Aaron Murray, Ka'Deem Carey, Jared Abbrederis lead Day 3's best available
Two days and 100 picks are in the books at the 2014 NFL draft. Another 156 selections will be made on Saturday to finish off the event.
As was expected with this deep and talented draft class, Day 2 concluded with more than a handful of potential NFL starters still sitting team-less. Some surprises in the early rounds shifted the draft board around a bit as Thursday and Friday unfolded, leaving front offices with ample shots Saturday to find early contributors.
Here are a few of the better prospects still waiting for their NFL destination:
• A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama: A mere five quarterbacks off the board through three rounds, so there are still several notable names here, including Zach Mettenberger, Logan Thomas and Tom Savage. McCarron may be the safest bet of those left. He likely will not wait around too long on Day 3 before a team searching for a solid, developmental backup comes calling.
• Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: Another SEC QB, Murray is healthy again and actually might be able to compete for a starting gig if he lands in the right spot. There are a dwindling number of teams with No. 1 gigs open (heyyyy, Houston), but at the very least Murray will slot in as a strong backup.
• Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona: Huge production in college, yet his size (5-foot-9) and mediocre speed wound up moving him below (so far) eight other RBs. He always runs hard and can make defenders miss in the open field. There will be a spot for him.
• Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin: The Badgers' extremely consistent receiver seemed headed toward a Day 2 selection throughout the draft process. It wasn't to be. However, with the WR ranks thinned out a bit now, more teams will be on the lookout for prospects that they do not have to worry about much. Abbrederis projects as a solid receiver no matter the offense.
• Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson: More upside here than in the case of Abbrederis -- and possibly when compared to any receiver left out there. The 6-foot-4 Bryant lived in Sammy Watkins' shadow during the 2013 season but still turned in some big plays of his own. Bryant has a lot of maturing to do as a player before he can be counted on in a top-two WR role. The potential cannot be overlooked, nor can the thought of Bryant breaking off a few home runs as a rookie.
• Dakota Dozier, G, Furman: A college tackle, Dozier appears destined to play guard at the next level. He's one of several viable options up for grabs there, with Stanford's David Yankey also of note.
• Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford: Take your pick of tackles who will require a little seasoning over the early stages of their NFL careers. Fleming, 6-5 and 323 pounds, is a well-built and intelligent tackle with some of the traits you'd look for in a guard. Tennessee's Antonio Richardson, plummeting Miami prospect Seantrel Henderson and Canadian product Laurent Tardif-Duvernay will join Fleming in waiting anxiously on Day 3.
• Daquan Jones, DT, Penn State: There was a bit of a run on interior defensive linemen Friday, starting with Ra'Shede Hageman's selection at No. 37 overall. Jones played last season like a top-100 prospect, and he could fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3. Princeton DT Caraun Reid and 330-pound Louisiana Tech product Justin Ellis will get the nod sometime Saturday, too.
• Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Not much in the way of true pass-rushers left after the first 100 picks. Jeffcoat's one of the best. Eventually, he should be able to pull off a shift to a 3-4 OLB spot, even if it takes him a little while to round out his game and pack on some pounds.
• Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State: Smith stands a mere 218 pounds, which brought on some discussion that he would need to slide back to a safety spot in the pros. That possibility is even on the table because Smith closes on the ball with the ferocious aggression that it takes to excel in the deep secondary. Wherever he lines up, he'll make some plays.
• Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood: Without question, one of the most surprising omissions from Rounds 1-3. Desir's small-school pedigree may have hurt his cause, and he does not have blazing speed -- he timed in the 4.6 range for the 40. He's long and athletic at 6-1 and 198 pounds, right in the wheelhouse that NFL teams covet. The coverage skills are there to make him a solid pro. • Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson: Breeland certainly had eyes on Round 2 or 3. And with good reason, considering how smooth he can look at the cornerback spot. Although the ex-Clemson star may not step in as a No. 1 or even No. 2 guy out of the gate, he could push his way into the mix. He's not afraid to make tackles or support against the run, either. Hence the expectation that he would be gone by now.