Nick Fairley. Cam Newton. Patrick Peterson. Those are the names receiving the hype and attention in mock drafts everywhere, yet we all know that value is found all throughout the draft (and even after) and that a team's scouting department is key to unearthing finds in unexpected places. For that reason, we'll be watching out for prospects, both high-profile and under-the-radar in the hopes of knowing more about the names being called in late April's draft weekend.
We just witnessed the late-round impact first-hand with both the Packers and Steelers making a trip to the Super Bowl with help from such rookies. Sam Shields and James Starks became household names in this year's playoffs as an undrafted free agent and sixth round pick respectively. The same could be said for Pittsburgh wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, who were both picked up in the 2010 draft in the sixth and third rounds.
Now with the NFL Combine coming up, All-star games being played and scouts and front offices making their draft boards, later-round choices will start to become noticed. One such local product is Mizzou center Tim Barnes, a player hoping to get noticed amidst what National Football Post's Wes Bunting calls a weak center class. Specifically he writes:
Barnes isn’t the most physically imposing of centers. However, he’s got some natural bend to his game, is quick handed inside and moves well laterally through contact. And in a weak center class I think Barnes is one of the better pivots this draft has to offer. Plus, he’s natural on the move, can reach targets at the second level and is the one mid-round center prospect who I cold see fighting for a starting job down the line.
With continued improvement, some team is bound to notice Barnes. With the Chiefs needing an infusion of youth in the interior line, perhaps Barnes won't move so far after all.