NFL Draft: Building a championship with players outside top 60
Rob Rang and Chad Reuter have studied hundreds of prospects and waded through many hours of tape, talked to sources and the players themselves to reach this point in their research -- the NFLDraftScout.com board is almost finalized.
During their meticulous review, the senior analysts resist falling into sports fan tendencies but concede they inevitably develop favorites in the months-long evaluation exercise.
Naturally, first- and second-round picks get the most attention from media, but the mid-to-late round picks are the most fun to discover.
Without included players likely to be drafted in the first round, our analysts disclose the 2011 prospects they've developed an affinity for and would like to have if they were building a franchise.
For the most part, these names will be read off cards handed in by teams on Saturday of draft weekend, meaning few are top 60 players. They are players Reuter and Rang would take a chance on based on film study, character and potential.
Without considering the elite players at all positions, they've both selected a team -- 11 offense, 11 defense -- of prospects who pique the interest of our top evaluators as Chad's Crew and Rang's Gang:
Chad's Crew Chad Reuter, Senior Analyst
Adam Weber's gunslinger mentality makes him an attractive late-round pick. (Getty Images)
QB Adam Weber, Minnesota 6-1 / 209 / 4.73
Doesn't have prototypical height, but his arm strength, mobility and gunslinger mentality give him a shot to succeed.
RB Delone Carter, Syracuse 5-9 / 222 / 4.54
Possesses the thick, compact build teams like, capable when running inside and outside, also help as a receiver.
FB Ryan Taylor, North Carolina 6-3 / 250 / 4.76
Taylor is a strong H-back candidate who might not be drafted but is a good receiver and could surprise as an on-the-move blocker.
WR Ricardo Lockette, Fort Valley State 6-2 / 211 / 4.34
Everyone knows about his 4.3 speed, but his strong build and shiftiness with the ball in his hands could make him a No. 2 receiver.
WR Ryan Whalen, Stanford 6-1 / 202 / 4.53
Reliable receiver whose strength and underrated quickness should help him do more than just "move the chains."
TE Luke Stocker, Tennessee 6-5 / 258 / 4.68
Won't win footraces, but Stocker could be a starter because he gets open, secures the ball and blocks in-line.
OT Byron Stingily, Louisville 6-5 / 313 / 4.96
Second-team All-Big East pick still learning the position, but looks to be more than just a typical size/athleticism prospect.
OG Stephen Schilling, Michigan 6-4 / 308 / 5.18
The Wolverines didn't exactly light up the world the past two years, but I like Schilling's mobility and strength inside.
C Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock 6-4 / 306 / 5.18
Late bloomer who matured into a solid pivot man at the Rock, should excel once adjusting to the speed of the NFL game.
OG Daniel Kilgore, Appalachian State 6-3 / 308 / 5.28
Mauler who showed a real mean streak at the NFLPA all-star game and a little more athleticism at the Combine than expected.
OT Trevis Turner, Abilene Christian 6-7 / 342 / 5.43
Another D2 All-Star in the mold of J'Marcus Webb, who was a seventh-round pick who started at right tackle for the Bears last year.
DE Markell Carter, Central Arkansas 6-4 / 252 / 4.76
Shows potential as a pass rusher with length and initial quickness, especially if adding 10-15 lbs to 250-pound frame.
DT Ian Williams, Notre Dame 6-1 / 319 / 5.21
Teams playing the 4-3 looking for a nose tackle in the middle rounds will look to Williams for his strength and hustle inside.
DT Martin Parker, Richmond 6-2 / 303 / 4.95
Three-technique with quick feet and hands to get through creases inside and hustle to chase down plays from behind.
DE D'Aundre Reed, Arizona 6-4 / 261 / 4.84
Played behind Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed for the 'Cats, but has athleticism and hustle to be a solid swing defensive end.
OLB Adrian Moten, Maryland 6-2 / 228 / 4.53
Brings a strong combination of speed, size, toughness, and his four interceptions in 2010 also caught the eyes of scouts.
