Diamonds in the rough heading into the 2021 NFL Draft
Gary Cosby Jr/USA Today Images

Diamonds in the rough heading into the 2021 NFL Draft

The early-round picks get most of the press, but the mid-to-late round picks that turn into quality NFL players are often the difference-makers for championship football teams. These 20 diamonds in the rough have a chance to make big impacts in the NFL despite their lack of hype.

 
1 of 20

Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports Images

Bolton was the heart and soul of the Tigers' defense over the last two seasons, combining for 198 tackles. He can get sideline-to-sideline with a 40 time that was clocked at 4.6 and should be an immediate contributor from Day 2.

 
2 of 20

Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame

Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
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Book might not be an NFL starter, but the floor is quality NFL backup. He was a true winner at Notre Dame who shows enough accuracy and mobility to keep the chains moving despite sub-par physical tools. Someone will be finding a quality player who can have a long career on Day 3.

 
3 of 20

Spencer Brown, OT, Nothern Iowa

Spencer Brown, OT, Nothern Iowa
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It takes a lot for a draft prospect to stand out from Northern Iowa, and Brown has the ability to be a Pro Bowler for the second or third round. He has elite athleticism at tackle, but given that most of his experience is on the right side of the line, Brown's perceived value will likely fall out of the first round.

 
4 of 20

Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas

Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
Scott Wachter / USA Today Sports Images

Cosmi is arguably the most athletic offensive lineman in the 2021 class, yet he's likely to fall out of the first round. He's a former three-year starter who has experience at both tackle spots and looks like a solid starter at the next level.

 
5 of 20

Landon Dickerson, OC, Alabama

Landon Dickerson, OC, Alabama
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Dickerson's stock will likely fall due to injury concerns with multiple knee injuries during his college time, but there is Pro Bowl upside if he can prove more durable. He has extensive experience as an elite offensive lineman at both Florida State and Alabama and could produce at either guard or center.

 
6 of 20

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
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Gainwell's stock fell after opting out of 2020, but he showed great versatility in 2019 with 2,069 yards from scrimmage, including 51 receptions. His floor looks like a solid third-down back, yet Gainwell could less within the third day of the draft.

 
7 of 20

Creed Humphrey, OC, Oklahoma

Creed Humphrey, OC, Oklahoma
Matthew Emmons / USA Today Sports Images

Humphrey could fall down draft boards due to his lack of physical tools, but he looks like a safe starter as an interior lineman after an excellent career at Oklahoma. For the likely return, his likely draft spot on the second day is a steal.

 
8 of 20

Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Nikos Frazier / USA Today Sports Images

There's no escaping Moore's lack of size at 5-foot-7, and that could cause an issue for him at the next level. Still, he makes up for it with blazing speed, running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash and have 114 receptions in his freshman season in 2018. He also has the ability to be a returner and could provide all-around value for a Day 2 pick.

 
9 of 20

Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports Images

Mond got four years of starting experience at Texas A&M, and his throwing progressed with each season. He's still not an accurate passer, completing only 63% of his passes in his senior season, but makes up for his shortcomings with mobility. He fits in the same mold that Jalen Hurts did last year as a possible second-round pick who could ascend to starting duties soon.

 
10 of 20

Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Christopher Hanewinckel / USA Today Sports Images

Ole Miss has a good track record of producing wide receivers recently, and Moore has a chance to be their next solid pro. He had 86 catches for 1,193 yards in only eight games last season and flashes sub-4.4 speed. Moore fades into the background between his lack of height at 5-foot-9 and a stacked wide receiver class but has a chance to be a very good pro and possible late first-rounder.

 
11 of 20

Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State

Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
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Radunz is questioned coming from an FCS program, but he impressed during Senior Bowl week. He has the ability to step in at guard or tackle immediately and become a starter in short order.

 
12 of 20

Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn

Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
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Teams looking for a mid-to-late round unicorn have a top candidate in Schwartz. He has pure track speed, running a sub-4.3 second 40-yard dash. He will undoubtedly be a project, coming from an Auburn offense that doesn't air it out and still needing to develop his receiving skills, but definitely fits the cliche that you can't teach speed.

 
13 of 20

Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State

Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
Kyle Robertson / USA Today Sports Images

Sermon never ran for 1,000 yards in a season despite playing all four years between Oklahoma and Ohio State, but he averaged over seven yards per carry over the last two seasons. The fact that he played so much for two elite programs says a lot for his ability, and he's capable of emerging as a starter despite being a likely mid-round pick.

 
14 of 20

Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee

Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee
Brianna Paciorka / USA Today Sports Images

Smith was a former top recruit whose college career was disrupted due to blood clot issues. His health issues could determine where he's drafted, but Smith has the potential to be a mauling run blocker and starter at the next level.

 
15 of 20

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports Images

St. Brown is a very different player than his older brother, Packers wideout Equinimeous St. Brown, profiling as a possible slot receiver. He had over 1,000 yards receiving in 2019 and has also performed well as a punt returner. St. Brown could be an immediate contributor as a Day 2 or Day 3 pick.

 
16 of 20

Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina

Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
Brett Davis / USA Today Sports Images

Surratt is a great athlete who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, accumulating 206 tackles and 12.5 sacks over the last two seasons. He's still raw with the conversion from quarterback to linebacker, so Surratt might need time to emerge as a starter in the NFL. That could make him drop in the draft, but the right team should be rewarded.

 
17 of 20

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Brad McClenny / USA Today Sports Images

Toney is a flashy slot man with sub-4.4 speed, and he's coming off a breakout senior year at Florida with 1,145 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns. He could make a Curtis Samuel-like impact for an NFL team eventually while serving as a gadget player early in his career.

 
18 of 20

Joe Tryon, DE, Washington

Joe Tryon, DE, Washington
Jennifer Buchanan / USA Today Sports Images

Tryon opted out of the 2020 season after getting eight sacks for Washington in 2019. Teams would have probably preferred to see another season from Tryon, but his athleticism and size should give him first-round consideration alone. He looks like a high-risk, high-reward prospect who could turn out to be a major value in the late first or early second round.

 
19 of 20

Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech

Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
John Rivera / Icon Sportswire

Teams looking for an interior rusher with upside will take a long look at Williams. He had 10 sacks over the last two seasons and stood out by running a sub-4.7 second 40. Lack of size should push Williams to the second day.

 
20 of 20

Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State

Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
Vasha Hunt / USA Today Sports Images

Wilson was a first-round prospect before his poor 2020 season, with only 17 tackles and one sack in six games. He was still highly productive prior to last season and is a former top recruit who could be a solid interior run stopper on the third day of the draft.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.

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