Five non first-round picks who will be NFL stars

Every NFL Draft season, there tends to be a thought among fans that only first-round players will be NFL stars. Every single year, that thought gets proven wrong. Some of the most recognizable names to not be drafted in the first-round of previous drafts are QB Russell Wilson, CB Richard Sherman and WR Antonio Brown.

NFL Stars
Stanford vs. UC Davis 2018” by Daniel Hartwig is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The 2019 NFL Draft likely won’t be any different, as several players who weren’t drafted in the first-round will emerge as NFL stars. After looking over the results of the NFL Draft, I compiled a short list of players who weren’t drafted in the first-round who I believe will be NFL stars.


WR J.J. Arcega Whiteside, Philadelphia Eagles (Round 2, No. 57 overall)

Standing at 6’3″, 225 lbs, J.J. Arcega Whiteside has the build of an elite red zone threat. His build is similar to that of his new teammate, Alshon Jeffrey. Arcega Whiteside proved his red zone presence by recording 14 TDs in his final season at Stanford. He recorded a total of 28 TDs over his three college seasons.

Arcega Whiteside only had one season of 1,000+ receiving yards at Stanford, but he improved every year he was there. I believe that makes him a perfect fit for the Eagles. It may take a little while for Arcega Whiteside to be among NFL stars, but he’s in the perfect situation to have time to develop.

WR Alshon Jeffrey and TE Zach Ertz will be huge red zone threats to every defense they play. While they’ll be getting all the attention, Arcega Whiteside will be seeing single coverage on less talented DBs. He can play that role until Alshon Jeffrey eventually moves on, whenever that may be. When Jeffrey does leave the Eagles, they will be able to easily replace him with Arcega Whiteside. J.J. Arcega Whiteside may not have the best stats over his first few seasons, but when he gets the chance to play a greater role, I believe he’ll put up huge numbers.


S Juan Thornhill, Kansas City Chiefs (Round 2, No. 63 overall)

What’s one of the most important things for a defense to do in today’s NFL? Get takeaways. What does Juan Thornhill do best? Getting takeaways. In three seasons as a starter at Virginia, Thornhill recorded 13 INTs. Six of those INTs came in his final season, proving he’s continuing to become a ball hawk in the secondary.

Thornhill will instantly provide the Chiefs’ secondary with something they desperately lacked last season. The secondary for the Chiefs gave up a lot of yards and points last season, which was their downfall in the biggest moments. Juan Thornhill won’t fix all their problems in the secondary, but he will provide an instant boost.

With Patrick Mahomes on the other side, the Chiefs’ defense has to find ways to get him on the field as much as possible. Thornhill and his ability to take the ball away will do just that for the Chiefs, making him one of the next NFL stars.


WR D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks (Round 2, No. 64 overall)

Does anyone else remember D.K. Metcalf, the shredded 6’3″, 228 lbs WR who ran a 4.33 40 yard dash, put up 27 bench reps, had a 40.5 inch vertical and a 134 inch broad jump at the NFL Combine? Yeah, I thought so. Metcalf was widely considered a first-round talent, at least we thought.

The Seahawks got their star WR of the future when he fell to them at No. 64 in the second-round. Metcalf never really had great production at Ole Miss, but he’s also never had a QB like Russell Wilson. Metcalf has the ability to be Wilson’s go to guy. It might take a little bit of time, but he’s got the talent to do it.

Russell Wilson has the ability to place the ball in the perfect spot, while Metcalf has the ability to blow past and jump over defenders. He’s also stronger than probably any WR in the NFL right now. Metcalf needs to work on his fluidness and route running, but that will come in time. The Seahawks have their star WR of the future.


RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (Round 3, No. 73 overall)

I loved this select by the Bears in the third-round. Montgomery is a big RB who can be effective as both a runner and receiver. In three seasons at Iowa State, Montgomery recorded 2,925 rushing yards. He went over 1,000 rushing yards in each of his last two seasons. In addition to those two seasons of 1,000+ rushing yards, Montgomery record 10+ TDs in both those seasons.

Montgomery recorded 71 receptions for 582 yards during his three seasons, proving he can impact the game in multiple ways. Now he steps in to a Chicago team who needed to get better at running the ball. Montgomery will step in as the starter right away, and will play a big role in leading the Bears’ offense.

How many times in recent history have we seen a rookie RB lead the league in rushing yards? I’m going to go out on a limb and say David Montgomery has a legit chance at being the next rookie RB to do so.


EDGE Jaylon Ferguson, Baltimore Ravens (Round 3, No. 85 overall)

There was a time when Jaylon Ferguson was mocked in the first-round of the NFL Draft. Unfortunately for him, he fell to the third-round because of poor workouts during the pre-draft process. While that may have been unfortunate for him, it was fortunate for the Baltimore Ravens.

Jaylon Ferguson holds College Football’s all-time record for sacks (45). Yes, he played against lesser competition while at Louisiana Tech, but I don’t care. If you can get sacks, you can get sacks. Jaylon Ferguson can get sacks. He may not become the NFL’s all-time leading sack artist, but he will be a guy who can consistently get after the QB.

I think Ferguson landed in the perfect spot in Baltimore. He feels like a player who belongs on the Baltimore defense. He fell because of poor workouts, and now the all-time leading sack artist in College Football gets his chance to prove everyone wrong.


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