ILB Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State 6-1 / 242 / 4.87
Pure run-stuffer who could fill a need for 4-3 teams looking for immediate depth in a draft lacking at that position.
OLB Scott Lutrus, Connecticut 6-2 / 241 / 4.68
Has the size and athleticism to handle tight ends and stop the run on the edge as an NFL strong-side linebacker.
CB Byron Maxwell, Clemson 6-0 / 202 / 4.43
Versatile player with nice size/speed and toughness on the outside; will also be a strong special teams contributor.
CB Anthony Gaitor, Florida International 5-10 / 177 / 4.48
Wiry strong defensive back with good hands and excellent toughness; could be a Asante Samuel-type bargain.
S Joe Lefeged, Rutgers 6-0 / 210 / 4.42
Looked like a corner playing safety on the field, matched that athleticism at the Combine; could eventually with coaching.
S Brian Lainhart, Kent State 6-0 / 211 / 4.64
Four-year starter who lacks great speed, but secures tackles takes on blockers, and had 17 career interceptions.
"Rang's Gang" Rob Rang, Senior Analyst
Some NFL scouts want to make Tyrod Taylor a receiver. (Getty Images)
QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech 6-1 / 216 / 4.47
It can be laughable the stereotyping that sometimes happens with athletic quarterbacks. Due to the fact that Taylor is not even 6-1 and because he's elusive and fast, some want to make him a receiver. Yes, mobility is a big part of his game. But he's proven the ability to read defenses, make accurate passes to all levels of the field and has a knack for making the big play in critical situations.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State 5-7 / 192 / 4.59
Three years at OSU, three times he was named first-team All-Pac-10. Mischaracterized by some in the media as a speed back like fellow short running back Darren Sproles, Rodgers is more like Ray Rice -- he can juke defenders but also is shockingly powerful.
FB Henry Hynoski, Pittsburgh 6-2 / 260 / 5.06
A human sledgehammer as a traditional lead blocker capable of helping out as an occasional runner and receiver.
TE Rob Housler, Florida Atlantic 6-6 / 249 / 4.46
Housler sat out the 2009 season to help out FAU, which had overstocked the position, and to get stronger. That type of selflessness and work ethic is precisely why Housler could be the player from this raw but talented tight end class who winds up surprising in the NFL.
WR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy 5-9 / 190 / 4.46
There was no prospect as easy to choose for my Gang as Jernigan. Sure, he's short, but he's also elusive, fast and among the most versatile players in the country. Jernigan is the best slot receiver in this draft.
WR Austin Pettis, Boise State 6-3 / 205 / 4.56
A physical possession receiver to complement the speed of Jernigan. This class might not have a better physical, No. 2-type receiver than Pettis. His former teammate Titus Young gets all of the attention, but Pettis was the more reliable receiver at Boise State due to his size, strength and arguably the softest hands at the position in this class.
OT James Carpenter, Alabama 6-5 / 313 / 5.22
An appropriately named player, Carpenter's blue-collar work ethic, toughness and underrated athleticism makes him my favorite of the so-called "second-tier" offensive tackles.
OG John Moffitt, Wisconsin 6-4 / 314 / 5.51
Overshadowed at Wisconsin by Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi, scouts will tell you that Moffitt was the real difference-maker in the Badgers' dominant running game. He'll likely slip to the third or even the fourth round, but he could become a Pro Bowler in the right system.
C Zane Taylor, Utah 6-3 / 313 / 5.52
Taylor didn't test exceptionally well, but his strength and tenacity stand out on tape. Had he played in the SEC or Pac-10 rather than the Mountain West, he'd have earned a lot more national recognition for his reliable play.
OG Keith Williams, Nebraska 6-5 / 312 / 5.28
An underrated component to the Huskers' strong running game in 2010, Williams shows strength and surprising agility. He can develop into a future starter in the NFL, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him on the board in the fifth round.
