Sep 24, 2011; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Josh Chapman (99) is blocked out by Arkansas Razorback center Travis Swanson (right) at Bryant Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide defeated the Razorbacks 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Draft 2012: Five Most Underrated Prospects


Every year, dozens of prospects slip through the cracks and fall much further in the draft than they should. As “workout warriors” fly up draft boards, quality football players tend to fall to more patient teams.

Here are this year’s most underrated prospects:

Jan 3, 2011; Miami FL, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Jayron Hosley (20) celebrates after an interception against the Stanford Cardinal during the 2011 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

1. Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

Hosley is not your ideal man-to-man shutdown corner, but there is certainly something to be said about his 2010 season in which he lead the nation in interceptions.

Hosley is a fluid an instinctive player that had excellent ball skills, making him an ideal fit in a zone-heavy coverage scheme. He also may be a good candidate to make the move to safety.

2. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State

If there was a quarterback in this year’s class to be the next Andy Dalton, it would be Cousins. Cousins is not going to “wow” scouts with a cannon arm, but he is a smart leader who throws with great touch and anticipation.

Most players have a coach or quarterback guru run their pro days, but not Cousins. He ran the entire workout on his own, including designing the drills and telling his receivers where to run – a huge attribution as to how good of a leader he is.

Before the immediate success of Andy Dalton, such a skill set would be frowned upon. But now there is legitimate reason to believe that he could be an eventual starter in the NFL.

3. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

Injuries have kept Jones from putting up big numbers during his time in upstate New York, but that does not take away from his abundance of natural ability as a pass rusher.

Jones has great length for the position and has the ideal size to stand up as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Boasting a combination of size, length, and explosion, it would not surprise me in the least if Jones’ name was called on Thursday night.

4. Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama

Chapman is not going to give you mich in terms of pass rush, but any team looking for immediate help in stopping the run should look no further than Chapman.

Chapman was a vital cog in the great Alabama defense, eating up blocks and creating lanes for linebackers to roam and make plays. He is scheme diverse, able to play in both as a 3-4 nose or as a 4-3 0 or 1-technique.

Best of all, he should be available at the end of the second to the middle of the third round, making him a great value pick.

5. Nate Potter, OT, Boise State

In today’s NFL, pass protection comes at a premium. Potter is relatively light at 300 lbs, but he has the ability compete for at starting job at tackle.

With some time and proper coaching, he could eventually develop into a quality run blocker. But for now, Potter will be able to keep a quarterback upright, which is a high priority on any team’s list.

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