Only a few of the 333 NFL Draft hopefuls at the NFL Combine right now will become Falcons. Atlanta's first pick is at No. 30 in the first round, but for some it's the middle and late rounds that create the most intrigue when it comes to building a team. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has a track record of snagging good players, even starting-quality players, in those rounds and with thought in mind, we take a look at a few players entering Indianapolis as unknowns, but may emerge on some team's radar.
- Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky: Smith may not be able to perform at the Combine, but it's the medical check that most are interested in when it comes to the 6-foot-5, 248-pound defensive end. Smith only played in 10 games last season, missing the final two with a season-ending ACL tear, but he still managed to end up tied for ninth in the nation with 12.5 sacks. He's raw but he flashes the kind of burst desired out of pass rushers and you don't need to look any further than his early-season performance against Alabama for evidence of this. Against that offensive line, Smith had three sacks and with room to grow, he's the kind of middle-round prospect that is worth keeping an eye on.
- Jordan Reed, TE, Florida: If there's a player that mirrors New England's Aaron Hernandez, it's Florida's Jordan Reed. The junior tight end supplied the Gators with a ton of versatility on offense last season, lining up all over the offensive line as a tight end, out wide, as an H-back and even at running back. He has solid hands as a pass catcher and once the ball is in his hands he can make people miss while making plays going up the field. His blocking could use some work, but the fluidity he brings to the table is hard to ignore. He's currently in the third-to-fourth round range, but an impressive Combine performance could boost his stock.
- Stefphon Jefferson, RB, Nevada: Very quietly Jefferson put together a season at Nevada as a redshirt junior that earned him third-team AP All-American honors. He carried much of the load for the Wolfpack offense at running back and gained 1,883 yards and 24 touchdowns. He added 22 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. Against Hawaii in September, Jefferson tied an NCAA record by scoring seven touchdowns. He shows patience as a runner and what he lacks in speed or agility as a back, he makes up with solid decision making. He's highly reliable and while he might not make huge plays, as a mid-rounder, he's got the ability to be a solid contributor.
- JJ Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern: A strong Senior Bowl performance has put Wilcox in position to become the first Georgia Southern player to be drafted since 2003. He's a safety, but he's so much more than that. He played his first three seasons on offense, typically as the slot receiver, rushing 137 times for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 45 passes for 898 yards and four TDs. As a senior he switched to safety and finished second on the team with 88 tackles, three passes broken up and two interceptions. He's a solid tackler, he's athletic and he displays good instincts. His athleticism and versatility make him a highly attractive player in the middle rounds of the draft and his performances at the Combine could be exciting to watch. He's also a kick returner, a role where that quickness really comes in handy.
- Jamie Collins, LB, Southern Mississippi: Collins has 45 career tackles for loss and he's got the quickness and speed needed to be a run-around linebacker in the NFL. NFL scouts will be very curious to see what Collins runs in the 40-yard dash and some believe he can be one of the top performers in that category. He's got a good ability to cover the pass in space as well, not entirely surprising since he transitioned from safety to linebacker during his sophomore year.