OT Willie Smith, East Carolina 6-5 / 305 / 5.40
Smith is one of the more intriguing developmental tackle prospects in this draft. His quick feet and flexibility are good enough that he could remain at left tackle. He needs significant technical refinement and is at least a year away from competing for a starting role, but with some polish, he could prove to be a real diamond in the rough.
DE Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State 6-3 / 278 / 4.91
McPhee struggled with balance and leverage at the Senior Bowl, but I like his physicality and motor. He'll never be a big sacks guy, but plays the run well and is one of the better second-tier base ends for the 4-3 in this draft.
DT Chris Neild, West Virginia 6-2 / 319 / 5.06
Neild is a classic example of a good football player mischaracterized by some as a limited athlete who relies on hustle and determination. Much of this has to do with the fact that he played nose guard in the Mountaineers' unique 3-3-5 scheme. He proved to be a much better athlete than given credit for at the Combine and is scheme-versatile.
DT Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson 6-4 / 309 / 5.03
Like Neild, Jenkins is coveted because he's scheme-versatile. He can play inside as a defensive tackle in the 4-3 (as he did for Clemson) and also projects nicely outside as a five-technique defensive end in the 3-4. Jenkins' ability to tie up blockers had a lot to do with Da'Quan Bowers' ascension as the country's top pass rusher.
DE Brandon Bair, Oregon 6-6 / 276 / 4.92
A defensive tackle for the Ducks, Bair's length and strength (27 reps of 225 pounds) and underrated overall agility make him quite an intriguing developmental five-technique defensive end for the 3-4 alignment. Having served an LDS Mission, he enters the NFL older (26) than most, but also more ready to physically and mentally compete.
OLB Mark Herzlich, Boston College 6-4 / 250 / 4.91
I'll admit, part of the reason Herzlich is on this team is due to his inspiring, courageous victory over bone cancer, which kept him sidelined for all of 2009. The other and more significant aspect of the selection is that prior to his bout, he was a phenomenal player. In the middle rounds, in as weak a class as this one is at traditional 4-3 outside linebackers, I'd be willing to gamble that he regains some of the playmaking form that made him the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
ILB Colin McCarthy, Miami (Fla.) 6-1 / 235 / 4.59
Instinctive, tough and capable of helping at any of the three positions in the 4-3, McCarthy might lack the trophy case of former 'Cane star Dan Morgan (the last Miami linebacker to wear No. 44), but he could wind up enjoying a better NFL career.
OLB Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut 6-1 / 225 / 4.71
At only 6-1, 225 pounds Wilson will have to play on the weak side in the 4-3. That fact is going to push him down the board a bit. That said, I love his instincts, open-field tackling and durability (started 50 games).
CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia 6-2 / 200 / 4.40
Nagging injuries ruined Dowling's senior season, but he's been a standout player for the Cavs long enough that he should still be a second- to third-round pick. One of the better press cornerbacks in this draft, he could prove quite a value at that point.
CB Kendric Burney, North Carolina 5-9 / 186 / 4.71
Size and speed might seem like the most important elements to good cornerback play, but I'm listing Burney on my team because he's much better football player than track athlete. Instinctive, tough and quick, he fits in best in a zone scheme.
S Ahmad Black, Florida 5-10 / 184 / 4.70
I simply don't care that Black didn't run well at the Combine or his Pro Day. On tape, Black proves he's the most instinctive and most natural playmaking safety in this class.
S Chris Conte, California 6-3 / 212 / 4.52
A former cornerback who only made the switch to free safety this season, Conte went from a relative unknown to a potential mid-round pick with a First Team All Pac-10 senior campaign. I like his size (6-2, 197), coverage ability and open field tackling ability and believe he is one of the few safeties in this class who could wind up as a future NFL starter.
Sometimes running the Mularkey offense makes me feel like I'm in a prison.