to penetrate the backfield, and he doesn’t take the greatest of angles on the ball carrier on rushing plays. This often leads to bigger holes being opened for runners than there should be. He also does not boast great length, which could lead to these other issues. On a more positive note, Stills does have a quick first step and burst off the line that allows him to get into the backfield with relative ease. Also, he displayed great play strength and lateral agility that make him somebody that could stand out from Day 3. If he can shore up some of his deficiencies, we could see why his 2019 season was so great for the Mountaineers of West Virginia.